Kamrupi dialects
Native toIndia
RegionKamrup region
EthnicityKamrupi people
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Kamrupi dialects are a group of regional dialects of Assamese,[2] spoken in the Kamrup region. It formerly enjoyed prestige status.[3] It is one of two western dialect groups of the Assamese language, the other being Goalpariya.[4] Kamrupi is heterogeneous with three subdialectsBarpetia dialect, Nalbariya dialect and Palasbaria dialect.[5]

In medieval times, Kamrupi was used in the Brahmaputra Valley and its adjoining areas for literary purposes in parallel with Sanskrit, both for prose and poetry. This went against the practices of literary figures of mid India like Vidyapati who used Sanskrit for prose and Maithili for poetry.[6] In more recent times, the South Kamrupi dialect has been used in the works of author Indira Goswami. Poet and nationalist Ambikagiri Raichoudhury also used Kamrupi in his works to great extent.[7] In 2018, the Kamrupi film Village Rockstars became the first from the region to be selected for India's official entry to the 91st Academy Awards.[8]



Front Central Back
IPA ROM Script IPA ROM Script IPA ROM Script
Close i i ই/ঈ u u উ/ঊ
Near-close ʊ ú
Close-mid e é এ’
Open-mid ɛ e ɔ o
Open a a

The Kamrupi dialects have seven phonemes in contrast to the eight in standard Assamese dialect. The phoneme that is missing in the Kamrupi dialects is the close-mid back rounded vowel /o/ (অ’). In the Kamrupi dialects, this vowel is replaced by another vowel, a diphthong or a different form.

Replaced by Early Assamese Standard Assamese Kamrupi
ɔ ভৈল bhoilo হ’ল /hol/ হল /hɔl/
হুইবে huibe হ’ব /ɦobɔ/ হবো /ɦɔbʊ/
a কলা kola ক’লা /kola/ কালা /kala/
u ব’ল /bol/ বুল /bul/
ɛ গৈল goilo গ’ল /ɡol/ গেল /ɡɛl/
ʊ কৈত, কহিত koito, kohito ক’ত /kot/ কোত /kʊt/
ওই ʊi ৰহিল, ৰহিলেক, ৰহিলা, ৰহিলন্ত rohilo, rohileko, rohila, rohilonto ৰ’ল, ৰ’লে /ɹol/, /ɹolɛ/ ৰোইল, ৰোইলাক /ɾʊil/, /ɾʊilak/


Similarities with Eastern Assamese

According to Upendranath Goswami, differences between Kamrupi and east Assamese is not insignificant, they ranged over whole field of phonology, morphology and vocabulary.[22]

Its unique features distinguishes it from Eastern Assamese, there may some commonalities—case endings, conjugational affixes, pronominal roots, derivatives and vocabulary—that underscore a fundamental unity,[23] nonetheless, Kamrupi dialect, with a long history of its own differs greatly from the eastern variety of Assamese.[24]

Dr. Nirmalendu Bhowmik, while discussing similarity of Kamrupi with Eastern Assamese, observes that despite some similarity in morphology, there is absolutely no similarity in terms of phonology, though both languages shares few common words.[25]

Comparison with other Eastern Indo-Aryan languages

Eastern Indo-Aryan languages share a common phonological structure.

Kamrupi Sylheti Standard Assamese Translation
Xi ghorot/ghorok gesi He Goro gese Xi Ghoroloi/Ghorot goise He has gone home.
Tai Ghorot gesi Tai Goro gese Tai Ghoroloi/Ghorot goise She has gone home.
Eta Kamot aihlu/aisu Exta xamo aisi Eta Kamot Ahilû/Ahisû I have come for some work.
Deksa na? Dexso ni? Dekhisa ne? Have you seen it?
Zaba na tumi? Zaibay ni tumi? Zaba ne tumi? Will you leave?


