endangered language

Endangered language latmul

(Last Updated On: August 30, 2021)

To be true, language is the primary source of communication. The lack of a properly organized language would hinder challenges in communication. Since the stone age, people have managed to converse their ideas with each other either through sign languages like language latmul or spoken languages. Far away from the other human population, primitives lived on small islands.

With having methods of living, Primitives also used a different family of languages that is still in use today. Over the years, due to a lack of development in the transport system, many of these islands remained unexplored. This resulted in the conservation of the naturality of these languages.

Oceania, the continent located far away from the others of its kind, before getting discovered by the British and Dutch colonists, used to be the homeland of several indigenous tribes. These tribes were not able to communicate with one another because they had no common language. These tribes are called “Primitive” as they live primitively without any form of civilization.

They only know how to survive using natural resources found around them. The island country of Papua New Guinea inhabits the people of these indigenous tribes. To expand your knowledge in linguistics and geography, we will introduce you to Papua New Guinea and their language, “The Iatmul Language”.


With many ancient languages being already dead, Iatmul has still managed to be alive. While it still managed to survive the past few centuries, it is at a near risk of extinction.

endangered lnguage latmul
history latmul

It does not amass quite a large number of speakers worldwide, neither it is an influential language but still, it holds great significance in terms of an aboriginal Australian language family. Let us demonstrate the details and effects of this language on our present-day generation.

Everything You Need to Know About Latmul

Iatmul is an Austronesian language native to Papua New Guinea. It belongs to the Trans-New Guinea branch of the Oceanic subgroup within the Malayo-Polynesian group. Its closest relative is Toraja which shares about 90% lexical similarity with it. The Iatmul people do not refer to it as Iatmul, instead, they call it “Gepmakudi”.

Breaking down the word Gepmakudi, you will come to know that Gepma means village and kudi mean language. Therefore, translating it into ” village language “. There are more than 1 million speakers of this language all over the world. Most of them reside in Papua New Guinea. There are about 8,400 native speakers of Iatmul.

This language has been classified into two dialects: Western Iatmul and Eastern Iatmul. Both of them share some similarities but differ greatly when compared to each other. The main difference is their geographical significance. Western Iatmul is mainly spoken in West Papua while Eastern Iatmul is mostly spoken in East Papua.

Papua New Guinea, The Homeland to Latmul

Papua New Guinea is an Island country amidst Australia and Indonesia. With its rich cultural diversity, Papua New Guinea can easily attract tourists who want to experience something new.

Papua New Guinea was colonized by the Europeans during the 19th century. In 1884, Germany took control of German New Guinea. After World War II, Australia gained control of most parts of the territory. However, there are still areas where the natives have retained their independence. One such area is in Papua New Guinea’s eastern part.

Here, the locals speak the Iatmul language. Papua New Guinea declared itself an independent country in 1975 but decided to join the Commonwealth in its own right. The Papuan government declared Iatmul as the national language of Papua New Guinea in 1973. Papua New Guinea has a very complex culture. Many people of different origins reside there.

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Latmul, The Endangered Language

There’s no doubt in Iatmul being an endangered language. This is primarily due to many reasons. The most influential factor of the Iatmul language’s endangerment is the rise in the number of speakers of Tok Pisin. Because Tok Pisin is comparatively an easy language than Iatmul, many children are primary speakers of it.

Tok Pisin is becoming very popular in Iatmul villages. It is also the first language of many Papuans typically children and teens. Nearly, all Papuan generations are fluent in it. Many Papuans have lost their mother tongue after the Europeans colonized them. The first European settlers arrived at Port Moresby in 1884.

Since then, the colonists forced the natives to learn English as their second language. As time passed by, the colonial government started imposing laws against speaking Papuan languages.

latmul language
latmul translation

The Western Culture very much influenced present-day Iatmul. All of these factors have contributed to the endangerment of Iatmul. Due to the fear of their centuries and the emblem of the Iatmul culture, the Iatmul language slowly fading away in the tides of the ocean of history, many adults criticize children for speaking Tok Pisin instead of Iatmul language.

Latmul is considered just another option for children instead of making it mandatory. According to an estimate that within the next 100 years, the Iatmul language might completely fade away from the pages of history. Iatmul women are also greatly moved by Tok Pisin instead.

Can You Learn Latmul Language?

As mentioned earlier, there are approximately 8,400 native speakers who speak Iatmul. However, most of those speakers do not understand English very well. Therefore, if you want to learn Iatmul, then you should first get familiarized with Papuan culture and history.

This is the most important requirement when learning Iatmul. Due to the reason that Iatmul is a very uncommon language, the chances of you not being aware of the language’s history and rules is also very high. Therefore, we advise you to familiarize yourself with the Iatmul culture, traditions, and history first.

Uses Of Latmul Language

Just like the Aramaic and the Old Hebrew, the indigenous Papuan tribes used and still widely use Iatmul as a primary language in religious rituals. The New Testament of the Bible has also been translated into the Iatmul language to make it easier and more understandable to read for the Iatmul audience.

Latmul adults use the Iatmul language as a primary language for everyday conversations. It is very uncommon and not widely used among the younger Iatmul generation. Ritual performances and ritual lament also require the use of Iatmul language.

Latmul Translation

It’s time for us to get down to business. We’re going to help you learn Iatmul so you can at least understand it fluently. Our team consists of professional translators who specialize in translating documents such as resumes, cover letters, job applications, academic papers, etc. We offer very precise and accurate Iatmul translations of your documents.

Our company supports Iatmul translations though there is a very low market demand for these types of translations. Iatmul is also a not-so-easy language to learn but our professional translators have a good grip and expertise in this language.


To sum up, everything that we have stated so far, it is very clear that Iatmul is on the verge of becoming an Endangered language. It is not very far from the future when Iatmul might no longer exist and would be considered a dead language.

As a precautionary measure, we would want you to contribute to the conservation of this language in every possible way. You help conserve this language by learning it and every other thing. Another indirect means of doing so would be choosing the right and trustworthy translation company for the Iatmul translation of your documents, in case of need.

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