|ISO 639-2 / 5:||mun|
Distribution of Munda language speakers in India
The Munda languages are a language family spoken by about nine million people in central and eastern India and Bangladesh. They constitute a branch of the Austroasiatic language family, which means they are distantly related to Vietnamese (Khmer Krom) and Khmer (Cambodian). The origins of the Munda languages are not known, though they predate the other languages of eastern India. Ho, Mundari, and Santali are notable languages of this group.
The family is generally divided into two branches: North Munda, spoken in the Chota Nagpur Plateau of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, and Odisha, and South Munda, spoken in central Odisha and along the border between Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
North Munda, of which Santali is the chief language, is the larger of the two groups; its languages are spoken by about nine-tenths of Munda speakers. After Santali, the Mundari and Ho languages rank next in number of speakers, followed by Korku and Sora. The remaining Munda languages are spoken by small, isolated groups of people and are little known.
Characteristics of the Munda languages include three grammatical numbers (singular, dual, and plural), two genders (animate and inanimate), a distinction between inclusive and exclusive first person plural pronouns, and the use of either suffixes or auxiliaries to indicate tense. In Munda sound systems, consonant sequences are infrequent except in the middle of a word. Other than in Korku, where syllables show a distinction between high and low tone, accent is predictable in the Munda languages.
Munda consists of five uncontroversial branches. However, their interrelationship is debated.
The bipartite Diffloth (1974) classification is widely cited:
- North Munda
- South Munda
Diffloth (2005) retains Koraput (rejected by Anderson, below) but abandons South Munda and places Kharia–Juang with the northern languages:
- North Munda (2 branches)
- South Munda (3 branches)
However, in 2001, Anderson split Juang and Kharia apart from the Juang-Kharia branch and also excluded Gtaʔ from his former Gutob–Remo–Gtaʔ branch. Thus, his 2001 proposal includes 5 branches for South Munda.
Anderson (2001) follows Diffloth (1974) apart from rejecting the validity of Koraput. He proposes instead, on the basis of morphological comparisons, that Proto-South Munda split directly into Diffloth's three daughter groups, Kharia–Juang, Sora–Gorum (Savara), and Gutob–Remo–Gtaʼ (Remo).2
His South Munda branch contains the following five branches, while the North Munda branch is the same as those of Diffloth (1974) and Anderson (1999).
- Note: "↔" = shares certain innovative isoglosses (structural, lexical). In Austronesian and Papuan linguistics, this has been called a "linkage" by Malcolm Ross.
|Language Name||Classification||Number of Speakers||Location|
|Korku||North Munda: Korku||478,000||Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra|
|Agariya||North Munda: Kherwarian: Kherwari||72,000||Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh|
|Bijori||North Munda: Kherwarian: Kherwari||25,000||Jharkhand, West Bengal|
|Koraku/Kodaku||North Munda: Kherwarian: Kherwari||15,000||Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh|
|Korwa||North Munda: Kherwarian: Kherwari||66,000||Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh|
|Mundari (inc. Bhumij dialect)||North Munda: Kherwarian: Mundari||1,550,000||Jharkhand, West Bengal|
|Asuri||North Munda: Kherwarian: Mundari||16,600||Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha|
|Koda||North Munda: Kherwarian: Mundari||1,300||Bangladesh|
|Ho||North Munda: Kherwarian: Mundari||3,800,000||Jharkhand, Odisha|
|Birhor||North Munda: Kherwarian: Mundari||10,000||Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal|
|Santali||North Munda: Kherwarian: Santali||6,200,000||West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar|
|Mahali||North Munda: Kherwarian: Santali||33,000||Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal|
|Turi||North Munda: Kherwarian: Santali||2,000||Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal|
|Kharia||South Munda: Kharia-Juang||294,000||Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand|
|Juang||South Munda: Kharia-Juang||50,000||Odisha|
|Gataq/Gta||South Munda: Koraput: Remo||3,000||Odisha|
|Bondo/Remo||South Munda: Koraput: Remo||9,000||Odisha|
|Bodo Gadaba/Gutob||South Munda: Koraput: Remo||8,000||Odisha, Andhra Pradesh|
|Parengi/Gorum||South Munda: Koraput: Savara/Sora-Juray-Gorum||6,700||Odisha, Andhra Pradesh|
|Sora/Savara||South Munda: Koraput: Savara/Sora-Juray-Gorum||310,000||Odisha, Andhra Pradesh|
|Juray||South Munda: Koraput: Savara/Sora-Juray-Gorum||801,000||Odisha|
|Lodhi||South Munda: Koraput: Savara/Sora-Juray-Gorum||25,000||Odisha, West Bengal|
- Anderson, Gregory D.S. (1999). "A new classification of the Munda languages: Evidence from comparative verb morphology." Paper presented at 209th meeting of the American Oriental Society, Baltimore, MD.
- Anderson, Gregory D S (2001). A New Classification of South Munda: Evidence from Comparative Verb Morphology. Indian Linguistics 62. Poona: Linguistic Society of India. pp. 21–36.
- Diffloth, Gérard. 1974. "Austro-Asiatic Languages". Encyclopædia Britannica. pp 480–484.
- Diffloth, Gérard. 2005. "The contribution of linguistic palaeontology to the homeland of Austro-Asiatic". In: Sagart, Laurent, Roger Blench and Alicia Sanchez-Mazas (eds.). The Peopling of East Asia: Putting Together Archaeology, Linguistics and Genetics. RoutledgeCurzon. pp 79–82.
- Gregory D S Anderson, ed. (2008). Munda Languages. Routledge Language Family Series 3. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-32890-X.
- Anderson, Gregory D S (2007). The Munda verb: typological perspectives. Trends in linguistics 174. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-018965-0.
- Donegan, Patricia; David Stampe (2002). South-East Asian Features in the Munda Languages: Evidence for the Analytic-to-Synthetic Drift of Munda. In Patrick Chew, ed., Proceedings of the 28th Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, Special Session on Tibeto-Burman and Southeast Asian Linguistics, in honor of Prof. James A. Matisoff. 111-129. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Linguistics Society.
- Śarmā, Devīdatta (2003). Munda: sub-stratum of Tibeto-Himalayan languages. Studies in Tibeto-Himalayan languages 7. New Delhi: Mittal Publications. ISBN 81-7099-860-3.
- Newberry, J (2000). North Munda hieroglyphics. Victoria BC CA: J Newberry.
- Varma, Siddheshwar (1978). Munda and Dravidian languages: a linguistic analysis. Hoshiarpur: Vishveshvaranand Vishva Bandhu Institute of Sanskrit and Indological Studies, Panjab University. OCLC 25852225.
- Munda languages at Living Tongues
- The Ho language webpage by K. David Harrison, Swarthmore College