Lower Mamberamo languages

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Lower Mamberamo
New Guinea
Linguistic classificationOne of the world's primary language families

The Lower Mamberamo languages are a recently proposed language family linking two languages spoken along the northern coast of Papua province, Indonesia, near the mouth of the Mamberamo River.


The two languages, Warembori and Yoke, were listed as isolates in Stephen Wurm's widely used classification. Donohue (1998) showed them to be related with shared morphological irregularities.[2] Ross (2007) classified Warembori as an Austronesian language based on pronouns; however, Donohue argues that these are borrowed, since the two pronouns most resistant to borrowing, 'I' and 'thou', do not resemble Austronesian or any other language family. The singular prefixes resemble Kwerba languages, but Lower Mamberamo has nothing else in common with that family. (See Warembori language and Yoke language for details.) Donohue argues that they form an independent family, though one perhaps related to another Papuan family, that has been extensively relexified under Austronesian influence, especially in the case of Warembori.


In 1855, G. J. Fabritius collected numerals from around Geelvink Bay. At the 'Ambermo' (Mamberamo) River at the eastern extent of his coverage, he collected tenama '1' and bisa '2' from an unnamed language. However, he notes that the people only 'count' by means of singular and plural, so it's doubtful whether tenama and bisa are actually numerals. In any case, these words do not resemble the numerals in any language of the area, so the language Fabritius encountered remains unidentified.[3]


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Lower Mamberamo". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Donohue, Mark (1998 [2003]). Warembori, and the Lower Mamberamo family.
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "'Ambermo'". 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 (eds.). Papuan pasts: cultural, linguistic and biological histories of Papuan-speaking peoples. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. pp. 15–66. ISBN 0858835622. OCLC 67292782.

See also[edit]