This version of the Kewa dictionary differs from others in a number of respects[1]:

  • It includes more dialect entries[2]
  • It enlarges the other versions
  • It adds additional synonyms, variants, and other information[3]
  • it more exhaustively identifies compound nouns and idioms (which includes ‘taboo’ vocabulary)

At present (2014), the lexicon consists of over 9,000 entries with thousands of illustrative sentences, lexical variants and semantic categories. I have also added additional materials, from East (EK) West Kewa (WK) and South Kewa (SK). However, I make no claim that the dictionary is complete or that it does not contain errors. Many Kewa speakers would not recognize many of the flora and fauna because they no longer live in rural settings. There are also many archaic forms in that many entries were recorded when we were living in an EK village from 1958-1962 and a WK village from 1965-1973.

Dialects are identified on the basis of a study I while pursing a PhD at the Australian National University. It was published in 1968, but I have now added additional dialect materials.[4] The orthography is based upon the analyses in Franklin and Franklin (1962) and Franklin (1971): prenasalized stops are written as /b/ and /d/ in EK and WK but as /mb/, /nd/ and /ng/ in South Kewa (SK); SK nasalized vowels are noted when identified; two central vowels /a/ and /Ə/ are written as /aa/ and /a/ respectively.

Earlier versions of the dictionary were checked by Kirapeasi Yapua, Wopa Eka and Robert Yomo. Alice Yang, then a student at the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics, assisted me in the use of the SIL dictionary computer program FLEx (Field Works Language Explorer). Joice Franklin has supported the project since its inception, including editing.

Karl J Franklin
Dallas, Texas
June, 2014



[1]Other versions are: [with Joice Franklin, assisted by Yapua Kirapeasi]. A Kewa dictionary: with supplementary grammatical and anthropological materials. Pacific Linguistics C 53, xi + 514 pp, 1978; Revised on-line version: Franklin, Joice A.; Franklin, Karl J.; Kirapeasi, Yapua, compilers. 2006. A Kewa dictionary, with supplementary grammatical and anthropological materials. See; 1975. Pisini Agaapara Adaa Agaa Laapo i Buku (Common usage dictionary: Diglot edition in Pidgin and Kewa languages). 1975. Ukarumpa: Summer Institute of Linguistics. 67 pages. I have also drawn from an extensive flora and fauna book published in 1974 by SIL (Ne Nane Luabu Buku, by Kirapeasi, Franklin and Franklin).

[2]Some South Kewa words were added from Mararoko: A study in Melanesian Religion by Mary N. MacDonald (1991), as well as others from Fabricated world: An interpretation of Kewa Tales by John LeRoy (1985). These were extracted and added to the dictionary by Alice Yang, who also helped me in setting up and using Flex (an SIL program). I have also benefitted from the word lists collected in the Kware area by Father Roger of the Capuchin Mission (1971).

[3]See for information on the program I used for this.

[4]K.J. Franklin, The Dialects of Kewa, Pacific Linguistics Monograph No. 10. Canberra: The Australian National University; The Kewa language revisited. GIALens 5.2 (December 2011). Http://