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Barman Thar
Barman Thar
Pronunciation/bɔɾmɔn thaɾ/
Native toArunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland
RegionNortheast India, Kamarupa
EthnicityBarman Kacharis
Native speakers
24,000 (2017)[1]
Assamese alphabet (presently used)
Sylheti Nagri (formerly used)
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Barman Thar (IPA: /bɔɾmɔn thaɾ/), where “thar” means language, is a highly endangered language. It is a Tibeto-Burman language that belongs to the Boro–Garo sub-group. The population of the Barman Kachari community is 24,237, according to a 2017 census. However, only a small part of this population speaks the language.[1]

History

Main article: Barman Kacharis

The Barman Kacharis are an indigenous Assamese community of Northeast India and are a subsection of the Dimasa people.[2] They are mainly found in the districts of Lower Assam and in Barak Valley like Hailakandi and Karimganj and some parts of Arunachal Pradesh. Barman Kachari is one of the ancient ethnic groups of North-East India. Since the 2002 Amendment act, many Barman Kacharis in Assam are referred to as 'Barman'. They are mainly found in the districts of Udalguri, Baksa, Chirang, Kokrajhar, Darrang, Kamrup, Goalpara, Nagaon, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Cachar and Barpeta. Barmans are called Kacharis because of their Kachari origin. They are spread diffusely, in Assam and in places such as Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland.

Barman Kachari villages are scattered over the state of Meghalaya, like the Garo Hills and Khasi Hills, and also in Tripura. Prior to Indian independence, several Barman Kachari settlements existed in the Mymensingh and Sylhet districts of present-day Bangladesh. Partition of the country had resulted in the migration of these people to then undivided Assam.

In 1708, during the reign of Tamradhaj, Kachari people adopted Hindu customs. By 1825, in the days of Govinda Chandra, the Kachari king, along with some noble families, had to flee Khaspur, migrating to Mymensingh and Sylhet. This was due to the invasions from Manipur and Konbaung rulers. In 1826, the Kachari king returned to his homeland after signing the Treaty of Yandaboo with the British, though the treaty stipulated that Assam be placed under British rule. The Kachari King Govinda Chandra died in 1830.

Demographics

The Barman Kacharis of Assam are classified as a Scheduled Tribe (Plains) in the valley of Barak (however, the Barman Kacharis of Brahmaputra Valley remain unscheduled till date). The Barman Kacharis number some 24,237 persons, according to a 2017 census. Out of this number, 12,555 are males and 11,503 are females. Their literacy rate is estimated at 4 percent. The level of literacy of males and females is 2.5% and 1.5%, respectively.[1]

Documentation

The script of Barman Thar

The language of the Barman Kacharis had never been documented until 2019 when M.A. students in Linguistics and Language Technology (Batch 2018-2020) of Tezpur University carried out field work for the first time on this language.[1]

Phonology

The Barman Thar phonemic inventory consists of eight vowels, nine diphthongs, and twenty consonants (including two semivowels).[1]

Consonants

In Barman Thar, there are twenty consonants.

Bilabial Labio-velar Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive p b t d c k ɡ
Aspirated Plosive ph th kh
Nasal m n ŋ
Flap ɾ
Fricative s z h
Approximant w j
Lateral Approximant l

It is to be noted that and z have idiolectal variations. They are, by some people, sometimes pronounced as ɸ and d͡z respectively. For example, the word pʰa (meaning “father”) is sometimes pronounced as ɸa and nɐmza (meaning “bad”) is sometimes pronounced as nɐmd͡za.

Gemination

Gemination, which is the twinning of two consonants, is also found in the Barman language.

Phonemes Example (Barman) English Gloss
p+p tʰɐppɐɾa “ash”
t+tʰ mɐttʰai “big”
d+d ɡɛddɛl “new”
c+c bicci “egg”
k+k nukkuruŋ “eye”
k+kʰ bɛkkʰuma “dull”
m+m dummua “fever”
n+n cunna “cloth”
l+l mulluk “earth”

Consonant Clusters

In the study of Barman Thar, carried out by the students of Tezpur University, they found only one word, i.e. bɾui, with a consonant cluster. It is a cluster of two consonants, b and ɾ. And they found no final cluster in any word.

Vowels

In Barman Thar, there are eight vowels and nine diphthongs.

Monophthongs

Front Central Back
High i u
Close-mid e o
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Near-open ɐ
Open a

Diphthongs

i u a
i ia
o oi ou
ɐ ɐi
e ei
u ui ua
a ai au

Morphology and Grammar

Case:[1]

Case Marker Examples
1. (a) Nominative

(b) Ergative

(a) ∅

(b) a

(a)       ɾam hibaja

           ɾam-∅               hiba-ja

           Ram-NOM       come-PST

           “Ram has come.”

(b)       ɾama thɛkasu caja

           ɾam-a                thɛkasu              ca-ja

           Ram-ERG         mango              eat-PST

           “Ram has eaten a mango.”

2. Accusative ɾamkɔɾiɡɐm

ɾamkɔ               ɾiɡɐm

Ram-ACC        call

“Call Ram.”

3. (a) Instrumental

(b) Comitative

ca

nɛ nɔɡɛ

(a)        owa khɐttaica thɛkasu-kɔ dɛnnaja

           owa      khɐttai-ca          thɛkasu-kɔ        dɛn-naja

           3SG      knife-INS          mango              cut-PST

           “S/he has cut (the) mango

(b)        ɐŋa ɔmɾitnɛ nɔɡɛ hiŋgɐn

           ɐŋa       ɔmɾit-nɛ            nɔɡɛ     hiŋ-gɐn

           1SG      Amrit-GEN       INS      go-FUT

           “I will go with Amrit.”

