Levinson, S. C. (2006). Parts of the body in Yélî Dnye, the Papuan language of Rossel Island. Language Sciences,28(2-3), 221-240. doi:10.1016/j.langsci.2005.11.007.
This paper describes the terminology used to describe parts of the body in Ye´lıˆ Dnye, the Papuan
language of Rossel Island (Papua New Guinea). The terms are nouns, which display complex patterns
of suppletion in possessive and locative uses. Many of the terms are compounds, many
unanalysable. Semantically, visible body parts divide into three main types: (i) a partonomic subsystem
dividing the body into nine major parts: head, neck, two upper limbs, trunk, two upper legs, two
lower legs, (ii) designated surfaces (e.g. ‘lower belly’), (iii) collections of surface features (‘face’), (iv)
taxonomic subsystems (e.g. ‘big toe’ being a kind of ‘toe’). With regards to (i), the lack of any designation
for ‘foot’ or ‘hand’ is notable, as is the absence of a term for ‘leg’ as a whole (although this is
a lexical not a conceptual gap, as shown by the alternate taboo vocabulary). Ye´lıˆ Dnye body part
terms do not have major extensions to other domains (e.g. spatial relators). Indeed, a number of
the terms are clearly borrowed from outside human biology (e.g. ‘wing butt’ for shoulder).