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Mizo language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mizo ṭawng or Duhlián ṭawng
Native speakers
1,000,000+[a] (2011–2022)[1][2]
Latin (Mizo alphabet)[3][4]
Bengali-Assamese script[3]
Official status
Official language in
Mizoram (India)
Language codes
ISO 639-2lus
ISO 639-3lus
  Regions where Mizo is educational, and official
  Regions where Mizo is educational, but not official
  Regions where Mizo is not official and not educational
  Regions with significant Mizo speakers, and where Mizo is a working language
Mizo is classified as Vulnerable by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger

Mizo is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken mainly in the Indian state of Mizoram, where it is the official language and lingua franca.[5] It is the mother tongue of the Mizo people and some members of the Mizo diaspora. Other than Mizoram, it is also spoken in Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, and Assam states of India, Sagaing Region and Chin State in Myanmar, and Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. It is mainly based on the Lusei dialect but it has also derived many words from its surrounding Mizo clans.[6]

The language is also known as Duhlian and Lushai, a colonial term, as the Duhlian people were the first among the Mizos to be encountered by the British in the course of their colonial expansion.[7]



The Mizo language is related to the other languages of the Sino-Tibetan family.[8] The Kuki-Chin-Mizo languages (which native Mizo speakers call Zohnahthlâk ṭawngho/Mizo ṭawngho) have a substantial number of words in common.[9]







The Mizo language has eight tones and intonations for each of the vowels a, aw, e, i and u, four of which are reduced tones and the other four long tones. The vowel o has only three tones, all of them of the reduced type. The vowels can be represented as follows:[10]

Front Central Back
Close i [i], [ɨ], []   u [u], [ʊ], [ʊː]
Mid e [e], [ɛ], [ɛː]   aw [o], [ɔ], [ɔː]
Open a [ʌ], [a], [ɑ], [ɑː], [ä]


Starting with a Starting with e Starting with i Starting with u
ai (/aɪ̯/, /ɑːi/ or /ai/) ei (/eɪ̯/, /ɛi/ or /ɛɪ̯/) ia (/ɪə̯/ /ɪa/, /ja/ or /ɪa̭/) ua (/u̯a/ or /ua̭/)
au (/aʊ̯/, /ɑːʊ̯/) eu (/ɛu/, /eʊ/ or /eʊ̯/) iu (/ɪʊ̯/ or /iw/) ui (/ɥi/ or /ʔwi/)



Mizo has the following triphthongs:

  • iai, as in iai, piai
  • iau as in riau ruau, tiau tuau etc.
  • uai, as in uai, zuai, tuai, vuai
  • uau, as in riau ruau, tiau tuau, suau suau



Mizo has the following consonants, with the first symbol being its orthographical form and the second one its representation in the IPA:[10]

Labial Dental Alveolar Velar Glottal
central lateral
voiceless p [p] t [t] ch [t͡s] tl [t͡l] k [k] h [ʔ]1
aspirated ph [pʰ] th [tʰ] chh [t͡sʰ], [ʰ] thl [t͡lʰ] kh [kʰ]
voiced b [b] d [d]
flap ṭ [t͡ɾ]
aspirated flap ṭh [t͡ɾʰ]
Fricative voiceless f [f] s [s] h [h]
voiced v [v] z [z]
Sonorant plain m [m] n [n] r [r] l [l] ng [ŋ]
aspirated hm [ʰm] hn [ʰn] hr [ʰr] hl [ʰl] ngh [ʰŋ]
glottalised1 rh [rʔ] lh [lʔ]
  1. The glottal and glottalised consonants appear only in final position.



As Mizo is a tonal language, differences in pitch and pitch contour can change the meanings of words. Tone systems have developed independently in many daughter languages, largely by simplifications in the set of possible syllable-final and syllable-initial consonants. Typically, a distinction between voiceless and voiced initial consonants is replaced by a distinction between high and low tone, and falling and rising tones developed from syllable-final h and glottal stop, which themselves often reflect earlier consonants.

The eight tones and intonations that the vowel a (and the vowels aw, e, i, u, and this constitutes all the tones in the Mizo language) can have are shown by the letter sequence p-a-n-g, as follows:[11]

  • long high tone: páng as in páng (which has the same intonation as sáng in the sentence Thingküng sáng tak kan huanah a ding).
  • long low tone: pàng as in Tui a kawt pàng pâng mai (which has the same intonation as vàng in the word vànglaini).
  • peaking tone: pâng as in Tui a kawt pàng pâng mai (which has the same intonation as thlûk in I hla phuah thlûk chu a va mawi ve).
  • dipping tone: päng as in Tuibur a hmuam päng mai (which has the same intonation as säm in Kan huan ka säm vêl mai mai).
  • short rising tone: pǎng as in naupǎng (which has the same intonation as thǎng in Kan huanah thǎng ka kam).
  • short falling tone: pȧng as in I va inkhuih pȧng ve? (which has the same intonation as pȧn in I lam ka rawn pȧn )
  • short mid tone: pang as in A dik lo nghâl pang (which has the same tone as man in Sazu ka man )
  • short low tone: pạng as in I pạng a sá a nih kha (which has the same tone as chạl in I chạlah thosí a ).
Notation of vowels with intonation
Short tones Long tones
mid rising falling low peaking high dipping low
a (ǎ / ă) / ả (ȧ / ã) / ą â á ä à
o (ǒ / ŏ) / ỏ / (ó)   ọ / (ò)  
aw (ǎw / ăw) / ảw (ȧw / ãw) / ąw ạw âw áw äw àw
u (ǔ / ŭ) / ủ (ů / ũ) / ų û ú ü ù
e (ě / ĕ) / ẻ (ė / ẽ) / ę ê é ë è
i (ǐ / ĭ) / ỉ (ĩ) / į î í ï ì

