The Sepik–Ramu languages are a hypothetical language family linking the Sepik, Ramu, Nor–Pondo (Lower Sepik), Leonhard Schultze (Walio–Papi), and Yuat families, together with the Taiap language isolate, and proposed by Donald Laycock in 1973.
Sepik–Ramu would consist of a hundred languages of the Sepik and Ramu river basins of northern Papua New Guinea, but spoken by only 200 000 people in all. The languages tend to have simple phonologies, with few consonants or vowels and usually no tones.
The best known Sepik–Ramu language is Iatmül. The most populous are Iatmül's fellow Ndu languages Abelam and Boiken, with about 35 000 speakers apiece.
Malcolm Ross and William Foley separately re-evaluated the Sepik–Ramu hypothesis in 2005. They both found no evidence that it forms a valid family. However, all of the constituent branches, except for Yuat within Ramu, remain individually valid in his evaluation. Ross links Nor–Pondo to Ramu in a Ramu–Lower Sepik proposal, places Leonhard Schultze (tentatively broken up into Walio and Papi) within an extended Sepik family, and treats Yuat and Taiap as independent families.
This list is a mirror of the classification in Ethnologue 15.
Sepik–Ramu phylum (based on Laycock 1973)
- Taiap isolate
- Leonhard Schultze stock
- Nor–Pondo stock (6 languages)
- Ramu subphylum (37 languages)
- Ramu superstock (29 languages)
- Yuat–Langam superstock (13 languages)
- Sepik subphylum (50 languages) [see subclassification at that article]