Published July 9, 2020
Central Asmat is one of more than 800+ languages spoken by Papuans in West Papua (Indonesia) and Papua New Guinea. One of the Asmat languages, it is related to the North Asmat and Citak languages. This video of an anonymous speaker was recorded by Nabil Berri, a Wikitongues contributor from Indonesia, while he was visiting the village of Agats in West Papua, Indonesia. Though often referred to as a single language, Asmat is actually a cluster of closely related languages: Kaweinag, Citak (Kaünak), North Asmat, and Central Asmat. Based on where the speaker in this video lives, we believe he’s speaking Central Asmat, although we’ll need to consult other speakers or a linguist specializing in Asmat languages until we can be sure. The languages in this cluster are spoken by the Asmat and Citak people in West Papua, and each specific geographic region occupied by these peoples speaks a different language variety. The language varieties are all related in their vocabulary and phonological systems, but nonetheless distinct enough from one another to be considered different languages. Central Asmat specifically has about 7,000 speakers, most of whom are monolingual; these speakers are mainly from the southwestern coast of Papua, and occupy land near the Arafura Sea. Their wood-carving, shield ceremonies, and Bisj pole carving are some expressions of a thriving and unique culture. The Indonesian province of West Papua is the westernmost province of the Papuan region; it is bordered by the Papua province to the east, which in turn borders the independent Papua New Guinea; the island is split between the two countries. The linguistic diversity found throughout the island, however, is consistent; West Papua, Papua, and Papua New Guinea all have hundreds of unique languages spoken within their borders. Most of these are Indigenous Papuan or Austronesian languages, and others are linguistic isolates with unique origins and features. Central Asmat is an under-resourced language. If you have any materials, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. This video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license. To download a copy, please contact email@example.com.