Wahgi language

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Native to Papua New Guinea
Region Western Highlands Province
Native speakers
86,000  (1999)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Either:
wgi – Mid-Wahgi
whg – North Wahgi

Wahgi is a Trans–New Guinea language of the Chimbu–Wahgi branch spoken by approximately 100,000 people in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.

Like other Chimbu languages, Wahgi has some unusual lateral consonants. According to Phillips (1973),[2] Middle Wahgi has three laterals, all of which are voiceless in final position and optionally but freely voiced between vowels:

  • Dental /ɬ̪/ appears as a "voiceless dental fricative lateral with voiceless grooved dental fricative release", [ɬ̪ˢ], as well as voiceless and voiced dental lateral fricatives, [ɬ̪] and [ɮ̪].
  • Alveolar /ɬ/ [Incomplete...]
  • Velar /ʟ̝̊/ appears as voiceless [ʟ̝̊] and voiced [ʟ̝]. These occur in free variation with a uvular flap [ɢ̆] intervocalically, and with a voiceless affricate [k͡ʟ̝̊]. Before dental and alveolar consonants, it assimilates to alveolar [ɬ].

In North Wahgi, and in other related languages, the velar lateral corresponds to an alveolar lateral flap, [ɺ].[3]


  1. ^ Mid-Wahgi at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
    North Wahgi at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Donald Phillips, 1973, Wahgi phonology and morphology, Pacific linguistics B, issue 36, pp 17
  3. ^ Phillips 1973:59