Note that the exact orthography of tones with diacritics is still not standardised (notably for differentiating the four short tones with confusive or conflicting choices of diacritics) except for the differentiation of long versus short tones using the circumflex. As well, the need of at least 7 diacritics may cause complications to design easy keyboard layouts, even if they use dead keys, and even if not all basic Latin letters are needed for Mizo itself, so publications may represent the short tones using digrams (e.g. by appending some apostrophe or glottal letter) to reduce the number of diacritics needed to only 4 (those used now for the long tones) on only two dead keys.







In Mizo[12] verb tense is indicated by the aspect and the addition of particles, such as:[13]

Modification of verbs


Mizo gerunds, and past participles are formed by a change in word ending called tihdanglamna.

Examples of tihdanglamna
verb modified form
ziak, 'to write' ziah, 'writing, written'
tât, 'to whet' tah, 'whetting, whetted'
, 'to divorce' mâk, 'divorcing, divorced'



Mizo nouns undergo declension into cases.

Mizo noun declension[14]
nominative/accusative genitive ergative instrumental
nụlá, 'the girl' nụla, 'the girl's' nụláịn, 'by the girl' nụláin, 'by means of the girl'
tǔi tǔi tuiịn tuiin
Thangạ (a proper noun) Thanga Thangȧ'n Thangạ-in/Thangạ hmangin

Nouns are pluralised by suffixing -te, -ho, -teho or -hote.

Pluralisation examples
singular plural
mipa, 'man' mipate, mipaho, 'men'
naupang, 'child' naupangte, naupangho, 'children'



All Mizo pronouns occur in two forms, namely in free form and clitic form and are declined into cases.

Mizo pronouns[15]
nominative genitive accusative ergative
clitic forms ka, 'I' ka, 'my, mine' mi, min, 'me' keima'n, 'by me'
kan, 'we' kan, 'our, ours' min, 'us' keimahnin, 'by us'
i, 'you (singular)' i, 'your, yours' che, 'you' nangma'n, 'by you'
in, 'you (plural)' in, 'your, yours' che u, 'you' nangmahnin, 'by you'
a, 'he, she, it' a, 'his, hers, its' amah, 'him, her, it' ama'n, 'by him, by her, by it'
an, 'they' an, 'their, theirs' anmahni, 'them' anmahni'n, 'by them'
free forms kei, 'I' keima, 'my, mine' keimah, 'me' keima'n, 'by me'
keimah, 'we' keima, 'our, ours' keimah, keimah min, 'us' keima'n, 'by us'
keini, 'you (singular)' keini, 'your, yours' keini min, 'you' keini'n, 'by you'
keimahni, 'you (plural)' keimahni, 'your, yours' keimahni min, 'you' keimahni'n, 'by you'
anni, 'he, she, it' anni, 'his, hers, its' anni, 'him, her, it' anni'n, 'by him, by her, by it'
anmahni, 'they' anmahni, 'their, theirs' anmahni, 'them' anmahni'n, 'by them'



For declarative sentences, negation is achieved by adding the particle lo (not) at the end of a sentence. For example,

Sentence Negation
Lala a lo kal
Lala is coming/Lala came
Lala a lo kal lo
Lala did not come
Pathumin paruk a sem thei
Three divides six
Pathumin paruk a sem thei lo
Three does not divide six

Cardinal numbers

  • (pa)khat, 'one'
  • (pa)hnih, 'two'
  • (pa)thum, 'three'
  • (pa)li, 'four'
  • (pa)ngá, 'five'
  • (pa)ruk, 'six'
  • (pa)sarih, 'seven'
  • (pa)riat, 'eight'
  • (pa)kua, 'nine'
  • àwm, 'ten'
  • àwmpakhat, 'eleven'
  • àwmpakua, 'nineteen'
  • awmhnih, 'twenty'
  • awmthum, 'thirty'
  • awmküa, 'ninety'
  • à, 'one hundred'
  • angá, 'five hundred'
  • äng(khat), 'one thousand'
  • ïng(khat), 'ten thousand'
  • nûai(khat), 'one hundred thousand'
  • maktadûai, 'one million'
  • aibelchhia, 'ten million'
  • aibelchhetak, 'one hundred million'
  • tlûklehdingäwn, 'one billion'

Writing system


The Mizo alphabet is based on the Roman script and has 25 letters.

