East Geelvink Bay languages

East Geelvink Bay
East Cenderawasih
Papua Province, Indonesia
Linguistic classificationOne of the world's primary language families

The East Geelvink Bay or East Cenderawasih languages are a language family of a dozen Papuan languages along the eastern coast of Geelvink Bay in Indonesian Papua, which is also known as Sarera Bay or Cenderawasih.


The East Geelvink Bay languages are:

Turunggare, Barapasi, BauziDemisa, Nisa-Anasi (Bapu), Burate, Kofei, Sauri, Tefaro, Woria

Of these, only Turunggare, Barapasi, and Bauzi are known well enough to demonstrate a relationship, though they are all lexically similar (> 60%). The unclassified Kehu language, spoken between Turunggare and Burate, may turn out to be East Geelvink Bay as well.[1]

Bauzi is the best documented East Geelvink Bay language, but may or may not be representative of the Geelvink Bay family as a whole.[2]


A relationship between Yawa, spoken on Yapen Island, and the East Geelvink Bay languages was tentatively proposed by C. L. Voorhoeve in 1975 in a proposal he called Geelvink Bay. The hypothesis was taken up by Stephen Wurm, who developed it as part of an initial attempt to classify the Papuan languages; however, the relationship would be a distant one, and later linguists such as Mark Donohue considered Yawa to be a language isolate.

Clouse (1997) removed the Lakes Plain languages of the upper Mamberamo River in the interior of Papua from Trans–New Guinea, where Würm had placed them, and added them to the Geelvink Bay languages. However, in his 2005 classification based on comparative evidence from pronouns, Malcolm Ross treats all three groups as separate families, with Yawa tentatively placed in an extended West Papuan family.


Verbal morphology in the East Geelvink Bay family is less complex than that of Tor-Kwerba languages, but is more complex than that of the Lakes Plain languages.[2]


The pronouns Ross reconstructs for proto–East Geelvink Bay are,

I *e we *i
thou *o you *u
s/he *a they ?

Basic vocabulary[edit]

Basic vocabulary of selected East Cenderawasih languages (Barapasi, Bauzi, Demisa, Tunggare) listed in Foley (2018):[2]

East Cenderawasih family basic vocabulary
gloss Barapasi Bauzi Demisa Tunggare
‘bird’ de bume bijana dinarate
‘blood’ nosi vasɛa nahabi nahavei
‘bone’ para fa heta ha
‘eat’ ai æ ɣayo
‘egg’ moʔa ɔɔ mwa ʔoʔo
‘eye’ aronua faxo halukwa hanua
‘fire’ awa vua gwa urehe
‘give’ wai nore
‘ground’ deta bake bæi baʔe
‘hair’ nawa ohuta ohutai ohitaʔi
‘head’ osi ohula ohuda ʔohaha
‘I’ emi e emdə ei
‘leg’ naro naɔ naro nal
‘louse’ woa vɔa yo ʔua
‘man’ doro dam damateha date
‘name’ here ɛ ʔe
‘one’ orari væmtɛa natudüe duaʔa
‘see’ ute aa maʔai
‘stone’ aea ɛdu hahia
‘sun’ wapao ala arɔ au
‘tooth’ moru mo molu mou
‘tree’ auma uto uto-me
‘two’ apimi bɛhæsu utahu amaite
‘water’ waro vaɔ wɔte mana
‘we’ i-me i i
‘you (pl)’ u-mi u wi

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Geelvink Bay". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ a b c Foley, William A. (2018). "The languages of Northwest New Guinea". 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. 433–568. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
  • 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.

External links[edit]