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Word Classes

  1. Nouns n
  2. Verbs v
  3. Pronouns prn
  4. Adverbs adv
  5. Prepositions pr
  6. Interjections ij
  7. Numerals num
  8. Conjunctions
  9. Topic markers
  10. Exclamations

Note the absence of adjectives in Biak

Grammar Points

Verb number/person inflection

Verbs combine with pronomial subject affixes (mainly prefixes, a few infixes) that express number and person of the subject. In addition to singular and plural, Biak also has a dual and a paucal. For 1st person dual and plural, Biak also distinguishes between inclusive and exclusive. There are at least three ways to combine verbs with pronomial affixes, and this is mainly determined by the beginning of the verb stem.


Example: «srow» (meet)

srow<v><p1><sg> ↔ yasrow

srow<v><p2><sg> ↔ wasrow

srow<v><p3><sg> ↔ isrow

srow<v><p1><du><ex> ↔ nusrow

srow<v><p1><du><inc> ↔ kusrow

srow<v><p2><du> ↔ musrow

srow<v><p3><du> ↔ susrow

srow<v><p3><pc> ↔ skosrow

srow<v><p1><pl><exc> ↔ nkosrow

srow<v><p1><pl><inc> ↔ kosrow

srow<v><p2><pl> ↔ mkosrow

srow<v><p3><pl><an> ↔ sisrow

srow<v><p3><pl><inan> ↔ nasrow

(Add V-initial, CV-initial examples and CV special cases)


Example: «arok» (be straight)

arok<v><p1><sg> ↔ yarok

arok<v><p2><sg> ↔ warok

arok<v><p3><sg> ↔ darok

arok<v><p1><du><ex> ↔ nuyarok

arok<v><p1><du><inc> ↔ kuyarok

arok<v><p2><du> ↔ muyarok

arok<v><p3><du> ↔ suyarok

arok<v><p3><pc> ↔ skarok

arok<v><p1><pl><exc> ↔ nkarok

arok<v><p1><pl><inc> ↔ karok

arok<v><p2><pl> ↔ mkarok

arok<v><p3><pl><an> ↔ sarok

arok<v><p3><pl><inan> ↔ narok

Noun Specificity

Nonspecificity is used to refer to entities that do not yet exist in this world. It is marked by the use of nonspecific articles -o for singular and -no for plural.

yuk<n><sg><nonSP> ↔ yuko

yuk<n><sg><SPC> ↔ yukya

Possession (Alienable/Inalienable)

Biak makes a formal distinction between alienable and inalienable (mainly restricted to certain body parts, kinship terms, and locational nouns) possession.

Alienable Possession

The possessive pronominals consist of the possessive formative ve inflected for person, number, and gender of the possessor, and the article closing off related to the (person,) number, and gender of the possessed.

Basic Possessive Pronominals
Possessor↓ Possessum→ Header text Header text
Example Example Example
Example Example Example
Example Example Example


Partial Reduplicaton

Verb Transitivity

Verbs can be split into 3 groups, transitive, S=O ambitransitive, and transitive.

Intransitive Verbs

Intransitive verbs cannot appear with a direct object. Some intransitive verbs are used to express properties, which in many other languages are expressed by a separate class of adjectives.

frar (run)

mran (walk)

pyum (good)

syuf (cold)

sambern (fast)

S=O Ambitransitives Verbs

S=O ambitransitives can appear as the head of an intransitive predicate, or the head of a transitive predicate, where the intransitive subject aligns with the object in the transitive predicate. They generally refer to events that can happen on their own (intransitive) or as a result of an external force (transitive).

kris (roll)

knum (rotate)

park (turn, twist)

dorw (bend)

Transitive Verbs

Transitive verbs are verbs that can appear with a direct object (and are not S=O ambitransitive). Transitive verbs may not necessarily appear with a direct object, if it is implied from context.

mun (kill)

so (follow)

fan (feed)

rowr (hear, listen)

mam (see, look)

Locative-existential clauses