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Kala language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from ISO 639:kcl)
Native toPapua New Guinea
RegionHuon District, Morobe Province: Salamaua Rural LLG and Morobe Rural LLG
Native speakers
2,200 (2011)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3kcl

Kala, also known as Kela, is an Austronesian language spoken by about 2200 people (in 2002) in several villages along the south coast of the Huon Gulf between Salamaua Peninsula and the Paiawa River, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea.


The principal villages from north to south are:

There are four dialects of Kala. The three southern villages share a dialect with very minor differences found in the village of Kui while each of the northern villages has its own dialect.

Linguistically, Kala belongs to the North Huon Gulf languages and Kala-speakers appear to have arrived on the southern coast of the Gulf relatively recently, beginning perhaps as late as the 17th century (Bradshaw 1997).


Kala has five basic vowels (listed below), as well as contrastive nasal vowels.

Front Central Back
High i ĩ u ũ
High-mid e o õ
Low a ã

The consonants of Kala are listed below.

Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar
Plosive p b t d k g
Fricative s (z)
Nasal m n ŋ
Approximant w j
Tap/flap ɾ

The voiced alveolar fricative [z] only exists in the dialects spoken in Apoze and Lambu villages.

In 2010, anthropologists from the University of British Columbia, Okanagan campus, worked in a collaborative project with the Kala Language Committee, a group of individuals concerned with strengthening Kala language amongst their communities, to decide on a Kala orthographic system. The practical writing system for Kala includes the following letters: ⟨a, ã, b, d, e, ẽ, g, i, ĩ, k, l, m, n, ŋ, o, õ, p, s, t, u, ũ, w, y, z⟩. The committee chose the tilde symbol to represent nasal vowels in their practical writing system as it reminded them of ocean waves (called titi in Kala) since they are coastal people.[2]



Like most of the languages around the Huon Gulf, Kala has a system of birth order names (Holzknecht 1989: 43-45, Devolder et al 2012). Each dialect has their own terms for birth-order names. Compare Numbami.

Birth order

Southern Dialect

Sons Daughters
1 Alisa Kale
2 Aniya (Kamiali, Alẽso)

Aniã (Kui)

3 Gwe Aya (Kamiali, Kui)

Aiya (Alẽso)

4 Aluŋ (Kamiali, Alẽso)

Alũ (Kui)

5 Sele Auya (Kamiali)

Owiya (Alẽso, Kui)

6 Dai (Kamiali, Alẽso)

Dei (Kui)

Samba Uya (Kamiali, Kui)

Dei (Alẽso)

7 Samba Daliya (Kamiali, Kui)

Samba Uya (Alẽso)

8 Deliya (Alẽso)
Birth order

Northern Villages

Sons Daughters
1 Alisa (Apoze)

Asa (Lambu)

Asap (Manindala)

Kale (Apoze)

Kali (Lambu, Manindala)

2 Aniya (Lambu, Manindala)

Aniã (Apoze)

Aiga (Apoze, Manindala)

Aiza (Lambu)

3 Gwe (Apoze, Manindala)

Gwae (Lambu)

Aya (Apoze, Lambu)

Aiya (Manindala)

4 Aluŋ (Apoze, Lambu)

Dam (Manindala)

5 Sele Wouya (Apoze)

Obiye (Lambu)

Aobiye (Manindala)

6 Dai (Lambu, Manindala)

Dei (Apoze)

Dei (Apoze)

Dambiye (Lambu)

Damiye (Manindala)

7 Asemba (Apoze)

Ŋsemba (Lambu)

Asemba (Apoze)

Ŋazizi (Lambu)

Daiye (Manindala)

8 Ŋa zalia (Apoze)


Kala is spoken in six villages along the Huon Gulf, and as such is split into different dialects. The most significant differences, which are phonological and lexical, exist between the northernmost three villages and the southernmost, however, differences also exist between the individual villages, especially for Manindala (Kela) in the north. This dialect contains syllable codas, which no other dialect shows. [4]

busambu 'sandfly' (Apoze, Kamiali, Alẽso, Kui)
busamu 'sandfly' (Lambu)
busamuk 'sandfly' (Manindala)

ambe 'yam' (Apoze, Kamiali, Alẽso, Kui)
ame 'yam' (Lambu)
amek 'yam' (Manindala)

mbua 'snake' (Lambu, Alẽso, Kamiali, Kui)
mua 'snake' (Apoze)
mowak 'snake' (Manindala)

do 'turtle' (Kamiali, Alẽso, Kui) [4]
zo 'turtle' (Apoze)
za 'turtle' (Lambu)
sa 'turtle' (Manindala)


  1. ^ Kala at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ "Mobile Menu". benjamins.com. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  3. ^ "Research". www.christineschreyer.ca. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  4. ^ a b Kala kana bi na kapia : diksineri bilong Tok ples Kala (Kala dictionary). Wagner, John, 1949-, Schreyer, Christine, 1979-, DeVolder, Chara, 1989-, University of British Columbia. Okanagan Campus. Centre for Social, Spatial, and Economic Justice. Kelowna, B.C. May 2012. ISBN 9780986538773. OCLC 796918846.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link) CS1 maint: others (link)
  • Bradshaw, Joel (1997). "The population kaleidoscope: Another factor in the Melanesian diversity v. Polynesian homogeneity debate." Journal of the Polynesian Society 106: 222-249.
  • DeVolder, Chara, Christine Schreyer and John Wagner, eds. (2012). Kala Kaŋa Bi Ŋa Kapia – Diksineri bilong Tok Ples Kala (Kala Dictionary). Kelowna: Centre for Social, Spatial and Economic Justice.
  • Holzknecht, Susanne (1989). The Markham languages of Papua New Guinea. Series C-115. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • Johnson, Morris (1994). Kela organised phonology data. [1]
  • Schreyer, Christine (2015). Community Consensus and Social Identity in Alphabet Development: The relationship between Kala and Jabêm. Written Language and Literacy, 18(1): 175-199.