Journal of the International Phonetic Association

Illustrations of the IPA

Sumi (Sema)

Amos Teo

School of Languages and Linguistics, University of Melbourne amosbteo@gmail.com

Sumi (also known by its exonym ‘Sema’) is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in Nagaland, North-east India. It is one of the major languages of the state, with an estimated 242,000 speakers living primarily in Zunheboto district, as well as in the major cities of Kohima and Dimapur. Bradley (1997) places Sumi (referred to as Sema), among the ‘Southern Naga’ languages, which include Angami (also known as Tenyidie) and Ao, in contrast to the ‘Northern Naga’ languages such as Konyak and Nocte. Burling (2003) offers a more conservative classification, placing Sumi (referred to as Simi) in an ‘Angami-Pochuri’ group containing Angami, Chakhesang (Chokri and Kheza) and Mao. Four main dialects of Sumi have been identified: the Western dialect, the Eastern dialect, the Chizolimi dialect, and the Central dialect. The Central dialect is the standard dialect used in published works of Sumi (Sreedhar 1976: 4–5).