Mundari language

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मुंडारी, মুন্ডারী, ମୁଣ୍ଡାରୀ
Mundari in Mundari Bani script.png
'Mundari' in Mundari Bani script
Native toIndia, Bangladesh, Nepal
EthnicityMunda, Bhumij
Native speakers
1,661,656 (2011 census)[1]
  • Munda
    • North
      • Kherwarian
        • Mundaric
          • Mundari
  • Bhumij
Mundari Bani Others :Odia, Devanagari, Bengali, Latin
Official status
Official language in
 India (Jharkhand)
Language codes
ISO 639-3unr – inclusive code
Individual code:
unx – Kili (called "Munda" in the census)
Mundari Bani (Mundari script)

Mundari (Munɖari) is a Munda language of the Austroasiatic language family spoken by the Munda and Bhumij tribes in eastern Indian states of Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal. It is closely related to Santali. Mundari Bani[3], a script specifically to write Mundari, was invented by Rohidas Singh Nag.[4][5] It has also been written in the Devanagari, Odia, Bengali, and Latin writing systems.


According to linguist Paul Sidwell (2018), Munda languages probably arrived on coast of Odisha from Indochina about 4000–3500 years ago before Indo-Aryan migration to Odisha.[6]

Geographical distribution[edit]

Mundari is spoken in the Ranchi, Khunti, Seraikela Kharsawan and West Singhbhum, East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand, and in the Mayurbhanj, Kendujhar, Baleshwar, Sundargarh district of Odisha by at least 1.1 million people.[7] Another 500,000, mainly in Odisha and Assam, are recorded in the census as speaking "Munda," potentially another name for Mundari.


Toshiki Osada (2008:99), citing the Encyclopaedia Mundarica (vol. 1, p. 6), lists the following dialects of Mundari, which are spoken mostly in Jharkhand state.

Bhumij, listed in many sources as a separate language, may in fact be a variety of the Latar (Tamaria) dialect of Mundari. It is spoken across Jharkhand state and in Mayurbhanj district, Odisha (Anderson 2008:196). There may be around 50,000 Bhumij speakers, although the census records around 27,000.[8]


The phonology of Mundari is similar to the surrounding closely related Austroasiatic languages but considerably different from either Indo-Aryan or Dravidian. Perhaps the most foreign phonological influence has been on the vowels. Whereas the branches of Austroasiatic in Southeast Asia are rich in vowel phonemes, Mundari has only five. The consonant inventory of Mundari is similar to other Austroasiatic languages with the exception of retroflex consonants, which seem to appear only in loanwords. (Osada 2008)


Mundari has five vowel phonemes. All vowels have long and short as well as nasalized allophones, but neither length nor nasality are contrastive. All vowels in open monosyllables are quantitatively longer than those in closed syllables, and those following nasal consonants or /ɟ/ are nasalized. Vowels preceding or following /ɳ/ are also nasalized.

Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a


Mundari's consonant inventory consists of 23 basic phonemes. The Naguri and Kera dialects include aspirated stops as additional phonemes, here enclosed in parentheses.

Labial Dental Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop voiceless p ʈ t͡ɕ k ʔ
aspirated (pʰ) (t̪ʰ) (ʈʰ) (t͡ɕʰ) (kʰ)
voiced b ɖ d͡ʑ g
Fricative h
Nasal m ɳ ɲ ŋ
Approximant w l ɽ j
Trill r


Mundari Transliteration Translation
मिसा Missa Once
बरसा Birsa Twice
अपिसा Apisa Thrice
उपनुसा Upnisa four times
मोंड़ेसा Mondesa Five times
तुरिसा Turisa Six times
ए'सा Eh sa Seven times
इरलसा Erklsa Eight Times
अरे-सा Are sa Nine times
गेलसा Gelsa Ten times
Gel Miyad ... Eleven
Gel Bariya ... Twelve
,, Apiya ... Thirteen
,, Upuna ... Fourteen
,, Modeya ... Fifteen
,, Turiya ... Sixteen
,, Eya ... Seventeen
,, Iriliya ... Eighteen
,, Areya ... Nineteen
Mid Hisi ... Twenty
Hisi Miyad ... Twenty-one
Mid hisi Gel ... Thirty
Hisi Gel Miyad ... Thirty-one
Bar Hisi ... Forty
Bar Hisi Miyad ... Forty-one
Bar Hisi Gel ... Fifty
Aapi Hisi ... Sixty
Aapi Hisi Gel ... Seventy
Upun Hisi ... Eighty
Upun Hisi Gel ... Ninety
Mid Saaye ... One hundred
Bar Saaye ... Two hundred
Mid Hazar ... One thousand
Mid Lak ... One lakh


Mundari Transliteration Translation
ऐंन्गा Enga Mother
आपूम Apum Father
हग्गा Hagga Brother
मिस्सी Missi Sister
गुया Guya Sister/brother of sister/brother in law
गतिंग Gatin Friend
Hon koda ... Son
Hon Kudi ... Daughter


