Uruava (Poraka) dictionary

Version 3.0 (2007)

Bill Palmer


View the Uruava dictionary.


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Alphabetic order

Items in the dictionary are listed in the following order by phoneme:

a b d e g i k l m n o p r s ß t u

In this list 'r' probably represents a tap rather than a trill. It is not clear that /l/ actually occurred in Uruava, or if it did, what relationship it had with /r/. Some words transcribed with an l in one place in the source data are transcribed with r elsewhere; Niles (pers.comm.) reports confusion between l and r when transcribing data; and Lincoln (1975) suggests the possibility that forms with l are not actually Uruava. Where sources include versions with both, the r form has been taken as the authentic form in the dictionary. Elsewhere forms attested only with l have been represented as such.The sources sometimes vary between b and v, and between d and r. Where possible the most common form in the data has been taken as the correct form.The sources also sometimes vary between k and g, between t and d, and sometimes between p and b. These are interpreted as representing unaspirated voiceless plosives (ie. /k/, /t/ and /p/) on the grounds that unaspirated plosives are often heard as voiced by speakers of languages like English (with its aspirated voiceless plosives), while it is unlikely that a voiced plosive would be heard as voiceless. The Rausch sources consistently have a velar nasal where all other sources have a /g/. It is not clear why this is so - perhaps /g/ was heavily prenasalised at the time Rausch was collecting his data. Rausch's velar nasal is generally taken to represent a voiced velar plosive, and that is the approach used in this dictionary. Where the item occurs only in Rausch, the plosive is assumed and the form has been modified accordingly. However, it must be remembered that in this list the orthographic ‘g’ represents a velar nasal in Rausch and a voiced velar stop in the later sources.


The original Uruava material varies widely in both quality and quantity. The original materials used to compile this dictionary were:

Allen, Jerry & Conrad Hurd (1963) [An unpublished SIL survey word list of Uruava.]

Chinnery, E.W.P. (193?) Notes on the natives of south Bougainville and Mortlocks (Taku). Territory of New Guinea. Anthropological Report no. 5. Canberra. [Contains a list of kin terms and clan names.]

Niles, Don (1982) [An unpublished list of names of musical instruments collected from a second language speaker of Uruava on Bougainville.]

Oliver, Douglas (1938/39) [A lengthy unpublished word list of several languages including Uruava.]

Rausch, Peter (1912) 'Die Sprache von Südost-Bougainville, Deutsche Salomoninseln.' Section C: 'Die Uruava-Sprache.' Anthropos 7:974-982. [Grammatical notes on the language.]

Rausch, Peter (1912) 'Die Sprache von Südost-Bougainville, Deutsche Salomoninseln.' Section E: ‘Vergleichendes Wörterverzeichnis.' Anthropos 7:986-994. [A word list of four languages including Uruava.]

Thurnwald, Richard (1906-09) 'Melanesische Phonogramme.' [An unpublished list of sound recordings containing one Uruava item.]

In 1973 Piet Lincoln compiled a word list from the Rausch and Oliver material and checked this with a second language speaker of Uruava on Bougainville, and photocopied the results for local use, as:

Lincoln, Peter (1975) 'Sampela wot bilong tok Uruava.'

Significant amendments made by Lincoln to the form or meaning of previous material have also been incorporated into the present dictionary.

Document history

Version 3.0 (2007) Completely reformatted, checked and revised.

Version 2.0 (2004) Reformatting of n.d. for web delivery, with some revision.

Version 1.0 (n.d.) Original version compiled from secondary sources.


I am grateful to Piet Lincoln for making his and Doug Oliver's Uruava lexical materials available to me.

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Bill Palmer 2007