Bulaka River languages

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Bulaka River
EthnicityJab (Yab)
Tubang and Ilwayab subdistricts, Merauke Regency, Papua
Linguistic classificationOne of the world's primary language families
Bulaka River languages.svg
Map: The Bulaka River languages of New Guinea
  The Bulaka River languages
  Trans–New Guinea languages
  Other Papuan languages
  Austronesian languages

The Bulaka River languages are a pair of closely related Papuan languages, Yelmek and Maklew, on the Bulaka River in Indonesian West Papua. They are ethnically Yab (Jab); their speech is Yabga (Jabga). Ross (2005) tentatively includes them in the proposed Trans-Fly – Bulaka River family, but Usher, who reconstructs the family, retains Bulaka River as a primary language family.[2]

Yelmek is spoken west of Merauke, between the Digul River and Mbian River, (from north to south) in the villages of Wanam, Bibikem, Woboyo, and Dodalim. Maklew is spoken in Welbuti village.[3] The former two villages are located in Ilwayab subdistrict, and the latter three in Tubang subdistrict.


The pronouns Ross reconstructs for the family are,

Proto–Bulaka River
I *ŋöl we *ŋag
thou *ob you *el
s/he *ib they *im


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Bulaka River". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Bulaka River family - NewGuineaWorld
  3. ^ 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.
  • 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.