Biak language

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Biak
Native to Indonesia
Region Biak Island & surroundings
Native speakers
30,000  (2000)[1]
Latin
Language codes
ISO 639-3 bhw
Glottolog biak1248[2]

Biak (referred to locally as wós Vyak ‘Biak Language’ or wós kovedi ‘Our Language’ and Bahasa Biak in Indonesian. Also known as: Biak-Numfor, Noefoor, Mafoor, Mefoor, Nufoor, Mafoorsch, Myfoorsch and Noefoorsch) is an Austronesian language that has been classified as one of 41 languages of the South Halmahera-West New Guinea subgroup of Eastern Malayo-Polynesian Languages. It is spoken in Biak and Numfor and numerous small islands in this archipelago in the province of Papua, Indonesia by about 30,000 people.

Sociolinguistic Situation[edit]

There are a number of different dialects of Biak spoken on various different Islands the most well-known being Biak-Numfoor, spoken on the Island of Numfoor, these dialect differences are small and mostly slight regular sound changes.[3] Almost all Biak speakers are also fluent in Malay, but very few have a comprehensive knowledge of formal Indonesian.

Despite the comparatively high number of speakers compared to some other Austronesian languages, Biak is still in danger of extinction. Within the main towns the generation of speakers aged between 20 and 50 have only passive knowledge of the language and rarely use the language actively, instead preferring to use Malay. Younger generations do not even generally have passive knowledge of the language. Biak is only actively used as a spoken language by members of the community over 50 years of age or so and even they regularly code switch into Malay.[4] However, within the villages further from town there were still children who were fluent in Biak. Songs in Biak are also very popular throughout the Islands.

There is a strong initiative to promote the use of Biak Language, with translations of various books and teaching manuals as well as a radio station and a number of church services throughout the year being conducted solely in Biak. Since 2002 there has also been an initiative to introduce Biak being taught formerly in schools on the Islands.[5]

Phonology[edit]

Biak has a phoneme inventory consisting of 13 consonants and 5 vowels, in which vowel length is phonemic. In the orthography long vowels are written with an acute accent. The phoneme /t/ is very infrequent in its use and some older speakers still realise it as [s] in loanwords.[6]

Consonants[7]
Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Palatal Velar
Stop b  p d  t k
Nasal m n
Fricative β f s
Lateral l
Trill r
Approximant w j
Vowels[8]
Front Central Back
Close i  iː u  uː
Mid e  eː ɤ  ɤː
Open a  aː

All vowels in Biak are unrounded with the exception of /u/, which is rounded.[9]

Morphology[edit]

Pronouns and Person Markers[edit]

In Biak pronouns and articles are morphologically related, with both situating a given participant by indicating their relative discourse or spatial (e.g. directional or motional) status. This is not uncommon for Austronesian Languages.[10] Pronouns in Biak are marked for number and clusivity.

Free Pronouns[11]
Person Number
Singular Dual Paucal Plural
1INC ku ko
1EXCL aya nu inko
2 aw mu mko
3 i su sko si (alienable)
na (inalienable)

Free personal pronouns in Biak share their main distributional properties with nouns; however, they are somewhat more restricted. They can be used as a complement of a predicate or preposition but they cannot be used as subjects.[11] In the example below we can see the use of the 1st person personal pronoun aya to complement a verb while the second example shows how a free personal pronoun, in this clause 3rd person i cannot be used as a subject:

(1) Badir i ve aya
2SG.announce 3SG to 1SG
"Make it known to me."


(2) * i d-ores
3SG 3SG-stand
"He stood."

Pronominal Affixes[edit]

In Biak pronominal affixes can combine with verbs in three possible inflection patterns (given in the table below), which are partly phonologically conditioned.[12]

Set 1 Set 2 Set 3
1SG ya- y- ya-
2SG wa- w- w
3SG i- d- y
1DU.I ku- ku- ku-
1DU.E nu- nu- nu-
2DU mu- mu- mu-
3DU su- su- su-
3PC sko- sk- sko-
1PL.I ko- k- ko-
1PL.E (i)nko- (i)nk- (i)nko-
2PL mko- mk- mko-
3PL.AN si- s- s-
3PL.INAN na- n- n-


Due to the person marking nature of these affixes, the need for the presence of a core noun phrase in the same clause is negated. Thus the following sentence is still grammatical without NP Rusa nanine, as the verb has a pronominal affix that gives the same information.

(1) (Rusa nan-i-ne) d-ores
deer GIV-3SG.SPC-this 3SG-stand
"This deer stood."

