Morehead and Upper Maro River languages

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Morehead and Upper Maro Rivers
New Guinea
Linguistic classification: Trans-Fly – Bulaka River ?
  • Morehead and Upper Maro Rivers
  • Kanum
  • Yey
  • Nambu
  • Tonda
Glottolog: more1255[1]
Map: The Morehead and Upper Maro River languages of New Guinea
  Morehead & Upper Maro River languages
  Trans–New Guinea languages
  Other Papuan languages
  Austronesian languages
  Australian languages

The Morehead and Upper Maro River languages are a family of Papuan languages. They include many of the languages south and west of the Fly River in Papua New Guinea and Indonesian West Papua. The name was locating the languages between the Morehead and Maro rivers. As this name leaves out the Nambu subgroup whose languages are spoken east of the Morehead, these languages are now referred to as the Yam languages. The term stems from a number of linguistic and cultural items of significance. yam is the word in Kómnzo and Nen for "custom, tradition". ym or yem is a cognate for the 3 Singular of "to be". Yam tubers are the local staple and it cultural importance cannot be overstated.

Ross (2005) tentatively includes the Yam languages in the proposed Trans-Fly – Bulaka River family. More recently (Evans 2012) has argued that this is not justified and more data has to be gathered.


 Morehead – 
Upper Maro


Tonda (a dialect chain): Kanum (five distinct languages: Smerky, Taemer, Barkari, Ngkolmpu, Baedi), Rema, Blafe, Ránmo, Arammba, Warta Thuntai, Kánchá, Kémä, Wára, Wérè, Kómnzo, Anta

Nambu: Nama, Namat, Neme, Ndre, Nambu, Namo (Nä), Lä (Len), Nen


The pronouns Ross reconstructs for the family are,

Proto–Morehead – Upper Maro
I/we *ni
you *bu
s/he/they *be

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Morehead and Upper Maro Rivers". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.