Bishnupriya Manipuri language

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Bishnupriya Manipuri
বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী
Transliterations of the term "Bishnupriya Manipuri" in Bengali-Assamese and Devanagari, the writing systems that the Bishnupriyas used primarily and secondarily respectively.jpg
Transliterations of the term "Bishnupriya Manipuri" in Bengali-Assamese script and Devanagari script, the writing systems that the Bishnupriyas used primarily and secondarily respectively
RegionPrimarily Northeast India and Bangladesh
EthnicityBishnupriya Manipuris
Native speakers
119,646 total speakers
Early form
Bengali-Assamese Script[6][7]
Language codes
ISO 639-3bpy
Glottologbish1244
ELPBishnupuriya

Bishnupriya Manipuri, also known as simply Bishnupriya[a], is an Indo-Aryan language[9] belonging to the Bengali–Assamese linguistic sub-branch. It is a creole[10] of Bengali language and Meitei language (officially known as Manipuri language) and it still retains its pre-Bengali features.[11][12][13] It is spoken in parts of the Indian states of Assam, Tripura and Manipur as well as in the Sylhet Division of Bangladesh. It uses the Bengali-Assamese script as its writing system. Bishnupriya Manipuri, being a member of the Eastern Indo-Aryan languages, was evolved from Magadhi Prakrit. So, its origin is associated with Magadha realm.[14][15][16] The Government of Tripura categorized Bishnnupriya Manipuri under the "Tribal Language Cell" of the State Council of Educational Research and Training. Its speakers are also given the "Other Backward Classes" status by the Assam Government and notably, there is no legal status of the Bishnupriyas in Manipur.[17] In the 2020s, the Bishnupriya speaking people started demanding that the Assam Government should give them the status of “indigenous people” of Assam and treat the same like other indigenous communities of the state.[18]

According to Sahitya Akademi honorary fellow British linguist Ronald E. Asher and Christopher Moseley, Bishnupriya is a mixed language spoken by former Bengali immigrants, with substantial Meithei lexicon but basically Bengali structure and reduced morphology.[19]

According to English linguist and historian Andrew Dalby, Bishnupriya (also known as "Mayang") is historically a form of Bengali language once current in Manipur.[20]

According to American linguist David Bradley's research works published by the Department of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies in the Australian National University, Bishnupriya is spoken by former Bengali subjects, with some Manipuri lexicon and reduced morphology.[21][22]

History and development[edit]

The shades of yellow show the linguistic map of Eastern Indo-Aryan languages, the family where Bishnupriya belongs to.

Bishnupriya is a member of the Māgadhan languages (Eastern Indo-Aryan languages), having origin associated with Magadha.[14][15][16] Bishnupriya is one of the Bengali–Assamese languages[23]

KP Sinha, who has done considerable research on Bishnupriya Manipuri, disagrees with the theory of Bishnupriya being associated with the Manipur (Mahabharata) and is of the opinion that the language was originated through Magadhi Prakrit. It is found from his observations that the language has retained dominant characteristics of Magadhi. According to Sinha, pronouns and declensional and conjugational endings seem to be same as or closely related to those of Maithili, Oriya and Bengali. These forms of Oriya, Bengali, etc. are on their parts, derived from Magadhi Apabhramsa coming from the Magadhi Prakrita.[24]

However, the Bishnupriya Manipuri language is certainly not one of the Tibeto-Burman languages, but is closer to the Indo-Aryan group of languages with remarkable influence from Meitei both grammatically and phonetically. At a different stage of development of the language the Sauraseni, Maharashtri and Magadhi languages and the Tibeto-Burman languages exerted influence on it as well. So it was probably developed from Sanskrit, Sauraseni-Maharashtri Prakrit and Magadhi Prakrita. The Sauraseni-Maharastri relation can be traced by observing some characteristics of pronouns. The Magadhi element is also remarkable, as the language retains many characteristics of Magadhi.

Conflict of classification as a dialect of Bengali and Assamese[edit]

Several scholars and linguists opine Bishnupriya as a dialect of Bengali language while many opine it as a dialect of Assamese language. At the same time, closer to the observations of the status of being a Bengali dialect, many renowned scholars opine Bishnupriya as a creole language (mixed language) of Bengali language and Meitei language, by retaining its pre-Bengali features in present times.