These pronominal markers are person markers and are found in the final position of the noun phrase they determine.[13] They attach to verbs along with a specifier that attaches after the pronominal affix; due to their distribution properties these markers should be considered clitics.[13] There are two specificity markers, -ya and –i, where –ya can be used in all positions and -i is restricted to positions before pauses.[13] In the example below the article attaches to the verb vebaya, rather than the verb ifrúr because it is the final verb in the noun phrase headed by for.[13]

(2) i-frúr for ve-ba=ya
3SG-make fire REL.big=3SG.SPC
"He made a big fire."

Nonspecificity, which refers to entities that do not yet exist in this world, or is used to question or deny the existence of an entity, is marked with the articles –o for singular and –no for plural noun phrases.[14] This is shown in the examples below:

Non-specific

(3) I-fúr yuk=o fa y-ún i ve Waranda.
3SG-make ukulele=nonSP.SG CONS 1SG-take 3SG to The.Netherlands
"He is making/will make a ukulele so that I can take it to the Netherlands"


Specific

(4) I-fúr yuk=ya fa y-ún i ve Waranda.
3SG-make ukulele=nonSP.SG CONS 1SG-take 3SG to The.Netherlands
"He has made a ukulele so that I can take it to the Netherlands"

Possession[edit]

Similar to other Austronesian languages, Biak makes a grammatical distinction between alienable and inalienable for possession.

Alienable Possession[edit]

In alienable possession, a possessive pronominal is formed with the possessive marker ‘ve’ to signify the person, number and gender of the possessor, and is followed by a pronominal article marking the gender and number of the possessed. The pronominal article contains the specificity markers ‘-i’ and ‘-ya’, with ‘-i’ being used only in pre-pausal positions.[15] The following table illustrates the possessive pronominal construction.

Possessed->

Possessor:

SG

DU

TR

PL.AN

PL.INAN

1SG

(a)ye=d-i/=d-ya

(a)ye=su-ya/-i

(a)ye=sko-ya/-i

(a)ye=s-ya/-i

(a)ye=na

2SG

be=d-i/=d-ya

be-=su-ya/-i

be=sko-ya/-i

be=s-ya/-i

be=na

3SG

v<y>e=d-i/=d-ya

v<y>e=su-ya/-i

v<y>e =sko-ya/-i

v<y>e =s-ya/-i

v<y>e =na

1DU.INC

Ku-ve=d-i/=d-ya

ku-ve=su-ya/-i

ku-ve=sko-ya/-i

ku-ve=s-ya/-i

ku-ve=na

1DU.EXC

nu-ve=d-i/=d-ya

nu-ve=su-ya/-i

nu-ve=sko-ya/-i

nu-ve=s-ya/-i

nu-ve=na

2DU

mu-ve=d-i/=d-ya

mu-ve=su-ya/-i

mu-ve=sko-ya/-i

mu-ve=s-ya/-i

mu-ve=na

3DU

su-ve=d-i/=d-ya

su-ve=su-ya/-i

su-ve=sko-ya/-i

su-ve=s-ya/-i

su-ve=na

3PC

sko-ve=d-i/=d-ya

sko-ve=su-ya/-i

sko-ve=sko-ya/-i

sko-ve=s-ya/-i

sko-ve=na

1PL.INC

ko-ve=d-i/=d-ya

ko-ve=su-ya/-i

ko-ve=sko-ya/-i

ko-ve=s-ya/-i

i ko-ve=na

1PL.EXC

(i)nko-ve=d-i/=d-ya

(i)nko-ve=su-ya/-i

(i)nko-ve=sko-ya/-i

(i)nko-ve=s-ya/-i

(i)nko-ve=na

2PL

mko-ve=d-i/=d-ya

mko-ve=su-ya/-i

mko-ve=sko-ya/-i

mko-ve=s-ya/-i

mko-ve=na

3PL.AN

se=d-i/=d-ya

se=su-ya/-i

se=sko-ya/-i

se=s-ya/-i

se=na

3PL.INAN

nbe=d-i/d-ya

nbe=su-ya/-i

nbe=sko-ya/-i

nbe=s-ya/-i

nbe=na[16]

Typically, Biak follows a possessor-possessum structure for alienable possessive construction, with the possessive pronominal in the adnominal position:

(5)

ikak

an-i-ne

snonsnon

v<y>e=d-ya

Kormsamba

snake

GIV-3SG.SPC-this

name

<3SG>POSS=3SG-SPC

Kormsamba

The Snake’s name was Kormsamba[17]

However, alienable possession can also be formed in the order of possessum-possessor, though this is much less frequent:

(6)

romawa

inai

manseren

v<y>e=s-ya

son

daughter

Lord

<3SG>POSS=3PL.AN-SPC

The Lord’s sons and daughters’[18]

Inalienable Possession[edit]

Inalienable possessive construction differs from alienable in that there is no system of pronominal possessives, only a set of affixes located on the possessum. In contrast to alienable possession, inalienable possession can only take the order of possessor-possessum. Biak contains three subsets of inalienability: body parts, Kinship, and locational.[18]