There is differences in vocables of Kamrupi and Eastern Assamese, such that even common objects are denoted by different words. In eastern variety there are no generic terms to such English words like brothers and sisters, Kamrupi do have, such as bhak and bainak. Kamrupi also uses /soli/ for both boys and girls collectively for children, East Assamese lacks such forms.[26]

Kamrupi Sylheti Standard Assamese Translation
Khüam Xauaimu Khüam I will Feed (Someone)
Kumra Kumṛa Kümüra Gourd
Mekur/Meukri Mekur/Bilai Mekuri Cat
Hosa Hasa Xosa/Hosa Truth
Dhól Ḍul Dhül Drum
Nun Nun Lün Salt
Sana Aulad/Sao/Hurutayn Püali/Sona Offspring
Dima Ḍim/Enḍa/Boida Koni/Dim Egg
-gila/-gilak -guin -bilak Plural suffix
Pani[27] Fani Pani Water
Taka, Toka Texá Toka Money
Bazar Bazár Bozar Market
Souk, Tiniali/Sairali Souk Tiniali/Sariali Town square
Manhu Manu/Manuš/Mainš Manuh People

Old Indo-Aryan words

Kamrupi retained many Old Indo-Aryan words.

Kamrupi East Assamese Sylheti O.I.A Translation
Theng Theng Teng Tanga Leg
Pek Büka Fex Panka Mud
Phen Phen Fen/Fena Phena Foam
Bor Bor Damand/Boʊr Vara Bridegroom
Bari Bari Után/Barí/Barígòr Vatika Enclosed ground with plantation
Soli (Löra-süali) Sabal/Sao Challi Offspring
Boni Bhoni Boni/Boin Bhagini Sister
Dima Dim Dim Dimba Egg
Kake Kakoi Xaxoi Kanikattika Comb
Niar Nior Nior Nihara Fog
Kurma (Mitir) (Kutum)/Gushti Kutumbaka Relative

Definition of the region

Main article: Kamrup region

Kamrupi dialect speaking region in Assam
Kamrupi dialect speaking region in Assam

The Kamrup between Manas and Barnadi rivers,[28] where Kamrupi is spoken, formed the capital area of two of three dynasties of the ancient Kamarupa kingdom (4th–12th century), with Pragjyotishpura (Guwahati)[29] and Durjaya (North Guwahati).[30] Kingdom existed as parallel to Davaka of central Assam.[31] Absorption of Davaka by Kamrup marks eastward expansion of latter,[32] which ultimately covered area from the Karatoya in the west to the temple of Dikkaravasini at Sadiya in the east, Bhutan in north and Northern Bangladesh in south.[33][34]


Mughals established four sarkars (administrative units): Bangalbhum, Dhekeri, Dakkhinkul and Kamrup; placing Kamrup in "Sarkar Kamrup".[35] The Kamrupi is currently prevalent in Mughal Sarkar of Kamrup.[36] In late medieval times, Kamrupi literary style passed to eastern Assam.[37] The examples of medieval Assamese or middle Kamrupi are obtained from the 14th century from North Bengal, Western Assam and fewer in central Assam, and this was followed by a deluge of literary activity in the 16th century that accompanied the growth of Srimanta Sankardeva's Vaishnavite movement. The literary activities occurred throughout Assam and North Bengal, and influence of Kamrupi remain strong throughout.

Some features of Early and Middle Assamese which are still present in some dialects of Kamrupi Assamese and Central Assamese but absent in current Eastern Assamese (in italics):


Kamrup passed to the British in 1824, and the colonial district, largely congruous to the Kamapitha and Mughal Sarkar became the Undivided Kamrup district in the post-colonial period. Form spoken in Eastern Assam, come to notice due to translation of Bible in 1838 by American Baptist Missions, as part of conversion process. British adopted Eastern Assamese as the standard official language in 1873, due to recommendations of Christian missionaries.[40][41] Whereas the Kamrupi was non-uniform, the eastern dialect was uniform over a large territory in eastern Assam.[42][43] Nevertheless, Kamrupi pandits like Shyamal Choudhury, Amrit Bhushan Adhikary and Kaliram Medhi objected the imposition of eastern Assamese as official language of entire valley, especially in Kamrup due to distinctness and antiquity of Kamrupi language.


Since the center of literary activity has moved back to Guwahati in Kamrup, the standard based on eastern dialects has started acquiring Kamrupi dialectal elements in recent decades. For example, the instrumental case is -di in Kamrupi (hatedi, "with hand") and -re in eastern Assamese (hatere),[44] and the Kamrupi form is increasingly common in the Standard.

