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Lakes Plain languages


Lakes Plain languages

Lakes Plain
New Guinea
Linguistic classification: Possibly one of the world's primary language families
Glottolog: lake1255[1]

The Lakes Plain languages are a small family of Papuan languages. They were tentatively grouped by Stephen Wurm with the Tor languages in his Trans–New Guinea proposal. Clouse (1997) found no evidence of a connection to the Tor languages and grouped them with the Geelvink Bay languages. Malcolm Ross classifies the languages as an independent family.


Wurm's family-level nodes are bold in the cladogram below:

Lakes Plain 


Rasawa–Saponi: Rasawa, ?? Saponi

East Lakes Plain: Foau, Taworta (Diebroud)


Turu: Edopi–Iau–Foi–Turu [a dialect cluster]


West Tariku: Fayu, Kirikiri (but not Tause)

 East Tariku 

SikaritaiEritaiObokuitaiBiritaiKaiy, Kwerisa


Doutai, Waritai


The pronouns Ross reconstructs for proto-Tariku are,

I *a/*i we *a/*ai
thou *de you *da
s/he *au they ?

The corresponding "I" and "thou" pronouns are proto–East Lake Plain *a, *do, Awera yai, nai (the latter from *dai; compare also e "we"), and Rasawa e-, de-. Saponi shares no pronouns with the Lakes Plain family; indeed its pronouns mamire "I, we" and ba "thou" are remenincent of proto–East Bird's Head *meme "we" and *ba "thou". However, Saponi shares half its basic lexical vocabulary with Rasawa, and Ross left it in the Lakes Plain family pending further investigation. The Tause language was also previously grouped amongst the Tariku group of Lakes Plains languages. Ross transferred it to the East Bird's Head – Sentani languages on the basis of pronoun similarities; he hoped this would promote further research.


Clouse and Clouse (1993) note many of the Lakes Plains languages share several unusual phonological features. While Papuan languages typically have at least two nasal phonemes, this is not the case for Lakes Plains languages. Although phonetic nasals do exist in most Lakes Plains languages, they do not contrast with the corresponding voiced stops. Doutai, Sikaritai and Obokuitai lack even phonetic nasals. Additionally, no Lakes Plains

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