Body Parts[edit]

Not all body parts are considered inalienable. Those that are form the stem words from which to derive other body parts through the method of compounding. For example, the alienable ‘knee’ is formed through the inalienable stem ‘we’ (leg) and the compounding ‘pur’ (back) to form ‘wepur’. Possessive construction for alienable body parts follows the same pattern as other alienable terms.[19] The inflectional system for inalienable body parts is as follows:

Vru ‘head’

SG

DU

TR

PL

1SG

Vru-ri

-

-

-

2SG

Vru-m-ri

-

-

-

3SG

Vru-ri

-

-

-

1DU.INC

-

ku-vru-s-na

1DU.EXC

-

nu-vru-s-na

2DU

-

mu-vru-m-s-na

3DU

-

su-vru-s-na

3TR

-

sko-vru-s-na

1PL.INC

-

ko-vru-s-na

1PL.EXC

-

nko-vru-s-na

2PL

-

mko-vru-m-s-na

3PL.AN

-

si-vru-s-na[20]

Unusual for Austronesian languages of the area, Biak contains a partial prefix system for inflecting inalienable body parts. For the plural forms, suffix ‘-s’ reflects plurality and animateness of possessor and suffix ‘na’ expresses plurality and inaninameteness of the possessum.[21] As stated above, inalienable possession is formed via a possessor-possessum structure:

(7)

sne-ri

i-ba

belly-POSS.SG

3SG-big

She was pregnant (her belly was big)[22]

Kinship Terms[edit]

Similarly to body parts, not all kinship terms are inalienable. The alienable kinship terms are formed through the same compounding method as alienable body parts, and follow the same possessive construction rules as other alienable terms.[23] This table illustrates the inflectional system for inalienable kinship words:

Me ‘cross-uncle’

SG

DU

TR

PL

1SG

imem(=i)

imem(=su)

imem(=sko)

-

2SG

me-m(=i)

me-m(=su)

me-m(=sko)

-

3SG

me-r(=i)

me-r(=su)

me-r(=sko)

-

1DU

-

-

-

-

2DU

-

-

-

-

3DU

-

-

-

-

3TR

-

-

-

-

1PL

-

-

-

-

2PL

-

-

-

-

3PL

-

-

-

-

All nouns that follow the table’s procedure have an idiosyncratic form for the first person, using a shorter term for the second and third person. (REF pg. 244) Here is an example of the usage of inalienable kinship inflection:

(8)

s<y>éwar

kma-r=i

<3SG>seek

father-POSS.3SG=3SG

He looked for his father[24]

Locational Nouns[edit]

Locational nouns are the last distinction of inalienability found in Biak. Locational nouns refer to locations that are ‘inherently connected to an entity’.[25] For example, a tree in biak is referred to as having an ‘upper part’ and a ‘lower part’, and a canoe a ‘front’, a ‘middle’ and a ‘back’.[25] The following table exhibits the inflectional system for inalienable locational nouns:

bo ‘upper part/ area above’

SG

DU

TR

PL.ANIM

Pl.INAN

1

-

-

-

-

-

2

bo-m-ri

-

-

-

-

3

bo-ri

bo-n-su

bo-n-sko

bo-n-si

bo-n-na[26]

The suffix ‘-n’ expresses the plurality and inanimateness of the possessum (REF pg. 250). The locational noun possessive structure is illustrated in this example:

(9)

bal

i-ne

v<y>ark

ro

karui=su-ya

bonsu

ball

3SG.SPC-this

<3SG>lie

LOC

stone=3DU-SPC

upside-nonSG.INAM-3DU

This ball lies on top of two stones[25]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Biak at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Biak". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Van de Heuvel 2006, p. 7
  4. ^ Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 5
  5. ^ Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 6
  6. ^ Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 11
  7. ^ Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 21
  8. ^ Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 26
  9. ^ Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 27
  10. ^ Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 64-66
  11. ^ a b Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 67
  12. ^ Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 66
  13. ^ a b c d Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 68
  14. ^ Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 71
  15. ^ Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 84
  16. ^ Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 230
  17. ^ Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 231
  18. ^ a b Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 232
  19. ^ Van den Heuvel 2006, pp. 232-234
  20. ^ Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 238
  21. ^ Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 239
  22. ^ Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 235
  23. ^ Van den Heuvel 2006, pp. 243-245
  24. ^ Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 243
  25. ^ a b c Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 251
  26. ^ Van den Heuvel 2006, p. 250

References[edit]

  • Berry, K.; C. Berry; K. Berry; C. Berry (1987). "A survey of some West Papuan phylum languages". Workpapers in Indonesian Languages and Cultures 4: 25–80. 
  • Van den Heuvel, Wilco. 2006. Biak, description of an Austronesian language of Papua. Doctoral dissertation, Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics.

External links[edit]