[PapuanLanguages] 2nd Follow-up with some Irian Jaya languages unclassified in the Ethnologue

Harald Hammarström harald at bombo.se
Fri May 18 03:17:58 EST 2007

Dear all,
My last mail provoked to clarificatory responsed (consistent with
each other) which I'd like to share with the rest of the list. I quote
the relevant parts in full below. (I also want to apologize for my sloppy
use of the acronym PNG to denote the PNG+Irian Jaya island.)

all the best,

Nicolas Ossart:
I have been able to have access to wordlists of the Betaf and Lepki
languages, particularly parts of these wordlists dealing with
numerals. It appears that the numeral morphemes of both languages are
clearly Non-Austronesian, the Lepki ones showing absolutely no
relationship with any other languages of the area (and also to other
ones as far as I know). But the Betaf datas (actually just numbers
from 1 to 3) show similarities with northern Tor languages like
Kwesten or Keder.

Mark Donohue:
I've been in two of the three areas in Irian / Papua that you're
asking about.
are, along with a number of other langauges, unclassified groups
living between the main cordillera and Mt. 6234, in the north of
Papua near the PNG border (where 'near' = up to about 6 days' walk).
They don't appear to be related to each other, based on wordlists,
and they don't appear to show external affiliations.
is spoken inland from Cenderawasih Bay, in the lowlands. It's
probably a Geelvink Bay language, but noone knows enough about those
languages, systematically, to say this with confidence for anyone
beyond Barapasi, T(ar)unggare and Bauzi

Is almost certainly a Tor family langauge, spoken on the north coast
east of the main Tor area, but clearly related.
Note that none of these languages is spoken in PNG.

On Wed, 16 May 2007, Harald Hammarström wrote:

> Dear all,
> About a year ago I enquired for more information about a number
> of languages which the Ethnologue (15th) lists as unclassified:
> Turumsa [tqm]
> Dso [dol]
> Murkim [rmh]
> Keu/kehu [khh]
> Lepki [lpe]
> Kembre/kembra [xkw]
> Betaf [bfe] (this one is listed in index of irian jaya lgs 1984).
> Andrew Pawley pointed out that, the last three, Lepki, Kembra and Betaf,
> are listed as SHWNG (thus Austronesian) languages in Carrington (1996)
> [which unfortunately I do not have access to], but there was no further
> information.
> As many people have probably noticed already, SIL PNG put up a site on
> Endangered PNG languages:
> http://www.pnglanguages.org/pacific/png/endangered.asp
> One of the documents there clarifies the Turumsa and Doso languages,
> in that they are TNG, as per wordlists that have yet to published.
> I still haven't found out anything about Kehu or Murkim (but they may
> be listed in Index of Irian Jaya Lgs 2nd Ed, 1991 which I don't have
> access to).
> all the best,
> H
> References:
> L. Carrington 1996 A linguistic bibliography of the New Guinea area,
> PLSD 90, RSPA.

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