Hajong language

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Native toIndia and Bangladesh
RegionMeghalaya, Assam, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and West Bengal in India Mymensingh, Sherpur, Netrokona and Sunamganj in Bangladesh
Native speakers
80,000 (2011)[1]
8,000 in Bangladesh (no date)[1]
  • Doskina'
  • Korebari
  • Susung'ya'
  • Barohajarya'
  • Mespa'rya'
Bengali-Assamese script, Latin script[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3haj
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Hajong is an Indo-Aryan language[3] with a possible Tibeto-Burman language substratum.[4][5] It is spoken by approximately 80,000 ethnic Hajongs across the northeast of the Indian subcontinent, specifically in the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, and West Bengal in present-day India, and the divisions of Mymensingh and Sylhet in present-day Bangladesh. It is written in Bengali-Assamese script and Latin script.[2] It has many Sanskrit loanwords. The Hajongs originally spoke a Tibeto-Burman language, but it later mixed with Assamese and Bengali.[6]

Old Hajong[edit]

The language now spoken by the Hajong people may be considered an Indo-Aryan language because of language shift from a Tibeto-Burman language.[citation needed] Old Hajong or Khati Hajong may have been related to Garo, of Tibeto-Burman origin.


The Hajong Language varies within the clans because of regional variations. There are five notable clans of the Hajong people.

  • Doskinâ'
  • Korebari
  • Susung'yâ'
  • Barohazari'
  • Miespe'ryâ'

Writing system[edit]

The Hajong language is written by using both the Latin and the Bengali scripts.[7] Although both scripts are used in India, the Hajongs in Bangladesh expect to use the Bengali script since most education is in Bengali medium.[8] However, Hajongs living is Dhemaji and surrounding areas use Assamese script. In each script, there is one added unique symbol for the close back unrounded vowel /ɯ/. In Latin script, it is written with "â" or simply a' or e' and in the Eastern Nagari script with "অৗ" at the end of a syllable.[9]


Hajong has 23 consonant phonemes, 8 vowel phonemes, and 2 approximants that have some characteristics of consonants: /w/ and /j/ act as diphthongs. The vowel phonemes are /a/, /i/, /u/, /e/, /ɛ/, /o/, /ɔ/ and /ɯ/ (close, back, unrounded). Unlike other Indo-Aryan languages, Hajong language has only one 'i' and 'u'. It is somewhat ambiguous whether the final vowel is a phoneme or an allophone of [a] in the environment of other close vowels.[9] The extra vowel /ɯ/ does not occur in other Indo-Aryan languages but is typical for the Tibeto-Burman family.[10] Codas j and ch in the final position of a syllable turns into an s sound. Hajong includes some vowel harmony and the devoicing of final consonants.[9] For separating syllables the apostrophe sign (') or hyphen (-) is used.

Consonant phonemes[edit]

Consonants Example Meaning
k kan ear
kh khawa food
g gang river
gh ghor house
ng gang river
t tula your
th tho keep
d dang'o big
dh dhor hold
n nak nose
l tel oil
s sor move
r rang'a red
ch cha tea
j jor fever
jh jhala spicy
sh shongko conch
p pukhi bird
ph phol fruit
b bak tiger
bh bhou'i field
m mao mother
h hilde' yellow

Vowel phonemes[edit]

IPA Latin Assamese Pronunciation
/a/ a a of car
/i/ i i of kill
/u/ u u of put
/ɛ/ e a of thank
/e/ ei ay of say
/o/ ou o of old
/ɔ/ o eo of George
/ɯ/ e' অৗ i of girl

Vowels play an important role in changing the meaning of words and the grammatical structure of sentences. Unlike in most other Indo-Aryan languages like Assamese and Bengali, Hajong has no distinction between longer and shorter /i/ and /u/. The Assamese script lacks some vowels unique to Hajong phonology, which is gradually leading to a vowel shift. Since vowels play an important role in Hajong grammar, the grammatical structure is also changing.


Hajong phonology has diphthongs which are iotized vowels with j(y) and w. Diphthongs are usually combinations of i or u with other vowel phonemes. Common examples of diphthongs are ya, as in Dyao, which is the combined form of i and a; wa, as in khawa, which is the combination of u and a; yuh, as in muh'yuh, combination of i and uh, and wuh, as in tuhwuhi, combination of u and uh.


Hajong primarily has a canonical word order of subject–object–verb, and the subject, object, and verb of a sentence appear or usually appear in that order. Hajong has a strong tendency to use postpositions, rather than prepositions; to place auxiliary verbs after the action verb; to place genitive noun phrases before the possessed noun; and to have subordinators appear at the end of subordinate clauses.

Hajong is an agglutinative language in which words are often combined and compressed, and there is often no pause between words of a sentence.

