Abun language

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North Bird's Head
Native toPapua
RegionBird's Head Peninsula
Native speakers
3,000 (1995)[1]
West Papuan
  • West–Central Bird's Head
    • Abun
  • Abun Tat (Karon Pantai)
  • Abun Ji (Madik)
  • Abun Je
Language codes
ISO 639-3kgr

Abun, also known as Yimbun, A Nden, Manif, or Karon, is a West Papuan language spoken along the northern coast of the Bird's Head Peninsula. It is not closely related to any other language, and though Ross (2005) assigned it to the West Papuan family, based on similarities in pronouns,[3] Ethnologue and Glottolog list it as a language isolate.[1][2]

Abun used to have three lexical tones, but only two are distinguished now as minimal pairs and even these are found in limited vocabulary. Therefore Abun is said to be losing its tonality due to linguistic change.[4]


Abun has four distinct dialects: Abun Tat, Abun Ye, and the two dialects of Abun Ji. The two Abun Ji dialects are differentiated by their use of /r/ or /l/. Abun exists on a dialect continuum from Abun Tat to Abun Ji /l/: speakers of Abun Tat are less able to understand Abun Ji than Abun Ye.[5]


Abun has 5 vowels: /a, e, i, o, u/.[5]

Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar
Stop voiceless p t k
voiced b d g
prenasal. mb nd ŋg
Affricate voiced d͡ʒ
prenasal. nd͡ʒ
Fricative f s ʃ
Nasal m n ɲ
Approximant l j w
Trill r


  1. ^ a b Abun at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ a b Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Abun". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^
    • Ross, Malcolm (2005). "Pronouns as a preliminary diagnostic for grouping Papuan languages". In Andrew Pawley; Robert Attenborough; Robin Hide; Jack Golson. Papuan pasts: cultural, linguistic and biological histories of Papuan-speaking peoples. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. pp. 15–66. ISBN 0858835622. OCLC 67292782.
  4. ^ Muysken, Pieter. From Linguistic Areas to Areal Linguistics. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 134. ISBN 9789027231000.
  5. ^ a b "A description of Abun: a west Papuan language of Irian Jaya". SIL International. 2013-01-24. Retrieved 2018-08-20.

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