Abau language

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Native toPapua New Guinea
Native speakers
7,300 (2000 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3aau

Abau is a Papuan language spoken in the Sandaun Province of Papua New Guinea, primarily along the shores of the Sepik River.

In 2002, there were estimated to be between 4,500 and 5,000 speakers, and this number does not appear to have declined since the first accurate count in the 1970s.

Abau is reported to have whistled speech.


Front Central Back
Close i u
Close-mid e ə o
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Open a

/ə/ appears only in medial positions.[3]

Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n
Stop p k
Fricative s h
Flap r
Approximant j w

/r/ has several allophones: word-initially, it is [l], after /n/ it is [d], [r] intervocalically, and [t] or [ɺ] word-finally. /h/ becomes [ç] before /i/ and [ɸ] before /u/. Stops are voiced when following nasal consonants.[3]


  1. ^ Abau at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Abau". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b c d Laycock (1965:116)


External links[edit]