Bodo language

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Bodo
Mech
बर'/Boro
Native to Assam, India
Ethnicity Bodo, Mech,
Native speakers
1,330,775 (2001)[1]
Devanagari (official)
Latin alphabet (frequently used)
Deodhai (historical)
Official status
Official language in
 India (Assam)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 brx
Glottolog bodo1269[2]

Bodo (बर' [bɔɽo]), or Mech, is the Sino-Tibetan language spoken primarily by the Bodo people of North East India, Nepal and Bengal. It is official language of the Bodoland Autonomous region and co-official language of the Indian state of Assam. It is also one of the 22 scheduled languages that is given a special constitutional status in India. Since 1963, the Bodo language has been written using the Devanagari script. It was formerly written using Latin and Assamese script. Some scholars have suggested that the language used to have its now lost script known as Deodhai.

History and linguistic classification[edit]

Bodo is a Sino-Tibetan language of the Bodo group. It is closely related to the Dimasa language and Tiwa (Lalung) Language of Assam, the Garo language of Meghalaya and the Kokborok language of Tripura. The Bodo speaking areas of Assam stretch from Dhubri in the west to Sadiya in the east. In Alipurduar, Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri and other adjacent districts of Bengal, the Boros are known as "Mech". The population of Boro speakers according to 1991 census report was 1,984,569 (Bodo 1,324,748), (Mech 659,821). The census reports of Bodo tribe, however, comprises only the Bodos, excluding Mech tribe. The word Boro denotes the language and the community and it is pronounced with a high tone on the second syllable.

The dialects spoken in this area could be broadly sub-divided into three main groups:

  1. The Western Boro dialect, {(Sønabari) WBD}:
  2. The Eastern Boro dialect, {(Sanzari) EBD} and
  3. The Southern Boro dialect, {(Hazari) SBD}.

The Western Boro dialects are spoken in the districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Bongaigaon and the Eastern Bodo dialects are found mainly in the districts of Barpeta, Nalbari and Kamrup and some parts of Darrang as well. It is worthwhile to mention that the Western Boro dialect has gained the status of Standard Dialect and has developed a written form as well. The variations between these two dialect groups are mainly phonological and lexical.

The University Grants Commission has included Bodo as subject in UPSC and NET[clarification needed] examination.

History[edit]

In the aftermath of socio-political awakening and movement launched by the Bodo organisations since 1913, the language was introduced as the medium of instruction (1963) in the primary schools in Bodo dominated areas. The Bodo language serves as a medium of instruction up to the secondary level and an associated official language in the state of Assam. The language has attained a position of pride with the opening of the post-graduate course in Bodo language and literature in the University of Guwahati in 1996. The Bodo language has to its credit large number of books of poetry, drama, short stories, novels, biography, travelogues, children's literature and literary criticism. Though the spoken language has been affected by other communities, especially the Assamese, in and around Kokrajhar, it is still to be heard in its pure form, in and around Udalguri district.

Writing system[edit]

Bodo did not have written literature until the second decade of the twentieth century when Christian missionaries began publishing works in it. These missionaries also published some books on grammar and dictionary. Sidney Endle compiled An Outline of the Kachari Grammar in 1884. The grammar is based on the dialect of Darrang district. Endle also wrote an important monograph on the Bodos. The monograph is entitled The Kacharis. The book was published in 1911 and it contains chapters on social customs, agriculture practices, festivities, food habits, life cycle rituals, crafts and textiles of the Bodos. The book has also incorporated specimens of Bodo folktales, rhymes and grammars. J.D. Anderson's Collection of Bodo Folktales and Rhymes (1895) incorporated seventeen Bodo folktales translated into English, besides the original versions in Bodo language.

In the year 1973 the demand for autonomous council was upgraded to the demand of Union Territory, but the launch of a movement that demanded the adoption of Roman script for writing Bodo language around 1975 during Emergency slowed down the demand for a union territory. The outcome of this movement was that rounds of discussions between Bodo leaders and Govt of India, Devanagiri script was inposed on the Bodos against their will.

The language is now officially written using the Devanagari script, although it was also historically written in Assamese script and Latin script.[3] Some researchers have suggested that the language used to use a now-lost script called Deodhai.[4]

But there is a difference in using the letters in Bodo than the Devanagari. Kalaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha gathered a few specimen of the Deodhai alphabet from an informant of Dimapur area which was noted for the Kachari reign and remains representing the art and architecture.

Phonology[edit]

The Bodo language has a total of 22 phonemes: 6 vowels and 16 consonants, with a strong prevalence of the high back unrounded vowel /ɯ/. The Bodo language use tones to distinguish words. There are three different tones used in the language : high, medium and low. The difference between high and low tone is apparent and quite common.

[5]

Examples of high and low tone and the difference of meaning
High Meaning Low Meaning
Buh to beat Bu to swell
Hah earth, to be able Ha to cut
Hahm to get thin Ham to get well
Gwdwh to sink Gwdw past
Jah to eat Ja to be
Rahn to get dry Ran to divide

Grammar[edit]

Sentence structure[edit]

The sentences in Bodo language consist of either a "Subject + Verb" or "Subject + Object + Verb".

Examples of sentences in Bodo language
Subject + Verb Subject + Object + Verb
Ang mwntiya Laimwn ah Apple jadwng
Nijwm ah wndudwng Nwng wngkam jabai?

Numerals[edit]

The numerals used in Bodo language are :

Numerals in Bodo language
Number In Bodo language In English
0 Latikho Zero
1 Se One
2 Nwi Two
3 Tam Three
4 Brwi Four
5 Ba Five
6 Do Six
7 Sni Seven
8 Daen Eight
9 Gu Nine
10 Zi Ten
11 Zi se Eleven
12 Zi nwi Twelve
13 Zi tam Thirteen
14 Zi brwi Fourteen
15 Zi ba Fifteen
16 Zi do Sixteen
17 Zi sni Seventeen
18 Zi daen Eighteen
19 Zi gu Nineteen
20 Nwi zi Twenty
100 Zwouse One Hundred
200 Nwi zwou Two Hundred
300 Tam zwou Three Hundred
1,000 Se Rwza One Thousand
2,000 Nwi Rwza Two Thousand
10,000 Zi Rwza Ten Thousand

Education[edit]

Bodo is a compulsory subject till class 10 in tribal areas of Assam who do not want to study Assamese. The subject is mandatory in all schools including those under the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS). The legislation will be passed in assembly in August.[6]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.censusindia.gov.in/Census_Data_2001/Census_Data_Online/Language/Statement1.aspx 2001 census
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Bodo (India)". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Prabhakara, M S Scripting a solution, The Hindu, 19 May 2005.
  4. ^ "Battle of the Bodo language". MeriNews. 12 December 2007. Retrieved 9 April 2012.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  5. ^ Mochari, Moniram (1985). Bodo-English Dictionary. Bengtol, Kokrajhar: The Bodo Catholic Youth Association. 
  6. ^ "Assam to make Assamese mandatory till Class 10; Bodo, Bengali options for some". http://www.hindustantimes.com/. 2017-04-19. Retrieved 2017-05-04.  External link in |work= (help)

References[edit]

External links[edit]