Huon languages

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New Guinea
Linguistic classification Trans–New Guinea
  • Eastern
  • Western
Glottolog huon1246[1]

The Huon languages are a family within the original Trans–New Guinea (TNG) proposal, and William A. Foley considers their TNG identity to be established. They share with the Finisterre languages verbs which are suppletive depending on the person and number of the object, strong morphological evidence that they are related.

Internal structure[edit]

Huon and Finisterre, and then the connection between them, were identified by Kenneth McElhanon (1967, 1970). They are clearly valid language families. Huon contains two clear branches, Eastern and Western. The Western languages allow more consonants in syllable-final position (p, t, k, m, n, ŋ), while the Eastern languages have neutralized those distinctions to two, the glottal stop (written c) and the velar nasal (McElhanon 1974: 17). Beyond that, classification is based on lexicostatistics, which is generally unreliable.

Kâte is the local lingua franca.


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Huon". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 


  • 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. 
  • McElhanon, K. A. (1970). Lexicostatistics and the classification of Huon Peninsula languages. Oceania 40: 215-231.
  • McElhanon, K. A. (1974). The glottal stop in Kâte. Kivung 7: 16-22.