After all, it is obvious that Bishnupriya is greatly influenced by Meitei (a Tibeto-Burman language) and other Indo-Aryan languages, including Assamese and Bengali to a great extent.[25]

Bishnupriya as a dialect of Bengali[edit]

Suniti Kumar Chatterjee's opinion[edit]

Renowned Padma Vibhushan awardee Indian linguist Suniti Kumar Chatterji who is also a recognised Bengali phonetician, listed the Bishnupriya to be a dialect of Bengali language.[26]

Ningthoukhongjam Khelchandra's opinion[edit]

According to renowned Padma Shri awardee Indian scholar Ningthoukhongjam Khelchandra, "Bishnupriya" is a fragmented Bengali Hindu community, originally native to Assam-Bengal trans border areas. When they migrated and lived in Bishnupur, Manipur (formerly known as "Lamangdong"), they were known as "Bishnupuriyas", and later corrupted as "Bishnupriyas". Ethnolinguistically, they are Bengalis. Unlike the large number of Bengali-Assamese immigrants in Manipur being assimilated into Meitei ethnicity until the 18th century, they remain un-assimilated.[27]

Bishnupriya as a Bengali-Meitei creole[edit]

Development of Bishnupriya Manipuri, a creole of Bengali language and Meitei language (officially known as Manipuri language), as per the research results of several international linguists including William Frawley, Colin Masica, Shobhana Chelliah, besides others

Opinions of William Frawley and Colin Masica[edit]

According to scholar William Frawley, Bishnupriya was once a creole language of Bengali and Meitei and still now, it retains its pre Bengali features.[28] American linguist and professor Masica also has the same opinion like that of William.[29]

Chelliah's opinion[edit]

According to Chelliah, Bishnupriya Manipuri is a mixed language spoken by former Bengali immigrants, having significant amount of Meitei lexicons. Bishnupriya still retains its basic Bengali structural and morphological features.[30]

Bishnupriya as a dialect of Assamese[edit]

Several Irish and Indian linguists and scholars including George Abraham Grierson, Maheswar Neog and Banikanta Kakati opine Bishnupriya as a dialect of Assamese language.[31][32]

Linguistic survey of India[edit]

According to the Linguistic Survey of India led by Grierson, "Bishnupriya" alias "Mayang" (Code no. 555) is a dialect of Assamese language (Code no. 552).[33]

Meitei elements in Bishnupriya[edit]

Bishnupriya has 4000 borrowed root words from Meitei language.[34] Bishnupriya Manipuri retains the old eighteen sounds of Meitei. Of them, there were three vowels, such as ɑ, i and u, thirteen consonants such as p, t, k, pʰ, tʰ, kʰ, c͡ʃ, m, n, ŋ, l, ʃ, h and two semi-vowels, such as w and j. In later stage nine more sounds added to Meitei but Bishnupriya is not concerned with them, because the Bishnupriyas left Manipur during 1st part of 19th century.[verification needed] That is why Bishnupriya Manipuri retains the older sounds of Meitei, whereas in Meitei itself the sound system has under-gone various changes.[35] The most distinctive influence of Meitei language over Bishnupriya manipuri is formation of words starting with vowel soung 'aung' such as ঙা, ঙৌবা, ঙারল.[36]

Vocabulary[edit]

Like other Indic languages, the core vocabulary of Bishnupriya Manipuri is made up of tadbhava words (i.e. words inherited over time from older Indic languages, including Sanskrit, including many historical changes in grammar and pronunciation), although thousands of tatsama words (i.e. words that were re-borrowed directly from Sanskrit with little phonetic or grammatical change) augment the vocabulary greatly. In addition, many other words were borrowed from languages spoken in the region either natively or as a colonial language, including Meitei, English, and Perso-Arabic.

