Northwest Papuan languages

Northwest Papuan
Northwest New Guinea
northern New Guinea

The Northwest Papuan languages are a proposed language family of Papuan languages.

Many of the constituent branches of Northwest Papuan were first proposed to be related by H.K.J. Cowan in the 1950s. Voorhoeve (1971) connected the Border and Tor families. Using only pronouns as a diagnostic, Malcolm Ross linked most of the western (Foja Range) branch of the family, which is now fairly secure. The current form of the proposal was worked out by Timothy Usher under the name "North(west) New Guinea"[1] (not to be confused with the proposed North New Guinea branch of the Austronesian language family). It is not yet certain, however, that the similarities in vocabulary between Foja Range and the other constituent families are due to inheritance rather than borrowing.


The western branch, Foja Range, is equivalent to Ross's Tor–Kwerba family with the addition of Nimboran.

Søren Wichmann (2013)[2] considers Nimboran, Kapauri (under Kwerbic above), Border, and possibly also Elseng (under Border above) to form a unified language family.


  1. ^ Northwest New Guinea
  2. ^ Wichmann, Søren. 2013. A classification of Papuan languages. In: Hammarström, Harald and Wilco van den Heuvel (eds.), History, contact and classification of Papuan languages (Language and Linguistics in Melanesia, Special Issue 2012), 313-386. Port Moresby: Linguistic Society of Papua New Guinea.

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