Kele language (New Guinea)

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Native to Papua New Guinea
Region Manus Island
Native speakers
(600 cited 1982)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 sbc
Glottolog kele1258[2]

Kele or Gele’ is a language spoken in the easterly section of inland Manus Island, New Guinea.[1] Its name comes from the Kele word for "there".[3]


The syllable structure of Kele is (C)V(C).

Labial Alveolar Velar Glottal
plain labialized plain labialized
Nasal m n ŋ ŋʷ
Stop voiceless p t k ʔ
voiced b d
Fricative s h
Approximant w j
Rhotic r
Lateral l

/b d/ are often trilled [bʙ dr]. Additionally, /b d/ are prenasalized when not occurring before another consonant.

Kele has five vowels: a, e, i, o and u. Vowels can also be elongated. Ross (2002) describes this vowel length as non-phonemic, and instead as part of one of four different disyllabic patterns in words.[3] He also notes that no word contains more than one long vowel.[3]


Kele has eleven pronouns, distinguishing first person inclusive and exclusive pronouns as well as dual and plural number. Different versions of each pronoun can be prefixed to show the subject and suffixed to show possession. Nearly all verbs require a preceding subject prefix; however, a few verbs instead require a possessor suffix to indicate the subject.

Sample vocabulary[edit]


Bed: Petlé
Road: Sal
House: Um
Stone: Pat


Learn: Penow
Teach: Te-penow
Die: Mat
Kill: Te-mete-i


  1. ^ a b Kele at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kele (Papua New Guinea)". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ a b c Crowley, Terry; Lynch, John; Ross, Malcolm (2002). The Oceanic Languages. London and New York: Routledge. pp. 123-25

External links[edit]