Karkar language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Native to Papua New Guinea
Region Sandaun Province, Amanab District, along the Papua, Indonesia border.
Coordinates 3°44′S 141°5′E / 3.733°S 141.083°E / -3.733; 141.083
Native speakers
1,100 (1994)[1]
  • Eastern
    • Emem–Karkar
      • Karkar
Language codes
ISO 639-3 yuj
Glottolog kark1258[2]

The Karkar language, also known as Yuri, is the sole Pauwasi language in Papua New Guinea. There are about a thousand speakers in along the Indonesian border.


Karkar-Yuri is not related to any other language in Papua New Guinea, and was therefore long thought to be a language isolate. This is the position of Wurm (1983), Foley (1986), and Ross (2005). However, Timothy Usher noticed that it is transparently related to the Pauwasi languages across the border in Indonesia. Indeed, it may even form a dialect continuum with the Eastern Pauwasi language Emem. This was foreshadowed in non-linguistic literature: a 1940 map shows the 'Enam' (Emem)–speaking area as including the Karkar territory in PNG, and the anthropologist Hanns Peter knew that the Karkar dialect continuum continued across the border into Emem territory.[3]

Pronouns are:

sg pl
1ex on-o yin-o
1in nám-o
2 am-o yum-o
3 ma-o

Object forms take -an, sometimes replacing the -o: onan, amoan, man, yinan, námoan, yumoan. Mao is a demonstrative 'that one, those'; it contrasts with nko, nkoan 'the other one(s)'.


The Karkar inventory is as follows.[4]

Stress assignment is complex, but not phonemic within morphemes. Syllable structure is CVC, assuming nasal–plosive sequences are analyzed as prenasalized consonants.

Karkar vowels
i ɨ u
 e   ə   o 
ɛ ɔ

There is also one diphthong, ao /ɒɔ/. Vowels are written á /ɐ/, é /ə/, ae /ɛ/, o /ɔ/, ou /o/, ɨ /ɨ/.

Karkar consonants
Labial Alveolar Retroflex/
Velar Glottal
plain labialized plain labialized
Nasal plain m n
glottalized ˀm ˀn
Stop prenasalized ᵐp ᵐpʷ ⁿt ᵑk ᵑkʷ
plain p t k ʔ
Fricative f s
Flap ˀɾ ɽ
Approximant j w

The rhotics and glottal(ized) consonants do not appear initially in a word, and plain /t/, the approximants, and the labialized consonants do not occur finally. Glottal stop only occurs finally. Final k spirantizes to [x]. Plosives are voiced intervocalically. Intervocalic f and p neutralize to [β] (apart from a few names, where [f] is retained), and intervocalic k is voiced to [ɣ]. Phonemic labialized stops only occur in two words, apwar 'weeds, to weed' and ankwap 'another'.[contradictory] Otherwise consonants are labialized between a rounded and a front vowel, as in pok-ea [pɔɣʷeɑ] 'going up'. In some words, the plosive of a final NC is silent unless suffixed: onomp [ɔnɔm̚] 'my', onompono [ɔnɔmbɔnɔ] 'it's mine'.


  1. ^ Karkar at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Karkar-Yuri". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Harald Hammarström, 2010. The status of the least documented language families in the world
  4. ^ Dorothy Price, 1993. Organised Phonology Data: Karkar-Yuri Language [YUJ]: Green River – Sandaun Province