Obokuitai language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Native toIndonesia
RegionNew Guinea
Native speakers
120 (2000)[1]
Lakes Plain
  • Central
    • Obokuitai–Eritai
      • Obokuitai
Language codes
ISO 639-3afz

Obokuitai (Obogwitai) is a Lakes Plain language of Papua, Indonesia. It is named after Obogwi village.

Obokuitai, Sikaritai, and Eritai constitute a dialect cluster.


The following discussion is based on Jenison & Jenison (1991).[3]

Unusual phonological features of Obokuitai and other Lakes Plain languages are the complete lack of nasals, even allophones, and a series of extra high or fricativized vowels that developed from loss of a following stop consonant.[4] Obokuitai has one of the smallest phonemic inventories in the world, level with the Pirahã and Rotokas languages.


Labial Coronal Velar Glottal
Stop b t d k
Fricative s h

The small consonant inventory is typical of Lakes Plain languages.


Obokuitai has five vowels.

Front Central Back
High i u
Mid ɛ o
Low a


Like the other Lakes Plain languages, Obokuitai is tonal. L, H, and HL pitch contours occur on monosyllabic words. A phonological analysis of the tone system remains to be completed. However, the probable phonemic aspect of the tone is shown through the minimal triad kuik1 ‘rock’, kuik2 ‘insect’ (sp.) and kuik12 ‘lizard’ (sp.).[5]


Possessive pronouns in Obokuitai are:[6]

sg pl
1 i ba èdo
2 do deo
3 o


  1. ^ Obokuitai at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Obokuitai". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Jenison, Scott; Jenison, Priscilla (1991). "Obokuitai phonology". Workpapers in Indonesian languages and cultures. 9: 69–90.
  4. ^ Clouse, Duane (1997). "Toward a reconstruction and reclassification of the Lakes Plain languages of Irian Jaya". Papers in Papuan Linguistics. 2: 133–236.
  5. ^ UC Berkeley Phonology Lab Annual Report (2009), The Representation of Tone, Larry M. Hyman, University of California, Berkeley. Available online at http://linguistics.berkeley.edu/phonlab/documents/2009/Hyman_Representation_PLAR.pdf.
  6. ^ 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.