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Anêm language

Native toPapua New Guinea
RegionWest New Britain Province
Native speakers
800 (2011)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3anz
Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML · GPX

The Anêm language is a Papuan language spoken in five main villages along the northwestern coast of New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

External relationships

Anêm may be related to neighboring Ata and possibly to Yélî Dnye. Stebbins et al. state that further data on Anêm and Ata would be useful for exploring the possible connection between them.[3]


Anêm is spoken in the following villages of West New Britain Province:

All of the villages above are located in Kove-Kaliai Rural LLG of West New Britain Province, except for Malasoŋo, which is located in Gurrissi ward of Gloucester Rural LLG, West New Britain Province.[4]

Anêm 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 consonants are:[3]

p t k
b d g
m n ŋ <ng>
β <v>
j <y>


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

Anêm is notable for having at least 20 possessive classes.[5][6]


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.'
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.'

There are 20 possession classes in Anêm. Meanings vary depending on the assigned noun class, as shown in the examples below, with ki ‘hair’ as the noun root.[3]

  • ki-l-e ‘my hair (head)’
  • ki-ŋ-e ‘my hair (pubic)’
  • ki-g-a ‘my hair (body)’

See also

Further reading

  • Thurston, William R. 1982. A comparative study in Anem and Lusi. Pacific Linguistics B-83. Canberra: Australian National University.


  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. ^ a b c Stebbins, Tonya; Evans, Bethwyn; Terrill, Angela (2018). "The Papuan languages of Island Melanesia". 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. 775–894. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
  4. ^ Eberhard, David M.; Simons, Gary F.; Fennig, Charles D., eds. (2019). "Papua New Guinea languages". Ethnologue: Languages of the World (22nd ed.). Dallas: SIL International.
  5. ^ "Chapter Possessive Classification". WALS Online. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  6. ^ Nichols, Johanna; Bickel, Balthasar. "Possessive Classification". World Atlas of Language Structures. Retrieved 2011-02-26.
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