Jad (Dzad), also known as Bhotia and Rongba, is a language spoken by a community of about 300 in the Uttar Pradesh region of the Himalayas, in India. It is spoken in several villages, and the two major villages are Jadang and Nilang in the Harsil sub-division of the Uttarkashi District. Jad is closely related to the Lahuli–Spiti language, which is another Tibetic language. Jad is spoken alongside Garhwali and Hindi. Code switching between Jad and Garhwali is very common. The language borrows some vocabulary from both Hindi and Garhwali.
All written communication is in Hindi, not Jad. Attitudes toward Jad are negative with little institutional support. Education, media, television, and all other official sources of communication are in Hindi. There is no known literature, with the exception of a one page translation of a story about a prodigal son. It is vigorously endangered and under severe threat, and it is unclear if the current state of bilingualism and code switching will continue or if Jad will be entirely replaced by either Hindi or Garhwali.
The name Bhotia means "those from the north", referring to the geographical location of the population who speaks the language. The name Bhotia encompasses a large set of languages and is used to refer to multiple groups, Jad is specifically spoken by the Bhotias of Nilang Tehri. The term Bhotia is unrelated to the language of the people of Bhutan, which is an independent Himalayan state in the northeastern area of the subcontinent. The name Jad is derived from the summer village name, where the Jad people spend the summer season, which is called Jadang.
Scholarship on Jad and people has been very limited. The population has not been subjected to a thorough study or survey. Work has been scattered and of uncertain quality. As of 1977, there were two reasons for the lack of scholarship on the language and people. First, the Bhotias reside in places which are difficult to reach geographically. Secondly, security clearance must be obtained from the Home Department and Defense Department of India before scholars are allowed to visit the border where the Jad live. As a result, the amount of research that has been conducted is limited in volume and scope.
The following table describes the location in the mouth where vowels are pronounced in Jad.
Only the back u and o are rounded (see: roundedness) in context of lip positioning, all other vowels are unrounded. There are no diphthongs in Jad, but vowels frequently occur in sequence. There is no strong rule for which order the vowels must fall in when in a sequence, so many different orders are found in Jad.
Vowels tend to be nasalized when they follow a nasalized consonant, and glottalized when they are placed before a glottal stop. The pronunciation of the vowel is effected by the nearby consonant sounds.
Most consonants can start a word, with the exception of ṇ and ṛ. It is extremely rare for a consonant to end a word, with the exception of b, d, and g. Voiced consonants are occasionally de-voiced, particularly when in the final position of a word or coming immediately before a voiceless sound. Unvoiced plositives tend to be voiced when coming after a voiced sound. Deaspiration also occurs. When an aspirated consonant is followed by a back vowel, the aspiration of the consonant is significantly reduced. Like vowels in Jad, pronunciation of consonant sounds shifts according to the sounds surrounding the consonants.
Consonant clusters can be found in initial and middle sections of words. The first consonant must be a plosive, a fricative, or a liquid consonant. The second consonant must be a semi-vowel or a liquid consonant.
Words may be monomorphemic or polymorphemic. Words follow the following rule set:
- Words can start with any consonant but ṇ and ṛ.
- Native words end in a vowel, a plosive, a nasal, or a liquid consonant.
- No native word begins or ends in a consonant cluster other than the exceptions mentioned above.
- Normally, no aspirate vocoid or a semivowel ends a native word.
- Words have a small amount of pause on either side of them in a slow tempo of speech.
Word composition is also limited by a set of permissible syllables. Permitted syllables are /V/, /VC/, /CV/, /CCV/, /CVC/, /CCVC/, and /CVCC/. These syllables can be combined to make up longer words.
In Jad, nouns act as subjects or objects of verbs. Nouns are subject to number, gender, and cases. Inanimate nouns are genderless and also are not changed for plural number. Animate nouns and human nouns have distinct mechanisms for marking gender. Pluralization is marked for human beings only. New nouns can be formed by adding new stems, reduplicating stems, or adding suffixes.
Gender is denoted in two ways. Prefixes can be added to indicate gender of living creatures, or distinct words are used for female and male counterparts. Plurals are marked on animate nouns by adding plural suffixes. Plurals can be noted on inanimate nouns by using a descriptor word to provide details about the noun, but cannot themselves be changed to represent pluralization.
Difference cases of nouns are used to describe a variety of functions. These include possession, subject, object, means, purpose, advantage, separation, origin, material composition, time, place, etc.
Jad follows a structure of noun-adjective. An example is the phrase "a very black dog." In Jad, this phrase is "khi nagpo məŋpo cig", or "dog black very one." This illustrates the noun-adjective word order. It also places adjectives before degree descriptors, following an adjective-degree syntactic form. For example, the phrase "very black" in Jad would be "nagpo məŋpo" where nagpo translates as black and məŋpo translates to very.
- Jad at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
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