3 South-Central Papuan languages

South-Central Papuan languages

South-Central Papuan
New Guinea
Linguistic classification: a primary family of Papuan languages
Bulaka River

The South-Central Papuan languages are a hypothetical family of Papuan languages proposed in 2005 by Malcolm Ross. It inherits much of the Trans-Fly – Bulaka River family posited by Stephen Wurm as a branch of his 1975 Trans–New Guinea proposal. Wurm himself concluded that some of the Trans-Fly – Bulaka River languages were not Trans–New Guinea but rather heavily influenced by Trans–New Guinea languages. Ross concurred and removed the South-Central Papuan and Eastern Trans-Fly branches from Wurm's family, leaving only Tirio, Kiwaian, and Moraori within Trans–New Guinea, and the Trans–New Guinea identity of Kiwaian suspect.



The three South-Central Papuan families are only distantly related. Ross (2005) places them only tentatively together. A more conservative approach would postulate three independent stocks.

South-Central Papuan 

Bulaka River family: Yelmek, Maklew

Pahoturi family: Agöb (Dabu), Idi [a dialect chain]


 Morehead – 
Upper Maro

Kanum (varieties have difficult intelligibility)


Nambu: Namo (Dorro), Nambo (Nambu), Neme, Namat, Nama, Nen

Tonda: Anta, Arammba, Blafe, Guntai, Kánchá, Kómnjo, Rema, Wára, Wéré


The pronouns Ross reconstructs for the three families are,

Proto–Morehead – Upper Maro
I/we *ni
you *bu
s/he/they *be
I *ŋa-na we ?
thou *ba or *be you *-bi
s/he *bo they ?
Proto–Bulaka River
I *ŋöl we *ŋag
thou *ob you *el
s/he *ib they *im

See also


  • Ross, Malcolm (2005). "Pronouns as a preliminary diagnostic for grouping Papuan languages". In Andrew Pawley, Robert Attenborough, Robin Hide, Jack Golson, eds. Papuan pasts: cultural, linguistic and biological histories of Papuan-speaking peoples. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. pp. 15–66. ISBN 0858835622. OCLC 67292782. 

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