Mundari Transliteration Translation
रिकाएआ Rikā'ē'ā Does
ओलेआ Ol'ē'ā Write
जगरेआ Jagor'ē'ā Talk
पढ़वएआ Padv'ē'ā Read
लेलेआ Lel'ē'ā Look / see
सेनेआ Sen'ē'ā Come along with
नमेआ Nem'ē'ā Found
निरेआ Nir'ē'ā Run
सबेआ Sab'ē'ā Hold
लेका एआ Leka'ē'ā Count
मुकाएआ Muka'ē'ā Measure
रिका एआ Rika'ē'ā Cut
Hedem ... Sweet
Kete-e ... Hard
Lebe-e ... Soft

Mundari Bani[edit]

Mundari Bani
Mundari in Mundari Bani script.png
CreatorRohidas Singh Nag
Time period
1982 to present
Parent systems
original inventor
  • Mundari Bani
    • Mundari Bani

The Mundari Bani script, also known as Mundari Bani Hisir (Mundari: Bani 'alphabet', Hisir 'writing'), and sometimes as the Mundari alphabet, is the official writing system for Mundari, an Austroasiatic language recognized as an official regional language in India. It has 27 letters and 5 diacritics, the forms of which are intended to evoke natural shapes. The script is written from left to right.

Mundari Bani (Mundari Script)

An alphabetic script developed for the language by community elder and author Rohidas Singh Nag was published in late 1980, and has seen limited but increasing use in literature, education, and computing. Rohidas Singh Nag of Chandua, Salbani Village in Mayurbhanj district is the inventor of Mundari Bani.


Rohidas Singh Nag was born on 5.2.1934 in Salbani village, Mayurbhanj district of Odisha. It was in the year 1949 Rohidas Singh Nag studying at class –III invented Mundari script and wrote the alphabets on the wall of school with the help of clay. In the year 1953, Nag was a student of class –VIII invented 35 alphabets of Mundari script. Further, Nag simplified Mundari script and in the year 1980 total 27 alphabets were selected for use. In 1980 Rohidas Singh Nag brought to the knowledge of the then Chief Minister of Odisha Shri J.B. Pattnaik on the development of Mundari script and submitted a memorandum to recognize Munda language constitutionally. In 1999 Rohidas Singh Nag with others submitted a memorandum to the then president of India and appealed for constitutional recognition of Munda language. Mundari Samaj Sanwar Jamda (A Social Organsiation of Munda community), Poda Astia, Mayurbhanj has been demanding to incorporate Munda language in the eighth schedule of the constitution of India, to air Munda language through All India Radio, further to establish a department of Munda language at North Odisha University, Baripada for higher studies. He was the first General Secretary of Mundari Samaj Sanwar Jamda. Different social organisations have felicitated Rohidas Singh Nag. In 1996 Academy of Tribal Dialects and Culture (A Research Institute of S.T and S.C. Development Department, Government of Odisha) for his significant contribution to tribal language and culture of Odisha in general and Munda language and culture in Particular. In 2004 by Bharat Munda Samaj and in 2010 at Balangi Mahostava in Baripada, he was also felicitated.”[9]


  1. ^ "Statement 1: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues – 2011". Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Mundari". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ "Mundari Bani".
  4. ^ "BMS to intensify agitation on Mundari language". Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  5. ^ "Adivasi. Volume 52. Number 1&2. June&December 2012". Page 22
  6. ^ Sidwell, Paul. 2018. "Austroasiatic Studies: state of the art in 2018". Presentation at the Graduate Institute of Linguistics, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan, May 22, 2018.
  7. ^ "Mundari". ethnologue.
  8. ^ "Keeping Munda in mind". Pune Mirror. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  9. ^ "page no.96, Adivasi, A Journal of Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes Research and Training Institute (SCSTRTI)" (PDF).
  • Anderson, Gregory D.S (ed). 2008. The Munda languages. Routledge Language Family Series 3.New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-32890-X.
  • Osada Toshiki. 2008. "Mundari". In Anderson, Gregory D.S (ed). The Munda languages, 99–164. Routledge Language Family Series 3.New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-32890-X.

8. 9.

Further reading[edit]

  • Evans, Nicholas & Toshki Osada. 2005a. Mundari: the myth of a language without word classes. In Linguistic Typology 9.3, pp. 351–390.
  • Evans, Nicholas & Toshki Osada. 2005b. Mundari and argumentation in word-class analysis. In Linguistic Typology 9.3, pp. 442–457
  • Hengeveld, Kees & Jan Rijkhoff. 2005. Mundari as a flexible language. In Linguistic Typology 9.3, pp. 406–431.
  • Newberry, J. (2000). North Munda dialects: Mundari, Santali, Bhumia. Victoria, B.C.: J. Newberry. ISBN 0-921599-68-4


External links[edit]