Aiton language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Native toIndia
EthnicityAiton people
Native speakers
1,500 (2006)[1]
Burmese script
Official status
Official language in
Regulated byLanguage Academy
Language codes
ISO 639-3aio

The Aiton language or Tai Aiton language is spoken in Assam, India (in the Dhonsiri Valley and the south bank of the Brahmaputra). It is currently classified as a threatened language, with less than two thousand speakers worldwide. Its other names include Antonia and Sham Doaniya.[3]


The Aiton language is a part of the Southwestern branch of the Tai family of languages. There are three other actively spoken languages in this branch: Khamti, Phake, and Khamyang.[4]


The Tai languages share many grammatical similarities, a writing system, and much of their vocabulary.[5] The most prominent differences between the languages are their tonal systems.[4]

According to the oral and written records of the Aiton people, they originated from a place named Khao-Khao Mao-Lung, a Burmese state near the Chinese border.[6] It is generally believed that they came to India about two or three hundred years ago, seeking refuge from oppression.[6] Despite how long they have been in Assam, many members of the older generations are not fluent in Assamese, the official language of the state.[7]

Geographic Distribution[edit]

Aiton is spoken predominantly in India, in the northeastern state of Assam.

According to Morey (2005), Aiton is spoken in the following villages:

Aiton Villages (Morey 2005)
Tai name Translation of Tai name Assamese/English name District
baan3 nam3 thum3 Flood village (บ้านน้ำท่วม) Duburoni Golaghat
baan3 sum3 Sour village (บ้านส้ม) Tengani Golaghat
baan3 hui1 luŋ1 Big fruit village Borhola Golaghat
baan3 hin1 Stone village (บ้านหิน) Ahomani Karbi Anglong
baan3 luŋ1 Big village (บ้านหลวง) Bargaon Karbi Anglong
baan3 nɔi2/dɔi2 Hill village (บ้านดอย) Sukhihola Karbi Anglong
baan3 saai2 Sand village (บ้านทราย) Kalyoni Karbi Anglong
baan3 saai2 Sand village (บ้านทราย) Balipathar Karbi Anglong
baan3 saai2 Sand village (บ้านทราย) Jonapathar Lohit

Buragohain (1998) reports a total of 260 Aiton households, comprising a total population of 2,155.

Aiton Villages (Buragohain 1998)
Village District Year founded No. of houses Population
Ahomani Karbi Anglong 1939 31 267
Baragaon Karbi Anglong 1835 39 359
Balipathar Karbi Anglong 1898 59 528
Chakihola Karbi Anglong unknown 18 180
Kaliyani Karbi Anglong Man era 1239 15 154
Borhola Golaghat 1836 26 235
Dubarani Golaghat unknown 43 334
Tengani Golaghat unknown 19 150
Jonapathar Lohit 1950s 15 148


Tai languages, including Aiton, is almost entirely monosyllabic, which means that each symbol has a tone.[4] Aiton only has three tones.[7] It has a vowel system of only seven vowels, /i, ɯ, u, ɛ, ɔ, a, aa/, which is the smallest out of the all the Tai languages spoken in Assam.[7] From these seven vowels, Aiton allows only nine possible sequences.[7]

Aiton, like some other Tai languages, have a "minimal three-way contrast in voicing".[7] It also only allows vowels to be voiced stops when they are in bilabial and dental/alveolar places of articulation. According to Morey, "[m] and [n] are variants for /b/ and /d/, respectively".[7]

Aiton, identical to Phake, has voiced /r, l, w, j/ and four voiced nasals in its sound inventory.[7] It does not have voiceless sonorants.[7]


  1. ^ Aiton at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Aiton". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ "Did you know Aiton is threatened?". Endangered Languages. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
  4. ^ a b c Morey, Stephen. "Tonal change in the Tai languages of Northeast India." Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 28.2 (2005): 139-202.
  5. ^ Diller, A. (1992). Tai languages in Assam: daughters or ghosts? In C.J. Compton and J.F. Hartmann (Ed.), Papers on Tai languages, Linguistics, and Literatures, 5-43. Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Northern Illinois University.
  6. ^ a b Burgohain, Joya. "The Aitons: Some aspects of their life and culture." (2013).
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Morey, S. (2008). North East Indian Linguistics. New Delhi: Cambridge University Press India.
  • Buragohain, Yehom. 1998. "Some notes on the Tai Phakes of Assam, in Shalardchai Ramitanondh Virada Somswasdi and Ranoo Wichasin." In Tai, pp. 126–143. Chiang Mai, Thailand: Chiang Mai University.
  • Morey, Stephen. 2005. The Tai languages of Assam: a grammar and texts. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.

External links[edit]