These dialects are now spoken in the present districts of Kamrup Rural, western part of Kamrup Metropolitan, Nalbari, Barpeta, Darrang, and parts of Goalpara, Udalguri and Chirang. The name is derived from the colonial Kamrup district, from Kamarupa kingdom.[45][46]

Scholarly views

Magadhi Prakrit, keeping north of the Ganga river, gave rise to the Kamarupa Apabhramsa dialects of Assam and North Bengal. Suniti Kumar Chatterji divides Magadhan dialects regionwise as Radha, Varendra, Kamarupa[47] and Vanga[48][43][49]

Sukumar Sen referring to ancientness of Kamrupi, wrote, "Assamese, or more appropriately the old Kamarupi dialect entered into Kamrup or western Assam, where this speech was first characterized as Assamese."[50]

Upendranath Goswami wrote, "The Assamese language, coming from the west was first characterized in Kamrup or Western Assam whose boundary comprised in early times the whole of North-Bengal, including Cooch-Behar, Rangpur and Jalpaiguri districts of Bengal".[51]


The early examples of Kamrupi writings and literature are copper plate seals of Kamrupi kings, issued in different parts of eastern and Northern India and the Charyapada, which is a collection of 8th-12th century Vajrayana Buddhist caryagiti, or mystical poems. Being caryagiti (songs of realization), the Charyapada were intended to be sung. These songs of realization were spontaneously composed verses, that expressed a practitioner's experience of the enlightened state. A manuscript of this anthology was discovered in the early 20th century, by Hariprasad Shastri in Nepal. It provides the examples of the Kamrupi and other eastern Indo-Aryan languages.

The writers of the Charyapada, the Mahasiddhas or Siddhacharyas, belonged to the various regions of Kamrup (Assam), Gauda (Bengal), Kalinga (Orissa) and Mithila (Bihar). A Tibetan translation of the Charyapada was also preserved in the Tibetan Buddhist canon.[52]

The notable medieval Kamrupi literary figures are Rama Saraswati, Ananta Kandali, Sridhara Kandali, Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, Kalapachandra Dvija and Bhattadeva, the father of Assamese prose.[53] Hema Saraswati and Haribara Vipra are two other well known Kamrupi poets. Hema Saraswati composed the "Prahlad Charitra" based on the Vamana Purana, while Haribara Vipra translated the Aswamedha Parva of the Mahabharata. Kaviratna was the author of the "Jayadratha Vadha". His home was at Sila, a village within the Barpeta district. The writings of all these three poets are still extant. To a some what later period belonged Madhava Kandali and Rudra Kandali. The former versified portions of the Ramayana and the latter composed, in Kamrupi verse, portions of the Mahabharata.

Sankara Deva who was born in 1449 A.D., refers to Madhava Kandali as one of the reputed poets belonging to an earlier age. It may therefore place both Madhava Kandali and Rudra Kandali towards the end of the fourteenth century. In his Ramayana, Madhava Kandali himself states that his other name was Kaviraj-Kandali and that though he could easily compose verses in Sanskrit he composed the Ramayana in Assamese verse for the benefit of the people at large. Madhava Kandali wrote also another poem entitled "Devajit." Sixteenth century, witnessed a great development of the vernacular literature of Kamarupa. The Yogini Tantra, a well-known Sanskrit work which gives the boundaries of the kingdom of Kamarupa, as it existed during the rule of the Pala kings, probably written in Kamarupa during the first pact of the sixteenth century. To this period it must also assign the compilation of the Behula Upakhyana by Durgabar Kayastha, a native of Kamakhya.[54]

