West Papua Language and Papua New Guinea Basic Learning

Facts of Melanesia
Facts of Melanesia

Papua is a province in Indonesia that is located in the center. Meanwhile, in the easternmost part of the Papua region, there is the state of Papua New Guinea. A researcher from the Papua Archaeological Center, Hari Suroto, said the word West Papua language comes from the Old Malay language as ‘papuwah,’ which means ‘curly hair. Papua and Papua New Guinea are similar, but both have differences.

Learn the Basics of West Papua Language and Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea & West Papua Language

They perform elaborate initiation rites, marriages, and other celebrations. There are 820 different regional languages in Papua New Guinea. Pidgin or Tok Pisin became Papua New Guinea’s official language out of the thousands of other languages. Tok Pisin (from Tok ‘talk’ and Pisin ‘pidgin’) in its history dates back to the British colonial period.

They don’t have the same language as West Papua language. As a result, they developed a pidgin language based on English. It also borrows Portuguese, French, and German words and their various native languages. When the plantation workers returned to their respective areas, they brought a new language. The language is Tok Pisin in Papua New Guinea, Bislama in Vanuatu, and Pijin in the Solomon Islands.

The new language is also known as Pisin, Pidgin, Neomelanesian, New Guinea Pidgin English, and Melanesian English. The Papua New Guinea (PNG) constitution recognizes Tok Pisin as the national language, along with Hiri Motu and English. Tok Pisin is the common language among PNG’s 820 regional languages, however, English is mostly used for formal purposes.

Below are Some Common Words and Phrases in Tok Pisin:

  1. ‘Good day’ spoken and written ‘gude’
  2. ‘Hello’ spoken and written hello
  3. ‘Goodbye, see you later’ spoken and written ‘gutbai, lukim yu behain’
  4. ‘Thank you’ spoken and written ‘tenkyu’
  5. ‘Please’ spoken and written ‘pls
  6. ‘No’ spoken and written ‘No ken, no gat’
  7. ‘I am sorry’, ‘I am very sorry’ spoken and written ‘mi sori’, ‘mi sori tumas’

West Papua Languages

Around twenty non-Austronesian languages are thought to make up the West Papua languages. Regarding the Bird’s Head Peninsula (Vogelkop or Doberai Peninsula). The Halmahera island and its surroundings in far western New Guinea are home to roughly 220,000 speakers. It is unclear if they form a legitimate linguistic family or a regional network of families that are not genetically connected.

The most well-known West Papua language is Ternate, which has 50,000 native speakers on the island of the same name and is a regional lingua franca. Ternate and Tidore, which lies nearby, were competing medieval sultanates famed for their involvement in the spice trade.

  1. North Halmahera (Halmahera – West Makian)
    • Core North Halmahera
    • West Makian
  2. Amberbaken (Mpur)
  3. Yawa (Yapen)
  4. West–Central Bird’s Head
    • West Bird’s Head
    • Abun
    • Maybrat (Central Bird’s Head)
  5. East Bird’s Head
    • Burmeso
    • Hatam–Mansim (Hatam – Moi Brai)
    • Mantion–Meax (Southeast Bird’s Head)

Wrapping Up

Papua is part of Indonesia. Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea is a Commonwealth of Nations. In short, Papua New Guinea was not a Dutch colony but a British and German colony. Therefore, the West Papua language and Papua New Guinea have different roots in terms of wording. 

With countless linguistic and cultural diversity, it is making them look unique. However, what often begs the question is why the territory is separated and why Indonesia has never touched Papua New Guinea.