Garo language

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Native to India and Bangladesh
Region Meghalaya, Assam, Bangladesh
Ethnicity Garo
Native speakers
1.0 million  (2001–2005)[1]
Official status
Official language in
Meghalaya (India)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 grt
Glottolog garo1247[2]

Garo, known by the people's own name for themselves, A·chik) is the language of the majority of the people of the Garo Hills in the Indian state of Meghalaya. Garo is also used in Kamrup, Dhubri, Goalpara and the Darrang districts of Assam, India[3] as well as in neighboring Bangladesh. Garo uses the Bengali as well as Latin script and has a close affinity to Bodo, the language of one of the dominant communities of the neighbouring state of Assam.

Dialects include A·being or Am·being, A·chick (A·chik), Atong, A·we, Chisak, Duwal, Dacca, Ganching, Kamrup, Matchi. The A·chik dialect predominates among several inherently intelligible dialects. The Am·being dialect in Bangladesh is not mutually intelligible with the other dialects. Atong is also not mutually intelligible with the other dialects of Garo and is therefore, from a Western Linguistic point of view, considered as a separate language. In India, however, the term "language" is reserved for officially recognized speech varieties. In India, therefore, Atong cannot be called a "language", but is called "dialect". The term "dialect" in India comprises all non-official speech varieties.

The list of "dialects" of Garo is based on the list of sub-tribes of a people who share the same clan names. There are no sharp boundaries between different "dialects" and not all of them are mutually intelligible. However, people of all these different "dialects" intermarry and share cultural traits.

The status of the people whom the Garos call Megam is ambiguous. The speakers of Megam call their own language Lyngam or Lyngngam [ləŋam]. Lyngam is definitely linguistically an Austroasiatic language closely related to the other Khasi languages. Culturally, though, the Lyngam people have a lot in common with the Garos and not with the other Khasi tribes. There is also frequent intermarriage between Lyngams and Garos.

The Department of Garo, the only one of its kind in the world, was established by popular demand in 1996 at the inception of North Eastern Hill University. The Department documented in audio and videotapes parts of A·chick (Garo) epic poetry of "Katta Agana", the legend of "Dikki & Bandi", some folktales, folksongs, and traditional oral poetry.[4]

Some of the dialects of Garo such as Atong, and Dual are spoken in both India and Bangladesh.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Garo at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Garo". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ India9 site about usage of Garo language
  4. ^ Department of Garo page at the North-Eastern Hill University

External links[edit]