« PreviousContinue »
ABORIGINES OF THE NORTH-EAST FRONTIER.
DARJILING, September 16th, 1850. To the Secretary of the Asiatic Society.
SIR,— I have the honour to enclose another series of Vocabularies obtained for me by the Rev. N. Brown of Sibságor, in furtherance of my plan of exhibiting to the Society a sample of the lingual affinities of all the Aborigines of India on an uniform plan. The present series comprises four dialects of the Nágá tongue,—the Chútia, the Ahóm, the Khámti, the Laos, -and the Siamese. My valuable correspondent Mr. Brown has favoured me with the following remarks on the present occasion :
“ The first four columns of the table complete the variations, priorly given, of the strangely corrupted Nágá language. This tongue affords an extraordinary exemplification of the manner in which an unwritten language may be broken up even upon a small extent of territory. On the other hand, in the great Tái family we have a not less striking instance of the preservation of a language in almost its original integrity and purity through many centuries, and in despite of a vast territorial diffusion; for, from Bankók to Sadiyá, along the Meinám, Salwén, Irawadi, and Kyendwen rivers, up to the sources of the Irawadi, through fourteen degrees of latitude, there is but one language, notwithstanding the diversity of governments under which the speakers of it live.
“The Míthan and Tablúng Nágás (see table) reside on the hills east and north of Sibságor. The Kháris descend upon the plains near Jórhát. They are much superior to the other Nágás. The Jabokas and Banferas are the neighbours of the Mítháns, with nearly similar tongues. The Angámis occupy the southern end of the Nágá country. The Chútia is the language of one of the old tribes of Assam, now nearly extinct. The Ahóm also is nearly extinct as a spoken tongue. The present Ahóms of Assam, descendants of the conquerors, still form one of the largest portions of its population. But their language, as well as their religion, has been relinquished for those of the Hindus. Their ancient creed had little resemblance to Buddhism or to Bráhmanism. The Khámtis retain their tongue, but have lost their creed. They have accepted Buddhism from the Burinas, from whom they have likewise borrowed many new words.
“ In answer to your queries I can but say, at present, that I highly appreciate the importance of a standard for the IndoChinese tongues; but which language has the best claim to be constituted such I do not know. I should be inclined, however, to assume the Burmese, which is at least half-brother to the Tibetan. This would bring the Tibetan, the Lhópá or Bhútánese, the Burmese, the Singhpho, the Nágá, &c., into a kind of family union. The Siamese Shyán, or, as the people themselves call it, the Tái, cannot be brought into the same category. It has little or no affinity with the neighbouring dialects, and may represent another whole class of languages not yet ascertained. It is probably allied to the Chinese, and is in importance not inferior to the Burmese."
chá Thirty Forty
sang song song dugdá
sip sau sau
sám sip sám sip
tsang, ngai leng
sang manai maphók phuk dupuroni
phe, thai | ní hobong
thai tinai picho
kalu kumo lep
lum klang bnjüni
khauju tinnü nsain jau, sai kai
tau wai kawang opang