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3. Ahom and Tangsa: Case studies of language maintenance and loss in North East India

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Title: 3. Ahom and Tangsa: Case studies of language maintenance and loss in North East India
Authors: Morey, Stephen
Issue Date: Jan 2014
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Citation: Morey, Stephen. 2014. Ahom and Tangsa: Case studies of language maintenance and loss in North East India. In Hugo C. Cardoso (ed). 2014. Language Endangerment and Preservation in South Asia. 46-77. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.
Series/Report no.: LD&C Special Publication
Abstract: North East India is probably the most linguistically diverse area on the Indian subcontinent, with long established communities speaking languages of four different families – Austroasiatic, Indo-European, Tai-Kadai and Tibeto-Burman.
Comparing Tai Ahom, language of the rulers of a kingdom that consisted of what is now Assam, with the very diverse Tangsa varieties spoken on the India-Myanmar border, we will discuss factors of language decline and language maintenance.
Tai Ahom has not been spoken as a mother tongue for 200 years, but survives in the large body of manuscripts, and in the language used in religious rituals. While both of these features have been necessary foundations of the ongoing revival of the language, neither was able to maintain the language in its spoken form.
At least 35 different Tangsa sub-tribes are found in India, with more in Myanmar. Each has a distinct linguistic variety, many of which are mutually intelligible while others are not. Despite having no writing until very recently, each variety is still healthy. Since many Tangsas are now Christians, Bible translations are underway, and many Tangsa of all religions are interested in orthography and literacy development. This may lead to standardisation, which would represent a significant loss of diversity.
Sponsor: National Foreign Language Resource Center
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/4601
ISBN: 978-0-9856211-4-8
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License
Appears in Collections:LD&C Special Publication No. 7: Language Endangerment and Preservation in South Asia



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