Elseng language

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RegionPapua, Indonesia: Jayapura and Keerom regencies - Abepura, Arso, Kemtuk Gresi, and Senggi sub-districts; Lake Sentani area - south, southwest.
Native speakers
(300 cited 1991)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3mrf

Elseng (Morwap, Janggu, Sawa, Tabu[3]) is a poorly documented Papuan language spoken by about 300 people (in 1991) in the Indonesian province of Papua. It is also known as Morwap, which means "what is it?"

Elseng is spoken in Omon village, Gresi Selatan district, Jayapura Regency; it is also called Tabu or Tapu.[4]

Laycock classified Elseng as a language isolate, but noted pronominal similarities with the Border languages. Ross included it in Border because of these similarities, but noted that it does not appear to share any lexical similarities with the family. However, this may be an effect of the paucity of data on Elseng. Foley similarly classifies Elseng as an isolate.[3]


Pronouns are:[3]

sg pl
1excl ka kam
1incl yo
2 so sem
3 yi

Basic vocabulary[edit]

Elseng basic vocabulary from Menanti (2005), quoted in Foley (2018):[5][3]

Elseng basic vocabulary
gloss Elseng
‘bird’ bisyas
‘blood’ sakwos
‘bone’ wok
‘breast’ pan
‘ear’ waskwos
‘eat’ tou
‘egg’ syungwin
‘eye’ nafon
‘fire’ bət
‘give’ venenggiʔ
‘go’ gele
‘ground’ mo
‘hair’ nimbias
‘hear’ sɨkwen
‘leg’ poksən
‘louse’ ku
‘man’ seseu
‘moon’ məm
‘name’ tin
‘road, path’ mol
‘see’ nɨnggwen
‘sky’ kuil
‘stone’ səpak
‘sun’ ningnaf
‘tongue’ mosən
‘tooth’ an
‘tree’ sək
‘water’ vetev
‘woman’ saun


  1. ^ Elseng at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Elseng". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b c d 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. ^ Burung, Wiem. 2000. A Brief Note on Elseng. SIL International Electronic Survey Reports 2000–001.
  5. ^ Menanti, Jackie. 2005. Sociolinguistic Report on the Elseng Language in Sia-Sia Village, Keerom County, Papua, Indonesia. Unpublished report. Jayapura: SIL Indonesia.

External links[edit]