Nyishi, Nisi, Nishing
Native toIndia
RegionArunachal Pradesh, Assam
EthnicityNyishi people
Native speakers
999,976 (2011 census)[1]
  • Tani
    • Western Tani
      • Nyishi
Language codes
ISO 639-3njz

Nyishi (also known as Nishi, Nisi, Nishang, Nissi, Nyising, Leil, Aya, Akang, Bangni-Bangru, Solung) is a Sino-Tibetan language of the Tani branch spoken in Papum Pare, Lower Subansiri, Kurung Kumey, Kra Daadi, East Kameng, Pakke Kesang, Kamle districts of Arunachal Pradesh and Darrang District of Assam in India. According to the 2011 census of India, the population of the Nishi speakers is approximately 900,000. Though there are plenty of variations across regions, the dialects of Nishi, such as Akang, Aya, Nyishi (raga), Mishing, Tagin are easily mutually intelligible, with the exception of the rather small in population Bangni-Bangru and Solung Dialects being very different from the former. 'Nisi' is sometimes used as a cover term for western Tani languages.

Nishi is a subject–object–verb language.[2]: 80 


The main origin of this language has been pointed out by George Abraham Grierson as ‘Dafla’.[3] He included different varieties under a common name which is known as North Assam group. The varieties are Dafla, Miri and Abor according to him. Daflas used to denote them as ‘Nyi-Shi’. these tribes inhabited between the Assam Valley and Tibet. Then they started to spread in Lakhimpur, Sibsagar and Darrang Districts of Assam. Mr. William Robinson in his notes mentioned that Daflas were spread over a region from 92°50’ to 94° north latitude.

The word nyishi itself means "upland man", and is a compound of nyi ("man") and shi ("highland").[4]: 4 

They are probably descendants of peoples who separated from Khasi 4,200 years ago.


Nishi is a tonal language that utilizes three tones: rising, neutral, and falling.[2]: 16  These can be applied to all of its vowels, and often can change the word's meaning:

bénam – "to hold"
benam – "to deliver"
bènam – "to vomit"
Front Central Back
High i ɨ u
Mid e ə o
Low a

These are the consonants of Nyishi. Where the orthography differs from the IPA, the orthography is bolded.[2]

Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ⟨ny⟩ ŋ ⟨ng⟩
Stop voiceless p t c k
voiced b d ɟ ⟨j⟩ g
Fricative s x ⟨kh⟩ h
Approximant l j ⟨y⟩
Tap ɾ ⟨r⟩


Nyishi distinguishes between number, person, and case. It does not have a gender system, but special affixes can be added to nouns to denote gender.


Personal Pronouns
Person Singular Dual Plural
1st ŋuiɲ ŋul
2nd no nuiɲ nul
3rd buiɲ bul



English Romanization Nyishi
One akin, aking akin
Two anyi, enyi aɲiə
Three om oum
Four api
Five ang, ango aŋ(o)

The counting system differs when referring to human vs. non-human objects.


  1. ^ "Statement 1: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues - 2011". www.censusindia.gov.in. Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Abraham, P. T. "A Grammar of Nyishi Language" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  3. ^ Linguistic Survey Of India, Vol. III part I (Tibeto Burman Family) first published almost a century ago
  4. ^ Lahiri, Bornini (2013). "Noun Cases in Nyishi" (PDF). New Delhi. Retrieved 14 December 2015.

Further reading

Post, Mark W. (2013). [1] Paper presented at the 13th Himalayan Languages Symposium. Canberra, Australian National University, Aug 9.