Purari language

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Not to be confused with Iaai language.
Native to Papua New Guinea
Region Purari River, Gulf Province
Native speakers
7,000 (2011)[1]
unclassified (Trans–New Guinea?)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 iar
Glottolog pura1257[2]

Purari is a Papuan language of Papua New Guinea.

Pronouns are 1sg nai, 2sg ni, 1pl enei. The first may reflect Trans–New Guinea *na, but otherwise there is little evidence to classify the language.


Purari is also known as Koriki, Evorra, I'ai, Maipua, and Namau. "Namau" is a colonial term which means "deaf (lit.), inattentive, or stupid (Williams 1924: 4)." Today people of the Purari Delta find this term offensive. F.E. Williams reports that the "[a]n interpreter suggests that by some misunderstanding the name had its origin in the despair of an early missionary, who, finding the natives turned a deaf ear to his teaching, dubbed them all 'Namau'." (Williams 1924: 4). Koriki, I'ai, and Maipua refer to self-defining groups that make up the six groups that today compose the people who speak Purari. Along with the Baroi (formerly known as the Evorra, which was the name of a village site), Kaimari and the Vaimuru, these groups speak mutually intelligible dialects of Purari.


  1. ^ Purari at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Purari". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 

Further readings[edit]

  • Holmes, J. H. (Jan–June 1913). "A Preliminary Study of the Namau Language, Purari Delta, Papua". Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. 43: 124–142. doi:10.2307/2843165. JSTOR 2843165.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • Williams, F.E. (1924). The natives of the Purari Delta. Port Moresby: Government Printer. 

External links[edit]

  • Materials on Karnai are included in the open access Arthur Capell collections (AC1 and AC2) held by Paradisec
  • Paradisec has an open access collection from Tom Dutton (TD1) that includes Purari language materials