Letter a aw b ch d e f g ng h i j k
Name listen listen listen listen listen listen listen listen listen listen listen listen listen
Letter l m n o p r s t u v z
Name listen listen listen listen listen listen listen listen listen listen listen listen

In its current form, it was devised by the first Christian missionaries of Mizoram, J. H. Lorrain and F. W. Savidge,[16] based on the Hunterian system of transliteration.

A circumflex ^ was later added to the vowels to indicate long vowels, viz., Â, Ê, Î, Ô, Û, which were insufficient to fully express Mizo tone. Recently,[when?] a leading newspaper in Mizoram, Vanglaini, the magazine Kristian Ṭhalai, and other publishers began using Á, À, Ä, É, È, Ë, Í, Ì, Ï, Ó, Ò, Ö, Ú, Ù, Ü to indicate the long intonations and tones. However, this does not differentiate the different intonations that short tones can have.[17][18]

Sample texts


The following is a sample text in Mizo of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:[19]

Mizo: Mi zawng zawng hi zalèna piang kan ni a, zahawmna leh dikna chanvoah intluk tlâng vek kan ni. Chhia leh ṭha hriatna fîm neia siam kan nih avangin kan mihring puite chungah inunauna thinlung kan pu tlat tur a ni.

English: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience. Therefore, they should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.



Mizo has a thriving literature, which has both written and oral traditions. It has undergone a considerable change in the 20th century.[20]

The Mizoram Press Information Bureau lists some twenty Mizo daily newspapers just in Aizawl city, as of March 2013.[21]

See also



  1. ^ 830,846 in India, 189,000 in Myanmar, 70,000 in Bangladesh; in total, 1,089,846, not including the diaspora.


  1. ^ "Statement 1: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues – 2011". censusindia.gov.in. Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  2. ^ Roy, Esha (28 November 2022). "Why is Bangladesh driving Kuki refugees into Mizoram, a year after Myanmar militias did the same from Rakhine?". The Indian Express. Retrieved 12 November 2023.
  3. ^ a b "Mizo". Ethnologue. Retrieved 12 November 2023.
  4. ^ "Kuki Mizo". Directorate of Kokborok & Other Minority Languages, Government of Tripura. Retrieved 30 August 2022.
  5. ^ "Ministry of Development of Northeastern Region, Mizoram State Information". Ministry of Development of Northeastern Region. 2 November 2021. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  6. ^ mzuir.inflibnet.ac.in (PDF)
  7. ^ Lalthangliana, B., 'Mizo tihin ṭawng a nei lo' tih kha Archived 13 November 2020 at the Wayback Machine, see also Matisoff, 'Language names' section
  8. ^ Mc Kinnon, John and Wanat Bruksasri (Editors): The Higlangders of Thailand, Kuala Lumpur, Oxford University Press, 1983, p. 65.
  9. ^ "Vanglaini". www.vanglaini.org. Archived from the original on 13 November 2020. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  10. ^ a b Weidert, Alfons, Component Analysis of Lushai Phonology, Amsterdam Studies in the Theory and History of Linguistic Science, Series IV – Current Issues in Linguistic Theory, volume 2, Amsterdam: John Benjamins B.V., 1975.
  11. ^ Zoppen Club, Mizo ṭawng thumal thar
  12. ^ SCERT, Mizo Grammar, class XI & XII textbook (2002–).
  13. ^ SCERT, Mizo Grammar and Composition, 2002.
  14. ^ Chhangte, Lalnunthangi (1989). "The Grammar of Simple Clauses in Mizo" (PDF). SEALANG Projects. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  15. ^ This form is also used as the accusative
  16. ^ Lalthangliana, B.: 2001, History and Culture of Mizo in India, Burma and Bangladesh, Aizawl. "Baptist Missionary Conference, 1892", p. 745
  17. ^ The Mizo Wiktionary uses the additional symbols , ǎ, ȧ, and likewise for the other vowels aw, e, i and u, to differentiate these
  18. ^ "Wt/lus/Thlûkna chungchanga kaihhruaina - Wikimedia Incubator". incubator.wikimedia.org. Retrieved 6 November 2022.
  19. ^ "UDHR in Sino-Tibetan languages". www.omniglot.com. Retrieved 28 March 2024.
  20. ^ Lalthangliana, B., 'Mizo tihin ṭawng a nei lo' tih kha
  21. ^ "See the website". Retrieved 14 January 2020.


  1. K. S. Singh: 1995, People of India-Mizoram, Volume XXXIII, Anthropological Survey of India, Calcutta.
  2. Grierson, G. A. (Ed.) (1904b). Tibeto-Burman Family: Specimens of the Kuki-Chin and Burma Groups, Volume III Part III of Linguistic Survey of India. Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, Calcutta.
  3. Grierson, G. A: 1995, Languages of North-Eastern India, Gian Publishing House, New Delhi.
  4. Lunghnema, V., Mizo chanchin (B.C. 300 aṭanga 1929 A.D.), 1993.
  5. Zoramdinthara, Dr., Mizo Fiction: Emergence and Development. Ruby Press & Co.(New Delhi). 2013. ISBN 978-93-82395-16-4