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ABORIGINES OF THE EASTERN FRONTIER.
In continuation of my papers already submitted to the Society having in view to exhibit summarily the affinities of all the aborigines of India, I now submit vocabularies, uniform with their precursors, of the written and spoken Burman, the Singpho, the Nágá in three dialects, the Abor and the Miri tongues.
For this series I am indebted to the Rev. N. Brown, of Sibságor, who, in forwarding it to me, favoured me with the following remarks
“These specimens appear fully to establish the fact that the Burman, Singpho, Nágá, and Abor languages are very close relatives, and ought not to be separated into different families, as they sometimes have been. The Burman and Singpho, it is true, have been regarded as nearly related; but I am not aware of its ever having been supposed that the Nágá or Abor were closely related to the Burman, or that there was any very intimate connection between the two. The Nága tribes are very numerous, and every village appears to have its own dialect.
“I have not inserted the Khámti or Shyán, because I am not convinced that there is any very close radical connection between either and the Burmese. This affinity seems always to have been taken for granted as a matter of course, but without any just ground. It is true there are a considerable number of Burman words in the Khámti, but they bear the marks of recent introduction, and are not to be found in the old Ahóm, the parent Shyán, nor in the Siamese, with which the Ahóm was nearly, if not exactly, identical. I have inserted the Burmese as written, together with the spoken form. The Mags of Arakán, it is said, pronounce it as it is written, and not like the Burmese. It appears to resemble the Tibetan considerably. The first column of Abor Miri I have collected from a vocabulary published a year or two ago by Captain E. F. Smith (of the Bengal Native Infantry), commanding at Sadiya; the last column I got from a Miri residing at this place.
“In Burman I have used th to express the sound of th in think. Also a stroke under the initial letter of a syllable to denote the falling tone, and a dot under the final vowel to denote the short, abrupt tone. The Singpho and Namsang Nígí are taken from a vocabulary published several years ago by the Rev. M. Bronson, and may be depended on as correct. The other two Nágá dialects are given by two men from villages near Nowgong—the only Nágás I can find in the station just now; and as they do not understand Asamese very well, I may have introduced some errors from them. At all events, the words are evidently encumbered with affixes and prefixes that do not properly belong here.
I have not, however, ventured to remove any of them, as you will be better able to do this. I am inclined to think that the radical forms in all these languages are monosyllabic, as the Burmese unquestionably is. The verbs, &c., would probably show a much greater resemblance if we had all the terms for each idea, as there will generally be many verbs nearly synonymous ; consequently the lists do not always exhibit the corresponding forms, thus creating an apparent difference when there is none in reality.”
As it is not my purpose to anticipate the results of the present inquiry, I will add nothing on this occasion to the above obliging and sensible remarks of Mr. Brown.
Capt. Smith's Abor-Miri.
ekum yagurah yogir
Capt. Smith's Abor-Miri.