Apatani language

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Region Arunachal Pradesh
Ethnicity Apatani people
Native speakers
28,000 (2001 census)[1]
  • Tani
    • Western Tani
      • Apatani
Language codes
ISO 639-3 apt
Glottolog apat1240[2]

Apatani (Apa Tani, Tanii) is a Tani language of India.

Writing system[edit]

Like most endangered oral languages, Apatani did not have a standardized orthography, until recently, and there was some debate among the Apatanis on which script should be used to transcribe it. In view of this, Tanw Supuñ Dukuñ, the apex Tanw organization, recommended the constitution of the Apatani Language Development Committee (ALDC). The Apatani Cultural and Literary Society (ACLS) constituted the ALDC to recommend a writing system of the language. A year-long discussion and study by ALDC resulted in the recommendation of an alphabet based on Roman script. The recommendation was accepted by the ACLS and the administrative approval for its use was given by the Tanw Supuñ Dukuñ, or the Apatani Apex Council.

Apatani (Tanw) Language Development[edit]

Language development is gradual process and in case of Apatani (Tanw) Language the development has been unrestrained so far. Yet, Tanw (Apatani) People have been writing Tanw using English Alphabets. And what began as a means to communicate through writing has now grown into a writing system that has emerged as a simple and easy means of communication for Tanw people. Apatani (Tanw) People live at a beautiful tiny valley known to the world as Ziro, located at Central Arunachal Pradesh. The total indigenous population is merely around 60,000 strong but Apatanis (Tanws) are known for their fervor when it comes to preservation and promotion of their unique culture that they closely share with their surrounding Tribes belonging to same Tani Group.

Currently, there are some positive initiatives with regard to Tanw Language development. The most relevant ones are revision project by Popi Sarmin Society (the pioneer in Tanw Script development), Henkako Project (an online Apatani Dictionary: http://www.henkako.com) and Talking Apatani Dictionary. There are some differences on usage of some basic symbols and their usage. However, these developments are positive sign and they are giving momentum to public awareness regarding the urgent need for Tanw Language Development and Preservation.

How Apatani is written[edit]

Tanw words can be written meaningfully using English consonants and vowels "as is". Currently, the writing system is under rapid development and there are various proposals that has been put forward and active research work is ongoing. In the meantime, people may write using the system as proposed by the ALDC (Apatani Language Development Committee) or use the simplified system with minimum change and retaining English consonants, vowels and sounds. So far, the only government of Arunachal Pradesh approved Apatani Script (order No.EDA.41/96-97 Pt. dated Itanagar the 2nd Nov, 2010) is developed by the Popi Sarmin Society and KIIJE TANII AGUN CHINSA is being used for elementary third language studies at schools in Ziro.

However, it is to be noted that as any language, Apatani or Tanw language is evolving while it interacts with various languages such as English, Hindi, Assamese, etc. and as such it may not be correct to conclude on any specific writing structure as of now. For Tanw language, it a work in progress.


  1. ^ Apatani at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Apatani". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.