|South Halmahera–West New Guinea|
|The Maluku Islands in the Halmahera Sea, and the region of Cenderawasih Bay|
The South Halmahera–West New Guinea languages (red). The group at left is the Halmahera Sea languages; the one at right is the Cenderawasih Bay. (The black line is the Wallace Line.)
The South Halmahera–West New Guinea (SHWNG) languages are a branch of the Malayo-Polynesian languages, found in the islands and along the shores of the Halmahera Sea in the Indonesian province of North Maluku and of Cenderawasih Bay in the provinces of Papua and West Papua. There are 38 languages.
The unity of the South Halmahera–West New Guinea subgroup is well supported by lexical and phonological evidence. Blust (1978) has proposed that they are most closely related to the Oceanic languages, but this classification is not universally accepted.
Traditionally, the languages are classified into two geographic groups:
The unity of the South Halmahera and Raja Ampat languages is supported by phonological changes noted in Blust (1978) and Remijsen (2002). This results in the following structure:
David Kamholz (2014) includes these languages as additional branches:
The following languages groups are problematic – they may or may not be SHWNG. Kamholz (2014) does not classify them due to lack of data.:32, 146
The SHWNG languages can be categorized as such (Kamholz 2014: 136-141):
Kamholz (2014) presumes the homeland of proto-SHWNG to be the southern coast of the Cenderawasih Bay.
At least six SHWNG languages, namely Ma'ya, Matbat, Ambel, Moor, Yaur, and Yerisiam, are tonal.:8 Klamer, et al. (2008) suggest that tone in these SHWNG languages originated from contact with Papuan languages of the Raja Ampat Islands that are now extinct. There are few lexical similarities with present-day Papuan languages, except for a few words such as ‘sago’ that are shared with the two tonal Papuan isolates Abun and Mpur (both spoken on the north coast of the Bird's Head Peninsula)::134-135
The VRK Mutation is characteristic of most the SHWNG languages (except for the RASH languages), where the phonemes /ß/, /r/, and /k/ surface as the prenasalized voiced stops [mb], [nd], and [ŋg] in various cluster environments. The mutation is found in the Ambai, Ansus, Biak, Busami, Dusner, Kurudu, Marau, Meoswar, Moor, Munggui, Papuma, Pom, Roon, Roswar (possibly equivalent to Meoswar), Serewen (possibly a dialect of Pom), Serui-Laut, Umar, Wamesa, Warembori, Waropen, Wooi, Yaur, Yerisiam, and Yoke languages.
Kamholz notes that SHWNG languages have relatively low lexical retention rates from Proto-Malayo-Polynesian, pointing to significant influence from non-Austronesian languages.