Left May – Kwomtari languages

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Left May – Kwomtari
New Guinea
Linguistic classificationProposed language family

The Left May – Kwomtari or Arai–Kwomtari languages are a possible small family of Papuan languages proposed by Malcolm Ross, which links the Left May (Arai) family with the Kwomtari–Fas proposal (Loving & Bass 1964). However, the proposal is problematic; it's not clear if the Arai correspondences are with Kwomtari, with Fas, or with both, as Kwomtari–Fas is itself dubious.


Baron (1983) notes that most classifications, including Ross's, perpetuate an early copy error, placing Fas in the Kwomtari family and Nai in the Baibai family. This contradicts the original classification of Loving and Bass, which is supported by their field notes. (See Kwomtari–Baibai languages.) Taking this into account weakens the case for the Left May-Kwomtari proposals. Some relevant pronouns are shown below (Baron 1983):

family language I thou he she they
Kwomtari Kwomtari mɔro ɔno ɛto topai
Nai nɔmbwirɛ wonɔ ɛni tɔmwɔ
Guriaso nan waw amo
Fas Baibai ɛtjɛ aŋɡi nɛfɛ, wɔ anjɛ
Fas haj wɔ(β) nəb
Arai Yinibu asi, na- na, nɛni, nan- ani, w- wa, tat- mwa
Pyu kwa no na

It appears that for proto-Arai and proto-Fas a pronoun *atie might be reconstructed for "I", and a *wa for "s/he", while for Arai and Kwomtari perhaps *na and *amwa might be reconstructed for "you" and "they", with the former perhaps including Pyu as well. No pronouns obviously connect Kwomtari and Fas.


  • Baron, Wietze (1983). "Kwomtari survey"., posted at: [1]
  • Laycock, Donald C. (1973). Sepik languages: checklist and preliminary classification. Canberra: Department of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University. ISBN 978-0-85883-084-4. OCLC 5027628.
  • Loving, Richard; Jack Bass (1964). Languages of the Amanab sub-district. Port Moresby: Department of Information and Extension Services. OCLC 17101737.
  • Ross, Malcolm (2005). "Pronouns as a preliminary diagnostic for grouping Papuan languages". In Andrew Pawley; Robert Attenborough; Robin Hide; Jack Golson (eds.). Papuan pasts: cultural, linguistic and biological histories of Papuan-speaking peoples. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. pp. 15–66. ISBN 0858835622. OCLC 67292782.