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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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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.
REFERENCESZograf, 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.
E. A. POTSELUEVSKII