Thadou or Thadou-Kuki
"Thadou" written in Meitei script.jpg
"Thadou" written in Meitei script
Native toIndia
EthnicityThadou people and Kuki people
Native speakers
350,000 (2011–2017)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3tcz
ELPThado Chin

Thadou (Thado, Thaadou, Thado-Pao, Thadou-Kuki) is a Sino-Tibetan language of the Northern Kuki-Chin-Mizo linguistic sub branch. It is spoken in the northeastern part of India (specifically in Manipur and Assam).[2] It is spoken by the Thadou people. The Thadou language is known by many names, including Thado, Thado-Pao, Thādo, Thadou-kuki, Thado-Ubiphei, Chin and Thādo-pao. There are several dialects of this language : Hangshing, Khongsai, Kipgen, Saimar, Langiung, Sairang, Thangngeo, Haokip, Sitlhou, Singson (Shingsol).[1] The Saimar dialect was reported in the Indian press in 2012 to be spoken by only four people in one village in the state of Tripura.[3] The variety spoken in Manipur has partial mutual intelligibility with the other Mizo-Kuki-Chin languages varieties of the area including Paite, Hmar, Vaiphei, Simte, Kom and Gangte languages.[4]

Thadou culture

The Thadou language comes from the Tibeto-Burman or Kuki-Chin-Mizo languages family of the Sino-Tibetan phylum. The Thadou people were settled in dense jungle sites. The Thadou villages mostly cultivated agriculture and domesticated animals. A unique aspect of the Thadou culture is that men and women shared these cultivation and domestication responsibilities.

Knowing a language connects one to the culture and traditions of the speakers of the language. This was especially the case with the Thadou language. Four important words in this language: chongmou, sahapsat, jol-lha', and kijam mang. These terms represent four different forms of marriage. Chongmou represents the form of marriage where there is a negotiation price of the bride between the parents of the groom as well as the parents of the bride, along with feasting and wrestling. The sahapsat is a form of marriage where just the negotiation between the parents of the bride and groom take place. The jol-Iha' and kijam mang are both similar forms of marriage, equivalent to eloping. Divorce is allowed and happens often within this culture. Children have a lot of independence in this culture and are encouraged to learn through experience including parental guidance as a stepping stone.

Thadou people consider Pathen the god who has created everything and is thus, the ruler of the universe. They pray to him in times of need and trouble. This culture is very into religious ceremonies. Many of their ceremonies are specific to individual groups or genders. In earlier times, the Thadou also believe in spirits moving on to Mithikho or Mithikhua, which is the village of the dead. As time passed by most of the Thadou people embraced Christianity.

Geographical distribution

Thadou is spoken in the following locations (Ethnologue).


Ethnologue lists the following dialects of Thadou, the names of which mostly correspond to clan names. There is high mutual intelligibility among dialects.



Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive voiceless p t k ʔ
voiced b d ɡ
Affricate ts
Nasal m n ŋ
Fricative voiceless s x h
voiced v z
lateral ɬ
Approximant w l j


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

Comparison between Thadou Dialects

The Saimar dialect is only spoken by 4 people in one village, which is located in Tripura.[6] The other dialects, Jangshen, Haokip, Khongsai, Kipgen, Sairang, Thangeo, Langiung, Sitlhou, and Singson have a high mutual intelligibility, which means that speakers, although from different backgrounds and areas, can speak to each other without much effort and with ease.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Thadou or Thadou-Kuki at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) closed access
  2. ^ Mahapatra, Bijaya P.; Padmanabha, P. (December 1989). The Written Languages of the World: A Survey of the Degree and Modes of Use : Book 2, Non-Constitutional Languages. Pr De L'Universite Laval. p. 1311. ISBN 978-2-7637-7196-0.
  3. ^ "Just 4 people keep a language alive". The Hindu. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  4. ^ Singh, Chungkham Yashawanta (1995). "The linguistic situation in Manipur" (PDF). Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area. 18 (1): 129–134. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  5. ^ Haokip, Marykim (2014). Grammar of Thadou-Kuki: A Descriptive Study. New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru University.
  6. ^ "Just 4 people keep a language alive". The Hindu. 18 July 2012.

Further reading