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Bulaka River

    Timothy Usher, Santa Fe Institute

    Situation

    The Bulaka River language family is comprised of two closely-related languages, Yelmek and Maklew, spoken to the east of Marianne Strait, across from Kolopom (Frederik Hendrik) island, in the Merauke district of Indonesia's Papua province. Drabbe (1950: 549) counted 350 speakers of Yelmek in four villages, Yelwayab on the Wanam River, from which his material was collected, Woboyu, Dudaling and Bibikem, and 120 speakers of Maklew in a single village on the Welbuti River, a tributary of the Bulaka (q.v. Boelaars 1950: 19, 25.) More recent figures from the Summer Institute of Linguistics give a Welbuti population of 226 (Lebold, Kriens and de Vries 2010: 8.)
    Like other languages of the Marianne Strait region, both Yelmek and Maklew have been significantly influenced by the unrelated Marind language, the intrusion of which from the north separates them from the Morehead River languages near the Papuan border (Nevermann 1952 ibid.) Maklew in particular has coparticipated in a number of sound changes characteristic of Marind dialects. A smaller amount of more basic vocabulary is shared with the equally unrelated Kolopom family to the west (q.v. Geurtjens 1933: 198-433, Greenberg 1971: 830-833.) There is no trace of either Asmat or Awyu influence.

    Sources

    Geurtjens (1933: 398-433) 455 comparative terms for of Jab(sch)
    Drabbe (1950) grammar and (pp. 566-574) 422 comparative terms for Jélmèk and Makléw
    Boelaars (1950: 19-28) English language recension of Drabbe (1950) grammars
    Voorhoeve (1975: 95) 40 comparative terms for Yelmek and Maklew following Drabbe (1950)
    Nevermann (1952) language notes (pp. 81-82) up to 90 comparative terms for Jab(ga) of Bibikem and Imbáke villages, Galum (Nggarum) of Wobui and Dudalem villages, Dib(ga) of Dib village, Ilwajab village, and Makleu(ga) of Welbuti village
    Lebold, Kriens and de Vries (2010: 46-52) 239 comparative terms for Maklew of Welbuti

    History of classification

    The first to document Maklew, and hence to recognize its close relationship to Yelmek, was Drabbe (1950.) For the broader region, Drabbe (p. 548) draws a typological distinction between languages with suffixes (Paniai Lakes, Asmat-Kamoro, Central Digul and Mombum,) those with prefixes (Marind-Yaqay,) those with both (Yei, Kanum, Moroari and Bulaka River,) and those with neither (insular Kolopom.)
    Voorhoeve (1968: 8-9,) measuring a 58% lexicostastical resemblance between Yelmek and Maklew, includes Bulaka River as a stock-level family among five first-order subgroups of his proposed South and Central New Guinea Phylum, alongside Kolopom, Yey-Kanum-Moraori, Morehead River, and the South and Central New Guinea Stock itself. This placement was based upon lexicostatistical figures of 9% between Yelmek and the Gawir dialect of Marind and 8% between Yelmek and Yaqay. There could hardly be worse choices for evaluating Bulaka River's relationship to the family which would be expanded to form Trans-New Guinea, as both Yelmek and Maklew are full of Marind loans, while Yaqay-Warkay is Marind's nearest relative.
    Wurm (1971a: 574-577) reiterates Voorhoeve's classification and figures under the name Central and South New Guinea Phylum, to which Agöb (Pahoturi River) is added. In addition to Voorhoeve's evidence, he provides a list of typological features said to characterize the phylum (pp. 581-582,) but these show almost no intersection with those of Bulaka River.
    Wurm (1971b: 166) is more specific, suggesting a special relationship between Bulaka River and Trans-Fly upon the basis of an average 9% lexical similarity and, citing Boelaars (1950,) shared morphemes and typological traits, though which ones he finds probative aren't specified. No such relationship is asserted in Wurm ed. (1975: 357,) in which Bulaka River is listed as a subphylum-level family, related to the Trans-Fly phylum level stock only at the Trans-New Guinea level, but the Trans-Fly-Bulaka River suphylum level superstock is reasserted in Wurm (1982: 179-180.) This would then make its way into derivative woks such as Ruhlen (1987: 358) and versions of the Ethnologue (Grimes 2000: 721,) becoming the default classification by a small number of high-profile repetitions.
    Greenberg (1971: 829-830) includes Bulaka River in his Jei subfamily of South New Guinea. an unfortunate collection of a number of nearby but unrelated languages including most of those presented in Geurtjens (1933) and Nevermann (1939): Yei, Kanum and Arammba, Kolopom, South Marianne Strait and Bulaka River. South New Guinea as a whole, the outlines of which are broadly similar to Wurm's Trans Fly-Bulaka River, is supported by 70 comparisons, most of which don't involve Bulaka River.
    Pawley, Ross and Osmond (2005: 24-26) propose a South-Central Papuan family including Yelmek-Maklew, Morehead-Upper Maro and Pahoturi, recapitulating the westernmost portions of Wurm's Trans-Fly-Bulaka River, based upon comparison of reconstructed personal pronouns.

