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The Kanum
People in the Wasur region of Irian Jaya

I visited the area under the auspices of UNESCO in 1996, and did a survey of the area, but focussed on Kanum for documentation purposes. In 1998 I again went to the area for more general literacy work, and additional documentation work, funded this time by the Endangered Languages Fund ELF and the Foundation for Endangered Languages FEL.

This time the work was not just with the Kanum,but also interacting with the Morori (also known as Marori, or Moraori) people, and the Northern Yei (which is related to Kanum). All three language groups now have a balai adat, a local cultural hall, where they plan to work as a community in compiling and recording local stories and transitions. Things are looking up.

I've done various bits of work on Kanum (have a look in the list of publications), looking at its historical connections (with Angela Terrill), the phonology (with Cathryn Donohue), and more recently the issue of transitivity in Kanum. In 1998 I managed to get some sketch materials on Yei, a close relative of Kanum, and had a great time. Interesting to see how similar and different they were.

Mark Donohue, 1998

Last revised on November 26, 2010
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