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About The Ulwa Language

About The Ulwa Language
(Last Updated On: October 2, 2021)

Do you know languages are the cornerstone of our cultures? Well, language is something that represents our culture; it makes us different from each other. People all over the world use languages to communicate, learn and entertain themselves as well.

But have you ever wondered how many languages are there in the world, today? Out of which how many are living and how many are died? Well, there are over 7000 living languages in the world. Only 54% of the living languages are in written form, some of them are endangered while some of them are extinct. YES, languages can go extinct; one language dies every 14 days.

It’s a depressing and alarming statistic for both linguistics and speakers of endangered languages. Almost 26 languages go extinct every year and maybe more than half of the living languages disappear by the year 2100. However, the world is putting its effort to preserve the disappearing languages.

In this article, we will discuss one of those endangered languages that highly need measures of preservation. It’s the Ulwa language; we will have a look at the facts of the languages and will discuss the measures to preserve the language. Let’s just start!


Ulwa language, also known as Yaul, is the language of Papua New Guinea. It belongs to the Ramu language family. It is one of the indigenous languages of Papua New Guinea.

Ulwa community
Ulwa endangered language

Ulwa has less than 700 native speakers and around 1200 people speak it but are not fluent. The location description of the language includes four villages i.e. Manu, Dimiri, Marut, and Yual of the Angoram District from the East Sepik Province.

People from Yaul, Dimiri, and Maruat speak a similar version of Ulwa while in Manu people speak a different version of the language. That’s why the Ulwa language has two dialects.

Apart from that, people from the Eastern region of Nicaragua speak Ulwa, the Misumalpan language. The Misumalpan language includes:

  • Miskitu
  • Matagalpa-Cacaopera is now extinct
  • The small Sumu language subgroups, spoken by the community of Karawala in the South Atlantic Autonomous Region
  • Mayanga, spoken by the community of few people in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region of Nicaragua and people from the region of Rio Patuca in Honduras speak it as well

The original territory of the Ulwa people is still shady. Today, the people from the village of Karawala only speak the Ulwa language. Around 400 fluent speakers speak the language here out of them few are children.


The Ulwa people of Nicaragua belong to the Panamahka, Sumu Mayagna, and the Ulwa family is mainly rooted in the Karawala community, in the Rio Grande basin of Matagalpa. This indigenous community of unreached people was settled in 1853 in a small community, with approximately 3500 indigenous people.

The Ulwa people are often confused with the people of Miskito, but they both are two different district people. The reason why people confused these two districts is that the people who were part of this community speak Miskito in their daily life activities and duties. The indigenous language is only spoken in personal family meetings in an isolated way by the Ulwa elders.


The dependence of the Ulwa language on the Miskito language has historical, social, and political reasons. The Miskito language is used in a larger number of cases and is considered the prestigious and dominant language. It is used in formal communication as well as other context and areas.

On the other hand, the Ulwa language became the common language that was only used for very casual and reduced context such as practicing in the homes. The Miskitu language leads a lot of Ulwa speakers to act passively towards their native language. The social pressure makes them doubt their own culture and language.

As the consequences of this social pressure, ethic claims in Nicaragua and the official recognition of coastal languages, make the people change the attitude of devaluing their language. Today, a positive change in the value of language and culture occurs at the official level. It leads to a significant increase in the dignity of so many indigenous communities. The Ulwa people also claim to be part of this and eventually the value of language increases.

Ulwa language
Ulwa translation services


Well, the reason why Papua New Guinea has so many endangered languages is because of the great linguist diversity in the country. But the question is why there is this much language diversity that it became the reason for language extinction and endangerment.

PNG is the most linguistically diversified country in the world. Here are few main reasons why:

  1. The Papuan inhabited for over 40,000 and it’s enough time for a natural shift and diversification of language.
  2. Physical geography is also a major cause of language diversity in PNG. The least social interaction between the Papuans living in mountains, tropical forests, rugged coastlines, islands, and swamplands caused diversification in their languages.
  3. The correlation between cultural diversity and social culture causes linguistic diversity in PNG as well.


The endangerment of languages is at an alarming stage, every 2 weeks a language disappears which is very depressing and disappointing. People are shifting towards common languages of the world such as English, Spanish or German. The major reason why language becomes endangered and gradually extinct is the intergenerational gap.

The young generation shifts their language interests to the dominant languages. They devalue their native languages due to socio-cultural pressure. Unfortunately, the world requires dominant languages in every aspect of life whether it’s education, job, business, or whatsoever.

Apart from that, sometimes a language becomes endangered because there is no record available to understand and learn the language. The country can take some precautionary measures to save the endangered languages. They can ask linguistics and translators to access the unreached people or native speakers of the language to make records.

They can get notes and audio recordings or any other additional recordings from the speakers. The current analysis is not enough they need to do a correct analysis of language to better understand it. Else they can represent the alternative analysis of language after getting enough information from native speakers.

Moreover, they can do a lexicographic study to get sufficient information for a reasonable understanding of the language. The government of PNG can preserve the Ulwa language by introducing the language course of the students.

Educate them about how to respect and valve their languages and cultures; tell them about how to maintain the balance between their native languages and the world’s dominant languages. The schools need to introduce a true version of the language in which property concept roots are clear.

Wrap Up

The Ulwa is an endangered language so there is a possibility to save it. The above precautionary measures can help save the language. Other than that, you need to learn to respect the languages of others. All you have to do is explore the language maybe a little, but at least do some research read articles to get to know about the languages. Maybe you become a reason to safe a language one day, so why not?


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