    Historical phonology

    Proto-Bulaka River had as many as 16 consonants and probably 6 vowels as follows:

*m *n
*p *t *c *k
*b *d *g
*w *l *j

*i *u
*e *o
*a

    The consonant system is formally symmetrical, if we allow that /*w *l *j *ɣ/ form a series of non-stops as is found in (for example) Guhu-Oro. Fricative /*s/ is found only in loans. Phonemic velar nasal /*ŋ/ is very common, yielding /ŋ/ in both Yelmek and Maklew. Palatal stops /*c *ɟ/ and voiced velar non-stop /*ɣ/ are relatively rare, as is, somewhat suprisingly, apical nasal /*n/. Palatal nasal /*ɲ/ is supported by only one example.
    We tentatively assume Drabbe's qualities [e ɛ ə] and [o ɔ ə] to be allophones of two mid vowels /*e *o/, in the absence of clear and recurring patterns to the contrary, and the general sense that Drabbe reflexively draws these contrasts in most languages he described, giving the impression of a standardized phonetic rather than phonemic transcription. Geurtjens' transcriptions are less reliable, but show no pattern of agreeing with Drabbe's distinctions and often contradict them.

    Consonants correspond as follows:

 Bulaka  Yelmek  Maklew
*m m m
*n n n
n ŋ
ŋ ŋ
*p p p
*t t t
*c t k
*k k k
*b b b
*d d d
d g
*g g g
*w w h
*l l l
*j j s
ŋ h
[*s] t s

    These correspondences are exemplified as follows, with attestations drawn from Drabbe (1950: 566-574, ibid.) Geurtjens (1933: 398-422) and Lebold, Kriens and de Vries (2010: 46-52.)


    Bilabial nasal /*m/ is retained as such in all descendants, and is found in all positions:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
   *m-  m  m  m  m
 coconut  *mi[o]  mia  mia  'mio  'mijɔ
 pig  *milom  milom  milom  milom  'milɔm
 sit  *me[n/d]  mən  mæn  med  məd
 crooked/turn  *meŋ  mɛmɛŋ  meŋ  mɛŋ  
 rib  *mel  mɛl    məl  
 lightning  *melVm  mɛlm  merm  melm  
 negative  *ma  ma-(w)  ma-w  ma(-ko)  'ma-kɔ
 wing  *mama    mama  mama  'mama
 blunt/dull  *map  kəl-map    kəl-map  
 stone  *mat[e]  mata:  mate  'matɛ  'mətə
 rain  *maŋ  maŋ  maŋ  maŋ  maŋ
 break (wood)  *maɣe  maŋe-    -ŋo-mhe- (intr.)  
 lime/white  *mVlino    malino  'mujno  'mujnɔ
 breast  *momo  momo  momo  momo  mɔmɔ
 fence  *molo  mol  molo  mo'lo-go  mɔ'lɔ-gu
 penis  *mu  mu    mu  
 fly (v.)  *mu  mu-    -mu-  -mu
 sole  *mulo    mulo  mulo  
 taro  *muj  muj    mus  mus
   *-m-  m  m  m  m
 canoe  *imo  imo  imo  imo  'imɔ
 3 pl.  *em[el]  em    imel  imlɛb
 straight  *amom  amom    'ammo'gola  
 break (rope)  *[a]ŋeme  ŋemɛ-    -aŋeme-  
 sun/sky  *[a/o]limu  alemu  alim  'olimu  'ɔlimu
 1 sg. past  *-oma  -ama    -oma  
 mountain  *uomal  womal      'wɔmal
 wing  *mama    mama  mama  'mama
 breast  *momo  momo  momo  momo  mɔmɔ
 fruit  *noma  noma    noma  
 short  *t[e]m[e]  təmək  tammak  təmaŋ  'təmə
 hot/sharp  *dimo  dəmo    dimo  'dimɔ
 path  *came    tamɛ:    'kame
 run/run away  *jeme    je:me:    sɛmɛ
 good/true  *ŋeme  ŋəmək  namiŋke:  ŋəməŋ≈ŋɛməŋ  ŋəməŋ
 earthquake  *ŋ[a/o]ɣum[o]  ŋaŋumo    -ŋohum-  
 tame/orphan  *ŋomo  ŋomo    ŋomoŋ  
 snake  *gumolo  gumolo    'gumolo  gu'mɔlɔ
   *-m  m  m  m  m
 mucus  *em  ɛm-dɛ  e:n-die  em-de  
 straight  *amom  amom    'ammo'gola  
 pig  *milom  milom  milom  milom  'milɔm
 lightning  *melVm  mɛlm  merm  melm  
 sugarcane  *belVm  bələm  beləm  mbɛlym  
 dog  *num  num      num
 fish  *dem  dəm  dəm  dem  dəm
 deep  *dam  dam    dam  
 cry/weep  *ŋom  ŋom-    -ŋom-  

