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Biak language

Biak
Biak-Numfor
wós Vyak; wós kovedi
Native toIndonesia
RegionBiak Island & surroundings
Native speakers
30,000 (2000)[1]
Latin
Language codes
ISO 639-3bhw
Glottologbiak1248[2]

Biak (wós Vyak or "Biak language"; wós kovedi or "our language"; Indonesian: bahasa Biak), also known as Biak-Numfor, Noefoor, Mafoor, Mefoor, Nufoor, Mafoorsch, Myfoorsch and Noefoorsch, is an Austronesian language of the South Halmahera-West New Guinea subgroup of the Eastern Malayo-Polynesian languages.

It is spoken by about 30,000 people in Biak and Numfor and numerous small islands in the Schouten Islands archipelago, located in Papua province of Western New Guinea, northeastern Indonesia.

Sociolinguistic situation

There are a number of different dialects of Biak spoken on various different islands, the most well-known being Biak-Numfoor, spoken on the island of Numfoor. These dialect differences are minor and mostly limited to slight regular sound changes.[3] The vast majority of Biak speakers are also fluent in the local variety of Malay, but not all of them are proficient in standard Indonesian.

Despite the comparatively high number of speakers compared to some other Austronesian languages, Biak is still in danger of extinction. Within the main towns, the generation of speakers aged between 20 and 50 have only passive knowledge of the language and rarely use the language actively, instead preferring to use Malay. Younger generations do not even generally have passive knowledge of the language. Biak is only actively used as a spoken language by members of the community over 50 years of age or so and even they regularly code switch into Malay.[4] However, within the villages further from town there are still children who are fluent in Biak. Songs in Biak are also very popular throughout the Islands.

There is a strong initiative to promote the use of the Biak language, with translations of various books and teaching manuals as well as a radio station and a number of church services throughout the year being conducted solely in Biak. Since 2002, there has also been an initiative to introduce Biak being taught formerly in schools on the islands.[5]

Phonology

Biak has a phoneme inventory consisting of 13 consonants and 5 vowels, in which vowel length is phonemic. In the orthography long vowels are written with an acute accent. The phoneme /t/ is very infrequent in its use and some older speakers still realise it as [s] in loanwords.[6]

Consonants[7]
Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Palatal Velar
Stop b  p d  t k
Nasal m n
Fricative β f s
Lateral l
Trill r
Approximant w j
Vowels[8]
Front Central Back
Close i  iː u  uː
Mid e  eː ɤ  ɤː
Open a  aː

The vowel /u/ is the only rounded vowel in Biak; the other four are unrounded.[9]

Morphology

Pronouns and person markers

In Biak pronouns and articles are morphologically related, with both situating a given participant by indicating their relative discourse or spatial (e.g. directional or motional) status. This is not uncommon for Austronesian Languages.[10] Pronouns in Biak are marked for number and clusivity.

Free Pronouns[11]
Person Number
Singular Dual Paucal Plural
1INC ku ko
1EXCL aya nu inko
2 aw mu mko
3 i su sko si (alienable)
na (inalienable)

Free personal pronouns in Biak share their main distributional properties with nouns; however, they are somewhat more restricted. They can be used as a complement of a predicate or preposition but they cannot be used as subjects.[11] In the example below we can see the use of the 1st person personal pronoun aya to complement a verb while the second example shows how a free personal pronoun, in this clause 3rd person i cannot be used as a subject:

(1) Badir i ve aya
2SG.announce 3SG to 1SG
"Make it known to me."


(2) * i d-ores
3SG 3SG-stand
"He stood."

Pronominal affixes

In Biak, pronominal affixes can combine with verbs in three possible inflection patterns (given in the table below), which are partly phonologically conditioned.[12]

Set 1 Set 2 Set 3
1SG ya- y- ya-
2SG wa- w- ⟨w⟩
3SG i- d- ⟨y⟩
1DU.I ku- ku- ku-
1DU.E nu- nu- nu-
2DU mu- mu- mu-
3DU su- su- su-
3PC sko- sk- sko-
1PL.I ko- k- ko-
1PL.E (i)nko- (i)nk- (i)nko-
2PL mko- mk- mko-
3PL.AN si- s- s-
3PL.INAN na- n- n-


Due to the person marking nature of these affixes, the need for the presence of a core noun phrase in the same clause is negated. Thus the following sentence is still grammatical without NP Rusa nanine, as the verb has a pronominal affix that gives the same information.

