Sumo languages

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Native toNicaragua, Honduras
RegionHuaspuc River and its tributaries
EthnicitySumo people
Native speakers
9,000 (1997–2009)[1]
  • Sumalpan
    • Sumo
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
yan – Mayangna
ulw – Ulwa

Sumo (also known as Sumu) is the collective name for a group of Misumalpan languages spoken in Nicaragua and Honduras. Hale & Salamanca (2001) classify the Sumu languages into a northern Mayangna, composed of the Tawahka and Panamahka dialects, and southern Ulwa. Sumu specialist Ken Hale considered the differences between Ulwa and Mayangna in both vocabulary and morphology to be so considerable that he prefers to speak of Ulwa as a language distinct from the northern Sumu varieties.



Labial Alveolar Velar
plain lateral
Nasal voiceless ŋ̥
voiced m n ŋ
Stop voiceless p t k
voiced b d
Fricative s ɬ x
Approximant w ɥ l
Trill voiceless
voiced r


Front Back
short long short long
Close i ɯ ɯː
Open a


  • Hale, Ken, and Danilo Salamanca (2001) "Theoretical and Universal Implications of Certain Verbal Entries in Dictionaries of the Misumalpan Languages", in Frawley, Hill & Munro eds. Making Dictionaries: Preserving indigenous Languages of the Americas. University of California Press.


  1. ^ Mayangna at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Ulwa at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Sumuic". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.