    Apical /*n/ is retained as such in all descendants. It has not been found to occur finally:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
   *n-  n  n  n  n
 tongue  *nepla  naplɛ  napla  nepla  nɛpla
 fruit  *noma  noma    noma  
 dog  *num  num      num
   *-n-  n  n  n  n
 coconut shell  *apina    apina  apina  
 torch  *ual[e]no  waleno    wajno  
 lime/white  *mVlino    malino  'mujno  'mujnɔ
 louse  *dobuna  dobna  domla [sic]  'dobuna  dɔ'buna
 older sibling  *ɲena  nana    ŋena  ɲɛna
 ant  *kani[a/e]    kania    'kənjɛ

    The scarcity of /*n/ relative to peropheral nasals /*m/ (above) and /*ŋ/ (below) suggests that a pre-Bulaka River /*n/ has become something else in most or all instances, a possibility to be borne in mind when comparing Bulaka River to other New Guinean families.

    The existence of a palatal nasal /*ɲ/ is supported by only one known example, in which is is found initially. We tentatively reconstruct /*ɲ/ here by analogy to the dispositions of palatal stops /*c *ɟ/ (below,) and our skepticism of its originality applies equally here. Lebold, Kriens and de Vries give Maklew [ɲ] to Drabbe's [ŋ]:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
   *ɲ-  n    ŋ  ɲ
 older sibling  *ɲena  nana    ŋena  ɲɛna

    Velar nasal /*ŋ/ is retained as such in all descendants, and is found in all positions:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
   *ŋ-  ŋ  ŋ  ŋ  ŋ
 good/true  *ŋeme  ŋəmək  namiŋke:  ŋəməŋ≈ŋɛməŋ  ŋəməŋ
 ripe  *ŋewe    ŋewe:  -ŋehe-  
 1 sg.  *ŋ[e]l  ŋəl  ŋal  ŋəllo  'ŋəlɔ
 new  *ŋeluo  ŋəlwok  ŋolwok  'ŋɛlwoŋ  'ŋəluwɔŋ
 dream  *ŋeɣe  ŋɛŋɛɛ-    -ŋehe-  
 be (future)  *ŋaiak  ŋajak-    -ŋajk-  
 name  *ŋaɟel[e]  nadəl  nade:l  ŋeŋele  ŋə'gɛlɛ
 1 pl.  *ŋag  ŋag    ŋag  ŋag
 earthquake  *ŋ[a/o]ɣum[o]  ŋaŋumo    -ŋohum-  
 intr. on "break"  *ŋo-  ŋo-    ŋo-  
 cry/weep  *ŋom  ŋom-    -ŋom-  
 tame/orphan  *ŋomo  ŋomo    ŋomoŋ  
 now/today  *ŋop[i]  ŋop-ma    ŋopi'nalma  
 cough/sneeze  *ŋot[o]  ŋot-    -ŋoto-  
 laugh  *ŋuw  ŋu-    -ŋuh-  
 person  *ŋuwa    nəwwa  ŋuha  
 one  *ŋuka  ŋklala  ukala  -ŋuka  
   *-ŋ-  ŋ  ŋ  ŋ  ŋ
 hear  *[i]ŋe  iŋe-  iŋe:we:  -eŋ-  
 spine  *ieŋo    dʲəŋo  jeŋo  
 drink/suck  *[a]ŋ[e]  ŋe-  j-aŋu  aŋ-  ɛŋuwɛ
 break (rope)  *[a]ŋeme  ŋemɛ-    -aŋeme-  
 urine  *oŋo  oŋo  oŋo  oŋo  ɔŋɔ
   *-ŋ  ŋ  ŋ  ŋ  ŋ
 child/offspring  *iaŋ  jaŋ  jak [sic]  jaŋ  jaŋ
 crooked/turn  *meŋ  mɛmɛŋ  meŋ  mɛŋ  
 rain  *maŋ  maŋ  maŋ  maŋ  maŋ
 upright  *daŋ    daŋ    daŋ

    Bilabial voiceless stop /*p/ is retained as such in all descendants, and is found in all positions:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
   *p-  p  p  p  p
 feather  *p[ə]p[ə]  pəpə  pəp  pypypy  
 suffix on adj.  *-pa    -pa  -paŋ  -paŋ
 light (weight)  *popu  popu  popok  'popuŋ  
 old (thing)  *poto  potok    'potoŋ  'pɔtɔŋ
 bone/shin  *pu  pu  pu  pu  pu
 hit/smash  *pliaɣ  plaŋ-  pliage:  -piah- ≈ -pjaha-  
   *-p-  p  p  p  p
 bitter  *ipa  ipa    ipa  
 net  *apija  apia  epia  apsa  
 wait  *[a]lpo  lpo-    -alpo-  
 grab/hold  *[a]ɣep[e]  aŋep-    -hepe- (dur.)  
 eye/face  *opo  opo  opo  opo  ɔpɔ
 ear  *opo-kolo    opoklo  'opklo  ɔpklɔ
 sleep  *opula    oplə  o'pula  ɔ'pula
 feather  *p[ə]p[ə]  pəpə  pəp  pypypy  
 tongue  *nepla  naplɛ  napla  nepla  nɛpla
 long  *tipu  tipuk  tipo  tipu  tipu
 thigh  *c[ə]pe    tepe:  kpe  
 steal  *ɟepe    de:pe:  gepe  
 now/today  *ŋopi  ŋop-ma    ŋopi'nalma  
 wife  *kepi[ŋ/ɣ][e]    keipiŋe:  kepihe  kɛ'piŋɔ
   *-p  p  p  p  p
 3 sg. future  *-p  -p    -p  
 leaf  *op  op  op  op-op  'ɔp-up
 blunt/dull  *map  kəl-map    kəl-map  