  • Inherited/native Indic words (tadbhava): 10,000 (Of these, 2,000 are only found in Bishnupriya Manipuri, and have not been inherited by other Indic languages)
  • Words re-borrowed from Sanskrit (tatsama): 10,000
  • Words re-borrowed from Sanskrit, partially modified (ardhatatsama): 1,500
  • Words borrowed from Meitei: 4000[37]
  • Words borrowed from other indigenous non-Indic languages (desi): 1,500
  • Words borrowed from Perso-Arabic: 2,000
  • Words borrowed from English: 700
  • Hybrid words: 1,000
  • Words of obscure origin: 1,300

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ The census data as well as the Ethnologue record the name as "Bishnupriya" and not "Bishnupriya Manipuri".[8]
  1. ^ a b "Abstract of Speakers' Strength of Languages and Mother Tongues - 2011" (PDF). censusindia.gov.in. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 February 2022. Retrieved 12 June 2022.
  2. ^ "C-16: Population by mother tongue - Assam". censusindia.gov.in. Retrieved 12 June 2022.
  3. ^ "C-16: Population by mother tongue - Tripura". censusindia.gov.in. Retrieved 12 June 2022.
  4. ^ "C-16: Population by mother tongue - Manipur". censusindia.gov.in. Retrieved 12 June 2022.
  5. ^ "Census of India - Language tools". Archived from the original on 24 April 2021.
  6. ^ a b c "Bishnupuriya". Ethnologue. Retrieved 12 June 2022.
  7. ^ Kim, Amy; Kim, Seung. Bishnupriya (Manipuri) speakers in Bangladesh: a sociolinguistic survey (PDF). SIL INTERNATIONAL. p. 11. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  8. ^ "FAMILY-WISE GROUPING OF THE 122 SCHEDULED AND NON-SCHEDULED LANGUAGES – 2001". censusindia.gov.in. Archived from the original on 24 November 2007. Retrieved 5 May 2022.
  9. ^ "FAMILY-WISE GROUPING OF THE 122 SCHEDULED AND NON-SCHEDULED LANGUAGES – 2001". censusindia.gov.in. Archived from the original on 24 November 2007. Retrieved 5 May 2022.
  10. ^ Moseley, Christopher (1 January 2010). Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger. UNESCO. p. 139. ISBN 978-92-3-104096-2.
  11. ^ Frawley, William (2003). International Encyclopedia of Linguistics: 4-Volume Set. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 481. ISBN 978-0-19-513977-8.
  12. ^ Haokip, Pauthang (2011). Socio-linguistic Situation in North-East India. Concept Publishing Company. p. 8. ISBN 978-81-8069-760-9.
  13. ^ Asher, R. E.; Moseley, Christopher (19 April 2018). Atlas of the World's Languages. Routledge. p. 97. ISBN 978-1-317-85108-0.
  14. ^ a b Cardona, George; Jain, Dhanesh, eds. (2003), "The historical context and development of Indo-Aryan", The Indo-Aryan Languages, Routledge language family series, London: Routledge, pp. 46–66, ISBN 0-7007-1130-9
  15. ^ a b South Asian folklore: an encyclopedia : Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, By Peter J. Claus, Sarah Diamond, Margaret Ann Mills, Routledge, 2003, p. 203
  16. ^ a b Ray, Tapas S. (2007). "Chapter Eleven: "Oriya". In Jain, Danesh; Cardona, George. The Indo-Aryan Languages. Routledge. p. 445. ISBN 978-1-135-79711-9.
  17. ^ Desk, Sentinel Digital (24 November 2020). "Bishnupriya Manipuris demand satellite autonomous council - Sentinelassam". www.sentinelassam.com. Retrieved 19 July 2022. The Tripura government has categorized and placed the Bishnupriya Manipuri language under the Tribal Language Cell of the State Council of Educational Research and Training, while in Assam they are considered among Other Backward Classes (OBC), whereas in Manipur from where these people originated remains status-less
  18. ^ "Plea for indigenous status". www.telegraphindia.com. Retrieved 3 November 2022.
