Lepki–Murkim languages

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Papua: Pegunungan Bintang Regency
Linguistic classificationPauwasi or independent language family
  • Southern
    • Lepki–Murkim

The Lepki–Murkim languages are a pair to three recently discovered languages of New Guinea, Lepki, Murkim[2] and possibly Kembra.[3]

Øystein Lund Andersen has written an ethnography sketch on the Lepki that includes a wordlist of Lepki language and songs.[4]


In 2007, on a Papuan language website, Mark Donohue reported that,

Murkim [and] Lepki [and] Kembra are, along with a number of other languages, unclassified groups living between the main cordillera and Mt. 6234, in the north of Papua near the PNG border (where 'near' = up to about 6 days' walk). They don't appear to be related to each other, based on wordlists, and they don't appear to show external affiliations.[1]

However, Søren Wichmann (2013) found that Murkim and Lepki at least appear to be very closely related,[5] a position accepted by Glottolog.[2] Usher (2018) classifies the three languages in the southern branch of the Pauwasi family.[3] Foley (2018) classifies them separately as an independent language family.[6] Foley (2018) also classifies Kembra and Kembra as isolates, but does not exclude the possibility of their being related to Lepki–Murkim.

Basic vocabulary[edit]

Basic vocabulary of Lepki and Murkim showing cognates and non-cognates listed in Foley (2018):[6]

Lepki family basic vocabulary
gloss Lepki Murkim
‘bird’ afai afi
‘blood’ yiri mal
‘bone’ kɔw kok
‘breast’ nom mam
‘ear’ bwi bwi
‘eat’ ɲis ɲẽlo
‘egg’ haiden nel
‘eye’ yɛmon amol
‘fire’ yaɣala yo
‘give’ ken o knewo
‘go’ aːro haro
‘ground’ tɛtɛp andok
‘hair’ yɛt (inok-)ʔtair
‘hear’ ofa o fao
‘I’ aro nuːk
‘leg’ kol ba
‘louse’ nɪm im
‘man’ rawil frawil
‘moon’ roɣivei kaya(bi)
‘name’ gye ka ~ kako
‘one’ kutuɣap hel
‘road, path’ masin mesain
‘see’ boɣo bowo
‘sky’ yiris ilaɣo smomya
‘stone’ sauf oːn
‘sun’ mom kayakalo
‘tongue’ braw prouk
‘tooth’ kal kal
‘tree’ ya yamul
‘two’ kaisi kais
‘water’ kel kel
‘we’ yiris nakmere
‘woman’ konan wonak
‘you (sg)’ yoyo hak(o)


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Lepki-Murkim-Kembra". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ a b Hammarström, Harald; Forke, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2020). "Lepki-Murkim-Kembra". Glottolog 4.3.
  3. ^ a b South Pauwasi River
  4. ^ Andersen, Øystein Lund (2007). "The Lepki People of Sogber River, New Guinea" (PDF). Jayapura, Cendrawasih University.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b 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.