    Apical voiceless stop /*t/ is retained as such in all descendants. It is less common than peripheral stops /*p/ (above) and /*k/ (below.) Like apicals /*n/ (above) and /*d/ (below,) it has not been found to occur finally:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
   *t-  t  t  t  t
 long  *tipu  tipuk  tipo  tipu  tipu
 short  *t[e]m[e]  təmək  tammak  təmaŋ  'təməŋ
 shoot  *to  to-    -to-  -tɔ
   *-t-  t  t  t  t
 stone  *mat[e]  mata  mate:  'matɛ  'mətə
 old (thing)  *poto  potok    'potoŋ  'pɔtɔŋ
 ankle  *boto  boto  boto  boto  
 small  *wVti  wotək  watək  hitiŋ  'hitiŋ
 cough/sneeze  *ŋot[o]  ŋot-    -ŋoto-  

    Velar voiceless stop /*k/ is retained as such in all descendants:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
   *k-  k  k  k  k
 wife  *kepi[ŋ/ɣ][e]    keipiŋe:  kepihe  kɛ'piŋɔ
 ashes  *keb  kəb  kabə  kɛb  kəb
 tooth  *kel  kəl  kel  kəl  kəl
 hard  *kekeie  kəke  ke:ke:jɛ  kəkɛ'jɛ  
 1 sg. future  *-ka  -ka    -ka  
 ant  *kani[a/e]    kania    'kənjɛ
 branch  *k[a]ka  kəka  kaka  kəka  
 grandparent  *kaga  kaga  kaga  kaga  kaga
 dig  *k[o]uak    kowak  -kwak-  -kwak
 hole  *kolo  kolo  kalo ≈ -klo  kəllo ≈ -klo  -klɔ
 lie down/sleep  *ku  ku-    -ku-  
 enemy  *kui  kuj    kuj  
   *-k-  k  k  k  k
 blood  *ewlek[e]  ɛlweke  elwe:ke:  ehlel [sic]  ɛhlɛk
 banana  *okal  akal  a:kal  okal  'ɔkəl
 testicle  *oko  oko    oko  
 knowledge  *uowka  wokwan  wokwan  'wohka  'wɔhkaŋ
 go up  *ukal  ukal-    -ukal-  
 sago stems  *buka    buka  byka  
 breath  *waku  waku    haku  
 wallaby  *doki  doki  dokɛ  doki  'dɔki
 breadfruit  *joko  joko  jewoka  soko  'sɔkɔ
 one  *ŋuka  ŋklala  ukala  -ŋuka  
 branch  *k[a]ka  kəka  kaka  kəka  
   *-k  k  k  k  k
 be (future)  *ŋaiak  ŋajak-    -ŋajk-  
 dig  *k[o]uak    kowak  -kwak-  -kwak

    Bilabial voiced stop /*b/ is retained as such in all descendants, and is found in all positions. Initially, it is occasionally realized as prenasalized [mb]:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
   *b-  b [b mb]  b  b [b mb]  b
 bamboo  *biol  biol  boil  'biol  'bijɔl
 throat  *bila  bila    'bila  
 sugarcane  *belVm  bələm  beləm  mbɛlym  
 big  *bala  mbalak    balaŋ  'balaŋ
 widow  *boi  boj-a [< boi-jua]    mboj  
 ankle  *boto  boto  boto  boto  
 sago stems  *buka    buka  byka  
   *-b-  b  b  b  b
 stone axe  *iebu  jebu  e:pl [sic]  ibu  
 house  *ebi  ebi  e:bi  ebi  'ɛbi
 husband  *ebVwe    e:baiwəb  ebohe  ɛ'bɔbɛ
 see  *[a]b[e]  bɛe    -aba-  
 sour  *[a]bowol  abol    'obohol  
 younger sibling  *uobia  wobia    'wobia  wɔbja
 louse  *dobuna  dobna  domla [sic]  'dobuna  dɔ'buna
   *-b  b  b  b  b
 3 sg.  *eb  ew (?)  ib  ib  'ibak̚
 ashes  *keb  kəb  kabə  kɛb  kəb

