Mailuan languages

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Cloudy Bay
Southeastern peninsula of Papua New Guinea:
Central Province
Linguistic classificationTrans–New Guinea

The Mailuan languages are a small family of Trans–New Guinea languages spoken in the "Bird's Tail" (southeastern peninsula) of New Guinea. They are sometimes included in a speculative Southeast Papuan branch of Trans–New Guinea (TNG), but the Southeast Papuan families have not been shown to be any more closely related to each other than they are to other TNG families.


The languages are,

Bauwaki–O'oku is closely related to the Mailuan languages.

All share about 50% vocabulary.


Pronouns are:

sg du pl
1 *i *gu- *ge
2 *ga *[y]a *[y]a, *mee
3 *emu


Dutton (1971) said Bauwaki was a link to the Yareban languages. It has greater lexical similarity with Aneme Wake (Yareban) than the closest Mailuan language, Domu. Magi shows evidence of language shift from an Oceanic language in a large number of Oceanic words.


Mailuan reflexes of proto-Trans-New Guinea (pTNG) etyma are:[3]

Mailu language:

  • ama ‘breast’ < *amu
  • maa ‘mouth’ < *maŋgat[a]
  • kisa ‘bone’ < *kondaC
  • tupa ‘short’ < *tu(p,mb)a(C)
  • guiacassowary’ < *ku(y)a

Bauwaki language:

  • baba ‘father’ < *mbapa
  • idi ‘hair’ < *iti[C]
  • (ine) ibi ‘name’ < *imbi
  • iini- ‘sleep’ < *kin(i,u)-


  1. ^ New Guinea World, Owen Stanley Range
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Mailuan". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Pawley, Andrew; Hammarström, Harald (2018). "The Trans New Guinea family". 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. 21–196. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
  • 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.