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The Ndu languages are the best known family of the Sepik languages of East Sepik Province in northern Papua New Guinea. Ndu is the word for 'man' in the languages that make up this group. The languages were first identified as a related family by Kirschbaum in 1922.

Ndu
Geographic
distribution
East Sepik Province, in the Sepik River basin of Papua New Guinea
Linguistic classificationSepik
Subdivisions
  • 8–12 languages
Glottolognduu1242[1]

Along with the Arapesh languages, Ndu languages are among the best documented languages in the Sepik basin, with comprehensive grammars available for many languages.[2]

A diagnostic innovative feature in the Ndu languages is the replacement of the proto-Sepik pronoun *wun ‘I’ with proto-Ndu *an ~ *na.[2]

LanguagesEdit

Abelam is the most populous language, with about 45,000 speakers, though Iatmül is better known to the outside world. There are eight to twelve Ndu languages.

Also distinguished are Keak (close to Iatmul or Sos Kundi), Kwasengen (or Hanga Hundi, close to Ambulas), Burui (close to Gai Kundi), and Sengo.

PhonologyEdit

Most Sepik and neighboring languages have systems of three vowels, /ɨ ə a/, that are distinct only in height. Phonetic [i e u o] are a result of palatal and labial assimilation of /ɨ ə/ to adjacent consonants. The Ndu languages may take this reduction a step further: In these languages, /ɨ/ is used as an epenthetic vowel to break up consonant clusters in compound words. Within words, /ɨ/ only occurs between similar consonants, and seems to be explicable as epenthesis there as well, so that the only underlying vowels that need to be assumed are /ə/ and /a/. That is, the Ndu languages may be a rare case of a two-vowel system, the others being the Arrernte and Northwest Caucasian languages. However, contrasting analyses of these same languages may posit a dozen vowel monophthongs.[3]

PronounsEdit

Reconstructed proto-Ndu pronouns by Foley (2005):

sg du pl
1 *wɨn *an *nan
2m *mɨn *mpɨr *ŋkɨwr
2f *ɲɨn
3m *ntɨ *ntəy
3f *lɨ

Note that there is a gender distinction for first-person pronouns.

Proto-NduEdit

A phonological reconstruction of proto-Ndu has been proposed by Foley (2005).[4] The homeland of proto-Ndu is located just upstream of Ambunti.[2]


Proto-Ndu reconstructions by Foley (2005)
gloss proto-Ndu Manmbu Iatmul Abelam Sawos Boiken Ngala
one *nək nək kɨta nek kɨtak napə nək
three mɨwŋkwɨr kɨwpɨwk kɨwpɨwk kɨwpɨwk mɨwŋkɨwlɨykŋ mɨwŋkɨwl
man *ntɨw ntiw ntɨw ntɨw tɨw riw
water *ŋkɨw ŋkɨw ŋkɨw ŋkɨw ŋkɨw kɨw ŋkɨw
rain *mayt war mayk mac wirɨ macɲ mac
fire *ya ya ya ya hwɨypa ya
sun *ɲa ɲə ɲa ɲa ɲa ɲa
moon *mpapmɨw mpapɨw mpwap mpapmɨw pwapwə kamwɨ
house *ŋkəy wɨy ŋkəy ŋkəy ŋkay kəy ŋkəy
village təp ŋkəpma ŋkay wɨyə wɨyə
breast *mɨwɲ mɨwɲ mɨpə mɨwɲə mwɨyɲ mɨwɲ
tooth *nɨmpɨy ɨwk nɨmpɨy nɨmpɨy nɨmpɨy nɨmpɨy
bone *apə ap avə apə yapə ampɨ
tongue *tɨkŋa tɨkalɨr tɨkat tɨkŋalɨn tɨkŋalɨ tɨkan
eye *mɨyR mɨyr mɨynɨy mɨynɨy mɨynɨy mɨyl
nose *tam(w)ə tam tamə tamə tamə tamwə
leg *man man man man man man rawɨ
ear *wan wan wan wan wan
egg mpant mpantɨ ŋkɨk mpwantɨ ŋkwɨy
tree *mɨy mɨy mɨy mɨy mɨy mɨy
name *cɨ ɨy
pig *mp(w)al mpar mpak mpalɨ pwalɨ mpwal
dog *wac, *war ac warə wacə warə pyəp
snake *kampwəy kampay kampwəy kampwəy hampwəy mapwɨcɨ
mosquito *kɨvɨy kɨvɨy kɨvyə kwɨyə mɨkɨycɨ cɨvyə
louse təkɨyn mpakwə nɨmw kəmalɨ ɲən
see *vɨ təyf
eat *kɨ
go *yɨ
come *ya ya ya ya ya ya
sit *rə yəlkɨy
stand *rap(m) rap rap rapm rapm

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ndu". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ a b c Foley, William A. (2018). "The Languages of the Sepik-Ramu Basin and Environs". In Palmer, Bill (ed.). The Languages and Linguistics of the New Guinea Area: A Comprehensive Guide. The World of Linguistics. 4. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 197–432. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
  3. ^ Gerd Jendraschek (2008) "The vowel system of Iatmul: emerging phonemes and unexpected contrasts" Archived 2009-09-20 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Foley, William A. (2005). "Linguistic prehistory in the Sepik-Ramu basin". 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. 109–144. ISBN 0858835622. OCLC 67292782.
  • William A. Foley (2005). "Linguistic prehistory in the Sepik–Ramu basin." In: Andrew Pawley, Robert Attenborough, Robin Hide and Jack Golson, eds, Papuan pasts: cultural, linguistic and biological histories of Papuan-speaking peoples. Pacific Linguistics 572. 109-144. Canberra: Australian National University.
  • Donald C. Laycock (1965). The Ndu language family (Sepik District, New Guinea). Pacific Linguistics C-1. Canberra: Australian National University.

External linksEdit