Bulaka River languages
|Tubang and Ilwayab subdistricts, Bulaka River watershed, Merauke Regency, Papua|
|Linguistic classification||One of the world's primary language families|
Map: The Bulaka River languages of New Guinea
The Bulaka River languages
Trans–New Guinea languages
Other Papuan languages
The Bulaka River languages are a pair of closely related Papuan languages, Yelmek and Maklew, on the Bulaka River in Indonesian West Papua. They are ethnically Yab (Jab); their speech is Yabga (Jabga).
The two languages are transparently related. Ross (2005) tentatively included them in the proposed Trans-Fly – Bulaka River family, but Usher, who reconstructs that family, does not connect Bulaka River to any other language family.
Usher (2020) reconstructs the consonant inventory as follows. Although the modern inventories of Yelmek and Maklew are nearly identical, the lack of a one-to-one correspondence between them suggests the ancestral inventory was somewhat larger. Usher posits a series of palatal consonants *ɲ *c *ɟ to handle the correspondences of alveolar in Yelmek with velar in Maklew (n~ŋ, t~k, d~g), plus *j for j~s, *w for w~h, *ɣ̃ for ŋ~h, and *s for t~s (found in loans).
*m *n *ɲ *ŋ *p *t *c *k *b *d *ɟ *g [*s] *w *l *j *ɣ̃ *i *u *e *ə *o *a
Usher (2020) reconstructs the pronouns as:
sg pl 1 *ŋ[e]l *ŋag 2 *au (?) *ale (?) 3 *eb *em[e]l
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Bulaka River". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- Evans, Nicholas (2018). "The languages of Southern New Guinea". In Palmer, Bill (ed.). The Languages and Linguistics of the New Guinea Area: A Comprehensive Guide. The World of Linguistics. 4. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 641–774. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
- New Guinea World: Bulaka River
- Timothy Usher, New Guinea World, Proto–Bulaka River