Extended West Papuan languages

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Extended West Papuan
Papua Province and Halmahera, Indonesia
Linguistic classification Proposed language family
Glottolog None

The Extended West Papuan language family is a tentative proposal in Malcolm Ross's classification of Papuan languages. It includes the West Papuan languages of the Indonesian island of Halmahera and the Bird's Head Peninsula of far western New Guinea; the Yawa language isolate (or small family) on Yapen Island in Cenderawasih (Geelvink) Bay, Indonesian New Guinea (previously placed in the hypothetical Geelvink Bay family); and a newly proposed East Bird's Head – Sentani family scattered across northern Indonesian New Guinea.

The Extended West Papuan languages are defined by common first-person pronouns: da or di for the singular ("I") and m- for the exclusive ("we"), which are found in all branches of the three constituent families except for the Amberbaken isolate within West Papuan proper.

The families linked by these various proposals are thus,


The pronominal evidence connecting these families is at least as strong as the evidence for classifying Borai-Hattam as West Papuan. The relevant pronouns are "I", "thou" and "we" (exclusive).

family I thou we
West Papuan *da, *di- *na, *ni, *a- *mam, *mi
EBH-Sentani *da, *di *ba~wa, *bi *meme, *me
Yava *rei *wein (imama etc.)

All have forms in *d for "I" and *m for "we". (Most Yawa forms of "we" also have m, such as imama, but they are too diverse for an easy reconstruction.) EBH-Sentani and Yava have bilabials for "thou".


  • 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.