Survival Phrases in Nagamese: the Lingua Franca of Nagaland


Written and compiled by A. Avtans
[This article is copyrighted, please mention author's name  and article's name when you are copying/referring content from this page]

Nagaland in the north eastern frontiers of India is a linguist’s paradise where not less than 23 different indigenous languages are spoken in full vigor. Though English is the official language in Nagaland, It is Nagamese (a pidgin/creole arising out of Assamese, Hindi, English and various Naga languages) which rules the roost across the state. Though the origin of Nagamese is unknown, it is evident from the accounts of Lt. Bigges (Tour Diary 1841) that this pidgin was in vogue before the British soldiers set their feet in the Naga Hills. The earliest record of Nagamese is found in Hutton (1921) with a few lexical items and phrases in the pidgin. Hutton (1921) says

the Assamese as spoken in the Naga Hills is peculiarly well adapted for the reproduction of Naga idioms as a vehicle of interpretation. It makes a better lingua franca for the Hills than Hindustani or English would, the substitution of which for Assamese has been occasionally suggested.

Hutton is referring to Nagamese when he is writing of Assamese of Naga Hills. Similarly Haimendorf (Von Furer Haimendorf, The Naked Nagas, 1939, London) writes

‘Fortunately many people including children spoke fluently Nagamese, the lingua franca of entire Naga Hills’.

The spread of Nagamese according to Sreedhar (M.V. Shreedhar, 1985, Standardized Grammar of Naga Pidgin, Mysore) is due to several factors. He cites the construction of roads, penetration of Marwari traders in far flung areas, and various state and central agencies bringing Non-Nagas in Nagaland as the primary reason for the spread of Nagamese. It is absolutely clear that neither colonization nor subjugation was responsible for the birth of Nagamese.

Today Nagamese is used for diverse inter-lingual communication situations such as Schools, markets, hospitals, legislative assembly, and even in churches. Moreover the emergence of a unified Naga identity irrespective of tribal affiliations has led to situations where it has acquired the role of a mother tongue for the children born out of wedlock of people from two different communities. Nagamese is increasingly used in informal conversation though formal discourse is still done in English or any other indigenous language. Youth use it profusely among themselves on the streets of Kohima, Dimapur, Mokukchung and outside Nagaland etc.

Knowing a little of Nagamese in Nagaland comes handy when one decides to visit this beautiful state in the Far East. Nagamese is like a song you would like to sing time and again.

Here are some SURVIVAL PHRASES in Nagamese based on Dr. N. Khashito Aye’s book titled Nagamese: the Lingua Franca of Nagaland, 2007 (published by Christian Education Ministry, Sugar Mill, 5th Mile, Dimapur- 7977112, Nagaland).

SURVIVAL PHRASES in NAGAMESE

English Nagamese Hindi
Please come in aahibi आइए।
Please sit down bohibi बैठिए।
Where do you live? aapuni kot thaake? आप कहाँ रहते/रहती हैं?
My house is in Agra mor laagaa ghar Agrate aase मेरा घर आगरा में है।
What is your name? aapuni laagaa naam ki aase? आपका क्या नाम है?
My name is Prakash mor laaga naam prakaash aase मेरा नाम प्रकाश है।
How are you? kenekaa aase? आप कैसे हैं?
I am alright Bhaal hi aase मैं ठीक हूँ।
Are you alright Aapuni bhaal aase? क्या आप ठीक हैं?
What happened? ki hoise? क्या हुआ?
What is the price of this? itu kiman dam ase? इसका दाम क्या है?
lower down the price olop kom koribi कुछ कम कीजिए।
That will do Hoise हाँ यह ठीक है।
I don’t want amaake naalaage मुझे नहीं चाहिए।
At what time you will come? aapuni kimaan baajite aahibo? आप कितने बजे आएंगे।
I will come tomorrow at 8 o’clock aami kaali aat bajite aahibo मैं कल आठ बजे आऊँगा।
Please drive the car gaari chalaabi गाड़ी चलाइए।
Drive slowly aaste chalaabi धीरे चलाइए।
Stop rukhibi रोकिए।
Turn it ghuraabi घुमाइए।
To the left left phaale बाईं ओर।
To the right right phaale दाईं ओर।
This way itu phaale इस तरफ।
That way hitu phaale उस तरफ।
Which way? kun phaale? किस तरफ?
Go straight sida jabi सीधा जाइए।
Do you like it? aapuni itu bhal laage? क्या यह आपको पसंद है?
Where are you going? aapuni kot jabo? आप कहाँ जा रहे/रही हैं?
I am going to market moi market jai aase मैं बाज़ार जा रहा हूँ।
Where has he gone? taar kot jaise? वह कहाँ गए/गई हैं?
I will come tomorrow aami kali aahibo मैं कल आऊँगा।
Vitsaho and kitoka have come vitshao aaru kitoka aahise वित्साहो और कितोका आए हैं।