Even though it is considered an Eastern Indo-Aryan language, Hajong does not conjugate verbs in the same way as Bengali or Asamiya but rather has a simplified system. The case endings in Hajong are also unique compared to other Indo-Aryan languages and may represent affinity with Tibeto-Burman languages.[11][5] The following table is taken from Phillips:[5]

Hajong Hajong (in IPA) English Case
বুৰি-ৰৗ buri-rɯ the old woman unmarked
বুৰি-ৰৗগে buri-rɯge to the old woman dative
বুৰি-লৗ buri-lɯ of the old woman genitive
বুৰি নি buri ni to/at the old woman locative
বুৰি ভায় buri bʰaʲ to the old woman allative
বুৰি থিকি buri t̪ʰiki from the old woman ablative
বুৰি দিঅৗ buri diɯ through/by the help of the old woman instrumental

The genitive and unmarked or accusative cases have two forms; re'/ra and le'/la. For words ending with the vowels /a/, /ɛ/ and /ɔ/ it becomes ra and la and for /i/, /u/, /e/, /o/ and /ɯ/ it becomes re' and le'. The vowels /ɛ/(e) and /ɔ/(o) are used to end interrogative sentences, like 'Bhat khase?'(have you taken your food?) and 'Bhat khabo?'(Do you want to eat?); and the vowels /e/(ei) and /o/(ou) are used at the end of declarative sentences, as in 'Bhat khasei.'([I] have taken my food.) and 'Bhat Khabou'([I] will eat.). Adding the suffix be' or ba to interrogative words turn them into indefinite pronouns; for example, kibe' means something, kei'be' means someone, kumaba means somewhere and also ke'ibe', kageba, kunde'be' and kalaba means 'I don't know who/whom/which/whose' respectively in English. Similarly adding the suffix ha and ga to verbs means 'come and (verb)' and 'go and (verd)' respectively; for example, khaha means come and eat, niha means come and take; khaga means go and eat and niga means go and take.


A unique feature of Hajong is the use of honorifics. When talking about someone superior in status, a speaker usually uses special nouns or verb endings to indicate the subject's superiority. Unlike Assamese, Bengali, Sylheti and other Indo-Aryan languages, there is no word like আপুনি/আপনি/আফনে(apuni/apni/afne) to substitute you. Instead, Hajong has a different way to indicate supremacy of the other person. For elders and others of high ranking, people second-person and third-person pronouns are never used. One must always refer elders with their name or their honorary title. Ending words with 'ge' and 'ha' is also a form of showing respect to another person.

Sample phrases[edit]

Phrases from the Hajong – English Phrase Book:[12]

Hajong Phrases Hajong Latin Script Meaning
কুমায় জায়? kumai jai? Where are you going?
কিংকৗ আছে? king'ke' ase? How are you?
তই আহিলে? ভিতুৰ ভায় আয়। Toi ahile? Bhiturbai ai. You came? Come inside.
তুলা আহাৰা ভালা হুছে। Tula ahara bhala husei. It was good of you to come.
ভাত খাছে? Bhat khase? Have you eaten?
চা খাবো? Cha khabo? Will you take tea?
তই কুন গাওলা? Toi kun gaola? What village are you from?
মই তাঙাবাৰিলৗ। Moi Tang'abarile'. I am from Tangabari.
ইলা তই কুমায় থাকে? Ila toi kumai thake? Now where do you live?
তুলা ঘৰৰা কুমায়? Tula ghorra kumai? Where is your house?
মুলা ঘৰৰা হাৱাখানানি। Mula ghorra Hawakhanani. My house is in Hawakhana.
ইদৗ অগে বুজিয়ৗ দি। Ide' oge bujye' di. Explain this to him.
ইদৗনি লিখিক। Ide'ni likhik. Write it here.
ময় জাং। Moi jang. I'm going.
আবাৰ লাক পাবো। Abar lak pabou. We will meet again.


  1. ^ a b Hajong at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019) Closed access icon
  2. ^ a b Eberhard, David M.; Simons, Gary F.; Fennig, Charles D., eds. (2019). Hajong Ethnologue: Languages of the World (22nd ed.). Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Archived from the original on 28 April 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  3. ^ Ghosh, Joydeep (2019). General Knowledge of Northeast India: For All PSC and Competitive Exams. Educreation Publishing. p. 85.
  4. ^ Hajong, Biren (2002). The Hajongs and their struggle. Smt. Sushmita Hajong. OCLC 499982956. Foreword(2) by Satyendra Narayan Goswami.
  5. ^ a b c Phillips, V. C. (2011). "Case Marking in Hajong" (PDF). In G. Hyslop; S. Morey; M. Post (eds.). North East Indian Linguistics: Volume 3. Delhi: Foundation Books. pp. 224–240.
  6. ^ Singh, R. P. (2013). "Hajong". In Danver, Steven (ed.). Native Peoples of the World. Vol. 2. Sharpe Reference. p. 531. ISBN 978-0-7656-8222-2. [The Hajongs] speak the Hajong language, originally a Tibeto-Burman tongue that later mixed with Assamese and Bengali.
  7. ^ "Hajong". ScriptSource.
  8. ^ Ahmad, S., A. Kim, S. Kim, and M. Sangma. (2005). The Hajong of Bangladesh: A sociolinguistic survey. http://www.sil.org/resources/publications/entry/42943, p. 13.
  9. ^ a b c Guts, Y. (2007). Phonological description of the Hajong language. Masters Thesis. Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit.
  10. ^ Guts, Y. (2007). Phonological description of the Hajong language. Masters Thesis. Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit; p 59.
  11. ^ Grierson, G. A. (1967) [First published 1903]. Linguistic survey of India. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. p. 215. OCLC 27793754.
  12. ^ Hajong, Phillips & Phillips 2008