Mussau-Emira language

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Native toPapua New Guinea
RegionIslands of Mussau and Emira (New Ireland Province)
Native speakers
5,000 (2003)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3emi
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The Mussau-Emira language is spoken on the islands of Mussau and Emirau in the St. Matthias Islands in the Bismarck Archipelago.




Mussau-Emira distinguishes the following consonants.

Bilabial Alveolar Velar
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive p b t k ɡ
Fricative s
Liquid l r


Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e o
Low a


In most words the primary stress falls on the penultimate vowel and secondary stresses fall on every second syllable preceding that. This is true of suffixed forms as well, as in níma 'hand', nimá-gi 'my hand'; níu 'coconut', niyúna 'its coconut'.


Pronouns and person markers[edit]

Free pronouns[edit]

Person Singular Plural Dual Trial
1st person inclusive ita ita lua
1st person exclusive agi ami ami lua
2nd person io aŋa aŋa lua aŋa tolu
3rd person ia ila ila lua

Subject prefixes[edit]

Prefixes mark the subjects of each verb:

  • (agi) a-namanama 'I'm eating'
  • (io) u-namanama 'you're (sing.) eating'
  • (ia) e-namanama 'he's/she's eating'

Sample vocabulary[edit]


  1. kateba
  2. qalua
  3. kotolu
  4. qaata
  5. qalima
  6. qaonomo
  7. qaitu
  8. qaoalu
  9. qasio
  10. kasagaula


  1. ^ Mussau-Emira at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Mussau-Emira". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

Further reading[edit]

  • Blust, Robert (1984). "A Mussau vocabulary, with phonological notes." In Malcolm Ross, Jeff Siegel, Robert Blust, Michael A. Colburn, W. Seiler, Papers in New Guinea Linguistics, No. 23, 159-208. Series A-69. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • Ross, Malcolm (1988). Proto Oceanic and the Austronesian languages of western Melanesia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • Mussau Grammar Essentials by John and Marjo Brownie (Data Papers on Papua New Guinea Languages, volume 52). 2007. Ukarumpa: SIL.[1][permanent dead link]

External links[edit]