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PAPUA NEW GUINEA
SPOKEN LANGUAGES IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA1
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Languages of Papua New Guinea

See language map.
[See also SIL publications on the languages of Papua New Guinea.]

National or official languages: Hiri Motu, Tok Pisin, English. 4,600,000 (1998 UN), 78% Papuan, 20% Melanesian. 600 islands. Literacy rate 32% to 43%. Also includes Chinese, people from the Philippines, India. Information mainly from J.C. Anceaux 1961; A. Healey 1964; K. Franklin 1968; G. Sankoff 1968; J.A. Z'Graggen 1969, 1971, 1975; K. McElhanon 1970, 1978; B. Hooley 1971; ----- and K. McElhanon 1970; R.D. Shaw 1973, 1981; S. Wurm and S. Hattori 1981; M. Ross 1988; L. Carrington 1996; SIL 1971-1999. Christian, traditional religion, cargo cult, Baha'i. Blind population 12,500. Data accuracy estimate: A2. The number of languages listed for Papua New Guinea is 832. Of those, 823 are living languages and 9 are extinct. Diversity index 0.99.

Spoken living languages

'AUHELAWA

[KUD] 1,200(1998 SIL).  Milne Bay Province, Normanby Island, Sehuleya District. Alternate names: NUAKATA, KURADA, 'URADA.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Central-Eastern, Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Oceanic, Western Oceanic, Papuan Tip, Nuclear, Suauic. 
More information.

ABAGA

[ABG] 5 (1994 SIL). Ethnic group: 1,200 (1975 SIL).  Eastern Highlands Province, Goroka District. Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Main Section, Central and Western, Huon-Finisterre, Finisterre, Abaga.  Nearly extinct.
More information.

ABASAKUR

[ABW] 761 (1981 Wurm and Hattori).  Madang Province. Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Madang-Adelbert Range, Adelbert Range, Pihom-Isumrud-Mugil, Pihom, Omosan. 
More information.

ABAU

[AAU] 4,545 (1981 Wurm and Hattori) in 28 villages.  Sandaun Province, Green River District, Sepik and Green rivers. Not in Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Alternate names: GREEN RIVER.  Classification: Sepik-Ramu, Sepik, Upper Sepik, Abau. 
More information.

ABU

[ADO] 2,400 (1986 PBT).  Madang Province, East Sepik Province, Ramu River. Alternate names: ADJORA, ADJORIA, AZAO.  Classification: Sepik-Ramu, Ramu, Ramu Proper, Grass, Grass Proper. 
More information.

ADZERA

[AZR] 20,675 (1988 Holzknecht), including 367 Ngariawan (1978 McElhanon), 497 Sarasira (1988 Holzknecht), 990 Sukurum (1990).  Morobe Province, Markham Valley, Kaiapit District, Leron River. Alternate names: AZERA, ATZERA, ACIRA.  Dialects: YARUS, AMARI, AZERA, NGAROWAPUM, TSUMANGGORUN, GURUF-NGARIAWANG (NGARIAWAN), SARASIRA (SIRASIRA), SUKURUM.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Central-Eastern, Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Oceanic, Western Oceanic, North New Guinea, Huon Gulf, Markham, Upper, Adzera. 
More information.

AEKYOM

[AWI] 8,000 (1987 UBS).  Western Province, Kiunga area. Alternate names: AWIN, AIWIN, AKIUM, WEST AWIN.  Dialects: NORTH AWIN, SOUTH AWIN, EAST AWIN.  Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Main Section, Central and Western, Central and South New Guinea-Kutubuan, Central and South New Guinea, Awin-Pare. 
More information.

AGARABI

[AGD] 20,000 (1998 SIL).  Eastern Highlands Province, Kainantu District. Alternate names: AGARABE, BARE.  Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Main Section, Central and Western, East New Guinea Highlands, Eastern, Gadsup-Auyana-Awa. 
More information.