See also


  1. ^ a b Goswami 1970.
  2. ^ Kamrupi is defined as a dialect of Assamese in the title of the seminal work—Goswami 1970, A Study on Kamrupi: A dialect of Assamese
  3. ^ (Goswami 1970:4)
  4. ^ (Kakati 1941, p. 16)
  5. ^ Goswami 1970, p. 28: "The sub-dialectical varieties of Kamrupi may be grouped mainly into three divisions —western, central and southern. The variety spoken in the area comprising Barpeta, Sundardiya, Patbausi, Bhabani- pur etc. is western, that of Nalbari and its surrounding areas is central."
  6. ^ Medhi, Kaliram (1988). Assamese grammar and origin of the Assamese language. Prose had also been used by the Maithili poets, Vidyapati, Harsanatha and others,--in their dramas. But whereas the Maithili poets prose was in Sanskrit and their songs alone in Maithili Sankara Deva's prose and songs were both in Kamrupi.
  7. ^ Sahitya Akademi, Indian literature: Volume 30, 1987 Ambikagiri set a new trend in Assamese by his abundant use of Kamrupi language in his writings.
  8. ^ "'Village Rockstars, Film On Guitar-Playing Girl, Is India's Oscar Entry'". Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  9. ^ (Goswami 1970:3)
  10. ^ The Assam Academy Review - Issue 1. Assam Academy for Cultural Relations. p. 47.
  11. ^ "The word stress in the Kamrupi dialect is uniformly and dominantly initial as opposed to the penultimate stress of the standard colloquial." (Kakati 1941, pp. 16–17)
  12. ^ (Goswami 1970, p. 19)
  13. ^ "Assamese follows the pan Indian system of penultimate stress and bengali has an initial stress. Even in that respect Bengali differs from Kamrupi dialect which also has an initial stress." (Kakati 1941, p. 7)
  14. ^ "...the initial stress had the victory ultimately and by the end of the Middle Bengali period [c1500 CE, p132] it is very likely that it was active in west central Bengali and most Bengali dialects thus giving to modern Bengali their typical form (ODBL 282) (Southworth 2005, p. 141)
  15. ^ "In Western Assam perhaps in contact with some people speaking a language with a strong initial stress the penultimate stress of the primitive language got shifted to the initial syllable. In Eastern Assam the original penultimate stress persisted." (Kakati 1941, p. 84)
  16. ^ "In all these writers, the Assamese idiom seem to have been fully individualized...So is an anterior ā shortened before a following ā." (Kakati 1941, p. 12)
  17. ^ (Goswami 1970, p. 15)
  18. ^ Goswami 1970, p. 96: "In early Assamese we find such forms : dayaluka rama tumi bolaya sansare"
  19. ^ (Goswami 1970, p. 16)
  20. ^ a b (Kakati 1941, p. 17)
  21. ^ (Goswami 1970, pp. 20–21)
  22. ^ Goswami 1970, p. 9.
  23. ^ (Kakati 1941, p. 18)
  24. ^ Sen, Nigam, Sukumar, Ramesh (1975). Grammatical Sketches of Indian Languages with Comparative Vocabulary and Texts. Controller of Publications. p. 36. This Kamrupi dialect, with a long history of its own differs greatly from the eastern variety of Assamese.
  25. ^ Barmā, Sukhabilāsa (2004). Bhāwāiyā: Ethnomusicological Study. Global Vision Publishing House. p. 104. ISBN 8182200709.
  26. ^ Goswami 1970, p. xvii.
  27. ^ (Goswami 1970, p. 80)
  28. ^ Deba Brat Sharma (1995), Changing Cultural Mosaic of a Village in Assam, Page 10, an end the kingdom of Kamarupa and since then the area between the rivers the Manas on the west and the Barnadi on the east came to be known as Kamrup
  29. ^ T. Raatan (2006), History, Religion and Culture of North East India - Page 70 Known in the ancient lore as the kingdom of Pragjyotisha and Kamrupa, the capital having been Pragjyotishpura situated in or near Guwahati
  30. ^ Chandra Dhar Tripathi, Indian Institute of Advanced Study (2002), Aspects of the medieval history of Assam, Page 17 Ratnapala founded a new city called Sri Durjaya and shifted his capital there. It has been identified with the ruins at modern North Gauhati
  31. ^ Suresh Kant Sharma, Usha Sharma (2005), Discovery of North-East India: Geography, History, Culture, ..., Davaka (Nowgong) and Kamarupa as separate and submissive friendly kingdoms
