Munda languages

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Munda languages

(mo͝on`də), group of languages generally regarded as a subfamily of the Southeast Asian family of languages. See Southeast Asian languagesSoutheast Asian languages,
family of languages, sometimes also called Austroasiatic, spoken in SE Asia by about 80 million people. According to one school of thought, it has three subfamilies: the Mon-Khmer languages, the Munda languages, and the Annamese-Muong subfamily.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Munda Languages


an ancient language group of India, which belongs to the Austro-Asiatic language family. The languages are spoken in the Chota Nagpur Plateau in the states of Bihar and Orissa and in the Mahadeo Hills of Madhya Pradesh. Total number of speakers, approximately 7 million people (1971, estimate). All Munda languages are unwritten. The Munda languages include the Kherwari language and its dialects, including Santali, Mundari, Ho, Bhumij, Korwa, and Koda, and the Korku, Kharia, Juang, Savara (Sora, Saora), and Gadaba languages.

The Munda languages are agglutinative: suffixes, prefixes, and infixes are used in affixation. The rich sound system includes retroflex consonants, including the nasalized retroflex [ç̂], and voiceless consonants with weak explosion. Nouns are animate or inanimate; the category of gender is absent. There are three numbers: singular, dual, and plural. Case meanings are expressed by syntactic relations. Along with pronouns, pronominal infixes and suffixes indicating the subject of an action (agent) and possession, and also the object, are used. There is a rich system of verbal forms (many voices, including passive, causative, reflexive; as with pronouns, inclusive and exclusive first-person dual and plural forms are distinguished). Munda syntax is characterized by extensive usage of phrases with impersonal verb forms.


Zograf, G. A. Iazyki lndii, Pakistana, Tseilona i Nepala. Moscow, 1960.
Nottrott, A. Grammatik der Kohl-Sprache. Berlin, 1882.
Linguistic Survey of India, vol. 4. Edited by G. A. Grierson. Calcutta, 1906.
Studies in Comparative Austro-Asiatic Linguistics. Edited by Norman H. Zide. London-Paris, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
This dictionary includes about 8,000 lemmata with the pitch-accents and their behavior noted, along with cross-references such as parallels from Nuristani, Indo-Aryan, Iranian, Dravidian and Munda languages and from Burushaski.
Although this is not quite the stand-alone resource its title might lead one to expect, it is a welcome addition to the slowly accumulating literature on the Munda languages. Osada's description of Mundari (one of the North Munda languages of India, spoken in south Bihar and in parts of Orissa by about 75,000 speakers) is based on a good active knowledge of the language and extensive experience with it.
For example, the section on noun compounding illustrates the coordinate compounds typical of South Asia, and it gives Mundari examples of the `tag word' compounds that are also found in South Munda languages (e.g., isin-basapj `bake-boil; cooking').