AGI

[AIF] 700 (1993 SIL).  Sandaun Province. Classification: Torricelli, Wapei-Palei, Palei. 

AGOB

[KIT] 3,500 (1990 SIL).  Western Province, along the Pahoturi River and southern coast. Alternate names: DABU.  Dialects: AGOB, ENDE, KAWAM.  Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Trans-Fly-Bulaka River, Trans-Fly, Pahoturi. 
More information.

AIKLEP

[MWG] 3,697 (1991 SIL).  West New Britain Province, southwest coast and inland, A Viklo Island near Kandrian. Alternate names: MOEWEHAFEN, EKLEP, AGERLEP, LOKO.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Central-Eastern, Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Oceanic, Western Oceanic, North New Guinea, Ngero-Vitiaz, Vitiaz, Southwest New Britain, Arawe-Pasismanua, Arawe, West Arawe. 
More information.

AIKU

[MZF] 750 to 900 (1990 SIL).  Sandaun Province, Maimai Namblo Division, Wemil village, and more in West Palei Division. Alternate names: MINENDON, MENANDON, MALEK.  Classification: Torricelli, Wapei-Palei, Palei. 

AIMELE

[AIL] 500 (1981 Shaw).  Southwest corner of Southern Highlands Province around Mt. Bosavi; Western Province around Lake Campbell. Most have moved to Wawoi Falls area of Western Province. Alternate names: KWARE.  Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Main Section, Central and Western, Central and South New Guinea-Kutubuan, Central and South New Guinea, Bosavi. 

AINBAI

[AIC] 110 to 250 (1993 SIL).  Sandaun Province, Vanimo District, south of Bewani station. 2 villages. Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Northern, Border, Bewani. 
More information.

AIOME

[AKI] 751 (1981 Wurm and Hattori).  Madang Province, 70 miles west of Madang city, scattered houses. Alternate names: AYOM.  Classification: Sepik-Ramu, Ramu, Ramu Proper, Annaberg, Aian. 
More information.

AION

[AEW] 857 (1981 Wurm and Hattori).  East Sepik Province. Classification: Sepik-Ramu, Ramu, Ramu Proper, Grass, Grass Proper. 

AK

[AKQ] 83 (1981 Wurm and Hattori).  Sandaun Province. Classification: Sepik-Ramu, Sepik, Yellow River. 
More information.

AKOLET

[AKT] 954 (1982 SIL).  West New Britain Province, southwest coast, including Pililo, Kambun, and Sauren. Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Central-Eastern, Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Oceanic, Western Oceanic, North New Guinea, Ngero-Vitiaz, Vitiaz, Southwest New Britain, Arawe-Pasismanua, Arawe, East Arawe. 
More information.

AKOYE

[MIW] 800 (1998 SIL).  Gulf Province, Kaberofe District, valleys between the Nabo Range and the Albert Mountains, Lohiki River. The largest group is living in a settlement in Kerema. Alternate names: AKOINKAKE, LOHIKI, OBI, MAI-HEA-RI, MAIHIRI, ANGOYA, AKOYI.  Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Main Section, Central and Western, Angan, Angan Proper. 
More information.

AKRUKAY

[AFI] 191 (1981 Wurm and Hattori).  Madang Province. Classification: Sepik-Ramu, Ramu, Ramu Proper, Goam, Tamolan. 

ALAMBLAK

[AMP] 1,500 (1987 SIL).  9 villages (900 speakers) on Middle Karawari and Wagupmeri rivers. Another dialect has 4 villages (400 speakers) near Kuvanmas Lake. East Sepik Province, Angoram District. Dialects: KUVENMAS, KARAWARI.  Classification: Sepik-Ramu, Sepik, Sepik Hill, Alamblak. 
More information.

ALATIL

[ALX] 125 (1981 Wurm and Hattori).  Sandaun Province. Alternate names: ARU, ERU.  Classification: Torricelli, Wapei-Palei, Palei. 

