Mek languages

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EthnicityMek people
New Guinea
Linguistic classificationTrans–New Guinea
Mek languages.svg
Map: The Mek languages of New Guinea
  The Mek languages
  Other Trans–New Guinea languages
  Other Papuan languages
  Austronesian languages

The Mek languages are a well established family of Papuan languages spoken by the Mek peoples. They form a branch of the Trans–New Guinea languages (TNG) in the classifications of Stephen Wurm (1975) and of Malcolm Ross (2005).

Mek, then called Goliath, was identified by M. Bromley in 1967. It was placed in TNG by Wurm (1975).


The Mek languages form three dialect chains (Heeschen 1998):


Pronouns are not well attested, but include:

sg pl
1 *na *nun
2 *ka-n
3 *e-r


Mek reflexes of proto-Trans-New Guinea (pTNG) etyma are:[3]

Eipo language:

  • mun ‘belly’ < *mundun ‘internal organs’
  • kuna ‘shadow’ < *k(a,o)nan
  • saŋ ‘dancing song’ < *saŋ
  • getane ‘sun’ < *kVtane

Bime language:

  • mundo ‘belly’ < *mundun ‘internal organs’

Kosarek language:

  • ami ‘louse’ < *niman
  • si ‘tooth’ < *(s,t)i(s,t)i
  • tomo < *k(i,u)tuma ‘night’

Yale language:

  • de ‘to burn’ < *nj(a,e,i)
  • mon ‘belly’ < *mundun ‘internal organs’
  • xau ‘ashes’ < *kambu


  1. ^ Momuna–Mek, New Guinea World
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Mek". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Pawley, Andrew; Hammarström, Harald (2018). "The Trans New Guinea family". 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. 21–196. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
  • 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.