|Native to||Manipur, India|
|Region||Tonzang: Chin State, Chin Hills;|
In India: Mizoram and Manipur, Chandel, Singngat subdivision and Sungnu area; Churachandpur districts; Assam.
|Latin, Zoulai alphabet|
Zo or Zokam (literally "of the hills"), is a Northern Kuki-Chin-Mizo language originating in northwestern Burma and spoken also in Mizoram and Manipur in northeastern India, where the name is spelled Zou.
The name Zou is sometimes used as a cover term for the languages of all Mizo people (Zo people) i.e.Kukish and Chin peoples, especially the Zo people.
The term 'Zo' has been employed in many books to denote the word 'Zo', for simple reason of phonetic usage.
The Zo themselves employ the various terms Zo, Zou, and Jo to mean their tribe.
The set of 23 Zou consonantal phonemes can be established on the basis of the following minimal pairs or overlapping words. Besides these 23 Phonemes, 1 consonant is a borrowed phoneme (i.e. /r/), which is found only in loan words, in very rare cases (e.g. /r/ in /rəŋ/ "color"). Along with these consonants, Zou has 7 vowels: i, e, a, ɔ, o, u, ə.
|Plosive||plain||p b||t d||c ɟ||k g||ʔ|
The Zo verbs can be classified into three types: Stem (1), Stem (2), Stem (3) as given below:
|Stem 1||Stem 2||Stem 3||Stem 4|
According to David Mortensen (2003) a syllable, in isolation, displays the Lexical Tone. Abramson (1979) states that the citation form of a monosyllabic word may be viewed as bearing the ideal manifestation of a tone. According to Matisoff (1999, p. 88), “Sinospheric TB languages tend to be more strictly monosyllabic than others.” Tone-bearing units (TBU) is the morphological unit in which only a single tone specification is found in the pronounced form (Mazaudon, 1977). TBU is the phonological unit which receives a tonal pitch command (Yip, 2002; Gussenhoven, 2004).
Zo is monosyllabic, partially agglutinating tone language. The Zo tones are treated as Suprasegmental features in this study. Like many tone languages, the Tone Bearing Unit (Goldsmith, 1990, p. 44) is the “syllable” in Zo, whose tonal rhymes consist of i) Short/lax and Long/tense vowel quality ii) Glides (diphthongs, triphthongs) which are realized as Rising (H), Mid (M) and, Falling (L) and Low tones in isolation respectively. In terms of lexical phonology, the basic tonemes or underlying tones or lexical tones or inherent tonemes either have Lax (short vowel, monophthong) or Tense vowel (diphthong, triphthong) within them as the nucleus depending upon the syntactic constructions with respect to other tonemes in phrasal phonological environments in which they occur as in morphonotonemic processes.
The following is a sample text in Zou.
|Maw na sung ma naw in, amaw sa pi ma in leimi in i piang a, a khawh ma ma - gam lua a i lua suhsuh ih mawnate ma ei bawl in eima pumpi ei man muda maithei, Ih mawnate -eeng taang gol lua a hi man in khat veivei eima mawnate eimon maisah zolo maithei va-ia kim lai, tuate lip khap sih saang a pamai eisa, ei khua tua ngeet-nguut ngeng ngong man a ih dial dual liang luang mawna nei van nuai ei mai sah thop valong, abieh huai tapo ma Jehova ki chi Pasian khat a na om ngang tangh hi.||As we are born in sin, we cannot even love ourselves and there is no knowledge about what is forgiveness, because of the enormous sins inherited in us. Even though we are in this situation, in spite of our enormous sins the one who has mercy, sympathises us and forgives us our sins is the God called Jehovah.|
There are four major dialects of Zou in Myanmar and India: Haidawi, Khuongnung, Thangkhal, and Khodai.
Zo numbers are counted as follows:
|Tulsawm||Ten thousand||Das Hazar|
|Tulza||Hundred thousand/One lakh||Lakh|
|Thensawm||Ten million||Ek Crore|
|Thenza||Hundred million||Das Crore|
|Awn sawm||Ten billion||Das Arab|
|Awn za||Hundred billion||Ek Kharab|
Zou is often written in a Latin script developed by Christian missionary J.H. Cope. In 1952, M. Siahzathang of Churachandpur created an alternative script known as Zolai or Zoulai, an alphabetic system with some alphasyllabic characteristics. The user community for the script is growing- Zou cultural, political, and literary organizations began to adopt the script beginning in the 1970s, and more recently, the Manipur State Government has shown support for both Siahzathang and the script.
As can be seen from the name Zo ("of the hills") and Mizoram ("people of the hill country"), Zo among the Northern Kuki-Chin-Mizo languagess is closely related to the Central languages such as the Duhlian (Lusei/Lushai) or Mizo language (endonym in Duhlian or Lushai is Mizo ṭawng), the lingua franca language of Mizoram.
Zou as spoken in India is similar to the Paite language of the Paite, though Zou lacks the word-final glottal stops present in Paite.
At its largest extent, the geographic area covered by the language group is a territory of approximately 60,000 square miles (160,000 km2) in size, in Burma, India and Bangladesh. However political boundaries and political debates have distorted the extent of the area in some sources.
It is used in Chin State, Tiddim, and the Chin Hills. Use of Burmese has increased in the Zo speaking Chin State since the 1950s. Ethnologue reports that Zou is spoken in the following townships of Myanmar.
In Bangladesh it is used by the Bawm people(Mizo people).
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