ALEKANO

[GAH] 25,000 (1999 E. Deibler SIL).  Eastern Highlands Province, Goroka District, centered around the town of Goroka. Alternate names: GAHUKU, GAFUKU, GAHUKU-GAMA.  Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Main Section, Central and Western, East New Guinea Highlands, East-Central, Gahuku-Benabena. 
More information.

AMA

[AMM] 475 (1990 census).  East Sepik Province, Ambunti District, Waniap Creek, south of the Sepik River, south of Namia. Villages: Ama (Wopolu I, Wopolu II (Nokonufa), Kauvia (Kawiya), Yonuwai; all on hills rising from the swamp. Alternate names: SAWIYANU.  Classification: Left May. 
More information.

AMAIMON

[ALI] 366 (1981 Wurm and Hattori).  Madang Province. Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Madang-Adelbert Range, Adelbert Range, Pihom-Isumrud-Mugil, Pihom, Amaimon. 

AMAL

[AAD] 388 (1981 Wurm and Hattori).  Sandaun Province, on Wagana River, near the confluence with Wanibe Creek. Alternate names: ALAI.  Classification: Sepik-Ramu, Sepik, Upper Sepik, Iwam. 

AMANAB

[AMN] 4,000 (1982 SIL).  Sandaun Province, Amanab District. Not in Irian Jaya. Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Northern, Border, Waris. 
More information.

AMARA

[AIE] 200 (1998 SIL).  West New Britain Province, northwest coast. Alternate names: LONGA, BIBLING.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Central-Eastern, Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Oceanic, Western Oceanic, North New Guinea, Ngero-Vitiaz, Vitiaz, Southwest New Britain, Amara. 
More information.

AMBULAS

[ABT] 44,000 (1991 SIL), including 27,000 in Wosera (1991 SIL), 9,000 in Maprik (1991 SIL), 8,000 in Wingei (1991 SIL).  East Sepik Province, Maprik District. Alternate names: ABULAS, ABELAM.  Dialects: MAPRIK, WINGEI, WOSERA-KAMU, WOSERA-MAMU.  Classification: Sepik-Ramu, Sepik, Middle Sepik, Ndu. 
More information.

AMELE

[AMI] 5,300 (1987 SIL).  Madang Province, Madang District, in the hills up from Astrolabe Bay, between the Gum and Gogol rivers. 40 hamlets. Alternate names: AMALE.  Dialects: HUAR, JAGAHALA, HAIJA.  Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Madang-Adelbert Range, Madang, Mabuso, Gum. 
More information.

AMPEELI-WOJOKESO

[APZ] 2,388 (1980 census).  Morobe Province, Kaiapit, Lae-Wamba, and Menyamya districts. Alternate names: AMPALE, AMPELE, AMBARI, SAFEYOKA.  Dialects: AIEWOMBA, WAJAKES (WOJOKESO).  Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Main Section, Central and Western, Angan, Angan Proper. 
More information.

AMTO

[AMT] 230 (1981 Wurm and Hattori).  Sandaun Province, Amanab District and Rocky Peak District, south of the Upper Sepik River, toward the headwaters of the Left May River on the Samaia River. Villages: Amto, Habiyon (Sernion). Alternate names: KI, SIWAI, SIAWI, SIAFLI.  Dialects: AMTO, SIAWI.  Classification: Amto-Musan. 
More information.

ANAM

[PDA] 684 (1990 census).  Madang Province, villages around Josephstaal. Alternate names: PONDOMA.  Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Madang-Adelbert Range, Adelbert Range, Josephstaal-Wanang, Josephstaal, Pomoikan. 
More information.

ANAMGURA

[IMI] 1,253 (1990 census).  Madang Province, northwest of Josephstaal. Alternate names: IKUNDUN, MINDIVI.  Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Madang-Adelbert Range, Adelbert Range, Josephstaal-Wanang, Josephstaal, Pomoikan. 

