-transitional.dtd"> Awyu-Ndumut website
Faculty of Arts and Humanities logo VU
The Awyu-Ndumut Languages Website

The Awyu-Ndumut Languages

Digul Wambon
Yonggom - Wambon


Language Background

Pisa is an Awyu language that is spoken by clans along the tributaries of the Wildeman river and Kampong (Asuwe) river within the Awyu-Ndumut area. P. Drabbe (1947, 1950) described Pisa as spoken by the Wefu and Iwkero clans who originally lived along the Wildeman river. Drabbe notes that the language is different in every village. His 1947 grammar is unpublished, while his 1950 publication is on three Awyu languages, namely Pisa, Shiaxa and Jenimu. Unfortunately, no transcribed texts are available for Pisa.

Some Language Facts

Like all other Awyu-Ndumut languages, Pisa is event-driven and verbs are the most significant part of the language structure. The Pisa verb consists of a verb stem + mood-marker + tense-marker + person-number marker. Pisa’s person-number markers vary according to which mood-tense they occur in. Pisa has three different past tenses, something that is not unusual for a Papuan language. The first is the regular realis forms that aren’t marked with a tense marker and which express present action or any action that has happened today; these forms are also referred to as the recent past. Then there is yesterday’s past form, expressing any action that happened the day before the current day and which is marked by the morpheme –ra. The last Pisa past tense is the distant past, marking any event before yesterday and expressed by the suffix –agha or –ak being added to the verb. In the following table, the Pisa person-number markers for each of these tenses, as well as for irrealis mood, are given:

person-number markers

In addition to person-number markers, Pisa, like all other Awyu-Ndumut languages, has free pronouns as well. These do not vary according to mood or tense and are nu (1sg), gu (2sg), éki (3sg), nugu (1pl), gugu (2pl) jogho (3pl). Note that in the free pronouns, a distinction between 2nd and 3rd person is made.