Genitive ɔmɾitnɛ nɔk

ɔmɾit-nɛ                        nɔk

Amrit-GEN       house

“Amrit's house”

Locative ou ɐŋa tɛzpuɾou dɔŋa

ɐŋa       tɛzpuɾ-ou          dɔŋ-a

1SG      Tezpur-LOC     be-PRS

“I am in Tezpur.”

6. (a) Intentive Dative

(b) Destinational Dative

nɛ nɛɡa

ca

(a)        ɔmɾitnɛ nɛɡa

           ɔmɾit-nɛ                        nɛɡa

           Amrit-GEN       DAT

            “… for Amrit.”

(b)        tɛzpuɾca

           tɛzpuɾ-ca

           Tezpur-DAT

            “… to Tezpur.”

7. Ablative nɛ tukki tɛzpuɾnɛ tukki

tɛzpuɾ-nɛ           tukki

Tezpur-GEN     ABL

“… from Tezpur.”

Tense and Aspect

Three of the tenses are morphologically marked in Barman Thar.

Present:            owa hiŋa

owa      hiŋ-a

3SG      go-PRS

“S/he goes.”

Past: owa caja

owa      ca-ja

3SG      eat-PST

“S/he ate.”

Future: owa ɾiŋɡɐn

owa      ɾiŋ-ɡɐn

3SG      drink-FUT

“S/he will drink.”

In Barman Thar, the present tense is marked with the suffix “-a”, the past tense, with “-ja” and the future tense, with “-ɡɐn”. And the following are the four aspects:

Present Perfect: owa hibadɔ

owa      hiba-dɔ

3SG      come-PRS.PRF

“S/he has come.”

Present Continuous: owa hiŋa

owa      hiŋ-dɔŋ

3SG      go-PRS.PROG

“S/he is going.”

Past Perfect: owa caniŋ

owa      ca-niŋ

3SG      eat-PST.PRF

“S/he had eaten.”

Future Continuous: owa ɾiŋdɔŋɡɐn

owa      ɾiŋ-dɔŋ-ɡɐn

3SG      drink-PROG-FUT

“S/he will be drinking.”

Pronouns

Number Person Pronoun
Singular 1st ɐŋa
2nd nɐŋ
2nd (honorific) nɐtɐŋ
3rd owa
3rd (honorific) otɐŋ
Plural 1st ciŋa
2nd nɐtɐŋ
2nd (honorific) nɐŋɐtɐŋ
3rd otɐŋ

Negation

In Barman Thar, verbs are negated by suffixing “-za” and “-zia” for present and past tense respectively.

For example, the root word for the verb “eat” in Barman Thar is “ca”. The negative form of the word in the present tense is caza (ca+za), meaning “do/does not eat” and that in the past tense is cazia (ca+zia), meaning “did not eat”.

Again, in case of imperative sentences, the suffix -nɔŋ is use.

For example, mei canɔŋ means “Don't eat rice.” [mei means “rice”, and canɔŋ is bi-morphemic, formed by the root word for “eat”, i.e. ca, and the imperative negative marker -nɔŋ.]

Classifiers

In Barman Thar, there is one classifier, i.e. -ja.

doisaja sijai hiŋaja

doisa-ja            sija-i                 hiŋ-(a)ja

boy-CL             die-PFV            go-PST

“The boy died.”

Allomorphs

Another feature of this language that needs to be mentioned is the presence of allomorphs.

Allomorphs of the past tense marker:

-ja is the past tense marker. But when this morpheme is suffixed to a verb ending in [m], it becomes -maja. For example, cum + -ja = cummaja. When it is suffixed to a verb ending in [n], it becomes -naja as in dɛn + -ja = dɛnnaja. When it is affixed to a verb ending in [ŋ], it becomes -aja, as in hiŋaja (hiŋ + -ja).

Therefore, it can be said that -maja, -naja and -aja are allomorphs of the morpheme -ja.

Allomorphs of the ergative case marker:

-a is the ergative case marker in Barman Thar. However, when it is affixed to a noun ending in a vowel, it becomes -ja. For example, sita + -ja = sitaja.

So, -ja is an allomorph of the ergative case marker -a.

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f A brief linguistic sketch of the Barman Thar (Language). Tezpur University.
  2. ^ Tiwari; Sarma (2013). "A historical and etymological study of the Dimasa Kacharis of Dima Hasao District, Assam, India". The Clarion. 2–2: 144. ISSN 2277-1697. S2CID 55429765.

Bibliography

  • DeLancey, Scott (2012). Hyslop, Gwendolyn; Morey, Stephen; w. Post, Mark (eds.). "On the Origin of Bodo-Garo". Northeast Indian Linguistics. 4: 3–20. doi:10.1017/UPO9789382264521.003. ISBN 9789382264521.
  • Joseph, U.V., and Burling, Robbins. 2006. Comparative phonology of the Boro Garo languages. Mysore: Central Institute of Indian Languages Publication.
  • Burling, Robbins (2003). "The Tibeto-Burman languages of northeast India". In Thurgood, Graham; LaPolla, Randy J. (eds.). The Sino-Tibetan languages. London: Routledge. pp. 169–191. ISBN 978-0-7007-1129-1.
  • van Driem, George (2001). Languages of the Himalayas: An Ethnolinguistic Handbook of the Greater Himalayan Region. BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-12062-4.
  • Wood, Daniel Cody (2008). An Initial Reconstruction of Proto-Boro-Garo (MA thesis). University of Oregon. hdl:1794/9485.