Eipo language

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Native toIndonesia
RegionWest Papua, Eipo River
EthnicityEipo people
Native speakers
(3,000 cited 1987)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3eip

Eipo (Eipomek), or Lik, is a Mek language of the eastern highlands of West Papua. It spoken by the Eipo people who live along the Eipo River. A large percentage of its vocabulary is shared with Una and Tanime, and they form one dialect area.[3]


Eipo belongs to the Eastern branch of Mek languages, which is a family of closely related languages belonging to the larger grouping of Trans-New Guinea languages.

Geographic distribution[edit]

The Eipo language is spoken by about 3,000 people along the Eipo River in the valley of Eipomek, which is situated in the eastern highlands of West Papua.[1]



Eipo exhibits the following 16 phonemic consonants:[4]

Consonant phonemes
  Bilabial Labio-
Alveolar Palatal Velar
Plosive p b     t d c   k ɡ
Fricative   β f   s          
Nasal   m       n       ŋ
Tap or flap           ɾ        
Approximant               j    
  • /p/ indicates a labialized [pwɵ].[5]
  • /c/ indicates a palatalized [tj].[5]


Eipo has five phonemic vowels:[4]

Monophthong phonemes
  Front Central Back
Close i   u
Open-mid e   o
Open   a  

Diphthongs are not regarded as separate phonemes.[4]



Eipo is generally isolating language, but exhibits an elaborate system of agglutination in verb formation.


The usual word order of Eipo is subject-object-verb (SOV).

Writing system[edit]

Eipo is not historically a written language, but in recent decades a Latin alphabet has been devised for it. The letter values are mostly those of the IPA letters given above, with the exceptions of /β/ ⟨w⟩, /ŋ/ ⟨ng⟩, /ɾ/ ⟨r⟩, and /j/ ⟨y⟩.


  1. ^ a b Eipo at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Eipomek". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Heeschen 1998, p. 18.
  4. ^ a b c Heeschen 1998, p. 117.
  5. ^ a b Heeschen 1998, p. 118.
  • Heeschen, Volker (1998). An Ethnographic Grammar of the Eipo Language (spoken in the central mountains of Irian Jaya (West New Guinea), Indonesia). Berlin: Reimer.