(1) (Rusa nan-i-ne) d-ores
deer GIV-3SG.SPC-this 3SG-stand
"This deer stood."

These pronominal markers are person markers and are found in the final position of the noun phrase they determine.[13] They attach to verbs along with a specifier that attaches after the pronominal affix; due to their distribution properties these markers should be considered clitics.[13] There are two specificity markers, -ya and –i, where –ya can be used in all positions and -i is restricted to positions before pauses.[13] In the example below the article attaches to the verb vebaya, rather than the verb ifrúr because it is the final verb in the noun phrase headed by for.[13]

(2) i-frúr for ve-ba=ya
3SG-make fire REL.big=3SG.SPC
"He made a big fire."

Nonspecificity, which refers to entities that do not yet exist in this world, or is used to question or deny the existence of an entity, is marked with the articles –o for singular and –no for plural noun phrases.[14] This is shown in the examples below:

Non-specific

(3) I-fúr yuk=o fa y-ún i ve Waranda.
3SG-make ukulele=nonSP.SG CONS 1SG-take 3SG to The.Netherlands
"He is making/will make a ukulele so that I can take it to the Netherlands"


Specific

(4) I-fúr yuk=ya fa y-ún i ve Waranda.
3SG-make ukulele=nonSP.SG CONS 1SG-take 3SG to The.Netherlands
"He has made a ukulele so that I can take it to the Netherlands"

Possession

Similar to other Austronesian languages, Biak makes a grammatical distinction between alienable and inalienable for possession.

Alienable possession

In alienable possession, a possessive pronominal is formed with the possessive marker ‘ve’ to signify the person, number and gender of the possessor, and is followed by a pronominal article marking the gender and number of the possessed. The pronominal article contains the specificity markers ‘-i’ and ‘-ya’, with ‘-i’ being used only in pre-pausal positions.[15] The following table illustrates the possessive pronominal construction.

Possessed->

Possessor:

SG

DU

TR

PL.AN

PL.INAN

1SG

(a)ye=d-i/=d-ya

(a)ye=su-ya/-i

(a)ye=sko-ya/-i

(a)ye=s-ya/-i

(a)ye=na

2SG

be=d-i/=d-ya

be-=su-ya/-i

be=sko-ya/-i

be=s-ya/-i

be=na

3SG

v<y>e=d-i/=d-ya

v<y>e=su-ya/-i

v<y>e =sko-ya/-i

v<y>e =s-ya/-i

v<y>e =na

1DU.INC

Ku-ve=d-i/=d-ya

ku-ve=su-ya/-i

ku-ve=sko-ya/-i

ku-ve=s-ya/-i

ku-ve=na

1DU.EXC

nu-ve=d-i/=d-ya

nu-ve=su-ya/-i

nu-ve=sko-ya/-i

nu-ve=s-ya/-i

nu-ve=na

2DU

mu-ve=d-i/=d-ya

mu-ve=su-ya/-i

mu-ve=sko-ya/-i

mu-ve=s-ya/-i

mu-ve=na

3DU

su-ve=d-i/=d-ya

su-ve=su-ya/-i

su-ve=sko-ya/-i

su-ve=s-ya/-i

su-ve=na

3PC

sko-ve=d-i/=d-ya

sko-ve=su-ya/-i

sko-ve=sko-ya/-i

sko-ve=s-ya/-i

sko-ve=na

1PL.INC

ko-ve=d-i/=d-ya

ko-ve=su-ya/-i

ko-ve=sko-ya/-i

ko-ve=s-ya/-i

i ko-ve=na

1PL.EXC

(i)nko-ve=d-i/=d-ya

(i)nko-ve=su-ya/-i

(i)nko-ve=sko-ya/-i

(i)nko-ve=s-ya/-i

(i)nko-ve=na

2PL

mko-ve=d-i/=d-ya

mko-ve=su-ya/-i

mko-ve=sko-ya/-i

mko-ve=s-ya/-i

mko-ve=na

3PL.AN

se=d-i/=d-ya

se=su-ya/-i

se=sko-ya/-i

se=s-ya/-i

se=na

3PL.INAN

nbe=d-i/d-ya

nbe=su-ya/-i

nbe=sko-ya/-i

nbe=s-ya/-i

nbe=na[16]

Typically, Biak follows a possessor-possessum structure for alienable possessive construction, with the possessive pronominal in the adnominal position:

(5)

ikak

an-i-ne

snonsnon

v<y>e=d-ya

Kormsamba

snake

GIV-3SG.SPC-this

name

<3SG>POSS=3SG-SPC

Kormsamba

The Snake’s name was Kormsamba[17]  

However, alienable possession can also be formed in the order of possessum-possessor, though this is much less frequent:

(6)

romawa

inai

manseren

v<y>e=s-ya

son

daughter

Lord

<3SG>POSS=3PL.AN-SPC

The Lord’s sons and daughters’[18]

Inalienable possession

Inalienable possessive construction differs from alienable in that there is no system of pronominal possessives, only a set of affixes located on the possessum. In contrast to alienable possession, inalienable possession can only take the order of possessor-possessum. Biak contains three subsets of inalienability: body parts, Kinship, and locational.[18]

Body parts

Not all body parts are considered inalienable. Those that are form the stem words from which to derive other body parts through the method of compounding. For example, the alienable ‘knee’ is formed through the inalienable stem ‘we’ (leg) and the compounding ‘pur’ (back) to form ‘wepur’. Possessive construction for alienable body parts follows the same pattern as other alienable terms.[19] The inflectional system for inalienable body parts is as follows:

Vru ‘head’

SG

DU

TR

PL

1SG

Vru-ri

-

-

-

2SG

Vru-m-ri

-

-

-

3SG

Vru-ri

-

-

-

1DU.INC

-

ku-vru-s-na

1DU.EXC

-

nu-vru-s-na

2DU

-

mu-vru-m-s-na

3DU

-

su-vru-s-na

3TR

-

sko-vru-s-na

1PL.INC

-

ko-vru-s-na

1PL.EXC

-

nko-vru-s-na

2PL

-

mko-vru-m-s-na

3PL.AN

-

si-vru-s-na[20] </ref>

Unusual for Austronesian languages of the area, Biak contains a partial prefix system for inflecting inalienable body parts. For the plural forms, suffix ‘-s’ reflects plurality and animateness of possessor and suffix ‘na’ expresses plurality and inaninameteness of the possessum.[21] As stated above, inalienable possession is formed via a possessor-possessum structure:

(7)

sne-ri

i-ba

belly-POSS.SG

3SG-big

She was pregnant (her belly was big)[22]

Kinship terms

Similarly to body parts, not all kinship terms are inalienable. The alienable kinship terms are formed through the same compounding method as alienable body parts, and follow the same possessive construction rules as other alienable terms.[23] This table illustrates the inflectional system for inalienable kinship words:

Me ‘cross-uncle’

SG

DU

TR

PL

1SG

imem(=i)

imem(=su)

imem(=sko)

-

2SG

me-m(=i)

me-m(=su)

me-m(=sko)

-

3SG

me-r(=i)

me-r(=su)

me-r(=sko)

-

1DU

-

-

-

-

2DU

-

-

-

-

3DU

-

-

-

-

3TR

-

-

-

-

1PL

-

-

-

-

2PL

-

-

-

-

3PL

-

-

-

-

All nouns that follow the table’s procedure have an idiosyncratic form for the first person, using a shorter term for the second and third person. (REF pg. 244) Here is an example of the usage of inalienable kinship inflection:

(8)

s<y>éwar

kma-r=i

<3SG>seek

father-POSS.3SG=3SG

He looked for his father[24]

Locational nouns

Locational nouns are the last distinction of inalienability found in Biak. Locational nouns refer to locations that are ‘inherently connected to an entity’.[25] For example, a tree in biak is referred to as having an ‘upper part’ and a ‘lower part’, and a canoe a ‘front’, a ‘middle’ and a ‘back’.[25] The following table exhibits the inflectional system for inalienable locational nouns:

bo ‘upper part/ area above’

SG

DU

TR

PL.ANIM

Pl.INAN

1

-

-

-

-

-

2

bo-m-ri

-

-

-

-

3

bo-ri

bo-n-su

bo-n-sko

bo-n-si

bo-n-na[26]

The suffix ‘-n’ expresses the plurality and inanimateness of the possessum (REF pg. 250). The locational noun possessive structure is illustrated in this example:

(9)

bal

i-ne

v<y>ark

ro

karui=su-ya

bonsu

ball

3SG.SPC-this

<3SG>lie

LOC

stone=3DU-SPC

upside-nonSG.INAM-3DU

This ball lies on top of two stones[25]

Negation

Biak distinguishes between factual and imperative negation (prohibitive). The marker for factual negation is va. For prohibitive it is awer.