    Apical voiced stop /*d/ is retained as such in all descendants. Like apicals /*n *t/ (above.) it has not been found to occur finally.:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
   *d-  d  d  d  d
 hot/sharp  *dimo  dəmo    dimo  'dimɔ
 excrement  *de  dɛ  de:  de  
 fish  *dem  dəm  dəm  dem  dəm
 rope  *del    del  del  
 deep  *dam  dam    dam  
 upright  *daŋ    daŋ    daŋ
 tree/wood  *doio  dojo  dojo  dojo  'dɔjɔ
 louse  *dobuna  dobna  domla  'dobuna  dɔ'buna
 wallaby  *doki  doki  dokɛ  doki  'dɔki
 ill  *dogo  dogwo  dogo  dogo  
   *-d-  d  d  d  d
 foot//leg  *uodo  wodo  wodo  wodo  wɔdɔ

    Velar voiced stop /*g/ is retained as such in all descendants, and is found in all positions:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
   *g-  g  g  g  g
 excrement  *gauo  gaw    'gawo  gawɔ
 speech  *gaga    gaga  gaga  gaga
 bush/forest  *golu  golu  golu  goloa  'gulu ≈ golu
 snake  *gumolo  gumolo    'gumolo  gu'mɔlɔ
 kill  *gul  gul-    -gul-  -gul
   *-g-  g  g  g  g
 thumb/big toe  *ege  egek-nek    egeŋ  
 body/chest  *ag[e]l  agəl    agl-  
 sick/ill  *dogo  dogwo  dogo  dogo  
 grandparent  *kaga  kaga  kaga  kaga  kaga
 speech  *gaga    gaga  gaga  gaga
 ask about  *lig  lig-    -lig-  
   *-g  g  g  g  g
 soft/weak  *ieg(-ieg)  jeg  jegia  'igijig  
 1 pl.  *ŋag  ŋag    ŋag  ŋag

    The qualities of the protosounds shown here are /*c *ɟ/ may not be possible to determine. We tentatively designate them as palatal stops, because they yield apicals /t d/ in Yelmek and velars /k g/ in Maklew, and do not appear to be conditioned reflexes of /*t *d/ or /*k *g/. Neither is common, but /*ɟ/ is less common than /*c/, a distributional pattern similar to /*k *g/:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
   *c-  t  t  k  k
 swim  *ce  tə  tə  -ke-  -kɛ
 thigh  *cepe    tepe:  kpe  
 path  *came    tamɛ:    'kame
 forehead  *cule  tule    'kule  
   *-c-  t  t  k  k
 fire  *ace  ete  e:te:  ake  'ake
 smoke  *acaja  ataja    'akasa  a'kasa

    … /*ɟ/ …:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
   *ɟ-  d  d  g  g
 steal  *ɟepe    de:pe:  gepe  
 dark/black  *ɟewi  dewi  de:wi  gehile  gɛhilɛ
   *-ɟ-  d  d  g  g
 name  *ŋaɟel[e]  nadəl  nade:l  ŋeŋele [sic]  ŋə'gɛlɛ

    It's striking that of nine examples, six are followed by /*e/, seven if one considers "smoke" to reflect /*ace aja/ as it likely does. This strongly suggests that there was originally a vocalic component to these sounds, indicating perhaps /*tiV *diV/ or /*kiV *giV/, neither of which, despite the frequency of sequential /*iV/, is otherwise yet known to occur. Nor are there any known examples of /*itV *ikV/, leaving many segments which /*c *ɟ/ could reasonably be thought to really be, but with no way of deciding between them.

    Lateral /*l/ is preserved in all descendants. It does not occur root-initially, except on a few verbs which are prefixed in both Yelmek and Maklew:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
   *-l-  l  l  l  l
 ask for  *-liw  -li-    -lihe-  
 ask about  *-lig  -lig-    -lig-  
 plant (v.)  *[e]ule  wle-    -ɛwle-  
 blood  *ewlek[e]  ɛlweke  elwe:ke:  ehlel  ɛhlɛk
 2 pl.  *ale  ɛl    ale-  
 wait  *[a]lpo  lpo-    -alpo-  
 sun/sky  *[a/o]limu  alemu  alim  'olimu  'ɔlimu
 sleep  *opula    oplə  o'pula  ɔ'pula
 back  *uele  wele    welely  
 beach  *uelo    wolowio    wɛlɔwɛlɔ
 fly (n.)  *uoli    woli  wuli  
 pig  *milom  milom  milom  milom  'milɔm
 lightning  *melVm  mɛlm  merm  melm  
 fence  *molo  mol  molo  mo'lo-go  mɔ'lɔ-gu
 sole  *mulo    mulo  mulo  
 throat  *bila  bila    'bila  
 sugarcane  *belVm  bələm  beləm  mbɛlym  
 big  *bala  mbalak    balaŋ  'balaŋ
 saliva  *wVlo  wulo  wulo  hallo  
 tongue  *nepla  naplɛ  napla  nepla  nɛpla
 forehead  *cule  tule    'kule  
 bathe  *jale    jælæ    sale
 bandicoot  *jowoli  joli    'sowoli  sɔ'hɔli
 new  *ŋeluo  ŋəlwok  ŋolwok  'ŋɛlwoŋ  'ŋəluwɔŋ
 name  *ŋaɟel[e]  nadəl  nade:l  ŋeŋele  ŋə'gɛlɛ
 hole  *kolo  kolo  kalo ≈ -klo  kəllo ≈ -klo  -klɔ
 bush/forest  *golu  golu  golu  goloa  'gulu ≈ golu
 snake  *gumolo  gumolo    'gumolo  gu'mɔlɔ
   *-l  l  l  l  l
 oblique  *-el ≈ *-ol  -el ≈ -ol    -el ≈ -ol  
 sour  *abowol  abol    'obohol  
 banana  *okal  akal  a:kal  okal  'ɔkəl
 body/chest  *ag[e]l  agəl    agl-  
 mountain  *uomal  womal      'womal
 go up  *ukal  ukal-    -ukal-  
 rib  *mel  mɛl    məl  
 bamboo  *biol  biol  boil  'biol  'bijɔl
 rope  *del    del  del  
 1 sg.  *ŋ[e]l  ŋəl  ŋal  ŋəllo  'ŋəlɔ
 tooth  *kel  kəl  kel  kəl  kəl
 kill  *gul  gul-    -gul-  -gul

