Sepik languages


Sepik languages

Infobox Language family
name=Sepik
region=New Guinea
familycolor=Papuan
family=a primary family of Papuan languages
child1=Walio
child2=Biksi
child3=Upper Sepik
child4=Ram
child5=Tama
child6=Yellow River
child7=Middle Sepik
child8=Sepik Hill
The Sepik languages are a proposed family of some 50 Papuan languages spoken in the Sepik river basin of northern Papua New Guinea. The languages tend to have simple phonologies, with few consonants or vowels and usually no tones.

The best known Sepik language is Iatmül. The most populous are Iatmül's fellow Ndu languages Abelam and Boiken, with about 35 000 speakers apiece.

The Sepik languages, like their Ramu neighbors, appear to have three-vowel systems, IPA|/ɨ ə a/, that distinguish only vowel height. Phonetic [i e o u] are a result of palatal and labial assimilation to adjacent consonants. It is suspected that the Ndu languages may reduce this to a two-vowel system, with IPA|/ɨ/ epenthetic.

Classification

The classification used here is that of Malcolm Ross. It consists of two branches of Laycock's Sepik-Ramu proposal, the Sepik subphylum and Leonhard Schultze stock. The latter has been tentatively broken up by Ross into its constituent families, Walio and Papi, with Papi reassigned to the Sepik Hill branch of Sepik.

According to Ross, the most promising external relationship is not with Ramu but rather with the Torricelli family.

The small families listed in boldface are clearly valid units. The overall family is based on similar pronoun paradigms, but its internal structure is subject to revision.

* Walio family: Walio, Pei, Yawiyo, Tuwari
* Biksi family: Kimki, Yetfa (Biksi)
* Upper Sepik branch
** "Abau" isolate
** Iwam family: May River Iwam, Sepik Iwam, Amal
** Wogamusin family: Wogamusin, Chenapian
* Ram family: Karawa, Pouye (Bouye), Autu
* Tama family: Ayi, Pasi, Pahi, Mehek, Yessan-Mayo
* Yellow River family: Namia (Namie), Ak, Awun
* Middle Sepik branch
** "Yerakai" isolate
** Nukuma family: Kwoma, Kwanga, Seim
** Ndu family: Iatmul, Ngala, Manambu, Kaunga, Abelam (Ambulas), Boiken, Sawos, Kwasengen
* Sepik Hill branch
** Sanio family: Sanio, Paka, Gabiano, Piame, Bikaru, Hewa
** Bahinemo family: Bitara, Bahinemo, Mari, Bisis, Watakataui, Kapriman, Sumariup
** Alamblak family: Kaningara, Alamblak
** ? Papi family: Papi, Suarmin

Pronouns

The pronouns Ross reconstructs for proto-Sepik are:

:

Note the similarities of the dual and plural suffixes with those of the Torricelli languages.

ee also

*Papuan languages
*Sepik-Ramu languages
*Donald Laycock

References

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