Yareban languages

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Musa River
Southeastern peninsula of Papua New Guinea:
Oro Province
Linguistic classificationTrans–New Guinea

The Yareban 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.


Usher (2020) reconstructs the consonant inventory as follows:[3]

*m *n
*pʰ *tʰ [*s] *kʰ
*b *d [*dz] [*g]
*w *j

*s and *dz were acquired through loans, but may have already been present in the protolanguage. *ʔ and *g may have been allophones.

Vowels are *a *e *i *o *u.


Usher (2020) reconstructs the pronouns as:[3]

sg du pl
1excl *na *ewa
1incl *uwa *i[j]a
2 *a *ja
3 *dawa *ema(wa)


The languages are,

Barijian is suggested by lexicostatistics in Dutton (1971).

The only pronouns which are known in enough languages to reconstruct are na 1sg and a 2sg, which are common to all Yareban languages.


Yareban reflexes of proto-Trans-New Guinea (pTNG) etyma are:[4]

Yareba language:

  • ama ‘breast’ < *amu
  • uyaucassowary’ < *ku(y)a
  • rarara ‘dry’ < *(ŋg,k)atata
  • baba ‘father’ < *mbapa
  • iji ‘hair’ < *iti[C]
  • ifu ‘name’ < *imbi
  • kofiti ‘head’ < *kV(mb,p)(i,u)tu
  • ogo ‘water’ < *ok[V]
  • eme ‘man’ < *ambi

Abia language:

  • amai ‘mother’ < *am(a,i)
  • sagai ‘sand’ < *sa(ŋg,k)asiŋ


  1. ^ New Guinea World, Owen Stanley Range
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Yareban". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b New Guinea World, Musa River
  4. ^ 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.

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