Alekano language

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Native to Papua New Guinea
Region Goroka District, Eastern Highlands Province
Native speakers
25,000  (1999)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 gah
Glottolog alek1238[2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Alekano, or Gahuku (Gahuku-Gama), is a Papuan language spoken in the northern district of Goroka Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. There are about 25,000 speakers.[3]

Alekano is also known as Gahuku, after the name of the largest clan of speakers, or Gama, after the second largest clan. Calling the language by these names has been rejected by speakers who are not members of these clans and Alekano has been largely adopted as the official name. Alekano means “bring it”. In two closely related languages spoken directly to the northwest, Tokano and Dano, it also means “bring it”.[4][5]


Alekano has 5 vowels and 12 consonants, though /w/, a voiced labio-velar approximant, is only found only in the village name Wanima, its derivations or Pidgin loanwords.[6]


Front Back
High i ɯ
Mid e ɤ
Low ɑ

Glottal coda[edit]

In Alekano, a syllable may only be closed with a glottal stop, as in /ɑʔnesiʔ/ "enough". This is currently not treated as one of the consonants, though it is unclear if words written as vowel initial begin with a glottal stop. It is written as an acute accent in the orthography, for example, ánesí.[5]


Bilabial Alveolar Velar Glottal
Nasal m n
Plosive p t k
Approximant β l~ɽ ɣ h
Sibilant voiceless s
voiced z

The lateral is [l] initially and [ɽ] between vowels.

The syllable[edit]

The most complex syllables are of the form /CVVʔ/, where VV may be a diphthong of /ɑ/, /e/, or /ɤ/ followed by /i/ or /ɯ/, or of /iɯ/. Other vowels may also occur in sequence (hiatus).


Alekano has low and high tones, but with a very low functional load. HL receives strong stress, LH lesser stress.

Word Order[edit]

Alekano is a subject–object–verb (SOV) language.[7]


Alekano uses the Latin script.[6]

IPA ɑ e ɣ h i k l m n ɤ p s z t ɯ β
Letter Aa Ee Gg Hh Ii Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Ss Zz Tt Uu Vv


  1. ^ Alekano at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Alekano". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Ethnologue report for Alekano
  4. ^ Deibler, Ellis W. 1987. "The function of glottal stop in Gahuku." In John M. Clifton (ed.), Studies in Melanesian orthographies, 23-30. Data Papers on Papua New Guinea Languages, 33. Ukarumpa: Summer Institute of Linguistics. [1]
  5. ^ a b Deibler, Ellis W., compiler. Available: 2008; Created: 2008. Dictionaries of Alekano - English and English - Alekano. [Manuscript] iii, 311 p. [2]
  6. ^ a b 1992. Alekano Organised Phonology Data. [Manuscript] [3]
  7. ^

External links[edit]