Iau language

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Not to be confused with Foi language, Turu language, or Yawa language.
Region New Guinea
Native speakers
2,100  (2000–2012)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Either:
tmu – Iau
dbf – Edopi
Glottolog cent2110[2]

Iau (Iaw, Yau) or Turu is a Lakes Plain language of West Papua, Indonesia, spoken by about 600 people. Most speakers are monolingual, and their number is growing. Other peoples in the western Lakes Plain area speak basic Iau. Iau is tonal.

Dialects are Foi (Poi), Turu, Edopi (Elopi), and Iau proper; these may be distinct enough to be considered separate languages. Foi is spoken on the large Tariku River (Rouffaer River), Turu on the Van Daalen River, Iau proper between the rivers, and Edopi at the juncture of the Tariku and Kliki (Fou) rivers.

Another name for the language is Urundi ~ Ururi. Dosobou (Dou, Doufou) is specifically Edopi.



Consonant phonemes of Iau
Labial Coronal Velar
Stop    b t  d k   
Fricative f s

There are six consonants. /t d/ are dental; /s/ is alveolar. /b d/ are implosive, and may be realized as nasals before the low nasal vowel /ã/. /d/ may also be realized as the liquid [l].

/f/ is pronounced [ɸ]~[h] word-initially, or as [x] before the high nonback vowels /i ɨ/. The labial allophone [ɸ] is preferred in the Foi dialect; the glottal allophone [h] is preferred in Turu. It is always pronounced [h] word-medially and as an unreleased plosive [p̚] word-finally. /f/ is the only consonant that can occur word-finally.


Front Central Back
Close i   u
Near-close ɪ   ʊ
Open-mid ɛ   ɔ
Open   ã  

The low vowel is always nasalized, except when it is a component of a diphthong. The open-mid front vowel varies between [e], [ɛ], and [æ].

The following diphthongs exist:

ɛ ɪ ʊ i u
a ai au ai̝
ɛ ɛi
ɔ ɔɛ ɔi
ʊ ʊɪ
u ui

No diphthongs begin with /ɪ i i̝/ or end in /a ɔ/.

There are two triphthongs: /aui/ and /aʊɪ/. The back components of these triphthongs are realized as unrounded.


Stress in Iau is predictable: it falls on the final syllable of disyllabic words. (Words may not be longer than two syllables.)


There are eight tones in Iau: two level tones (low and high), two rising tones (low rising and high rising), three falling tones (high-low, high-mid, and mid-low), and one falling-rising tone.

Tone is only lexical on nouns; the lexical forms of verbs are unmarked for tone, and each tone represents a different aspect.

A sequence of two tones (called a tone cluster) may occur on one syllable. There are eleven tone clusters that can occur on verbs to mark aspect; only three of these can occur on nouns.


  1. ^ Iau at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
    Edopi at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Central Tariku". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.