Sumi language

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Sümi (Naga)
Pronunciation [sɨ˧ mi˩]
Native to India
Region Nagaland
Ethnicity Sumi Naga
Native speakers
10,802 (2011 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 nsm
Glottolog sumi1235[2]

Sema, also Sumi or Simi, is a Sino-Tibetan language spoken in Nagaland, India. It is spoken by the Sumi Naga people.[3][4]

Geographical distribution

Sumi is spoken in central and southern Nagaland, in Zunheboto 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 Sema.

  • Dayang (Western Sumi)
  • Lazemi
  • Zhimomi
  • Zumomi


The transcriptions in this section use the International Phonetic Alphabet.


Monophthongs of Sema, from Teo (2012:368)

The vowels of Sema are as follows:[5][6]

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


  • /i/ has been variously described as:
    • Near-close front unrounded [];[7]
    • Close front unrounded [i].[8]
  • /ɨ/ has been variously described as:
    • Near-close central unrounded [ɨ̞];[7]
    • Close central unrounded [ɨ].[9]
  • In word-medial position, /ɨ/ can be realized as mid central unrounded [ə].[5][9]
  • /u/ is close back rounded [u].[7][9]
  • The mid vowels /e, o/ can be realized as either close-mid [e, o] or open-mid [ɛ, ɔ].[5][8]
    • Teo (2012) describes the close-mid allophone of /o/ as slightly advanced [o̟].[7]
  • /a/ has been variously described as:
    • Near-open central unrounded [ɐ];[7]
    • Open central unrounded [ä].[9]
  • After uvular stops, /a/ can be realized as open back unrounded [ɑ].[9]


The consonants of Sema are as follows[6][10] (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". Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 2018-07-07. 
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Sumi Naga". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Sreedhar (1976).
  4. ^ Sreedhar (1980).
  5. ^ a b c Teo (2012), p. 369.
  6. ^ a b Teo (2014), p. 20.
  7. ^ a b c d e Teo (2012), p. 368.
  8. ^ a b Teo (2014), p. 27.
  9. ^ a b c d e Teo (2014), p. 28.
  10. ^ Teo (2012), p. 366.


  • Sreedhar, Mangadan Veetil (1976), Sema phonetic reader, Mysore: Central Institute of Indian Languages 
  • Sreedhar, Mangadan Veetil (1980), A Sema Grammar, Mysore: Central Institute of Indian Languages 
  • Teo, Amos B. (2012), "Sumi (Sema)", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 42 (03): 365–373, doi:10.1017/S0025100312000254 
  • Teo, Amos B. (2014), A phonological and phonetic description of Sumi, a Tibeto-Burman language of Nagaland, Canberra: Asia-Pacific Linguistics, ISBN 978-1-922185-10-5 

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