Speaking, Talking, Telling

Spoken Language and Text Corpora


Nen (NQN), also known as Nen Ym or Nen Zi, is a language of the Yam or Morehead-Maro Family of Southern New Guinea, spoken in the Morehead District, Western Province, Papua New Guinea.

Associated with the Äkämärä (Ekemere) tribe, it is also known as Ekemere Zi (Zi = language). The Yam family, with around twenty members, straddles the two nations of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, in a low-lying area bounded to the north and east by the Fly River, to the south by the Torres Strait which separates New Guinea from Australia, and to the west by the Maro river. Nen is primarily spoken in the village of Bimadbn, where the whole population of around 300 people speak it as the primary language of communication, though most people additionally speak one or more neighbouring languages (most commonly the related Nmbo or the unrelated Idi), English, and Motu. Nen speakers are also found in the adjoining villages (especially Bévdvn, Govav, Dimsisi) and the regional capital of Daru. Typologically, Nen is a head-marking language with complex verb morphology, ergative case-marking, double agreement, split-S marking based on a static-dynamic contrast, four grammatical numbers, SOV predominant word order, clear subordinate structures which suffix case markers to infinitives, and an unusual senary (base-six) numeral system.


Jimmy Nébni: Butterfly cocoon

Explains about a particular caterpillar and how it builds its cocoon Recorded by Nick Evans from Jimmy Nébni, near Bimadbn village, 11/9/2015

Jimmy Nébni: Zo Bird

Explains how the Zo bird (fawn-crested bowerbird) stores its seeds in a kind of granary Recorded by Nick Evans from Jimmy Nébni, near Bimadbn village, 9/8/2012


Evans, Nicholas and Julia Colleen Miller. 2016. Nen. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 46.3:331-349. Available on CJO2016. doi:10.1017/S0025100315000365. Evans, Nicholas,
Wayan Arka, Matthew Carroll, Yun Jung Choi, Christian Döhler, Volker Gast, Eri Kashima, Emil Mittag,
Bruno Olsson, Kyla Quinn, Dineke Schokkin, Philip Tama, Charlotte van Tongeren and Jeff Siegel. 2018. The languages of Southern New Guinea. In Bill Palmer (ed.), The Languages and Linguistics of New Guinea: A Comprehensive Guide. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. Pp. 641-774. Evans, Nicholas. 2009b. Two pus one makes thirteen: senary numerals in the Morehead–Maro region. Linguistic Typology 13.2:319-333. Evans, Nicholas. 2012. Even more diverse than we thought: the multiplicity of Trans-Fly languages. In Nicholas Evans & Marian Klamer (eds.) Melanesian Languages on the Edge of Asia: Challenges for the 21st Century. Language Documentation and Conservation Special Publication No. 5: 109-149. Evans, Nicholas. 2014. Positional verbs in Nen. Oceanic Linguistics 53 (2), 225-255. Evans, Nicholas. 2015. Chapter 26. Valency in Nen. In Andrej Malchukov & Bernard Comrie (eds.), Valency Classes in the World’s Languages. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Pp. 1069-1116. Evans, Nicholas. 2015. Inflection in Nen. In Matthew Baerman (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Inflection. Pp. 543-575. Evans, Nicholas. 2017. Quantification in Nen. In Ed Keenan & Paperno, Denis. (eds.), Handbook of Quantifiers in Natural Language. Vol. 2. Springer Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy, vol 97. Pp. 573-607.

Nen in ANNIS

The Nen corpus contains 21,100 words from 32 files.

About Nen



Jimmy Nébni

Jimmy Nébni, born is a pastor and Nen language expert of the Kiembtuwirer clan who has been involved in the Nen language project since its inception in 2008. In addition to Nen, he is a fluent speaker of Nmbo, Idi, English, Motu and Tok Pisin, with additional knowledge of a number of other languages of the region.