A language of Papua New Guinea

Alternate Names
Kobai, Kowai

6,000 (2011 SIL). Ethnic population: 6,300.


Morobe province: Siassi district, Umboi and Rooke islands. 13 villages.

Language Maps
Language Status

4 (Educational).

Language Use

Vigorous. Retained despite pressure from Tok Pisin [tpi]. Use in first 3 years of primary education and geographic isolation on an island help language maintenance. All domains. Used by all. Positive attitudes. Also use Tok Pisin [tpi], particularly with outsiders (health personnel, government officials, including police) and in church services along with Kovai. Used as L2 by Karnai [bbv].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L1: 30%–40%. Literacy rate in L2: 50%–60% in Tok Pisin [tpi]. Taught in primary schools. Literature. Texts. Bible portions: 1993–2008.


Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

All but 2 villages situated in an ancient caldera on this volcanic island. Traditional religion, Christian.

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