Sümi language

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Sümi, also Sema, is a Sino-Tibetan language spoken in Nagaland, India. It is spoken by the Sümi Naga people.[2][3]

Sümi (Naga)
Pronunciation[sɨ˧ mi˩]
Native toIndia
EthnicitySümi Naga
Native speakers
350,000 (2011 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3nsm
ELPSumi Naga

Geographical distributionEdit

Sümi is spoken in central and southern Nagaland, in Zunheboto district, Dimapur district, Kohima district, Mokokchung district, and Tuensang district, as well as in 7 villages of Tinsukia district, Assam (Ethnologue).


Ethnologue lists the following dialects of Sümi.

  • Dayang (Western Sümi)
  • Lazami
  • Jimomi
  • Zumomi


The transcriptions in this section use the International Phonetic Alphabet.


Monophthongs of Sema, from Teo (2012:368)

The vowels of Sümi are as follows:[4][5]

Front Central Back
Close i ɨ u
Mid e o
Open a


  • /i/ has been variously described as:
    • Near-close front unrounded [];[6]
    • Close front unrounded [i].[7]
  • /ɨ/ has been variously described as:
    • Near-close central unrounded [ɨ̞];[6]
    • Close central unrounded [ɨ].[8]
  • In word-medial position, /ɨ/ can be realized as mid central unrounded [ə].[4][8]
  • /u/ is close back rounded [u].[6][8]
  • The mid vowels /e, o/ can be realized as either close-mid [e, o] or open-mid [ɛ, ɔ].[4][7]
    • Teo (2012) describes the close-mid allophone of /o/ as slightly advanced [o̟].[6]
  • /a/ has been variously described as:
    • Near-open central unrounded [ɐ];[6]
    • Open central unrounded [ä].[8]
  • After uvular stops, /a/ can be realized as open back unrounded [ɑ].[8]


The consonants of Sümi are as follows[5][9] (allophones that are represented in the orthographic system are given in parentheses):

Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal plain m n ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t k q
voiced b d ɡ
Affricate voiceless (ts)
aspirated (tsʰ) tʃʰ
Fricative voiceless f (s) ʃ x h
voiced v (z) ʒ ɣ
Approximant central plain (w) ɹ j
lateral l


  1. ^ "Statement 1: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues - 2011". www.censusindia.gov.in. Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  2. ^ Sreedhar (1976).
  3. ^ Sreedhar (1980).
  4. ^ a b c Teo (2012), p. 369.
  5. ^ a b Teo (2014), p. 20.
  6. ^ a b c d e Teo (2012), p. 368.
  7. ^ a b Teo (2014), p. 27.
  8. ^ a b c d e Teo (2014), p. 28.
  9. ^ Teo (2012), p. 366.