The Difference of West Papua Language and Papua New Guinea

West Papua Language
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People keep asking when they talk about West Papua because the province shares similarities with Papua New Guinea. It includes the West Papua language and Papua New Guinea’s traditional language, government, and history.

Despite sharing the same name and being next to each other, Papua and Papua New Guinea are two very different regions. One of the reasons is that different countries colonized those two regions.

Dutch colonized Papua while the Germans originally colonized Papua New Guinea. Then, Papua New Guinea was colonized again by the British, and now, it is in the hands of the Australians.

West Papua Language
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Differences in Government Structure of Papua and Papua New Guinea

West Papua is not a country but a province in the eastern part of Indonesia. The province is led by a governor and complies with the laws in force in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea is a British Commonwealth country. Even though Papua New Guinea has been declared an independent country, they still recognize the Queen of England (Queen Elizabeth II) as their head of state, which the Governor-General of Papua New Guinea represents. The differences in history and government also have an impact on the differences in the language they use.

West Papua Language and Papua New Guinea Language: The Uniqueness

The language spoken in these two areas is very different. The official language of West Papua is Indonesian mixed with a Papuan accent (Papuan Malay). In general, the Indonesian language in Papua is easily understood by Indonesians from other provinces.

However, the province also owns traditional languages. These languages ​​differ in each region, influenced by cultural differences. Some examples of regional languages ​​in that province are:

  • The Abun language is spoken in Wau Village, Abun District, Tambrauw Regency.
  • The Bahamas language is spoken in Kotam Village and East Fak-Fak District.
  • Duster (Usner) language is spoken in Siwosawo Village (Dusner), Kuri Wamesa District, Teluk Wondama Regency, 
  • The Fkour languages are spoken in Pasir Putih Village, Fkour District andSouth Sorong Regency.
  • The community that speaks the Imiyan language resides in Sawiat Village, Sawiat District, and South Sorong Regency.
  • Matbat language is spoken in Biga village, South Misool District, and Raja Ampat Regency, with around 350 speakers.

There are still many other regional languages ​​spoken in that province. Several languages ​​are still spoken today. However, some languages are threatened with extinction.


Papua New Guinea’s Languages

There are many languages ​​spoken in Papua New Guinea. A researcher from the Papua Archaeological Center, Hari Suroto, said that Papua New Guinea has about 7,000 cultural groups, some of which have never been identified. However, Papua New Guinea only has three official languages. The first language is Tok Pisin, then Hiri Motu, and English. Let’s get to know more about New Guinea’s language here.

Tok Pisin

Tok Pisin is the official language of Papua New Guinea. The word Tok Pisin comes from the English words talk (‘to speak’) and pidgin (‘pidgin language’). Tok Pisin’s vocabulary is a combination of Indo-European and Austronesian languages. Tok Pisin developed as a lingua franca used for trade. The majority of its vocabulary is English, but the language also is influenced by German and native local languages.

Hiri Motu

Hiri Motu is a simplified version of the Motu language. Motu is one ​​of the Central Papua traditional languages and is spoken by the Motu Tribe, a native of Papua New Guinea. However, there are phonological and grammatical differences between Motu and Hiri Motu.

West Papua language and Papua New Guinea language are different. However, when you notice some of the phonemes and sounds, you will realize that both of them share a bit of similarity. Learning more about the language map in West Papua and Papua New Guinea will open the door to understanding more about their unique cultures and histories.