    Maklew drops medial /*l/ from some clusters:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
   *l/_C  l  l  ø  ø
 torch  *ual[e]no  waleno    wajno  
 lime/white  *mVlino    malino  'mujno  'mujnɔ
   *l/C_  l  l  ø  ø
 hit/smash  *pliaɣ  plaŋ-  pliage  -piah-  

    While not directly attested in either Yelmek or Maklew, a voiced velar fricative /*ɣ/ is reconstructed to account for a correspondence in which Drabbe's Yelmek /ŋ/ is answered by Maklew /h/, rather than by /ŋ/, the aspiration and deocclusion of /*ɣ/ being shared with Marind's central dialects (q.v. Drabbe 1933: 14.) This is further supported by Guertjen's Jab [g], distinct from the reflexes of /*ŋ/ (above):

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
   *ɣ  ŋ  g  h  h
 be hungry  *ɣi  ŋal-ŋi-p    -hi-  
 plait  *ɣo  ŋo-    -ho-  
 cold  *ioɣ[a]    jogow  joha  'jɔha
 hold  *[a]ɣep[e]  aŋep-    -hepe- (dur.)  
 break (wood)  *maɣe  maŋe-    -ŋo-mhe- (intr.)  
 dream  *ŋeɣe  ŋɛŋɛɛ-    -ŋehe-  
 earthquake  *ŋ[a/o]ɣum[o]  ŋaŋumo    -ŋohum-  
 hit/smash  *pliaɣ  plaŋ-  pliage:  -piah-  

    A direct indication of equivalance to the Marind sound is found in this loan:

   Marind  Makléw
     Drabbe
   *ɣ-  h
 beard  *ɣas  has

    As in Marind, glides /*w *j/ are distinguished from sequential vowels /*u *i/ by stridency, with the former but not the latter fricated to /h s/ in Maklew, merging with the reflexes of /*ɣ *s/. For whatever reason, /*w/ is much more common than /*j/:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
   *j-  j  j  s  s
 run/run away  *jeme    je:me:    'sɛmɛ
 bathe  *jale    jælæ    sale
 breadfruit  *joko  joko  jewoka  soko  'sɔkɔ
 bandicoot  *jowoli  joli    'sowoli  sɔ'hɔli
   *-j-  j  j  s  s
 net  *apija  apia  epia  apsa  
 smoke  *acaja  ataja    'akasa  a'kasa
   *-j  j  j  s  s
 taro  *muj  muj    mus  mus

    … /*w/ …:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
   *w-  w  w  h  h
 voice  *wai[a]  waja    haj  
 breath  *waku  waku    haku  
 small  *wVti  wotək  watək  hitiŋ  'hitiŋ
 saliva  *wVlo  wulo  wulo  hallo  
   *-w-  w  w  h  h
 woman/female  *iowa  jua  juwa    ajɔhaŋ
 husband  *ebVwe    e:baiwəb  ebohe  ɛ'bɔbɛ [sic]
 blood  *ewlek[e]  ɛlweke  elwe:ke:  ehlel  ɛhlɛk
 sour  *[a]bowol  abol    'obohol  
 cassowary  *owi  owi  owi  ohi  'ɔhi
 (day)light  *owo  owo  owo  oho  
 knowledge  *uowka  wokwan  wokwan  'wohka  'wɔhkaŋ
 mouth/door  *uwo  wo  wo  'uho  uhɔ
 dark/black  *ɟewi  dewi  de:wi  gehile  gɛhilɛ
 bandicoot  *jowoli  joli    'sowoli  sɔ'hɔli
 ripe  *ŋewe    ŋewe:  -ŋehe-  
 person  *ŋuwa    nəwwa  ŋuha  
 wash  *uw  wu-    -uh-  -uh
 ask for  *liw  li-    -lihe-  
 laugh  *ŋuw  ŋu-    -ŋuh-  

