|Linguistic classification||Austronesian, or a primary language family ("Papuan")|
The Lower Mamberamo languages are a recently proposed language family linking two languages spoken along the northern coast of Papua province, Indonesia, near the mouth of the Mamberamo River. They have various been classified either as heavily Papuanized Austronesian languages belonging to the SHWNG branch, or as Papuan languages that had undergone heavy Austronesian influence. Glottolog 3.4 classifies Lower Mamberamo as Austronesian, while Donohue classifies it as Papuan.
The two languages, Warembori and Yoke, were listed as isolates in Stephen Wurm's widely used classification. Donohue (1998) showed them to be related with shared morphological irregularities. Ross (2007) classified Warembori as an Austronesian language based on pronouns; however, Donohue argues that these are borrowed, since the two pronouns most resistant to borrowing, 'I' and 'thou', do not resemble Austronesian or any other language family. The singular prefixes resemble Kwerba languages, but Lower Mamberamo has nothing else in common with that family. (See Warembori language and Yoke language for details.) Donohue argues that they form an independent family, though one perhaps related to another Papuan family, that has been extensively relexified under Austronesian influence, especially in the case of Warembori.
In 1855, G. J. Fabritius collected numerals from around Geelvink Bay. At the 'Ambermo' (Mamberamo) River at the eastern extent of his coverage, he collected tenama '1' and bisa '2' from an unnamed language. However, he notes that the people only 'count' by means of singular and plural, so it's doubtful whether tenama and bisa are actually numerals. In any case, these words do not resemble the numerals in any language of the area, so the language Fabritius encountered remains unidentified.
Reconstructed independent pronouns in proto-Lower Mamberamo are:
Foley observes that there are likely similarities with Austronesian languages, likely due to contact.
|‘eat’||an||aang||< Austronesian ?|
|‘go’||da||da||< Austronesian ?|
|‘louse’||ki||ninggi||< Austronesian ?|