This page uses content from Wikipedia and is licensed under CC BY-SA.

Anêm language

Native toPapua New Guinea
RegionNew Britain
Native speakers
800 (2011)[1]
Language isolate or Yele-West New Britain?
  • Anêm
Language codes
ISO 639-3anz

The Anêm language is a language isolate spoken in five main villages along the northwestern coast of New Britain, Papua New Guinea: Malasoŋo (where it is spoken alongside Bariai), Karaiai, Mosiliki, Pudêlîŋ, Atiatu (where it is spoken alongside Lusi) and Bolo (where it is spoken alongside a version of Aria). It is also spoken by small numbers of people, mostly of Anêm descent, scattered among the surrounding villages. There are two main dialects.

Akiblîk, the dialect of Bolo was near functional extinction in 1982, the youngest speaker then being about 35 years old. The main dialect is spoken in the other villages named above. There are about 800 speakers.

Anêm has been restructured under the influence of Lusi, the local intercommunity language.

Anêm is notable for having at least 20 possessive classes.[3][4]

Anêm is an accusative language with unmarked subject–verb–object word order in plain statements. Yes/no questions are indicated with an intonation contour rather than alterations in word order. Negation (not, not yet, don't) and completive aspect (already) are indicated by modality markers which occur in clause-final position. Tense is not indicated directly. There are three distinctions of mood (realis, irrealis and hortative). Realis refers to something that has happened or is happening; irrealis refers to future tense and hypotheticals; and hortative (only in third persons) is used in commands.

  • Transitive clauses showing subject–verb–object order:
Anêm sentences Tita-nae u-b-î aba niak.
explanation father-my realis.he-kill-them pig two
Translation 'My father killed two pigs.'
Anêm sentences Aia-nae i-sama-dî uas.
explanation mother-my realis.she-seek-it tobacco
Translation 'My mother is looking for some tobacco.'
  • Negative markers are clause final:
Anêm sentences U-k a-xî nan?
explanation realis.he-go to-it garden
Translation 'Did he go to the garden?'
Anêm sentences U-k a-xî nan mantu.
explanation realis.he-go to-it garden not
Translation 'He didn't go to the garden.'
Anêm sentences U-k a-xî nan pmaga.
explanation realis.he-go to-it garden not.yet
Translation 'He hasn't gone to the garden yet.'
Anêm sentences Na-k a-xî nan êbêl.
explanation to-it garden don't
Translation 'Don't go to the garden.'
  • Hortative mood:
Anêm sentences o-k a-xî nan!
explanation hortative.he-go to-it garden
Translation "Let him go to the garden!'

Anêm nouns are distinguished syntactically for gender, masculine or feminine. Masculine nouns are followed by demonstratives or relative pronouns that begin with /l/ while feminine nouns are followed by demonstratives or relative pronouns that begin with /s/. In addition, both subject prefixes and some object suffixes agree in gender with the noun they refer to:

  • Masculine and feminine gender forms of demonstratives:
Anêm sentences Doxa u-ko-lo.
explanation person the.m realis.he-see-him
Translation 'The man saw him.'
Anêm sentences Doxa i-ko-lo.
explanation person the.f realis.she-see-him.
Translation 'The woman saw him.'
  • Gender agreement by subject prefix and object suffix:
Anêm sentences Onu i-kê-lêm.
explanation people the.m realis.they-see-her.
Translation 'The people saw her.'

It may be related to the Ata and Yélî Dnye isolates in a tentative Yele-West New Britain family.

Further information


  1. ^ Anêm at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Anem". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ "Chapter Possessive Classification". WALS Online. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  4. ^ Nichols, Johanna; Bickel, Balthasar. "Possessive Classification". World Atlas of Language Structures. Retrieved 2011-02-26.