Ramu–Lower Sepik languages
|Linguistic classification||One of the world's primary language families|
The Ramu–Lower Sepik a.k.a. Lower Sepik–Ramu languages are a proposed family of 35 Papuan languages spoken in the Ramu and Sepik river basins of northern Papua New Guinea. These languages tend to have simple phonologies, with few consonants or vowels and usually no tones.
The family was proposed by William A. Foley and accepted by Malcolm Ross. Its two branches, Ramu and Lower Sepik, had belonged to Donald Laycock's now-defunct 1973 Sepik–Ramu proposal. They are not closely related. The Kambot language is also related, but its position in the family is yet to be clarified.
Based on oral histories of the Lower Sepik peoples, which record that Yimas is spoken near their homeland, as well as the conservative nature of Yimas itself, Ross suggests that the speakers of Proto–Ramu – Lower Sepik may have lived in the northern foothills of the New Guinea highlands and moved into the Sepik Basin as the inland Sepik Sea started to recede six thousand years ago.
There is no real consensus on the internal classification of these languages.
The internal coherence of the two branches, Ramu and Lower Sepik, is based on similar pronoun paradigms, which however do not connect the two branches to each other. Foley was able to connect them lexically, but the primary evidence for a Ramu – Lower Sepik family is a number of irregular plural markers shared by the Lower Sepik languages and the Ramu languages Watam and Bosman. The pronouns themselves have little in common except for 3sg *man (proto-Ramu) ~ *mɨn (proto–Lower Sepik) and the non-singular affix *-ŋk- (dual in Ramu and paucal in Lower Sepik: See Ramu languages#Pronouns and Lower Sepik languages#Pronouns for details).
- Foley, William A. (2005). "Linguistic prehistory in the Sepik–Ramu basin". In Andrew Pawley; Robert Attenborough; Robin Hide; Jack Golson. Papuan pasts: cultural, linguistic and biological histories of Papuan-speaking peoples. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. ISBN 0-85883-562-2. OCLC 67292782.
- Ross, Malcolm (2005). "Pronouns as a preliminary diagnostic for grouping Papuan languages". In Andrew Pawley; Robert Attenborough; Robin Hide; Jack Golson. Papuan pasts: cultural, linguistic and biological histories of Papuan-speaking peoples. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. pp. 15–66. ISBN 0858835622. OCLC 67292782.