Taiap language

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Native to Papua New Guinea
Region Gapun village (East Sepik Province)
Native speakers
75 (2007)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 gpn
Glottolog taia1239[2]

Taiap (also called Gapun, after the name of the village where it is spoken) is an endangered language isolate spoken by around a hundred people in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. It is being replaced by the national language and lingua franca Tok Pisin.

The first European to come across Taiap was a German missionary in 1938. The language was not studied by linguists until the 1970s due to the inaccessibility of the region. Although Donald Laycock (1973) placed Taiap in his Sepik Ramu language family, its structure and vocabulary would be unique for that family, and Ross (2005) found no evidence that it is related to any language of New Guinea. The current extent of Taiap is nearly coincident with what had been an offshore island 6000 years ago (map), consistent with the idea that Taiap is a language isolate.


  1. Taiap at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Taiap". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Don Kulick 1997. Language Shift and Cultural Reproduction: Socialization, Self and Syncretism in a Papua New Guinean Village. Cambridge University Press. Anthropological analysis of the language situation in Gapun village
  • Donald C. Laycock. 1973. Sepik languages - checklist and preliminary classification. Pacific Linguistics B-25. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • Donald C. Laycock and John Z'graggen. 1975. "The Sepik–Ramu phylum." In: Stephen A. Wurm, ed. Papuan languages and the New Guinea linguistic scene: New Guinea area languages and language study 1. Pacific Linguistics C-38. 731-763. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • Malcolm Ross. 2005. "Pronouns as a preliminary diagnostic for grouping Papuan languages." In Andrew Pawley, Robert Attenborough, Jack Golson and Robin Hide, eds. Papuan pasts: cultural, linguistic and biological histories of Papuan-speaking peoples. Pacific Linguistics 572. 17-65. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.