Survival Nagamese Glossary

Nagamese English gloss Hindi Gloss
aalu potato आलू
adowaa / adruk ginger अदरक
agote front आगे
ahaa kaali tomorrow कल
ahibo will come आउंगा
aina mirror आईना
ami I मैं
ami / moi I मैं
amikhan we हम
anibo will bring लाऊँगा / लाएगा
aru and और
azi-kali nowadays आजकल
baastenga bamboo shoot बाँस की कोपलें
baba father पिता
bagan garden बाग
baksaa box बक्सा
bera wall / fence दीवार
beya bad बुरा
bhaat rice चावल
bhal good अच्छा
bhekuli frog मेंढक
bheraa sheep भेड़
bhija wet गीला
bili sun सूरज
bishi more ज्यादा
boga white सफेद
bohibo will sit बैठूँगा / बैठेगा
bon koribo will cover / close बंद करूँगा / करेगा
bonabo will make बनाउँगा / बनाएगा
borton utensils बरतन
bosti village गाँव / बस्ती
chaapattaa tea leaves चाय पत्ती
chamraa skin / leather चमड़ा
charibo will leave छोड़ूँगा
chatni mashed/grounded vegetable or fish भर्ता / चोखा
chini sugar चीनी
chipaise hidden छिपाया हुआ
choto small छोटा
chuli hair बाल
daam price /cost दाम
daambishi expensive मँहगा
dali pulses दाल
dangor large बड़ा
dao dagger दाव
dhalibo will pour डालूँगा / डालेगा
dhoribo will hold / catch पकड़ूँगा / पकड़ेगा
dingi neck गरदन
dobol double दूहरा
dolong bridge पुल
dorja door दरवा्ज़ा
dorkaari useful उपयोगी
dud breast / milk स्तन / दूध
dukan shop दुकान
eki same समान
etiya now अभी
gaao buraa village headman मुखिया
gahori pig सूअर
gao body शरीर
gaudhabo will bath नहाऊँगा / नहाएगा
ghumabo will sleep सो जाउंगा / सो जाएगा
ghurabo will turn घूमेगा
gola throat कंठ
gorom hot गर्म
goru cow गाय
haas duck बत्तख
hardi bone हड्डी
hasibo will laugh हँसूँगा
hatguti elbow कोहनी
hatzoin waist कमर
hitu that वह
hitukhan those वे
hodai always हमेशा
hohai help मदद
hoi yes हाँ
hosa true सही / सत्य
hudibo will ask पुछेगा
hunibo will hear सुनेगा
iman so much इतना
isor god भगवान
itu this यह
itukhan these ये
jabo will go जाएगा
jakhala ladder सीढ़ी
joluki chilly मिर्च
jonabo will inform सूचना देगा
juhi fire आग
kandibo will cry रोएगा
kaso tortoise कछुआ
ketia when कब
ketiyao never कभी नहीं
khabo will eat / drink खाएगा
khata short नाटा
khong koribo will be angry गुस्सा होगा
khori wood लकड़ी
ki what क्या
kinibo will buy खरीदेगा
kobi cabbage गोभी
kobo will say कहेगा
kol banana केला
kopita papaya पपीता
koputor pigeon कबूतर
kot where कहाँ
kothal jackfruit कटहल
kuchu yam कच्चू
kumraa pumpkin सीताफल / कुम्हरा
kuni egg अंडा
laipata a kind of leafy vegetable एक पत्तेदार सब्ज़ी
lao gourd कंद
lobo will take लूंगा
lora boy / son लड़का
lori girl / daughter लड़की
loshun garlic लहसुन
maaki female / wife औरत / पत्नि
maatha head सिर
maati land / field भूमि
mangsho meat मांस
mash fish मछली
mekhala skirt worn by women औरतों द्वारा पहना जाना वाला एक वस्त्र
misa false गलत
modu liquor शराब
moribo will die मरेगा
morom love प्रेम
morom koribo will love प्रेम करेगा
mota male / husband आदमी / पति
motar peas मटर
moumakhi honeybee मधुमक्खी
mudram guava अमरूद
mula radish मूली
naarikol coconut नारियल
olop few कुछ
paahoribo will forget भुलेगा
pabo get लेगा
paribo can do कर सकेगा
philla thigh जाँघ
pothabo read पढ़ेगा
puka insect कीड़ा
raati night रात
rakhibo will keep रखेगा
rukhibo will wait रुकेगा
ruti flattened bread रोटी
sagoli goat बकरी
saphaa clean साफ
shim beans सेम / फली
sorai bird चिड़िया
suku eye आँख
taan hard कठोर
tai she वह
taka money / rupee रुपया
tamul betel nut सुपारी
tarkhan they वे
tengaa sour खट्टा
thai place स्थान / जगह
thing leg पैर
titaa bitter कड़वा
upor above ऊपर
uribo will fly उड़ेगा

