The Anim Languages of Southern New Guinea


In this paper, we propose a new family of Papuan languages. The Anim languages are spread across the lowlands of south New Guinea on both sides of the border between Papua New Guinea and the Indonesian Province of Papua. They share a system of four genders that manifest themselves in adjective agreement and in the demonstratives. Two demonstratives can be reconstructed. The demonstrative *tV ‘that’ has the gender forms *te (masculine singular), *tu (feminine singular), *ti (plural masculine and feminine), *to/*ta (neuter 1), and *ti (neuter 2). We also reconstruct a singulative suffix and the pronominal object prefixes of the verb. Most Anim languages are only sparsely documented, and much of our data come from survey word lists. We present 44 sets of Anim lexical cognates, including both nouns and verbs. In combination with the fuller lexical evidence for the four subfamilies, this allows positing regular sound correspondences for 13 of the 17 Anim languages.