Tangkhul written in Meitei script
Native toIndia
RegionManipur, Nagaland
EthnicityTangkhul people
Native speakers
140,000 (2001)[1]
  • Ukhrul
  • Kupome (Luhupa)
  • Phadang
Language codes
ISO 639-3nmf
ELPTangkhul Naga

Tangkhul is a Sino-Tibetan language of the Tangkhulic branch, spoken in different villages of Ukhrul district, Manipur, India. The term "Tangkhul" is derived from the Meitei language terms, tāng (ꯇꯥꯡ, 'scarce') and khūl (ꯈꯨꯜ, 'village').[2] According to another theory, the term "Tangkhul" is derived from "Thankhul", meaning "Than village" in Meitei language.[3][4][5]

Tangkhul became a written language for the first time in the year 1897, when William Pettigrew compiled "Tangkhul Primer and Catechism", during his Christian missionary activities.[6]

The Department of Language Planning and Implementation of the Government of Manipur offers a sum of 5,000 (equivalent to 8,500 or US$100 in 2023), to every individual who learns Tangkhul language, under certain terms and conditions.[7]

Tangkhul shares 93%–94% lexical similarity with the Somra variety of Tangkhul, 31% with Tangkhul Naga spoken in India, 51%–52% with Akyaung Ari Naga, and 29%–32% with Koki Naga.[8]



Bilabial Labio-
Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive voiceless p t k ʔ
Fricative voiceless f s h
voiced z
Nasal m n ŋ
Rhotic r
Lateral l
Approximant w ʋ j


Front Central Back
Close i ɨ u
Mid e ə o
Open a


  1. ^ Tangkhul at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Sanyu, Visier (1996). A History of Nagas and Nagaland: Dynamics of Oral Tradition in Village Formation. University of Michigan. Commonwealth Publishers. p. 25. ISBN 978-81-7169-369-6. ... a sparse nature of settlement that the Tangkhul tribe got its name. In Meitei language-literally, Tang means scarce and khul means village.
  3. ^ Shimray, A. S. W. (2001). History of the Tangkhul Nagas. Akansha Publishing House. p. 43. ISBN 978-81-87606-04-8. ... the village which they lived was known by the name ' THANKHUL ' meaning Than - Village in Meitei language . Therefore , the name ' TANGKHUL ' is derived from Than - Khul ...
  4. ^ Lisam, Khomdan Singh (2011). Encyclopaedia Of Manipur (3 Vol.). Gyan Publishing House. p. 516. ISBN 978-81-7835-864-2. The name Tangkhul was given to them by the Meiteis. There are many legends regarding the origin of the word Tangkhul.
  5. ^ "History | Ukhrul District, Government of Manipur | India". National Informatics Centre (in English and Manipuri). Government of India. The name Tangkhul was given to them by their neighbours, the Meiteis. The northern Tangkhuls were also called the Luhupas.((cite web)): CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. ^ S, Vangamla Salle K. (26 November 2023). "Manipur: Literature festival strives to promote Tangkhul language". EastMojo. Retrieved 27 November 2023.
  7. ^ "Applications invited for local language training programme". Imphal Free Press.
  8. ^ "Myanmar". Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 2016. Archived from the original on 10 October 2016.
  9. ^ Ahum, Victor (1997). Tangkhul-Naga grammar: a study of word formation. New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru University.