Languages of Meghalaya

About Meghalaya

Meghalaya is an embodiment of eternal bliss and tranquility wrapped in utter beauty. The “Abode of Clouds” acquires its charm from the picturesque locales, bountiful nature, fresh and sedating surroundings and yes the adventure sports. The exposition of exuberant emerald hills and glens often bathing in frequent drizzles will resuscitate your spirits. Trip to Meghalaya India promises a rendezvous with the exclusive flora and fauna, the amicable tribal folks and their cultural heritage. Meghalaya tourism can be for adventure, for sightseeing, for resurrection or simply to relax and enjoy.

About Meghalayan Languages

Khasi Language

Khasi is an Austro-Asiatic language spoken primarily in Meghalaya state in India by the Khasi people. Khasi is part of the Austroasiatic family of languages, and is fairly closely related to the Munda  branch of that family, which is spoken in east–central India. Although most of the 865,000 Khasi speakers are found in Meghalaya state, the language is also spoken by a number of people in the hill districts of Assam bordering with Meghalaya and by a sizable population of people living in Bangladesh, close to the Indian border. Khasi is rich in folklore and folktale, and behind most of the names of hills, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, birds, flowers, and animals there is a story.

Dialects

Khasi has significant dialectal variation. Several dialects have only partial mutual intelligibility, and Bhoi and Nonglung are distinct enough to be sometimes considered separate languages. Other dialects are Cherrapunji (Sohra), Khynrium, and War (not the same as the related War language); Cherrapunji and War are 75% similar lexically.

Script

In the past, the Khasi language had no script of its own. William Carey attempted to write the language with the Assamese script between 1813 and 1838. A large number of Khasi books were written in the Assamese script, including the famous book Ka Niyiom Jong Ka Khasi or The Rule of the Khasis, which is an important manuscript of the Seng Khasi religion. The Welsh missionary, Thomas Jones, in 1841 wrote the language in the Latin script. As a result, the Latin alphabet of the language has a few similarities with the Welsh alphabet.

Garo Language (গারো)

The Garo language is spoken by 800,000 people in the Garo Hills in the Indian state of Meghalaya, in the districts of Kamrup, Dhubri, Goalpara and Darrang in Assam, and in Bangladesh. Garo is a Tibeto-Burman language of the Bodo-Konyak-Jingpho group and is closely related to Bodo. Brief lists of Garo words were compiled by British officials in 1800, and Garo acquired a Latin-based spelling system during the late 19th century. This was devised by American Baptist missionaries and based on a northeastern dialect of Garo. A version of the Bengali alphabet is sometimes used to write Garo in Bangladesh.

Garo publications include some collections of stories, weekly newspapers, school books, dictionaries and religious works, including the bible. People use the language for private correspondence and some signs.

History

Khasi Language & Literature

The origin and development of early Khasi language (written) and Khasi literature cannot be separated from the history of the Christian missions in the Khasi and Jaintia hills. With the initial contact of Krishna Chandra Pal with some Khasis in 1+12 at Bhologanj in Syllhet district of present day Bangladesh (the East Bengal in India), the Serampore Baptist Mission started evangelism in the hills. Though Chandra Pal worked only for a few months among the Khasis, Carey was enthusiastic to translate the New Testament of the Bible into Khasi. The one and only Khasi literate was found to assist the translation of the bible into the Khasi language. This was in the year 1813-14. Since literacy was then in Bengali, translation was by the use of the Bengali script. Around 1816, a few translated versions of the Gospel of Matthew were printed and distributed among some Khasis who could read the Bengali script. The years later, a landmark was made- when the Khashee New Testament was printed by the Serampore Mission though a branch of the Mission was set up in Sohra (Cherrapunjee) in 1833, along with the first school for Khasis. By 1838 the Mission had to close down because of some problems.

Garo Language

The Garo language belongs to the Bodo–Garo branch of the Tibeto-Burman language family. As the Garo language is not traditionally written down, customs, traditions, and beliefs are handed down orally. It is also believed that the written language was lost in its transit to the present Garo Hills.

Garo language has different sub-languages, Viz- A·beng, Matabeng, Atong, Me·gam, Matchi, Dual [Matchi-Dual]Ruga, Chibok, Chisak, Gara, Gan·ching [Gara-Gan·ching] A·we etc. In Bangladesh A·beng is the usual dialect, but A·chik is used more in India. The Garo language has some similarities with Boro-Kachari, Rava, Dimasa and Kok-Borok languages. However, the modern official language in schools and government offices is English.

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