Official language in
|Regulated by||Language Academy|
The Aiton language or Tai Aiton language is spoken in Assam, India (in the Dhonsiri Valley and the south bank of the Brahmaputra). It is currently classified as a threatened language, with less than two thousand speakers worldwide. Its other names include Antonia and Sham Doaniya.
The Aiton language is a part of the Southwestern branch of the Tai family of languages. There are three other actively spoken languages in this branch: Khamti, Phake, and Khamyang.
The Tai languages in Assam share many grammatical similarities, a writing system, and much of their vocabulary. The most prominent differences between the languages are their tonal systems.
According to the oral and written records of the Aiton people, they originated from a place named Khao-Khao Mao-Lung, a Burmese state near the Chinese border. It is generally believed that they came to India about two or three hundred years ago, seeking refuge from oppression. Despite how long they have been in Assam, many members of the older generations are not fluent in Assamese, the official language of the state.
Aiton is spoken predominantly in India, in the northeastern state of Assam.
According to Morey (2005), Aiton is spoken in the following villages:
|Tai name||Translation of Tai name||Assamese/English name||District|
|baan3 nam3 thum3||Flood village (บ้านน้ำท่วม)||Duburoni||Golaghat|
|baan3 sum3||Sour village (บ้านส้ม)||Tengani||Golaghat|
|baan3 hui1 luŋ1||Big fruit village||Borhola||Golaghat|
|baan3 hin1||Stone village (บ้านหิน)||Ahomani||Karbi Anglong|
|baan3 luŋ1||Big village (บ้านหลวง)||Bargaon||Karbi Anglong|
|baan3 nɔi2/dɔi2||Hill village (บ้านดอย)||Sukhihola||Karbi Anglong|
|baan3 saai2||Sand village (บ้านทราย)||Kalyoni||Karbi Anglong|
|baan3 saai2||Sand village (บ้านทราย)||Balipathar||Karbi Anglong|
|baan3 saai2||Sand village (บ้านทราย)||Jonapathar||Lohit|
Buragohain (1998) reports a total of 260 Aiton households, comprising a total population of 2,155.
|Village||District||Year founded||No. of houses||Population|
|Kaliyani||Karbi Anglong||Man era 1239||15||154|
Morey reports the following initial consonants:
Aiton, like some other Tai languages, have a "minimal three-way contrast in voicing". It also only allows vowels to be voiced stops when they are in bilabial and dental/alveolar places of articulation. According to Morey, "[m] and [n] are variants for /b/ and /d/, respectively". Aiton, has voiced /r, l, w, j/ and four voiced nasals in its sound inventory. It does not have voiceless sonorants.
Aiton has the following final consonants:
-[w] occurs after front vowels and [a]-, -[j] occurs after back vowels and [a]-.
Aiton today uses three tones, however it originally used five but two have merged with other tones. The first tone still used today is 'mid/high level', the second tone is 'high level then falling' and the third is 'mid falling'. Originally the fourth tone, 'mid rising', has merged with the first tone. The fifth tone, 'mid falling glottalised', has merged with the third tone.
Aiton has a vowel system of only seven vowels, /i, ɯ, u, ɛ, ɔ, a, aa/, which is the smallest out of all the Tai languages spoken in Assam. From these seven vowels, Aiton allows only nine possible sequences.
The following set of pronouns are the pronouns found in the Aiton language:
Note: the form /-an2/ is a post-clitic form that approaches a definite article in function and may be attached to pronouns and even verbs.
|/nan2/, /han2/||That, there|
The most common classifiers are kɔ1 for persons, tu1/to1 for animals and ʔan for inanimate objects.
The Tai Aiton have their own writing system called 'Lik-Tai', which they share with the Khamti people and Tai Phake people. It closely resembles the Northern Shan script of Myanmar, which is a variant of the Burmese script, with some of the letters taking divergent shapes.
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