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Grand Valley Dani language

Grand Valley Dani
RegionHighlands of Irian Jaya
Native speakers
(90,000 cited 1990–1996)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
dni – Lower
dnt – Mid
dna – Upper
hap – Hupla

Grand Valley Dani, or simply Dani,[3] is one of the most populous Papuan languages in Indonesian New Guinea. The Dani people live in the Baliem Valley of the Western Highlands.


Dialectical differentiation is great enough that Ethnologue assigns separate codes to three varieties:

  • Lower
  • Mid or Central, also known as Tulem
  • Upper

Lower Grand Valley Dani contains subdialects Lower Grand Valley Hitigima (Dani-Kurima, Kurima), Upper Bele, Lower Bele, Lower Kimbin (Kibin), and Upper Pyramid. Hupla, traditionally considered a separate language, is closer to Lower Grand Valley than the varieties of Grand Valley Dani are to each other.


The Dani language differentiates only two basic colours, mili for cool/dark shades such as blue, green, and black, and mola for warm/light colours such as red, yellow, and white. This trait makes it an interesting field of research for language psychologists, such as Eleanor Rosch, investigating the Whorf hypothesis.


The phonology of the Central Grand Valley Dani language[4]:

Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive p b t d k ɡ ʔ
Fricative β s ɣ h
Nasal m n ŋ
Lateral l
Flap ɾ
Implosive ɓ ɗ
Approximant w j
front central back
high close i u
ʏ ʊ
mid e o
low a


  1. ^ Lower at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Mid at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Upper at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Hupla at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Grand Valley Dani". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Compare Lani
  4. ^ Nijhoff, Martinus (1966). Outline of Dani Morphology (PDF). Van Het Koninklijk Instituut Voor Taal-, Land- En Volkenkunde.