|Torricelli Range – Sepik Coast|
|northern Papua New Guinea (East Sepik, Sandaun, and Madang provinces)|
|Linguistic classification||One of the world's primary language families|
|Glottolog||nucl1708 (Nuclear Torricelli)|
The Torricelli languages are a family of about fifty languages of the northern Papua New Guinea coast, spoken by only about 80,000 people. They are named after the Torricelli Mountains. The most populous and best known Torricelli language is Arapesh, with about 30,000 speakers.
The most promising[clarification needed] external relationship for the Torricelli family is the Sepik languages. In reconstructions of both families, the pronouns have a plural suffix *-m and a dual suffix *-p.
The Torricelli languages occupy three geographically separated areas, evidently separated by later migrations of Sepik-language speakers several centuries ago. Foley considers the Torricelli languages to be autochthonous to the Torricelli Mountains and nearby surrounding areas, having been resident in the region for at least several millennia. The current distribution of Lower Sepik-Ramu and Sepik (especially Ndu) reflects later migrations from the south and the east. Foley notes that the Lower Sepik and Ndu groups have lower internal diversity comparable to that of the Germanic and Romance languages, while internal diversity within the Torricelli family is considerably higher.
The Torricelli languages are unusual among Papuan languages in having a basic clause order of SVO (subject–verb–object). (In contrast, most Papuan languages have SOV order.) It was previously believed that the Torricelli word order was a result of contact with Austronesian languages, but Donohue (2005) believes it is more likely that SVO order was present in the Torricelli proto-language.
Like in the Yuat and Lower Sepik-Ramu languages, nouns in Torricelli languages are inflected for number, which is a typological feature not generally found in the Trans-New Guinea, Sepik, Lakes Plain, West Papuan, Alor-Pantar, and Tor-Kwerba language families.
Wilhelm Schmidt linked the Wapei and Monumbo branches, and the coastal western and eastern extremes of the family, in 1905. The family was more fully established by David Laycock in 1965. Most recently, Ross broke up Laycock and Z’graggen's (1975) Kombio branch, placing the Kombio language in the Palei branch and leaving Wom as on its own, with the other languages (Eitiep, Torricelli (Lou), Yambes, Aruek) unclassified due to lack of data. Usher tentatively separates Monumbo, Marienberg, and the Taiap (Gapun) isolate in a 'Sepik Coast' branch, separated from the rest of the family.
Ethnologue also lists Bragat in the Palei branch.
The pronouns Ross (2005) reconstructs for proto-Torricelli are
|I||*ki||we two||*ku-p||we||*ku-m, *əpə|
|thou||*yi, *ti||you two||*ki-p||you||*ki-m, *ipa|
|he||*ətə-n, *ni||they two (M)||*ma-k||they (M)||*ətə-m, *ma, *apa-|
|she||*ətə-k, *ku||they two (F)||*kwa-k||they (F)||*ətə-l|
Foley (2018) reconstructs the independent personal pronouns *ki ‘I’ and *(y)i ‘thou’, and *(y)ip ‘you (pl)’. Foley considers the second-person pronouns to be strong diagnostics for determining membership in the Torricelli family.
Foley (2018) reconstructs the following subject agreement prefixes for proto-Torricelli.