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Written  by A. Avtans
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Angami (known as Angami Naga in linguistics fraternity) is a language spoken by around 132,225 people (2001 Census) primarily in the enchanting Naga Hills of Kohima district of Nagaland state of India. Angami belongs to the Angami-pochuri sub-branch of Tibeto-Burman family of languages. Though Angami has several varieties, principal varieties are Kohima, Khonoma and Chokri (though it has acquired an independent status over time). Kohima variety is the standard language (popularly known as common language among Angamis) which is used in published religious and academic texts. This common language is known as Tenyidie in Angami.

Earliest writings on Angami language dates back to the days of British in India. Captain J. Butter published his ‘Rough notes on the Angami Nagas and their Language’ in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal (Vol.44 Part 1) in 1875. Later R.B. McCabe wrote his ‘Outline Grammar of the Angami Naga Language’ in the year 1887 basing his analysis on Khonoma, Mozema and Jotsoma varieties. Some other works includes the likes of Rivenburg (1905), Grierson (1903), Supplee (1930), Haralu (1933) and several significant works by American Baptist Foreign Missionary Society in the early 20th century.

R. Sekhose, probably the first native Angami to write on the language, says –

‘Angami language is a very peculiar language. A word may mean many different things, which can only be distinguished by High and low tones’ (Angami Dictionary with English Equivalent words, 1984). Sekhose has also published significant works such as Angami Idiomatic Expressions (1967) and Angami Naga Folklore (1970).

Angami is written using Roman script together with the conventions adopted by the Angami Language Committee in the year 1939. Tone is not marked in the orthography of Angami.

A brief summary of the linguistic research done on Angami can be cited as follows (in chronological order):

·

Capt. J Butler: Rough notes on the Angami Nagas and their language, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol. 44 Part 1, 1875.

R.B. McCabe: Outline Grammar of the Angami Naga Language (with vocabulary and illustrative sentences), Calcutta, 1887.

S.W. Rivenburg: Phrases in English and Angami Naga, Kohima, 1905.

George Abraham Grierson: Linguistic Survey of India, Vol.3 Part 2, Calcutta, 1903.

J.E.T.: A Primer of Angami Naga, Kohima, 1915

J.H. Hutton: The Angami Nagas, London, 1921.

Angami Leshü Keriau, American Baptist Foreign Missionary Society, Kohima, 1923.

G.W. Supplee: Kephrüda Keriau – First Reader in Angami Naga, Kohima, 1930.

Hisale Pienünuo: The First Gate into Angami and English, Kohima, 1931.

Haralu: Angami-English Dictionary Part 1, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol.29, 1933.

Robin Burlings: Angami Naga Phonemics and Word List, Indian Linguistics, Vol. 21, 1960.

G.E. Marrison: The Classification of the Naga Languages of North-East India, Vols 1 & 2, London, 1967.

R. Sekhose Angami: Angami Idiomatic Expressions, Kohima, 1967

R. Sekhose Angami: Angami Naga Folklore, Kohima, 1970

Angami Vyakaran (in Hindi), Nagaland Bhasha Parishad, Kohima, 1970

R. Sekhose Angami: Angami Naga Word Divisions and Spelling, Kohima, 1973

N. Ravindran: Angami Phonetic Reader, CIIL, Mysore, 1974.

R. Sekhose Angami: Angami Dictionary with English Equivalent words, Kohima, 1984.

P.P. Giridhar: Angami Grammar, CIIL, Mysore, 1980.

P.P. Giridhar: Angami-English Dictionary, CIIL, Mysore, 1987.

Ram Kripal Kumar: Hindi-Angami Dwibhashi Kosh (in Hindi), CIH, Agra, 2006.

Angami is not only spoken and understood by Angami people but also by Chakhesang, Zeliang, Pochuri and Rengama people who live in Kohima district. Today Angami Naga is offered as a subject in Nagaland University, Kohima up to the level of Ph.D. Ura Academy is the institution established for the development and propagation of Angami language and is situated in Kohima, Nagaland.

Angami Alphabet Chart:

Angami Alphabet

Phonemic Value

Angami Alphabet

Phonemic Value

Angami Alphabet

Phonemic Value

Angami Alphabet

Phonemic Value

Angami Alphabet

Phonemic Value

ü

ǝ

o

o

ny

ny

b

b

f

f

üi

ǝi

ou

ou

t

t

m

m

v

v

a

a

k

k

th

th

pf

pf

w

w

ai

ai

kh

kh

d

d

bv

bv

wh

wh

i

i

g

g

n

n

y

y

s

s

ie

ie

ng

ng

ts

ts

yh

yh

sh

sh

u

u

c

c

tsh

tsh

r

r

z

z

uo

uo

ch

ch

dz

dz

rh

rh

zh

zh

e

e

j

j

p

p

l

l

h

h

ei

ei

jh

jh

ph

ph

lh

lh

Angami is a sweet language to ears (even though I cannot understand much of it). Especially all the the “Uu”(Exclamation when you see an acquaintance) and ” Hoe” (Yes) expressions. Still you will not regret learning bits and pieces of this quite beautiful and fascinating language of equally endowed and very warm hearted people who live in Naga Hills.

To be continued (I am trying to learn more).

Photo Courtsy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dagmaraka/

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