Annotated Swadesh wordlists for the Temein group (East Sudanic family).

Languages included: Temein (Rongo) [tem-tmn]; Doni (Jirru) [tem-don]; Tese [tem-tes].


I. Temein (Rongo)

Stevenson 1983a = Stevenson, Roland C. Temein Work Sheets. Ms., available at: // Several hundred basic lexicon items for the Temein language, recorded by Roland Stevenson and scanned by Roger Blench. Most of this data remains officially unpublished.

Stevenson 1957 = Stevenson, Roland C. A survey of the phonetics and grammatical structure of the Nuba Mountains languages, pp. 3-5. In: Afrika und Übersee, 41, pp. 27-65, 117-152, 171-196. // This publication, among other things, provides a brief, but informative sketch of the grammar of Temein, well illustrated by lexical material.

II. Doni (Jirru)

Stevenson 1983b = Stevenson, Roland C. Keiga Jirru Work Sheets. Ms., available at: // Several hundred basic lexicon items for the Keiga Jirru, or Doni, language, recorded by Roland Stevenson and scanned by Roger Blench. Most of this data remains officially unpublished.

III. Tese

Stevenson 1983c = Stevenson, Roland C. Teisei umm Danab (Tese) Work Sheets. Ms., available at: // // Several hundred basic lexicon items for the Teisei umm Danab, or Tese, language, recorded by Roland Stevenson and scanned by Roger Blench. Most of this data remains officially unpublished.

Yip 2004 = Yip, May. Phonology of the These language. In: Occasional Papers in the Study of Sudanese Languages, 9, pp. 93-117. // The only officially published source specifically devoted to Tese, this is a sketch of the language's phonological system, richly illustrated by lexical data.

Additional sources

MacDiarmid & MacDiarmid 1931 = MacDiarmid, P. A.; MacDiarmid, D. N. The languages of the Nuba Mountains. In: Sudan notes and records, 14, pp. 149-162. // This publication includes a very brief comparative wordlist of about 20 basic items for Temein and Tese.


1. General.

The Temein group of languages is spoken exclusively in the Nuba mountains and consists of three units: Temein proper, also known as Rongo, and the closely related Doni, or Keiga Jirru, and Tese, or Teisei umm Danab (the latter two are considered to be dialects of the same language both in Ethnologue and Glottolog, but they have a significant number of phonetic, grammatical, and lexical discrepancies that, at the least, warrants their separate lexicostatistical treatment).

The only more or less comprehensive datasets on all three languages may be found in the field records of Roland C. Stevenson, only brief excerpts from which were published officially (e. g. in Stevenson 1957); thankfully, due to the attention of Roger Blench, all three wordsets were scanned and made publicly available online. Some attempts at digitalizing the data have been later carried out by R. Blench himself, as well as by Tyler Schnoebelen (who digitalized the Keiga Jirru word sheets), but these were found to contain occasional typos, so the original, unedited work sheets were instead used as principal source material for the GLD wordlists.

Apart from Stevenson's data, the only known source worthy of consideration is Yip 2004, a detailed sketch of Tese phonology that contains plenty of new illustrative data collected by the author. This source may be used for control purposes, but is not sufficient on its own for a proper lexicostatistical wordlist. Fortunately, lexical discrepancies between Yip and Stevenson are minimal. Additionally, we have provided the equivalents from a brief wordlist of about 20 items for Temein and Tese (but not Doni) published in [MacDiarmid & MacDiarmid 1931], largely for historical purposes.

2. Transcription.

Roland Stevenson's transcription system is not transparently explicated in his work sheets, but seems to follow his usual conventions that are also observed for other linguistic groupings of the Nuba Mountains described by the same author (such as Nyimang, Krongo-Kadugli, Kordofanian, etc.). The following discrepancies between Stevenson's system and the UTS, as well as Stevenson's system and the notation used in Yip 2004, are as follows:

1. In the palatal series, Stevenson's ny = UTS and Yip's ɲ; Stevenson's j = Yip's ɟ = UTS ʓ. The voiceless palatal correlate is encountered very rarely, usually considered an allophone of ʓ, and marked by Stevenson as c = UTS ɕ.

2. The double opposition in the coronal series is described by Stevenson as that of "dental" vs. "alveolar (slightly retroflex)" consonants. In the work sheets, both sub-series are usually marked as follows:

Phoneme Stevenson work sheets Stevenson 1957 Yip 2004 UTS
Voiceless dental t ~ t̪
Voiced dental
Voiceless alv.-retroflex t ʈ ʈ
Voiced alv.-retroflex d ɖ ~ ɽ ɖ

The transcriptional model in Yip 2004 is fundamentally different from Stevenson's more phonetic-based approach: Yip not only identifies the voiced and voiceless correlates essentially as allophones of each other (usually voiceless in word-initial, voiced in word-medial position), but also merges them whenever the transcription is phonological rather than phonetic. For that reason, we do not merge Yip's transcriptions with Stevenson's, but keep separate notations.

3. Stevenson gives a nine-vowel system for all the languages, but notes that -ATR vowels ı (transcribed as ı in Stevenson's work sheets, but as ɨ in Stevenson 1957) and ʋ are positional variants. Additionally, in Doni and Tese the vowel ö is sometimes noted; it usually seems to represent cases of genuine "Umlaut", i. e. pre-accommodation due to the influence of the front vowel in the next syllable (e. g. Tese mönık 'blood' = Doni monık). Also, Tese has an additional vocalic phoneme that Yip always marks as ǝ, and Stevenson inconsistently marks either as ǝ or ä; we always transcribe it as ǝ.

4. Both Stevenson and Yip indicate the presence of three level tones in all Temein languages (Stevenson usually leaves the mid-tone unmarked, but we mark it as V̄, according to UTS stipulations), although the actual notation of tones on specific Tese lexemes may contradict between Stevenson's and Yip's records. Contour tones (rising and falling) are rare and usually represent the results of tonal accomodation between syllables, or archaic consonantal deletion.

Database compiled and annotated by: G. Starostin (last update: October 2015).