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Dimasa language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Native toIndia
RegionAssam, Nagaland
Native speakers
137,184 (2011 census (Dima Hasao))[1]
Latin script, Eastern Nagari
Language codes
ISO 639-3dis

The Dimasa language is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken by the Dimasa people of the Northeastern Indian states of Assam and Nagaland. The Dimasa language is known to Dimasas as "Grao-Dima" and it is similar to Boro, Kokborok and Garo languages.


The Dimasa language is one of the oldest languages spoken in North East India, particularly in Assam, Nagaland. The word Dimasa etymologically translates to "Son(s) [sa] of the big river [dima]", i.e. the mighty Brahmaputra. The Dimasa word di, meaning water, forms the root of the names of many of the major rivers of Assam and of North East India in general, such as Dibang (plenty of water), Diyung (huge river), Dikrang (green river), Dikhow (fetched water), and many others. The Brahmaputra is known as Dilao (long river) among the Dimasas even now.

Many of the important towns and cities in Assam and Nagaland received their names from Dimasa words such as Diphu, Dimapur (a capital of the Dimasa Kingdom), Hojai, Khaspur, etc. In fact, the Dimasa language is one of the last languages of North East India to retain its original vocabulary without being compromised by foreign languages.[2]

Geographical distribution[edit]

Dimasa is spoken in:



There are six vowels in Dimasa language.

Front Central Back
IPA ROM Script IPA ROM Script IPA ROM Script
Close i i u u
Close-mid e e o o
Mid ə ə
Open a a
  • All vowels can occurs in all three positions, except /ə/ which occurs only medially.


i e o u
i iu
e ei eo
a ai ao
o oi
u ui
ə əo


There are sixteen consonants in the Dimasa language.

Labial Alveolar Dorsal Glottal
IPA ROM Script IPA ROM Script IPA ROM Script IPA ROM Script
Nasal m m n n ŋ ng
Stop aspirated ph th kh
voiced b b d d ɡ g
Fricative voiceless s s
voiced z z ɦ h
Trill/Flap r ~ ɾ r
Approximant voiced w w j y
lateral l l
  • The three voiceless aspirated stops, /pʰ, tʰ, /, are unreleased in syllable final position. Their unaspirated voiced counterparts are released and cannot occur word final position.
  • Sometimes /pʰ, tʰ, kʰ, s/ are pronounced as /b, d, g, z/ respectively.
  • The consonants /pʰ, b, tʰ, kʰ, m, n, r, l/ can occur in all position.
  • The consonants /g, s, s, ɦ/ cannot occur in Dimasa indigenous words, but can occur in loan words.
  • The consonants /d, w, j/ cannot appear in word final positions in Dimasa.
  • The consonants /ŋ/ cannot appear in word initial positions.


Dimasa is an inflectional language. The verbs are inflected for number, tense, case, voice, aspect, mood but not for gender and person.


  Singular Plural
First person ang jing
Second person ning nisi
Third person bo bunsi

Sentence syntax[edit]

The verb is rarely inflected for person and gender.

Subject–object–verb word order is usual; Object–verb–subject word order also occurs.

Writing system[edit]

Dimasa is written using Latin script, which has been introduced in the lower primary education system in Dima Hasao District. The main guiding force behind it is the Dimasa Lairidim Hosom, a literary apex body of the Dimasa community.[3]

The Bengali-Assamese script is used in Cachar, where the Bengali people live alongside Dimasas.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Statement 1: Abstract of Speakers' Strength of Languages and Mother Tongues - 2011" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 July 2018. Retrieved 7 July 2018 – via Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India.
  2. ^ Endle 1911, p. 4.
  3. ^ "[Untitled]". online.assam.gov.in. Archived from the original on 5 February 2017.
  4. ^ "Index of Languages by Writing System". Omniglot. Archived from the original on 13 April 2018. Retrieved 18 April 2018.


  • Brahma, Pratima (2014). Phonology and Morphology of Bodo and Dimasa: A Comparative Study (PhD thesis). Assam University. hdl:10603/21160.
  • Endle, Sidney (1911). The Kacháris. Macmillan.
  • Evans, Jonathan P.; Langthasa, Dhrubajit (2024). Dimasa Language: Structure and Texts. Taiwan: Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica Taipei.

External links[edit]

  • Dimasa Language Resource collection of Dimasa language documentation in the Computational Resource for South Asian Languages (CoRSAL) archive