ANDARUM

[AOD] 1,084 (1981 Wurm and Hattori).  Madang Province. Classification: Sepik-Ramu, Ramu, Ramu Proper, Goam, Ataitan. 
More information.

ANDRA-HUS

[ANX] 810 (1977 Lincoln).  Manus Province, Andra and Hus islands. Alternate names: AHUS, HA'US.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Central-Eastern, Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Oceanic, Admiralty Islands, Eastern, Manus, East. 
More information.

ANEM

[ANZ] 500 to 600 (1991 SIL).  West New Britain Province, northwest coast and inland. Alternate names: KARAIAI.  Classification: East Papuan, Yele-Solomons-New Britain, New Britain, Anem. 
More information.

ANEME WAKE

[ABY] 650 (1990 SIL).  Oro Province, Afore District, both sides of Owen Stanley Range, Central Province; north from Ianu along Foasi and Domara creeks. Alternate names: ABIE, ABIA.  Dialects: MORI, BUNIABURA, AUWAKA, JARI, DOMA.  Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Main Section, Eastern, Central and Southeastern, Yareban. 
More information.

ANGAATIHA

[AGM] 1,200 (1991 SIL).  Morobe Province, Menyamya District. Alternate names: LANGIMAR, ANGATAHA, ANGAATIYA, ANGAATAHA.  Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Main Section, Central and Western, Angan. 
More information.

ANGAL

[AGE] 10,000 (1971 ACTNM).  Southern Highlands Province, Mendi area, north into Mendi Valley, west into Lai Valley, east bank, west of Mt. Glouwe. Alternate names: EAST ANGAL, MENDI.  Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Main Section, Central and Western, East New Guinea Highlands, West-Central, Angal-Kewa. 
More information.

ANGAL ENEN

[AOE] 22,000 (1995 UBS).  Southern Highlands Province, 10 to 12 km. south of Nipa, north of the Erave River, east of Lake Kutubu, west of Lai Valley. Alternate names: SOUTH ANGAL HENENG, SOUTH MENDI, NEMBI.  Dialects: MEGI.  Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Main Section, Central and Western, East New Guinea Highlands, West-Central, Angal-Kewa. 
More information.

ANGAL HENENG

[AKH] 40,000 (1994 V. Schlatter SPIM).  Southern Highlands Province, south of Margarima and Kandep, north of Lake Butubu, west of the Lai Valley. Alternate names: AUGU, WEST MENDI, WEST ANGAL HENENG, AGARAR, WAGE, KATINJA.  Dialects: WAOLA (WALA), AUGU, NIPA.  Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Main Section, Central and Western, East New Guinea Highlands, West-Central, Angal-Kewa. 
More information.

ANGOR

[AGG] 1,266 including 836 in Nai, 430 in Samanai(1990 census).  Sandaun Province, Amanab District. 11 villages. Alternate names: WATAPOR, SENAGI, ANGGOR.  Dialects: NAI (CENTRAL ANGOR), SAMANAI (SOUTHERN ANGOR).  Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Senagi. 
More information.

ANGORAM

[AOG] 6,200 (1981 Wurm and Hattori).  East Sepik Province, along lower Sepik River, Angoram District. Alternate names: PONDO, TJIMUNDO, OLEM.  Classification: Sepik-Ramu, Nor-Pondo, Pondo. 
More information.

ANJAM

[BOJ] 1,300 (1986 SIL).  Madang Province, Astrolabe Bay District. Alternate names: BOGATI, BOM, BOGAJIM, BOGADJIM, LALOK.  Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Madang-Adelbert Range, Madang, Rai Coast, Mindjim. 
More information.

ANKAVE

[AAK] 1,600 (1987 SIL).  Gulf Province, Kerema District, in the valleys of the Mbwei and Swanson rivers. Alternate names: ANGAVE.  Dialects: SAWUVE, WIYAGWA, WUNAVAI, MIYATNU, ANKAI, BU'U.  Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Main Section, Central and Western, Angan, Angan Proper. 
More information.