And I end this piece with a Nagamese Love song by Kevilinuo Vizo:

Moi laagaa darling

Moi laagaa darling bishi sunder,

Tai laagaa bosti moi najaane,

Beraai beraai kenaa thing bekhaaise

Biyanpabi salam di aase

Ek din noholie, dui din noholie

Love kuribo etu time te koi dibo de,

Eki logote rastaa rastaa beraabo,

Itu din rukhi aase darling.

Post photo courtesy: http://miyzone.blogspot.com/2007/08/different-houses-nagaland-heritage.html

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62 thoughts on “Survival Phrases in Nagamese: the Lingua Franca of Nagaland

  1. अभिषेक जी, नागालैंड की भाषा के बारे में जानकर अच्छा लगा. थोड़ा बंगाली उच्चारण नजर आता है?

  2. धन्यवाद रवि जी। शायद इस भाषा पर असमिया के माध्यम से बांग्ला का प्रभाव हो.

  3. Pingback: #006 - Seriously. Horrible memory « The Man Who Folded Himself

  4. hi,
    i am interested in learning nagamese… may u please help me with some of the useful links.

    regards,
    neeraj

  5. Hi,

    Please tell me how to tell these words in naga language. please help me.

    1. You have a beautiful smile.

    2. You have the most beautiful smile in have ever seen.

    3. You have the most beautiful smile in this world.

    4. Dont worry. you will do well.

    5. Dont worry you will pass exams.

    6. I pray for you.

    7. I will miss you

  6. Hi,

    Thanks for deleting my comment. Actually there are NO forums where I could post my translations in naga language.

    Some simple words are missing from your list.

    thank you.
    see you again
    you are welcome

    also if you give your email address, i have a few more which you can email me. Just help out a brother in need.

  7. Thanks Mat
    For visiting my blog
    I am sorry I cannot help you much in this regard.
    I will suggest you to learn more Nagamese from the book I have mentioned here-
    Dr. N. Khashito Aye’s book titled Nagamese: the Lingua Franca of Nagaland, 2007 (published by Christian Education Ministry, Sugar Mill, 5th Mile, Dimapur- 7977112, Nagaland
    You can buy this book by writing a letter to him.
    Also take a look at

    http://www.ciil-grammars.org/naga/index.asp

    For this you need to sign up here
    All the best !

  8. It’s good. But I want more to learn Nagamese. Could u suggest me where i can learn more, means website. And I also want to listen Nagamese songs as well.

    Thank You!

  9. In nagamese they use to say jabolah,koribolah,etcwhich ends in lah could you please tell me in what tense or expression do they use these sentenses.

  10. Wonder why none of the nagas didnt comment???
    anyhow i learnt a few words of nagamese,and abhishek can i learn nagamese by learning assamese???

  11. @Jonathan, Jabowolah (u spelt it wrong) means “might go” and Koribowolah means “might do”.. so its basically future tense.. An example: Apuni b jabowolah? translated in english will be “U might go too?” or “Are you going too?”

  12. Hi, i did a lot of researches before finding your blog which helped a lot to learn few Nagamese words. Thank you very much Abhishek for your great support. I’m french and just got back from Nagaland after wonderful and memorable weeks of discovery. Still want to learn more about languages …. i’ll follow your advice for that. Best continuation, i’ll visit again soon
    Best wishes :)

  13. @Dee
    I have as much knowledge of Nagamese as you have!
    The better person to ask would be a person belonging to Nagaland
    Whatever I have written here is from asking Native Nagamese Speakers or from Books
    I understand your need but I am unable to Help

  14. Wow! It’s amazing. It is quite helpful for me. You’ve done a great job. May God bless you!

  15. great work!! need your help in few words ……….
    1:- welcome
    2:- please come
    3:- land of beauty and devotion
    thank you.