  19. ^ Asher, R. E.; Moseley, Christopher (19 April 2018). Atlas of the World's Languages. Routledge. p. 97. ISBN 978-1-317-85108-0.
  20. ^ Dalby, Andrew (28 October 2015). Dictionary of Languages: The definitive reference to more than 400 languages. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 86. ISBN 978-1-4081-0214-5.
  21. ^ Bradley, David (1997). Tibeto-Burman Languages of the Himalayas. Department of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-85883-456-9.
  22. ^ Pacific Linguistics. Department of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University. 1997. p. 29.
  23. ^ Masica, Colin (1991). The Indo-Aryan Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 446–462.
  24. ^ Dr. KP Sinha, An Etymological Dictionary of Bishnupriya Manipuri, Silchar, 1982
  25. ^ Sarmah, Thaneswar (2006). New Trends in the Interpretation of the Vedas. Sundeep Prakashan. p. 217. ISBN 978-81-7574-162-1.
  26. ^ Sanajaoba, Naorem (1988). Manipur, Past and Present: The Heritage and Ordeals of a Civilization. Mittal Publications. p. 152. ISBN 978-81-7099-853-2.
  27. ^ Sanajaoba, Naorem (1988). Manipur, Past and Present: The Heritage and Ordeals of a Civilization. Mittal Publications. p. 152. ISBN 978-81-7099-853-2.
  28. ^ Frawley, William (2003). International Encyclopedia of Linguistics: 4-Volume Set. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 481. ISBN 978-0-19-513977-8.
  29. ^ Haokip, Pauthang (2011). Socio-linguistic Situation in North-East India. Concept Publishing Company. p. 8. ISBN 978-81-8069-760-9.
  30. ^ Asher, R. E.; Moseley, Christopher (19 April 2018). Atlas of the World's Languages. Routledge. p. 97. ISBN 978-1-317-85108-0.
  31. ^ Sanajaoba, Naorem (1988). Manipur, Past and Present: The Heritage and Ordeals of a Civilization. Mittal Publications. p. 152. ISBN 978-81-7099-853-2.
  32. ^ Singh, Nagendra Kr; Samiuddin, Abida (2003). Encyclopaedic Historiography of the Muslim World. Global Vision Publishing House. ISBN 978-81-87746-54-6.
  33. ^ Sanajaoba, Naorem (1988). Manipur, Past and Present: The Heritage and Ordeals of a Civilization. Mittal Publications. p. 152. ISBN 978-81-7099-853-2.
  34. ^ Gelbukh, Alexander (18 April 2014). Computational Linguistics and Intelligent Text Processing: 15th International Conference, CICLing 2014, Kathmandu, Nepal, April 6-12, 2014, Proceedings, Part I. Springer. p. 207. ISBN 978-3-642-54906-9.
  35. ^ Dr. K.P. Sinha, The Bishnupriya Manipuri Language, Calcutta, 1981
  36. ^ Dr. K.P. Sinha, The Bishnupriya Manipuri Language, Calcutta, 1981
  37. ^ Gelbukh, Alexander (18 April 2014). Computational Linguistics and Intelligent Text Processing: 15th International Conference, CICLing 2014, Kathmandu, Nepal, April 6-12, 2014, Proceedings, Part I. Springer. p. 207. ISBN 978-3-642-54906-9.

Further reading[edit]

  1. Vasatatvar Ruprekha/ Dr. K. P. Sinha, Silchar, 1977
  2. Manipuri jaatisotta bitorko: ekti niropekkho paath /Ashim Kumar Singha, Sylhet, 2001
  3. G. K. Ghose / Tribals and Their Culture in Manipur and Nagaland, 1982
  4. Raj Mohan Nath / The Background of Assamese Culture, 2nd edn, 1978
  5. Sir G. A. Grierson / Linguistic Survey of India, Vol-5, 1903
  6. Dr. K. P. Sinha / An Etymological Dictionary of Bishnupriya Manipuri, 1982
  7. Dr. M. Kirti Singh / Religious developments in Manipur in the 18th and 19th centuuy, Imphal, 1980
  8. Singha, Jagat Mohan & Singha, Birendra / The Bishnupriya Manipuris & Their Language, silchar, 1976
  9. Parimal Sinha and Anup Sinha / Bishnupuriya language Development, 2017.

External links[edit]