Melpa language - Melpa language

From Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia


Native toPapua New Guinea
RegionMount Hagen District, Western Highlands Province
Native speakers
(130,000 cited 1991)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3med

Melpa (also written Medlpa) is a Papuan language spoken by about 130,000 people predominantly in Mount Hagen and the surrounding district of Western Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea.

Melpa has a pandanus language used during karuka harvest.[3]

Melpa has a voiceless velar lateral fricative, written as a double-barred el (Ⱡ, ⱡ). It is notable for its binary counting system.



Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar
Voiceless stop p t̪ ⟨t⟩ t k
prenasalized stop ᵐb <mb> ⁿd̪ <nd> ⁿd <nd> ᵑɡ <ng>
Nasal m n̪ ⟨n⟩ n ŋ <ng>
Rhotic r~ɾ ⟨r⟩
Lateral l̪d̪ <ld> l ʟ~ʟ̝̊ <ⱡ>
Approximant w j ⟨y⟩


Front Central Mid
High i ɨ <ʉ> u
Near-high ɪ <i> ʊ <u>
Mid e o
Low a

Numeral system

Decimal Medlpa Interpretation
1 tenda "one"
2 ragl "two"
3 ragltika "two-one"
4 tembokak "four"
5 pömp tsi gudl "one past four"
6 pömp ragl gudl "two past four"
7 pömp ragltika gudl "two-one past four"
8 engak "eight"
9 pömp tsi pip "one past eight"
10 pömp ragl pip "two past eight"

Melpa language in films

Temboka, a dialect of Melpa, is the native language of the Ganiga tribe,[4] who featured prominently in the Highlands Trilogy of documentaries by Robin Anderson and Bob Connolly (First Contact, Joe Leahy's Neighbours, and Black Harvest).

The documentary Ongka's Big Moka also has Melpa dialogue.


  1. ^ Melpa at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Melpa". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Franklin, Karl J. (September 1972). "A Ritual Pandanus Language of New Guinea". Oceania. 43 (1): 66–76. doi:10.1002/j.1834-4461.1972.tb01197.x. OCLC 883021898.
  4. ^ Connolly, Bob (14 February 2017). "Filmmaker Bob Connolly returns to PNG 25 years after 'Black Harvest'". The Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 25 January 2017.

External links