Kachari language

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Kachari
Region Assam, India
Native speakers
59,000 (1997)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 xac
Glottolog kach1279[2]
Map from the Linguistic Survey of India (1903), Vol. III Tibeto-Burman Family; Part II Specimens of the Bodo, Naga, and Kachin Groups.[3]

Kachari is a Sino-Tibetan language[4] of the Boro-Garo supgroup,[5] spoken in Assam, India. With fewer than 60,000 speakers recorded in 1997, and the Asam 2001 Census reporting a literacy rate of 81% the Kachari language is currently ranked as threatened.[6] Kachari is closely related to surrounding languages, including Tiwa, Rābhā, Hojong, Kochi and Mechi.[7]

While there are still living adult speakers, many of children are not learning Kachari as their primary language, instead being assimilated into the wider Assamese and Bengali speaking communities.[4]

Phonology[edit]

Consonants[edit]

Kachari consists of the 13 consonants shown below and three Non-syllabics,(Frictional: h, frictionless palatal: y, frictionless rounded velar: w[8]) :

Bi-Labial Denti-Alveolar Alveolo-Palatal Velar
Plosives
  • aspirated
  • unaspirated
p^h

b

t^h

d

k^h

g

Nasals m n n
Fricatives
  • Voiceless
  • Voiced
s

z

Tremulant r
Lateral l

Vowels[edit]

Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e o o
Low a

Prosody[edit]

  • Tone
    • Kachari is a tonal language, consisting of 4 tones high, mid, low and neutral (1, 2, 3, 0)[8]

Grammar[edit]

Syntax[edit]

The word order of Kachari is Subject-Object-Verb (SOV).[10][edit]

  • Kachari uses many instances of "compound words" to denote meaning. For example, the word for "boy", is really the combination of the Kachari words for "male" and "child". This also correlates with Kachari verbs, which can be agglutinated to form "compound verbs".[11] While Kachari is not polysynthetic, its verbs act as a stem for descriptive adjective, adverbs or affixes to change its meaning. For example, the "conjugation of the regular verb active, 'nu-nǔ.' to see" results in the following:
Verb "to See" [10]
Case Case Form Final Form Meaning
Infinitive -nǔ nu-nǔ to see
Progressive -dang nu-dang I am seeing
Simple Past -bai nu-bai I saw
Past Progressive -dangman nu-dangman I did see
Past Remote -nai nu-nai I had seen
-dangman nu-dangman
Simple Future -gan nu-gan I will see
Paulo-post Future -si-gan nu-si-gan I will see (almost immediately)
-nǔ-sǔi nu-nǔ-sǔi
Imperative - nu See (you)
-thang nu-thang Let him (them) see

Tense[edit]

Future Tense[edit]

As can be seen from the chart above, the future tense is indicated with -gan, while -si- indicates that the future event will occur soon or in the near future. One example is "Bí faigan", he will come, as opposed to "Bí faisigan", he will come (almost at once) or he is about to come.[10]

Present Tense

Present tense is shown through three affixes, "ǔ", "dong" and "gô". The first two forms represent indefinite and definite forms and are far more common that "gô", which is frequently only used to answer questions in the affirmative.

Adjectives[edit]

Most adjectives can be added both before or after the noun it is describing, though it gains the case ending if it follows the noun, rather than precedes it.[10] This follows the identification of as a strongly suffixing language.[12] However, this classification goes against Konwar's description of Kachari and a related language, Karbi, as primarily prefixing to create adjectives.[13]

Numerical adjectives are always inserted after the noun it is describing. For example, "ten goats" is "Burmá má-zǔ" with "Burmá" meaning goat, "má" being the classifier for "animal" and the number ten being "zǔ".[7][10]

Morphology[edit]

Gender - Common nouns such as father, mother, brother or sister have distinct masculine and feminine words while other nouns including animals, will typically have the words for male and female, -jelá and -jeu respectively, added on as a suffix to denote gender. Other common masculine and feminine suffix forms that may be used include -zǎlá/-zǔ, -bundā/-bundi, -bóndá/-bóndi, -phántá/-phánti and -pherá/-pheri.[10][7]

Number System[edit]

Kachari has a decimal system and counts to 10 with unique words, after which the number words combine to add to the larger number as shown in the chart below.[14]

1. sé 21. nɯizise
2. nɯí 22. nɯizinɯi
3. tʰám 22. nɯizitʰam
4. brɯí 24. nɯizibrɯi
5. bá 25. nɯiziba
6. dɔ́ 26. nɯizidɔ
7. sní 27. nɯizisni
8. daín 28. nɯizidain
9. ɡú 29. nɯiziɡu
10. zí 30. tʰamzí
11. zíse 40. brɯizí
12. zínɯi 50. bazí
13. zítʰám 60. dɔzí
14. zíbrɯi 70. snizí
15. zíba 80. dainzí
16. zídɔ 90. ɡuzí
17. zísni 100. zɯusé / sezɯú
18. zídaín 200. nɯizɯú
19. zíɡu 1000. sé rɯ̀za
20. nɯizí 2000. nɯí rɯ̀za

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kachari at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kachari". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Grierson, G.A. (1903). "Linguistic Survey of India, Volume III, Tibeto-Burman Family, Part II, "Specimens of the Bodo, Nāgā, and Kachin groups"". The Record News. 
  4. ^ a b c "Did you know Kachari is endangered?". Endangered Languages. Retrieved 2017-03-09. 
  5. ^ "Boro". MultiTree. 2017-03-09. 
  6. ^ a b Simons, Gary F.; Fennig, Charles D. "Kachari". Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Twentieth edition. Retrieved 2017-03-09. 
  7. ^ a b c Robinson, William (1849-01-01). Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal "Notes on the Languages Spoken by the various tribes inhabiting the valley of Asam and its mountain confines.". G.H. Rouse, Baptist Mission Press. pp. 215–224. 
  8. ^ a b c Bhattacharya, Pramod Chandra (1977). A Descriptive Analysis of the Boro Language. 21 Balaram Ghose Street, Calcutta 700004: The Pooran Press. 
  9. ^ a b "Kachari". glottolog.org. Retrieved 2017-03-09. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f Endle, Sidney (1884-01-01). Outline Grammar of the Kachari (Bara) Language as Spoken in District Darrang, Assam: With Illustrative Sentences, Notes, Reading Lessons, and a Short Vocabulary. Assam Secretariat Press. 
  11. ^ Anderson, J. D. (1895-01-01). A collection of Kachári folk-tales and rhymes,. Shillong,. 
  12. ^ "Language Kachari". wals.info. Retrieved 2017-03-09. 
  13. ^ Konwar, Aparna (2002). "Some Aspects of the Boro and the Karbi morphology". Indian Linguistics. 63: 39–48. 
  14. ^ Brahma, Aleendra (2009). "Sino-Tibetan Languages: Bodo". Numeral Systems of the World's Languages.