ANOR

[ANJ] 574 (1975 Z'Graggen).  Madang Province. Classification: Sepik-Ramu, Ramu, Ramu Proper, Annaberg, Aian. 

ANUKI

[AUI] 542 (census).  North coast, Cape Vogel, Milne Bay Province. Alternate names: GABOBORA.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Central-Eastern, Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Oceanic, Western Oceanic, Papuan Tip, Nuclear, North Papuan Mainland-D'Entrecasteaux, Anuki. 
More information.

AP MA

[KBX] 7,000 (1990 UBS).  Angoram District, East Sepik Province. Alternate names: KAMBOT, AP MA BOTIN, BOTIN.  Dialects: KAMBARAMBA.  Classification: Sepik-Ramu, Ramu, Ramu Proper, Grass, Grass Proper. 
More information.

APALI

[ENA] 600 (1992 M. Wade PBT).  Madang Province, upper Ramu River area, Aiome District. Alternate names: EMERUM, APAL.  Dialects: AKI, ACI.  Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Madang-Adelbert Range, Adelbert Range, Josephstaal-Wanang, Wanang, Emuan. 
More information.

APALIK

[PLI] 374 (1979 census).  West New Britain Province, southwest coast and inland. Alternate names: PALIK, AMBUL.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Central-Eastern, Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Oceanic, Western Oceanic, North New Guinea, Ngero-Vitiaz, Vitiaz, Southwest New Britain, Arawe-Pasismanua, Arawe, West Arawe. 
More information.

APOS

[APO] 500 (1996 SIL).  East Sepik Province, extending beyond the western boundary of Maprik District; Makru-Klaplei Division, Nuku District. Alternate names: KWANGA, GAWANGA, WOMSAK.  Dialects: TAU, BONGOMAISI (BONGAMAISE).  Classification: Sepik-Ramu, Sepik, Middle Sepik, Nukuma. 
More information.

ARAFUNDI

[ARF] 733 (1981 Wurm and Hattori).  East Sepik Province, on the Arafundi River. Alternate names: ALFENDIO.  Dialects: MEAKAMBUT.  Classification: Sepik-Ramu, Ramu, Ramu Proper, Arafundi. 
More information.

ARAMMBA

[STK] 900 (1998 SIL).  Western Province, Morehead Subprovince, southwest of Suki. Alternate names: ARAMBA, SERKISETAVI, UPPER MOREHEAD, SERKI.  Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Trans-Fly-Bulaka River, Trans-Fly, Morehead and Upper Maro Rivers, Tonda. 
More information.

ARAPESH, BUMBITA

[AON] 4,000 (1994 R. Conrad SIL) in 13 villages (1986 PBT).  East Sepik Province, Maprik District, Torricelli Mountains, south of Wom. Alternate names: WERI.  Dialects: BONAHOI, URITA, TIMINGIR, WERIL, WERIR.  Classification: Torricelli, Kombio-Arapesh, Arapesh. 
More information.

ARAWUM

[AWM] 75 (1981 Wurm and Hattori).  Madang Province. Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Madang-Adelbert Range, Madang, Rai Coast, Kabenau. 
More information.

ARE

[MWC] 1,231 (1973 SIL).  Milne Bay Province, tip of Cape Vogel. Alternate names: MUKAWA.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Central-Eastern, Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Oceanic, Western Oceanic, Papuan Tip, Nuclear, North Papuan Mainland-D'Entrecasteaux, Are-Taupota, Are. 
More information.

ARI

[AAC] 80 to 100 (1976 G. Reesink SIL).  Ari and Serea villages, Aramia River area, Western Province. Classification: Trans-New Guinea, Main Section, Central and Western, Gogodala-Suki, Gogodala. 
More information.

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