Factual negation: va

The negator va occurs clause-finally in intransitive and transitive clauses.[27]

Intransitive

(10) Isyor va.
i-syor va
3SG-low.tide NEG
'It’s not low tide'[28]


Transitive

(11) Dan (i)mbyefya va.
d-an (i)mbyef=ya va
3SG-eat banana=3SG.SPC NEG
‘S/he does not eat the banana.’[29]


(12) Yafár kám i va.
ya-fár kam i va
1SG-tell all 3SG NEG
'I have not told all of it.'[30]


(13) Roma vyanine dóve bapak isne va, yakramu seno va.
romawa v<y>=an-i-ne d-óve bapak is-ne va ya-kram=u sen=o va
son <3SG>POS=GIV-3SG.SPC-this 3SG-say father 3SG.PRED-this NEG 1SG-store=U cent=nonSP.SG NEG
'His son said "father isn't here, I do not have a penny." '[31]


In clauses with non-core arguments, va follows directly the argument it negates.

(14) Denf ro dine va.
d-enf ro di-ne va
3SG-sleep LOC place-this NEG
‘He does not sleep here’ (but somewhere else).


(15) Denf va ro dine.
d-enf va ro di-ne
3SG-sleep NEG LOC place-this
‘He does not sleep here’ (but does something else here).[29]

Va is also used to negate nominal clauses.

(16) Guruno va.
guru=no va
teacher=nonSP.nonSG NEG
'There are no teachers.'[32]

Factual negation in complex clauses

In complex clauses with fa, a conjunction expressing result, it seems that the negator va always occurs last in the sentence. In the corpus of spontaneous speech collected by van den Heuvel, there are no examples with va appearing at the end of the first clause.[33]

(17) Mansren Yesus ipok fa vyefarander ko va.
Manseren Yesus i-pok fa v<y>e-farander ko va
Lord Jesus 3SG-able CONS <3SG>VBLZ-forget 1PL.INC NEG
'The Lord Jesus cannot forget us.'[34]

In other complex clauses the negator may follow the first or final clause.

(18) Dár ve randip va voi, dár ve snonkaku.
d-ár ve randip va voi d-ár ve snonkaku
3SG-cry as pig NEG but 3SG-cry as human.being
'It did not cry as a pig but as a human being.'[35]


(19) Sansun vyena naisya voi, dáknayu sarako va.
sansun v<y>e=na na-is-ya voi d-ák-na-yu sarak=o va
clothes <3SG>POS=3PL.INAN.SPC 3PL.INAN-PRED-that but 3SG-also-have-YU bracelet=nonSP.SG NEG
'His clothes were there, but he did not (also) have a bracelet.'[36]
(20) Vyeurus pyum bakn vyedine va rao isofro dármaker.
v<y>e-urus pyum bakn v<y>e=d-i-ne va rao isofro d-ármakr
<3SG>VBLZ-arrange good body <3SG>VBLZ=3SG-SPC-this NEG until until 3SG-scabies
'He did not take care of his body very well, until he got scabies.'[37]

with bukan

Bukan is a loan from Malay/Indonesian. In Indonesian, the use of bukan, outside its function of negating noun phrases, expresses emphasis.[38] The use of bukan, in Biak also appears to express emphasis – in the examples given by van den Heuvel, it use occurs when a contrast is given. Bukan is used in combination with va. Bukan precedes the first verb and va is in its usual place at the end of the clause.[39]

(21) Indya bukan kokain kofafyár biasa va.
indya bukan ko-kain ko-fafyár biasa va
so NEG 1PL.INC-sit 1PL.INC-tell usual NEG
'So we are not (just) sitting and telling here (but have a serious meeting)'[39]
(22) Pendeta dóve "a, bukan yakofn ve ko
pendeta d-óve a bukan ya-kofn ve ko
minister 3SG-say a NEG 1SG-speak to 1PL.INC


vape yakofn ve warga jemaatsi.
vape ya- kofn ve warga jemaat =s-i
but 1SG- speak to member church=3PL.ANIM-SPC
The minister said "Ah, I did not say that to us, but to the members of the church!"[40]

Imperative negation: awer

The prohibitive marker awer is used to negate arguments in 1st, 2nd and 3rd person.[41]

