Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

John M. Clifton


Urama is a Kiwai language spoken by the Urama people of Papua New Guinea. Very little has been published in the Kiwai language family and although Urama has been mentioned in a few papers nothing focusing on the Urama language has been published.

This thesis presents a brief grammar sketch outlining key grammar features. It describes 1) basic word order, 2) nouns, 3) verbs, 4) postpositions, 5) clausal relations and 6) some problematic particles. The particles addressed mark agency, aspect and modality.

The first particle is ro, an agent marker occurring mainly on the subjects of transitive verbs Its use, however, is wider than marking a subject of a transitive verb. Conditions for the occurrence of ro are guided by discourse considerations of focus versus backgrounding and of participant reference.

Two particles show aspect: imperfective is shown by va, and perfect is shown by ha. Urama can be described as having Repetitive (Iterative and/or Habitual) and Continuative senses of the imperfective. This aspect is also used as a backgrounding device, specifically in the setting of a narrative. The default usage of the perfect is to produce a resultant state, and there are at least two discourse uses of the perfect. In narratives this aspect also becomes the resultant state and it is used to highlight the climactic peak of a series of events.

Finally, two particles marking modality in Urama are ma, which expresses varying degrees of actuality, and ka which marks declarative mood. The senses of actuality expressed by ma range from Deontic to Hypothetical to Optative. The declarative marker, ka, is used as the default way of encoding clauses in narrative text.

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