Alekano language

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Native toPapua New Guinea
RegionGoroka District, Eastern Highlands Province
Native speakers
25,000 (1999)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3gah
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Alekano, or Gahuku (Gahuku-Gama), is a Papuan language spoken in the northern district of Goroka Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. There are about 25,000 speakers.[3]

Alekano is also known as Gahuku, after the name of the largest clan of speakers, or Gama, after the second largest clan. Calling the language by these names has been rejected by speakers who are not members of these clans, and Alekano has been largely adopted as the official name. The latter name means "bring it". In two closely related languages spoken directly to the northwest, Tokano and Dano, it has the same meaning.[4][5]


Alekano has 5 vowels, all unrounded, which is exceptional. It has 12 consonants, but /w/ is found only in the village Wanima, in derivations or in pidgin loanwords.[6]


Front Back
High i ɯ
Mid e ɤ
Low ɑ

Glottal coda[edit]

In Alekano, a syllable may be closed only with a glottal stop, as in /ɑʔnesiʔ/ "enough". That is currently not treated as a consonant, but it is unclear if words written as vowel initial begin with a glottal stop. It is written as an acute accent in the orthography, for example, ánesí.[5]


Bilabial Alveolar Velar Glottal
Nasal m n
Plosive p t k
Approximant β l~ɽ ɣ h
Sibilant voiceless s
voiced z

The lateral is [l] initially and [ɽ] between vowels.


The most complex syllables are of the form /CVVʔ/: VV may be a diphthong of /ɑ/, /e/, or /ɤ/ followed by /i/ or /ɯ/, or of /iɯ/. Other vowels may also occur in sequence (hiatus).


Alekano has low and high tones but with a very low functional load. HL receives strong stress, LH lesser stress.


Alekano is a subject–object–verb (SOV) language.[7]


Alekano uses the Latin script.[6]

IPA ɑ e ɣ h i k l m n ɤ p s z t ɯ β
Letter Aa Ee Gg Hh Ii Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Ss Zz Tt Uu Vv


  1. ^ Alekano at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Alekano". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Ethnologue report for Alekano
  4. ^ Deibler, Ellis W. 1987. "The function of glottal stop in Gahuku." In John M. Clifton (ed.), Studies in Melanesian orthographies, 23-30. Data Papers on Papua New Guinea Languages, 33. Ukarumpa: Summer Institute of Linguistics. [1]
  5. ^ a b Deibler, Ellis W., compiler. Available: 2008; Created: 2008. Dictionaries of Alekano - English and English - Alekano. [Manuscript] iii, 311 p. [2]
  6. ^ a b 1992. Alekano Organised Phonology Data. [Manuscript] [3]
  7. ^

External links[edit]