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West Papuan language

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West Papuan language

West Papuan
Geographic
distribution:
Maluku and West Papua
Linguistic classification: Extended West Papuan ?
  • West Papuan
Subdivisions:
  •  ? Amberbaken
  •  ? Hattam
  • Halmahera
  • West Bird's Head
  •  ? Abun
  •  ? Maybrat

The West Papuan languages are a hypothetical language family of about two dozen Papuan languages of the Bird's Head Peninsula (Vogelkop or Doberai Peninsula) of far western New Guinea and the island of Halmahera, spoken by about 220 000 people in all.

The best known West Papuan language is Ternate (50 000 native speakers), which is a regional lingua franca and which, along with Tidore, were the languages of the rival medieval Ternate and Tidore kingdoms of the spice trade.

The German linguist Wilhelm Schmidt first linked the Bird's Head and Halmahera languages in 1900. In 1957 HKL Cowan linked them to the non-Austronesian languages of Timor as well. Stephen Wurm believed that although traces of West Papuan languages were to be found in the languages of Timor, as well as those of Aru and Great Andaman, this was due to a substratum and that these languages should be classified as Trans–New Guinea, Austronesian, and Andamanese, respectively.

Classification

In 2005, Malcolm Ross made a tentative proposal that the West Papuan languages form one of three branches of an extended West Papuan family that also includes the Yawa language isolate (or small family), previously placed in the hypothetical Geelvink Bay family, and a newly proposed East Bird's Head – Sentani family as a third branch. West Papuan proper is distinguished from these other extended West Papuan families in having forms like na or ni for the second-person singular ("thou") pronoun.

The classification used here is based on Wurm, modified to reflect the North Halmaheran classification of Voorhoeve 1988. He identifies the subdivisions of his Papuan classification as families (on the order of the Germanic languages), stocks (on the order of the Indo-European languages), and phyla (on the order of the Afroasiatic languages). West Papuan is a phylum in this terminology.

Wurm's family-level nodes are bold in the cladogram below:

West Papuan 

Mpur (Amberbaken)



Hattam (Borai)


 Core  West Papuan 
 Bird's Head 

West Bird's Head




Abun



Mai Brat (Central Bird's Head)





 Halmahera




Ethnologue (2009) removed Mpur, Hattam, Abun, and Mai Brat, as families of their own, and added the Yawa languages.

Most of the languages of East Nusa Tenggara and Maluku appear to have some non-Austronesian influence.[1]

Pronouns

The pronouns Ross reconstructs for proto-West Papuan are,

I *da, *di- exclusive we *mam, *mi-
inclusive we *po-
thou *ni, *na, *a- you *nan, *ni-
she *mV they *yo, *ana, *yo-

These are shared by the "core" West Papuan families. Hattam reflects only "I" and "thou", and Amberbaken only "thou", "you", and "she".

References

See also


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