Lower Sepik languages

Lower Sepik languages
Lower Sepik
New Guinea
Linguistic classification: Ramu – Lower Sepik
  • Lower Sepik

The Lower Sepik or Nor–Pondo languages are a small language family of northern Papua New Guinea. They were identified as a family by K Laumann in 1951 under the name Nor–Pondo, and included in Donald Laycock's now-defunct 1973 Sepik–Ramu family. Malcolm Ross (2005) broke up the Nor branch and thus renamed the family Lower Sepik; he classifies it as one branch of a Ramu – Lower Sepik language family.


 Lower Sepik 

Murik (ex-Nor)

Kopar (ex-Nor)

Pondo family (?): Chambri, Karawari (Tabriak)–Yimas, Angoram

Murik and Kopar are traditionally placed in a Nor family (thus the name Nor–Pondo). However, Murik does not share the /p/s characteristic of the first- and second-person pronouns of Kopar and the Pondo languages, so Ross (2005) breaks up Nor. Ethnologue (2009) keeps Nor together but breaks up Pondo, retaining only Karawari–Yimas.


The pronouns reconstructed for the proto-language are,

Proto–Lower Sepik (Ross)
I *ama we two *ka-i, *ka-pia we few *(p)a-ŋk-i-t we all *a-i, *a-pia, *i-pi
thou *nɨmi you two *ka-u, *ka-pua you few *(p)a-ŋk-u-t you all *a-u, *a-pu, *i-pu(a)
s/he *mɨn they two *mɨnɨmp ? (M),
*mpɨ ? (F)
they few *mɨŋkɨ-t they all *mump (M),
*pum (F)
Proto–Lower Sepik (Foley)
we two *ka-i, *ka-pa-i we few *(pa)ŋk-it we all *a-i, *a-pa-i, *(y)i-i, *(y)i-pa-i
you two *ka-u, *ka-pa-u you few *(pa)ŋk-ut you all *a-u, *a-pa-u, *(y)i-u, *(y)i-pa-u
they two  ? they few *mɨŋkɨ they all *mump ?


  • Ross, Malcolm (2005). "Pronouns as a preliminary diagnostic for grouping Papuan languages". In Andrew Pawley, Robert Attenborough, Robin Hide, Jack Golson, eds. Papuan pasts: cultural, linguistic and biological histories of Papuan-speaking peoples. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. pp. 15–66. ISBN 0858835622. OCLC 67292782. 

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