|Morehead and Upper Maro Rivers|
|Linguistic classification||Trans-Fly – Bulaka River or independent language family|
Map: The Yam languages of New Guinea
Trans–New Guinea languages
Other Papuan languages
The Yam languages, also known as the Morehead and Upper Maro River languages, are a family of Papuan languages. They include many of the languages south and west of the Fly River in Papua New Guinea and Indonesian West Papua.
The name Morehead and Upper Maro River refers to the area around the Morehead and Maro rivers. Most of the languages are found between these rivers, but the Nambu subgroup are spoken east of the Morehead. Evans (2012) refers to the family instead with the more compact name Yam. This name is motivated by a number of linguistic and cultural items of significance: yam (and cognates) means "custom, tradition"; yəm (and cognates) means "is"; and yam tubers are the local staple and of central cultural importance.
Ross (2005) tentatively includes the Yam languages in the proposed Trans-Fly – Bulaka River family. More recently (Evans 2012) has argued that this is not justified and more data has to be gathered. Evans (2018) classifies the Pahoturi River languages as an independent language family.
Yam languages are spoken by up to 3,000 people on both sides of the border in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. In Papua New Guinea, Yam languages are spoken in Morehead Rural LLG, Western Province. In Papua, Indonesia, Yam languages are spoken in Merauke Regency.
List of Yam languages Language Alternative names Subgroup Speakers Villages or hamlets Anta Tokwe, Upper Morehead, Thamnga Tonda 150 Ufarua, Forzitho, Thamgakar in central Morehead Rural LLG, PNG Komnzo Kamundjo, Upper Morehead, (Mema, Ranzér), Zókwasi, Farem Tonda 200 Rouku, Gunana, Morehead, Firra, Masu, Kanathér in central Morehead Rural LLG, PNG Wára Tjokwe, Upper Morehead, Wära, Mät Tonda 350 Yokwa, (Mäwsa, Kwaikér, Zäzér Ménz) in central Morehead Rural LLG, PNG Wérè Tokwe, Upper Morehead, Wórä Tonda 100 Tokwa, Kanfok in central Morehead Rural LLG, PNG Kémä Upper Morehead Tonda 130 Wämnefér in central Morehead Rural LLG, PNG Kánchá Kunja, Lower Morehead, Peremka, Kénzä Tonda 350* Bondobol, Bula, Jarai in southeast Morehead Rural LLG, PNG Ránmo Tonda, Renmo, Blafe Tonda 200* Yéndorodoro, Mengete in west Morehead Rural LLG, PNG Mblafe Blafe, Blafe Wonana, Tonda Tonda 350* Weam, Kandarisa, Wereaver (only recently in Wereaver) in west Morehead Rural LLG, PNG Warta Thuntai Guntai, Kan Tonda 430 Wando, Bensbach, Balamuk, Korombo 1, Korombo 2 in mid southwest Morehead Rural LLG, PNG Arammba None Tonda 750 Fwasam, Gowi, Kiriwa, Meru, Sedefi, Serki in north central Morehead Rural LLG, PNG Nggarna Ngar, Kanum, Sota Tonda unknown Vicinity of Sota in west Morehead Rural LLG, PNG Rema Tonda 10? (moribund or extinct) Wereaver in west Morehead Rural LLG, PNG Smerki Smärki, Kanum, Barkari Tonda 150 Rawu Biru, Tomer, Tomerau, Yakiw in southeast Merauke Regency, Indonesia Tamer Smerki, Smärki, Kanum Tonda 120 Yanggandur (recently moved there) in southeast Merauke Regency, Indonesia Ngkontar Ngkontar, Ngkolmpu Tonda 100 Yanggandur in southeast Merauke Regency, Indonesia and into PNG Ngkolmpu Kiki, Ngkntra Kiki, Kanum, Enkelembu, Kenume, Knwne Tonda east Merauke Regency, Indonesia and into PNG Bedi Ngkolmpu Kanum, Enkelembu, Kenume, Knwne Tonda 5 (moribund or extinct) Onggaya in south central Merauke Regency, Indonesia Yei Yei 1278 Po, Torai, Bupul, Tanas, Kwel in east Merauke Regency, Indonesia Nen Nambu 350 Bimadeben in central Morehead Rural LLG, PNG Nama Nambu 1200 Daraia, Mata, Ngaraita in central Morehead Rural LLG, PNG Namat Mibini Nambu 170* Mibini in central Morehead Rural LLG, PNG Nambo Nmbo, Keraki; Namna, Yarne Nambu 710 Nambo variety: Gubam, Bebdeben, Arufi in central Morehead Rural LLG, PNG; Namna variety: Pongarki, Derideri in central Morehead Rural LLG, PNG Neme Nambu 200 Keru, Mitere in central Morehead Rural LLG, PNG Dre Ndre Nambu 1 Ramar in central Morehead Rural LLG, PNG Namo Nä Nambu 374* Tais, Mari in south Morehead Rural LLG, PNG Len Lä Nambu 8–10 Now living in Tais, original village was Yaoga in south Morehead Rural LLG, PNG
The pronouns Ross (2005) reconstructs for the family are,
- Proto-Yam (Proto–Morehead – Upper Maro)
I/we *ni you *bu s/he/they *be
- Carroll, Matthew J., Nicholas Evans, I Wayan Arka, Christian Döhler, Eri Kashima, Volker Gast, Tina Gregor, Julia Miller, Emil Mittag, Bruno Olsson, Dineke Schokkin, Jeff Siegel, Charlotte van Tongeren & Kyla Quinn. 2016. Yamfinder: Southern New Guinea Lexical Database.
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Morehead–Wasur". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- Evans, Nicholas (2018). "The languages of Southern 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. 641–774. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
- Wichmann, Søren. 2013. A classification of Papuan languages. In: Hammarström, Harald and Wilco van den Heuvel (eds.), History, contact and classification of Papuan languages (Language and Linguistics in Melanesia, Special Issue 2012), 313-386. Port Moresby: Linguistic Society of Papua New Guinea.
- 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.
- Evans, Nicholas (2012). "Even more diverse than we had thought: The multiplicity of Trans-Fly languages". LD&C Special Publication. University of Hawai'i Press. 5: 109–149.