  16. HEY ABHISHEK THANK U SO MUCH…NOW I CAN LEARN NAGAMESE AND TALK NICELY WITH MY GF…..THANKS ONCE AGAIN…..YPU ROCK…

  17. @A Anuja
    Axone is a fermented Soy dish mostly used by Sema people but also used by many in Nagaland as a seasoning to Pork curry..:-)
    Sukha…means ‘dry’ and it can also refer to dry tobacco..

  18. @ Tejaswini
    Nagamese is a developing language. So one cannot expect phrases like ” land of beauty and devotion” to exist in it.
    Please come would be ” ahibi”
    Welcome will be “welkom”

  19. Abhishek sukhmas is not dry meat it is DRY fish

    Missed You alot would be something Like

    Tumike ekdom miss korise de….

    My words “Nagaland Tumi ke ekdom miss kuri ase de, tumi laga bisi remember kuri ase moi” India laga sobse bhal jaga to nagaland ase

  20. @ Keshob…thanks for the correction..I realized it few days back but was lazy to update..
    Soon I will be coming up with many useful phrases..
    Thanks again for visiting and commenting

  21. Abhishek jee,
    I was born and bought up in Dimapur Nagaland.
    I grew up learning
    Nagamese: The lingua Franca,
    Nepali: The Mother Tongue,
    English; the medium of instruction,
    Hindi: the language spoken in Doordarshan. DD1 and DD2.
    So all this languages are Dear to me.

    Nagaland ekdum bhal jaga ase, tate thaka manu khan bhi bhal ase de, ami ke ekdum morom kore.

    Abhishek ke ekdum dhonyobad dibo. Apuni nagaland language ke spread kuribole modod kuriase. bisi bhal kaam kuri ase de.
    Keep it up

    Thank you de

  22. Need urgent Nagamese translation for a script :

    Agri Production

    1. A new Dawn of Prosperity

    2. Ushering in Food Security

    3. RICE
    103.41 mmt
    2011-2012

    A Maiden Century of Production of Rice

    4. WHEAT
    90.23 mmt
    2011- 2012

    An All Time High Production
    of Wheat

    5. Phenomenal rise in production
    in last three years

    Based on 3rd Advance Estimate

    6.The Nation Salutes its Farmers

    ___

    You can reply in points given, your help is much appreciated!

    Thank You,

  23. Pingback: Naga phrases | Myactorstore

  24. Hi,

    Thankyou for your great help!!
    Im going to get married with a nagamese guy
    and these phrases will help me a lot.
    But still i want to learn more before my marriage.

    Can somebody tel me the meaning of “oi buri dekhan cho bhane ko khoi”

  25. Hi! I do not understand any Indian language. I was hoping you could help me decipher a text my friend sent me in his native tongue some months ago. He wouldn’t translate it for me, & all I ever found on my own was ‘apooni’, which means ‘you’. Much later, I learned that the text is in Nagamese, but by then, I was already too exhausted to search for what it meant.

    I’m still regularly in touch with him, but we never talked about it again. I figured it might just have been a gibberish prank intended to keep me curious. But for some reason, I remembered it today, & came across this site. I found some words through it as possible translations, although the spelling slightly varied.

    “aji apooni beishi kooshi paishe tee

    to kinika apooni ki kuobo na”

    I would really appreciate it if you could enlighten me on what he was trying to tell me (but which, at the same time, he didn’t want me to comprehend).

    Thank you very much!

  26. @ Maria
    Thanks for visiting!
    I guess that text means
    ‘Today you have got a lot of happiness, but wont you talk/tell about it?

  27. Wow! I guess my friend was just really playing with my mind. He gave me the impression that it was a “super secret plan” back then. But since he’s grown to become my most trusted friend & confidant, that plan must haveworked after all. Hahahaha.

    Thanks again, Abhishek!

  28. Pingback: What is the Nagamese Creole language? | All I Know is That I know Nothing.com

  29. Really surprised to find it, but well it is interesting! Glad to know someone is helping out! Bhal laki se!

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