Waris language -

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RegionSandaun Province, Papua New Guinea;
Waris District, Keerom Regency, Papua province, Indonesia
Native speakers
(undated figure of 4,000)[1]
  • Bewani Range
    • Bapi River
      • Waris
Language codes
ISO 639-3wrs
Coordinates: 3°17′41″S 141°04′23″E / 3.294675°S 141.073027°E / -3.294675; 141.073027 (Wasengla Catholic Mission)
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Waris or Walsa is a Papuan language of northern New Guinea.

It is spoken by about 2,500 people around Wasengla (3°17′41″S 141°04′23″E / 3.294675°S 141.073027°E / -3.294675; 141.073027 (Wasengla Catholic Mission)), Doponendi ward, Walsa Rural LLG, Sandaun Province, Papua New Guinea, and also by about 1,500 across the border in Waris District, Keerom Regency in the Indonesian province of Papua.[3][4]




Front Central Back
Close i u
Close-mid e
Mid ə
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Near-open æ
Open a ɒ

Diphthongs and triphthongs

Vi Vu
ɛV ɛɔ ɛu
ɑV ɑi ɑɔ
ɒV ɒi
ɔV ɔi ɔɑ
uV ui

There are two triphthongs, /ɔɑi/ and /uɛu/.


Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar
Stop Voiceless p t k
Prenasalised ᵐb ⁿd ᵑɡ
Nasal m n
Fricative Voiceless s x
Voiced β
Trill r
Lateral approximant l
Approximant w j


Classifier prefixes in Waris attach to verbs, and are determined via the physical properties of the object noun phrase being referred to. Many of them have parallels with independent verb roots, which may well be where they had originated from. Examples include:[5]

wonda ka-m mwan-vra-ho-o
netbag 1-DAT CLF-get-BEN-IMP
‘Give me a netbag.’
nenas ka-m li-ra-ho-o
pineapple 1-DAT CLF-get-BEN-IMP
‘Give me a pineapple.’
nelus ka-m ninge-ra-ho-o
greens 1-DAT CLF-get-BEN-IMP
‘Give me some greens’

Many of these prefixes have lexical parallels with verb roots. The list of classifier prefixes is:[5]

classifier prefix semantic category verb root parallel
mwan- soft pliable objects like net bags, skirts, bark mats
li- fruits like pineapples, ears of corn or pandanus le- ‘cut off oblong fruit’
vela- objects found inside a container vela- ‘remove’
put- spherical objects, commonly fruits puet- ‘pick fruit’
ninge- food cooked and wrapped ninge- ‘tie up’
vet- food removed from fire without wrapping
lɛ- leaf-like objects with no or soft stem
pola- leaf-like objects with hard stem
ih- grainy materials ih- ‘remove grainy material from a container’
tuvv- pieces cut from longer lengths tuvva- ‘chop into lengths’
kov- lengths of vine kovva- ‘cut off’


  1. ^ Waris at Ethnologue (13th ed., 1996).
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Waris". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Eberhard, David M.; Simons, Gary F.; Fennig, Charles D., eds. (2019). "Papua New Guinea languages". Ethnologue: Languages of the World (22nd ed.). Dallas: SIL International.
  4. ^ United Nations in Papua New Guinea (2018). "Papua New Guinea Village Coordinates Lookup". Humanitarian Data Exchange. 1.31.9.
  5. ^ a b Foley, William A. (2018). "The Languages of the Sepik-Ramu Basin and Environs". 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. 197–432. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
  • Brown, Robert (1981). "Semantic aspects of some Waris predications". In Karl J. Franklin (ed.). Syntax and semantics in Papua New Guinea languages. Ukarumpa: Summer Institute of Linguistics. pp. 93–123.
  • Brown, Robert (1988). "Waris case system and verb classification". Language and Linguistics in Melanesia. 19: 37–80.
  • Brown, Robert; Honoratus Wai (1986). Diksenari: Walsana moa Pisinna moa Englisna moa (A short dictionary of the Walsa [Waris] language, Tok Pisin and English). Ukarumpa: Summer Institute of Linguistics.