  32. ^ Kanak Lal Barua (1966), Early history of Kāmarupa, Page 31 in the sixth or the seventh century this kingdom of Davaka was absorbed by Kamarupa
  33. ^ S. P. Sinha (2007), Lost Opportunities: 50 Years of Insurgency in the North-east Kamrup included the whole of Brahmaputra Valley, Bhutan, Rangpur district (Bangladesh), Cooch Behar, part of Mymensingh district of Bangladesh and Garo
  34. ^ ...the temple of the goddess Tameshwari (Dikkaravasini) is now located at modern Sadiya about 100 miles to the northeast of Sibsagar" (Sircar 1990, pp. 63–64).
  35. ^ (Gogoi 2002, p. 99) The Sarkar of Kamrup was between the Manas and the Barnadi rivers on the north bank, and was bounded in the east by the Asurar Ali
  36. ^ "Uttorkol or Dhenkiri north of the Brohmoputro, Dokhyinkul south of the same, Bangalbhumi west of the Brohmoputro, and Kamrup proper, called so as containing Gohati, the most ancient capital of the country." (Martin 1838, p. 417)
  37. ^ (Goswami 1970, p. 10)
  38. ^ Goswami, Upendranath (1978). An introduction to Assamese. Mani-Manik Prakash. p. 14. āke śuni lakśminārāyane ghilāk khedi āhil. baṅɡāle khāibāk napāi gaṛar bhitarate śukhāi mare...tāhnār mukhat; āhnār sange
  39. ^ Goswami, Upendranath (1978). An introduction to Assamese. Mani-Manik Prakash. p. 14. barphukane maharajat janova rup kari sihatar manuhak maharajar thaik anai...sidikir parā
  40. ^ Garg, Gaṅgā Rām (1992). Encyclopaedia of the Hindu world: Volume 3. With the publication of the translation of the Bible (1838) done by Nathan Brown of the American Baptist Mission Group, modern period of Assamese language began.
  41. ^ George, K. M. Modern Indian literature, an anthology: Volume 3. In the restoration of the language (Eastern Assamese), American Baptist missionaries played a very significant role.
  42. ^ (Goswami 1970, p. 11)
  43. ^ a b (Chatterji 1970, p. 140)
  44. ^ (Goswami 1970, p. 21)
  45. ^ Robert Montgomery Martin, Puraniya, Ronggopoor and Assam, 1838 The ancient Hindu territory of Kamrup, which extends east from the Korotoya, where it joined the kingdom of Motsyo, to Dikkorbasini.
  46. ^ Great Britain. India Office, The India list and India Office list, 1819 The earliest authentic traditions attest the existence of a Hindu kingdom of Kamrup, with its capital at Gauhati.
  47. ^ Suniti Kumar Chatterji (1926), The origin and development of the Bengali language, Volume 1 One would expect one and identical language to have been current in North Central Bengal (Pundra-vardhana) and North Bengal and West Assam (Kamarupa) in the 7th century, since these tracts, and other parts of Bengal, had almost the same speech
  48. ^ Bangladesh Itihas Samiti (1999), Sylhet: History and Heritage , Page 591 Suniti Kumar Chatterjee in his Origin and Development of Bangla Language (ODBL) divided the Bangla dialect into four groups in accordance with the name of the regions such as Rada, Pundra or Barindra, Banga and Kamrupi
  49. ^ Suniti Kumar Chatterji, The origin and development of the Bengali language, Volume 1 Eastern Magadhi Prakrita and Apabhramsa has four dialect groups (1) Radha-the language of West Bengal and Orissa (2) Varendra-dialect of North Central Bengal (3)Kamarupa-dialect of Northern Bengal and Assam and (4) Vanga-dialect of East Bengal.
  50. ^ Sukumar Sen, Grammatical sketches of Indian languages with comparative vocabulary and texts, Volume 1, 1975, P 31, Assamese, or more appropriately the old Kamarupi dialect entered into Kamrup or western Assam, where this speech was first characterized as Assamese.
  51. ^ Goswami 1970, p. 4.
  52. ^ (Goswami 1970) "They cannot furnish the grammatical structure of Kamrupl or Assamese for which we are to turn our attention to the songs of the Buddhist Siddhacaryas, known as Caryas, composed in between 8th to 12th centuries A.D.
  53. ^ (Goswami 1970:4)
  54. ^ Shashi, S. S. (1996). Encyclopaedia Indica: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh: Volume 100. Anmol Publications. ISBN 8170418593.


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  • Goswami, Upendranath (1957). O. I. A. sibilants in Kāmrupi.
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