Keuw language

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Native toPapua
RegionWapoga River, in the foothills inland from Cenderawasih Bay: Wapoga District, Nabire Regency, Papua province
Native speakers
200 (2007)[1]
Lakes Plain?
  • Wapoga
    • Kehu
Language codes
ISO 639-3khh

Kehu (Keu, Keuw) is an unclassified and nearly extinct language of New Guinea.

Keuw is spoken in a swampy lowland region along the Poronai River in Keuw village (kampung) of Wapoga District, Nabire Regency, Papua province, Indonesia. According to oral folklore, the Keuw were originally from Woisaru, and then moved to Sanawado, which may be locations in Wapoga District.[3]


Mark Donohue (2007) said that Kehu is "probably a Geelvink Bay language, but no one knows enough about those languages, systematically, to say this with confidence for [any of them] beyond Barapasi, T(ar)unggare and Bauzi."[4]

Timothy Usher (2018) classifies it as a Lakes Plain language, closest to Awera and Rasawa–Saponi. According to Foley, based on some lexical and phonological similarities, Keuw may possibly share a deep relationship with the Lakes Plain languages.[5]

Basic vocabulary[edit]

Basic vocabulary of Keuw from Kamholz (2012), quoted in Foley (2018):[6][5]

Keuw basic vocabulary
gloss Keuw
‘bird’ páupǝn
‘blood’ kpíi
‘bone’ ntyéns
‘breast’ túulí
‘ear’ téemé
‘eat’ núu
‘egg’ bléemí
‘eye’ mlúul
‘fire’ núup
‘go’ páwì
‘ground’ píi
‘hair’ plíikd
‘head’ kpúunt
‘leg’ páud
‘louse (body)’ máa
‘louse (head)’ bréen
‘man’ méeli
‘moon’ dyúutǝn
‘one’ bíisìp
‘path, road’ ngkéempúkə
‘see’ líyè, tíyè, kúntáb
‘sky’ tpáapí
‘stone’ tóotí
‘sun’ tandən
‘tooth’ mée
‘tree’ kúd
‘two’ páid
‘water’ yél
‘woman’ úun


  1. ^ Kehu at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kehu". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Kamholz, David. 2012. The Keuw isolate: Preliminary materials and classification. In Harald Hammarström and Wilco van den Heuvel (eds.), History, contact, and classification of Papuan languages, 243–268. Special issue of Language and Linguistics in Melanesia. Port Moresby: Linguistic Society of Papua New Guinea.
  4. ^ Donohue (2007)
  5. ^ a b Foley, William A. (2018). "The languages of Northwest New Guinea". In Palmer, Bill (ed.). The Languages and Linguistics of the New Guinea Area: A Comprehensive Guide. The World of Linguistics. 4. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 433–568. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
  6. ^ Kamholz, David. 2012. The Keuw isolate: preliminary materials and classification. Language and Linguistics in Melanesia Special Issue: History, Contact and Classification of Papuan Languages: 243–268.

External links[edit]