    Maklew's fortitions further develop changes shared with the West and Atih dialects of Marind, in which /*j *w/ yield /hʲ hʷ/ (q.v. Drabbe 1933: 14.) The equivalence to and coevolution with Marind qualities is evident in the behavior of loans therefrom:

   Marind  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
   *j  j [i]  j [z]    s
 bow  *mij  mi  miz    'mijɛs
   *w  w  w [v]  h  h
 think  *wetok      hetok  
 knife  *sok(-wakra)  tokwakəl    soka'hakəl  sɔka'hakəl
 paddle  *kawaia  kawja  kavia  kahia  'kahja
   *i  i [i j]  i  i  i
 old woman  *mes-iuag  met(w)ago  mɛs-iwag    mɛsiwag
 paddle  *kawaia  kawja  kavia  kahia  'kahja
   *u  u [w]  u [w]    u [w]
 old woman  *mes-iuag  met(w)ago  mɛs-iwag    mɛsiwag

    Sequential vowels /*i *u/ are not fricated:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
   *i  i [i j]    i [i j]  
 stone axe  *iebu  jebu  e:pl [sic]  ibu  
 spine  *ieŋo    dʲəŋo  jeŋo  
 soft/weak  *ieg  jeg  jeg-ia  'igijig  
 imperative  *ia-  ja- ≈ j- ≈ i-    ja-  
 crocodile  *iaua[ŋ]    eli-jawa  jawəŋ  'jawuŋ
 child/offspring  *iaŋ  jaŋ  jak  jaŋ  jaŋ
 cold  *ioɣ…    jogow  joha  'jɔha
 water  *iu  ju    jy  ju
 woman  *iowa  jua  juwa    ajɔhaŋ
 afraid  *oio    ojo    'ɔjɔ
 younger sibling  *uobia  wobia    'wobia  wɔbja
 coconut  *mi[a/o]  mia  mia  mio  'mijɔ
 hit/smash  *pliaɣ  plaŋ-  pliage:  -piah-  
 bamboo  *biol  biol  boil  'biol  'bijɔl
 voice  *wai[a]  waja    haj  
 tree/wood  *doio  dojo  dojo  dojo  'dɔjɔ
 be (future)  *ŋaiak  ŋajak-    -ŋajk-  
 hard  *kekeie  kəke  ke:ke:jɛ  kəkɛ'jɛ  
 ant  *kani[a/e]    kania    'kənjɛ
 night  *ui  wi  wih  wi  wi
 widow  *boi  boj-a [< boi-jua]    mboj  
 enemy  *kui  kuj    kuj  
   *u  u [u w]    u [u w]  
 night  *ui  wi  wih  wi  wi
 back  *uele  wele    welely  
 neck  *u[e][n/l]  wəl    wən  
 beach  *uelo    wolowio    wɛlɔwɛlɔ
 dry  *ua    wa  uwaŋ  uwa-
 torch  *ual[e]no  waleno    wajno  
 mountain  *uomal  womal      'womal
 younger sibling  *uobia  wobia    'wobia  wɔbja
 foot//leg  *uodo  wodo  wodo  wodo  wɔdɔ
 kunai grass  *uoka    woŋga [sic]  woka  'wɔka
 fly (n.)  *uoli    woli  wuli  
 knowledge  *uowka  wokwan  wokwan  'wohka  'wɔhkaŋ
 crocodile  *iaua[ŋ]    eri-jawa  jawəŋ  'jawuŋ
 plant (v.)  *[e]ule  wle-    -ɛwle-  
 tendon  *ouo  owo    owo  
 new  *ŋeluo  ŋəlwok  ŋolwok  'ŋɛlwoŋ  'ŋəluwɔŋ
 dig  *k[o]uak    kowak  -kwak-  -kwak
 enemy  *kui  kuj    kuj  
 excrement  *gauo  gaw    'gawo  gawɔ
 water  *iu  ju    jy  ju
 2 sg.  *au  aw    aw-  

    While high vowels may join sequences with any other vowel, sequences of two non-high vowels /*ea *eo *ae *ao *oe *oa/ do not occur. Where a non-high vowel is adjacent to a high vowel, the high vowel is usually perceived as a contour unless it immediately follows a consonant. When two high vowels are in sequence, the first is perceived as a contour unless it immediately follows a consonant. It might be remarked that this distribution and behavior is not unlike what would be expected in a system with glides and no vowel sequences, and we would have reconstructed /*j *w/ had these not already been assigned to the correspondences which yield aspirates /s h/ in Maklew and codevelop with their Marind equivalents. A reconstruction of fricatives /*ʝ *β/ alongside vocalic /*j *w/ would match our data equally well, but with formally more complicated inventories.