1stperson

(23) Voi komyof setengah awer i
voi ko-myof setengah awer i
but 1PL.INC-defend half PROHIB 3SG[42]
voi komyof kaku i kám fa…
voi ko-myof kaku i kám fa
but 1PL.INC- defend true 3SG all CONS
'And let us not defend half of it, but let 's really defend all of it, so that …'[42]

2nd person

(24) Wenf awer!
w-enf awer
2SG-sleep NEG
‘Do not sleep!’[29]

3rd person

(25) Ipok vyunk awer mnor vyena.
i-pok v<y>unk awer mnor v<y>e=na
3SG-can <3SG>wipe.off not mucus <3SG>POS=3PL.INAN.SPC
'He is not allowed to wipe off his mucus.'[43]

Other Negators

To express ‘not yet’, Biak uses the marker vanim/vaim. For ‘not any more’ wer va is used.[39]

(26) Ono sibur ve movo movo vaím kám vo (…)
ono si-bur ve mov=o mov=o vaím kám vo
INDEF.PL 3PL.ANIM-leave to place=nonSP.SG place=nonSP.SG not.yet all SIM
'There were not yet any people at all who had left to other places and (….)'[44]


(27) Sikafkif fa sséwar sarak ini. Ma sisrow i vanim.
si-kaf~kif fa s-séwar sarak i-ne ma si-srow i vanim
3PL.AN-RED~pick CONS 3PL.AN-seek bracelet 3SG.SPC-this and 3PL.AN-find 3SG not.yet
'They (the chickens) pick to find this bracelet. And they have not found it yet.'[39]


(28) Bukuno vaíme.
buku=no vaím-e
book=nonSP.nonSG not.yet
'There are no books yet'.[32]


(29) Isyor wer va.
I-syor wer va
3SG-low.tide again not
'It is not low tide any more.'[28]

Typological perspectives

In Austronesian Languages, the negator commonly precedes the predicate. So Biak, with clause final negation, is atypical in this feature. Clause final negation however, is a common feature in the region of the Eastern Bird’s Head Penninsula, in both Austronesian and Papuan languages. It appears to be of Papuan origin.[45]

Glossary

ANIM animate
GIV given
INAN inanimate
INC inclusive
INDEF indefinate
LOC locative
NEG negator
non.SG non-singular
non.SP nonspecific
PL plural
POS possessive marker
PRED predicate
SG singular
SIM simultaneous
SPC specific
U ‘filler’
VBLZ verbaliser

Footnotes

  1. ^ Biak at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Biak". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 7.
  4. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 5.
  5. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 6.
  6. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 11.
  7. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 21.
  8. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 26.
  9. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 27.
  10. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, pp. 64-66.
  11. ^ a b van den Heuvel 2006, p. 67.
  12. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 66.
  13. ^ a b c d van den Heuvel 2006, p. 68.
  14. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 71.
  15. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 84.
  16. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 230.
  17. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 231.
  18. ^ a b van den Heuvel 2006, p. 232.
  19. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, pp. 232-234.
  20. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 238.
  21. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 239.
  22. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 235.
  23. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, pp. 243-245.
  24. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 243.
  25. ^ a b c van den Heuvel 2006, p. 251.
  26. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 250.
  27. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 129.
  28. ^ a b van den Heuvel 2006, p. 28.
  29. ^ a b c Steinhauer 2005.
  30. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 146.
  31. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 440.
  32. ^ a b van den Heuvel 2006, p. 211.
  33. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 130.
  34. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 289.
  35. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 221.
  36. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 400.
  37. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 409.
  38. ^ Sneddon 2010, p. 202.
  39. ^ a b c d van den Heuvel 2006, p. 131.
  40. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 442.
  41. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 132.
  42. ^ a b van den Heuvel 2006, p. 147.
  43. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 98.
  44. ^ van den Heuvel 2006, p. 255.
  45. ^ Reesink 2002, pp. 29-30.

References

  • Berry, K.; C. Berry; K. Berry; C. Berry (1987). "A survey of some West Papuan phylum languages". Workpapers in Indonesian Languages and Cultures. 4: 25–80.
  • Heuvel, Wilco van den (2006). Biak: Description of an Austronesian language of Papua (PhD).
  • Reesink, Ger P. (2002). "The eastern Bird's Head languages compared". Languages of the eastern Bird's Head. pp. 1–44.
  • Sneddon, J. N. (2010). Indonesian reference grammar (2nd ed.).
  • Steinhauer, Hein (2005). "Biak". The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar.

External links