skip to Main Content
Duna field site

Duna or Yuna (ISO duc) is spoken by approximately 20,000 people living Hela Province, Papua New Guinea. The language is currently classified as a member of the Duna-Bogaya family of the Trans New Guinea group, although this affiliation has been disputed. Duna is verb-final (typically SOV) and mildly polysynthetic. It is tonal, with word roots being specified for one of four contrastive pitch contours. Bound morphemes are suffixes or enclitics (with one exception). It has a range of complex predication types (e.g., verb serialisation, coverb constructions) and makes extensive use of chained dependent clauses preceding a final independent clause. Duna has a rich system of epistemological morphology (e.g., evidentials), comprising a detailed inventory of knowledge classifications that delineate fine shades of intersubjective meaning.

Duna lands extend from the headwaters of the Pori and Tumbudu Rivers in the south-east, through the river valleys to the Strickland River in the north-west, covering an altitude range from about 400-3000m. Within Duna territory, most people live in family groups in hamlets spread through the Pori and Tumbudu valleys and clustered in the low-lying wetland area around Lake Kopiago (the Kopiago Basin). The majority of Duna people in the Kopiago region are subsistence farmers. Like much of the country, the Duna region continues to suffer turbulence from environmental pressures, lack of reliable services, the sporadic presence of large resource extraction projects, and law and order problems.

Selected publications

  • Biersack, Aletta (ed.). 1995. Papuan borderlands: Huli, Duna and Ipili perspectives on the Papua New Guinea Highlands. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.
  • Gillespie, K. 2007. Steep slopes: Song creativity, continuity and change for the Duna of Papua New Guinea. PhD dissertation, The Australian National University.
  • Haley, Nicole C. 2002. Ipakana yakaiya: Mapping landscapes, mapping lives. PhD dissertation, The Australian National University.
  • Rule, R. (compiler). 1966. A grammatical description of the Duna (Yuna) language. Manuscript held at SIL PNG, Ukarumpa.
  • San Roque, Lila. 2008. An introduction to Duna grammar. PhD dissertation, The Australian National University.
  • Stewart, Pamela. J. and Andrew Strathern. 2000. Naming Places: Duna evocations of landscape in Papua New Guinea. People and Culture in Oceania 16: 87-107.
  • StĂĽrzenhofecker, G. 1998. Times enmeshed: Gender, space and history among the Duna of Papua New Guinea. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

Link to Glottolog

Back To Top