    Fricative /*s/ is found only in loans, primarily from Marind, in which it is found in all positions. It is defricated to /t/ in Yelmek:

   Marind  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
   *s  t  s [t s]  s  s
 mourning band  *soia    toja    
 knife  *sok(-wakra)  tokwakəl    soka'hakəl  sɔka'hakəl
 axe  *imbasom  batoni [sic]    'mbasom  'mbasɔm
 sneeze  *asi  ati-ŋɛ  ati-ŋje:    
 old woman  *mes-iuag  met(w)ago  mɛs-iwag    mɛsiwag
 beard  *ɣas      has  

    This change is shared with Yaqay to the north, which likewise reflects Yaqay-Warkay /*s/ as /t/, and with Central Kolopom to the west, in which /*s/ is realized as [tʲ].

    On a number of roots, Yelmek /k/ is answered by Maklew /ŋ/. In a few instances, one or the other of these is zero. Since this variation occurs only on items which are conceivably adjectives, and is otherwise irregular, we tentatively conclude it morphological in origin:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Jab  Makléw  Maklew
     Drabbe  Geurtjens  Drabbe  Lebold et al.
     -k    -ŋ  
 thumb/big toe  *ege-  egek-nek    egeŋ  
 possessive  *-a[u]-  -awk    -aŋ  
 old (thing)  *poto-  potok    'potoŋ  'pɔtɔŋ
 big  *bala-  mbalak    balaŋ  'balaŋ
 short  *t[e]m[e]-  təmək  tammak  təmaŋ  'təməŋ
 good/true  *ŋeme  ŋəmək  namiŋke:  ŋəməŋ≈ŋɛməŋ  ŋəməŋ
 new  *ŋeluo  ŋəlwok  ŋolwok  'ŋɛlwoŋ  'ŋəluwɔŋ
 small  *wVti-  wotək  watək  hitiŋ  'hitiŋ
     -k ≈ -ø    -ŋ  
 light (weight)  *popu-  popu  popok  'popuŋ  
     -k    -ø  
 long  *tipu  tipuk  tipo  tipu  tipu
     -ø    -ŋ  
 woman/female  *iowa-  jua  juwa    ajɔhaŋ
 dry  *ua-    wa  waŋ  
 suffix on adj.  *-pa    -pa  -paŋ  -paŋ
 tame/orphan  *ŋomo-  ŋomo    ŋomoŋ  

    Pronouns

    The nominative forms of the personal pronouns (q.v. Drabbe 1950: 550-551) are as follows. Maklew's second person nominatives differ from Yelmek's, which are the same as oblique bases of all descendants; it's conceivable that this difference was original. It's not clear whether Maklew has added a suffix to the third person plural or if the Yelmek form is an irregular reduction:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Makléw
 1 sg.  *ŋ[e]l  ŋəl  ŋəllo
 2 sg.  *au (?)  aw  obe
 3 sg.  *eb  ew  ib
 1 pl.  *ŋag  ŋag  ŋag
 2 pl.  *ale (?)  ɛl  omle
 3 pl.  *em[e]l  em  imel

    The oblique forms are derived from the nominatives by the suffixation of /*-el ≈ *-ol/ to the first and second persons and /*-i/ to the third persons. Here the originality of Yelmek's /-i/ is assumed in order to account for the difference in third person base vowels; our hypothesis is that Maklew generalized the third person obliques to the nominative and then reinforced them with /*-el/ by analogy:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Makléw
 1 sg. obl.  *ŋ[e]l-el  ŋəl-el  ŋəl-el
 2 sg. obl.  *au-ol  aw-ol  aw-ol
 3 sg. obl.  *eb-i  eb-i  ib-el
 1 pl. obl.  *ŋag-ol  ŋag-ol  ŋag-ol
 2 pl. obl.  *al-el  ɛl-el  al-el
 3 pl. obl.  *em[e]l-i  em-i  iml-el

    The possessive forms are derived from the nominatives by the suffixation of /*-a[u]/ followed by the adjectival Yelmek /k/, Maklew /ŋ/. The Yelmek first person plural appears to be defective:

   Bulaka River  Jélmèk  Makléw
 1 sg. poss.  *ŋ[e]l-a[u]-  ŋl-awk  ŋəl-aŋ ≈ ŋl-aŋ
 2 sg. poss.  *au-a[u]-  aw-awk  aw-aŋ
 3 sg. poss.  *eb-a[u]-  ɛb-awk  ib-aŋ
 1 pl. poss.  *ŋag-a[u]-  ŋ-awk  ŋag-aŋ
 2 pl. poss.  *ale-a[u]-  ɛl-awk  al-aŋ
 3 pl. poss.  *em[e]l-a[u]-  em-awk  iml-aŋ

    Verbal morphology

    [under construction]

    Drabbe (1950: 552-561) …

    Loans from Marind

    [under construction]

    … (q.v. Geurtjens 1983: 398-411, Nevermann 1952 ibid.):


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