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The Awyu-Ndumut Languages Website

The Awyu-Ndumut Languages

Digul Wambon
Yonggom - Wambon


Language Background

Aghu is an Awyu language that according to P. Drabbe is spoken by around 1500 speakers in between the Digul River (called Biaghe in Aghu) and the Mapi River (see map). Drabbe described the Aghu language as spoken by the Ghoghonasafo clan that in his time lived near the Eba river (Drabbe 1957). Another name that is often used for Aghu is ‘Jair’, though it is unclear where this name came from.

Some Language Facts

The structure of Aghu verbs is verb root + (mood) + tense + person-number. Mood is not always marked, for example in two of the four past tenses that Aghu has. In addition, the mood and tense markers aren’t always easy to tease apart, they’re merged together. The person-number markers do stand out clearly and are as follows in the various Aghu tenses and moods:

person-number markers

As is clear from the table, Aghu has two kinds of verb stems, a realis stem and an irrealis stem. So in addition to being marked by a separate morpheme, mood is also expressed on the verb stem, which might explain why the mood marker is not always present.


Aghu verbs are negated by adding the negator de to the conjugated verb. The negator de is always followed by the predicator ogho, often reduced to ogh. Aghu is the only Awyu-Ndumut language in which the predicator ogho is found after the negation marker; in Ndumut languages, the predicator mo is sometimes found in negated forms. In addition to de ogho, the negative marker fede can optionally precede the verb in Aghu. In other Awyu languages, fede is obligatory.

[pdf] Aghu Text: Aidu and Gaidu [pdf]