|Region||Northeast India, Bangladesh, Burma|
|Ethnicity||Meetei, Meitei and Meitei-Pangal people|
|1.25 million (2010) to 1.5 million (2001 census)|
|Bengali alphabet (current)
Manipuri or Meiteilon alphabet (historical)
Official language in
mni – Modern Manipuri or Meiteilon
omp – Old Manipuri
Manipuri or Meiteilon (Meitei) // or Manipuri // is the predominant language and lingua franca in the southeastern Himalayan state of Manipur, in northeastern India. It is the official language in government offices. Manipuri or Meiteilon is also spoken in the Indian states of Assam and Tripura, and in Bangladesh and Burma (now Myanmar). It is currently classified as a vulnerable language by UNESCO.
Manipuri or Meiteilon has proven to be an integrating factor among all ethnic groups in Manipur who use it to communicate among themselves. It has been recognized (as Manipuri) by the Indian Union and has been included in the list of scheduled languages (included in the 8th schedule by the 71st amendment of the constitution in 1992). Manipuri or Meiteilon is taught as a subject up to the post-graduate level (Ph.D.) in universities of India, apart from being a medium of instruction up to the undergraduate level in Manipur. Education in government schools is provided in Manipuri or Meiteilon through the eighth standard.
Manipuri or Meiteilon contains various dialects; however, in more recent years the broadening of communication, as well as intermarriage, has caused the differences between these dialects to become nearly insignificant. The only exceptions to this occurrence are the speech differences of the dialects found in Tripura, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The exact number of dialects of Manipuri or Meiteilon is unknown.
The three main dialects of Manipuri or Meiteilon include: Manipuri or Meiteilon proper, Loi and the Pangal. Differences found within Manipuri or Meiteilon's dialects are primarily characterized by the extensions of new sounds and tonal shifts. Manipuri or Meiteilon proper is considered, of the three, to be the standard dialect—and is considered to be more dynamic[clarification needed] than the other two dialects[clarification needed] . Slight variations in dialects can be seen in the following table:
|Standard (Manipuri or Meiteilon)||Loi||Pangal||English Translation|
|This section requires expansion. (October 2014)|
The Manipuri or Meiteilon language makes heavy use of intonation, with marked controversy over whether there are two or three types of tones used in speech.
Assimilation of sounds occurs in noted instances when the preceding syllable ends in a nasal sound or occasionally a semivowel sound, and the following syllable ends in either a nasal, semivowel, or vowel sound; additionally this will occur on suffixes and enclitics.
A velar deletion is noted to occur on the suffix -lək when following a syllable ending with a /k/ phoneme.
Manipuri or Meiteilon makes use of the following sounds:
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Agreement in nouns and pronouns is expressed to clarify singular and plural cases through the addition of the suffixes -khoi (for personal pronouns and human proper nouns) and -siŋ (for all other nouns). Verbs associated with the pluralized nouns are unaffected. Examples are demonstrated below:
|Noun (Manipuri or Meiteilon)||Noun (English)||Example (Manipuri or Meiteilon)||Example (English)|
|əŋaŋ||baby||əŋaŋ kəppi||Baby cries.|
|əŋaŋsiŋ||babies||əŋaŋsiŋ kəppi||Babies cry.|
When adjectives used to be more clear are used Manipuri or Meiteilon utilizes separate words and does not add a suffix to the noun. Examples are show in the chart below:
|Adjective (Manipuri or Meiteilon)||Adjective (English)||Example (Manipuri or Meiteilon)||Example (English)|
|əmə||one||mi əmə laki||A person comes.|
|khərə||some||mi khərə laki||Some persons come.|
|məjam||many||mi məjam laki||Many persons come.|
Compound verbs are created by combining root verbs each ending with aspect markers. While the variety of suffixes is high, all compound verbs utilize one of two:
|-thok||out/ come out|
|-niŋ||To wish/ want/ desire|
Aspect markers appear as suffixes that clarify verb tense and appear at the end of the compound verb. Overall, the formula to construct a compound verb becomes [root verb] + [suffix] + [aspect marker]:
|Language||Root Verb||Suffix||Aspect Marker||Combined Form|
|Manipuri or Meiteilon||tum||-thok||-le||tumthokle|
|English||sleep||out/ come out||perfect aspect||has started sleeping|
|Manipuri or Meiteilon||tum||-niŋ||-le||tumniŋle|
|English||sleep||want||perfect aspect||has felt sleepy|
Compound verbs can also be formed utilizing both compound suffixes as well, allowing utterances such as pithokniŋle meaning "want to give out".
Meetei has its own script, which was used until the 18th century. Its earliest use is not known. Pamheiba, the ruler of the Manipur Kingdom who introduced Hinduism, banned the use of the Manipuri or Meiteilon script and adopted the Bengali script. Now in schools and colleges gradually the Bengali script is being replaced by the Manipuri or Meiteilon script. The local organisations have played a major role in spreading the awareness about its own script.
Many Meetei documents were destroyed at the beginning of the 18th century during the reign of Hindu converted King Pamheiba, under the instigation of the Bengali Hindu missionary, Shantidas Gosai.
Between 1709 and the middle of the 20th century, the Manipuri or Meiteilon language was written using the Bengali script. During the 1940s and 1950s, Manipuri or Meiteilon scholars began campaigning to bring back the Old Manipuri alphabet. In 1976 at a writers conference, all the scholars finally agreed on a new version of the alphabet containing a number of additional letters to represent sounds not present in Manipuri or Meiteilon when the script was first developed. The current Manipuri or Meiteilon alphabet is reconstruction of the ancient Meithei script.
Since the early 1980s, the Manipuri or Meiteilon alphabet as been taught in schools in Manipur.
It is a syllabic alphabet in which consonants all have an inherent vowel /a/. Other vowels are written as independent letters or by using diacritical marks that are written above, below, before or after the consonant they belong to. Each letter is named after a part of the human body.
There are some texts from the Maring and Limbu tribes of Manipur, which were written in the Manipuri or Meiteilon script.
The culture involved with the Manipuri or Meiteilon language is rooted deeply with pride and tradition based on having respect to the community elders. Young children who do not know about the tales that have been passed on from generation to generation are very rare. Regarding the history behind the ancient use of proverbs that defines the way conversation is held with the Manipuri or Meiteilon language, it is a way of expressing and telling stories and even using modern slang with old proverbs to communicate between one another.
The Manipuri or Meiteilon language is known to be one of the oldest languages in northeastern India and has a lengthy 2000-year period of existence. It had its own script. The history behind the Manipuri or Meiteilon language itself comes primarily from the medieval period of northeastern India.
- Languages of India
- List of languages by number of native speakers in India
- List of Manipuri poets
- Sahitya Akademi Award to Manipuri Writers
- Moseley, C. (Editor) (2010). Atlas of the world's languages in danger (3rd ed). Paris: UNESCO Publishing.
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Old Manipuri at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
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- Singh, Ningthoukhongjam Khelchandra. (1964). Manipuri to Manipuri & English dictionary.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Meithei language.|
|Meithei language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
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