Sentani languages

Demta – Lake Sentani
Linguistic classificationNorth Papuan or independent language family
  • Sentani
  • Demta
  • Sentani

The Sentani languages form a language family of coastal Indonesian Papua near the Papua New Guinea border. Sentani had been a branch of Stephen Wurm's proposal for Trans–New Guinea. The languages have lexical similarities with the Asmat–Kamoro languages, but Ross (2005) does not believe these demonstrate a genealogical relationship, and proposes instead that they are related to the East Bird's Head languages.

The Sentani family is not accepted by Søren Wichmann (2013), who splits it into two separate groups.[2]

Foley (2018) classifies them separately as an independent language family.[3]


Sentani is usually classified as an independent language family, but there are some limited resemblances with Trans-New Guinea.

Pawley and Hammarström (2018) list the following resemblances between the Sentani languages and proto-Trans-New Guinea, though they classify Sentani as a separate language family rather than as part of Trans-New Guinea.[4]

  • C. Sentani an- ‘eat’ < *na-
  • C. Sentani mikæ ‘vomit’ (n.) < *mVkV[C]
  • C. Sentani mu ‘penis’ < *mo
  • W. Sentani, Tabla oto ‘leg’ < *k(a,o)ndok
  • Tabla miŋ, C. Sentani mi ‘louse’ < *iman
  • C. Sentani mi- ‘come’ < *me-


Sentani stock (3 languages)


The pronouns Ross reconstructs for proto-family are:

I *də exclusive we *me
inclusive we *e
thou *wa you ?
s/he *nə they ?

Comparative pronouns in Sentani languages:[3]

pronoun Sentani Tabla Nafri Sowari
1s də(yæ) te(ye) mini
2s wə(yæ) we(ye) we
3s nə(yæ) ne(ye) ngane
1p.excl me(yæ) e me ngama
1p.incl e(yæ)
2p mə(yæ) we mai me
3p nə(yæ) ne(ye) kumbi

See also


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Sentanic". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  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.
  3. ^ a b 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.
  4. ^ Pawley, Andrew; Hammarström, Harald (2018). "The Trans New Guinea family". 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. 21–196. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.

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