Friday, January 18, 2008

A brief Historical linguistics of Kuki-Chin languages with special reference to Diachronic linguistic studies of Zo language in India and Burma

Introduction to a brief historical records of the Zo people The Zos are Tibeto-mongoloid group of people, a sub-family of the Kuki-Chin-Mizo race. The name Zo or Zou is the name of a group of Tibeto-Burman people inhabiting the ChinHills in Mynamar and Manipur in India. It is also recorded as Yo,Jou,Zou by many colonial civil servants and modern writers. While colonial records referred to the Zou tribe variously as ‘Yo’ or ‘Yaw’, the Zou community living in Manipur called themselves ‘Jou’. The first Christian church established by the Zou tribe in Manipur was called Jou Christian Association (JCA) on 20 February 1954. But the Government of India officially recognised the name of this tribe as ‘Zou’ in 1956. I) The earliest historical records of Zo was written by Fan-Cho a diplomat of Tang dynasty of China who mentioned of a kingdom in Chindween valley whose princes and chiefs were callled Zo or Shou or Zhou in the year 862 A. D. II) The most genuine historical records of the Zos/Zous were written down by Rev.Fr.Vincentious Sangermano; a Roman Catholic Missionary who came to Burma in 1783 A.D. He wrote a book entitled “A Description of the Burmese Empire” it was published in 1835 A.D in Rome in latin language,later on it was translated into English by William Tandy D.D. (reprinted at the Goverment Press,Yangon;MDCL XXXV) Page 35; wrote about the Jou. The extracts are given as under:- “To the East of Chien Mountains between 20o30’ seconds and 21o30’ North latitude is apetty nation called ‘JOU'. They are supposed to have been Chein,who in progress of time, have become Burmaniszed,speaking their language,although very corruptly, and adopting all their customs” III) Betram S.Carey CIE,Assitant Commissioner,Burma, and Political Officer,Chin Hills and H.N.Tuck ,Extra Assitant Commissioner,Burma and Assistant Political Officer,Chin Hills wrote 'THE CHIN HILLS'. In that book Volume I page 140 they wrote about the Zos as follows:- “The Yos[Zos} tribe three generations back occupied the tract now occupied by the Kanhow clan of Soktes, and many of the Kanhow villages are inhabited still by Yos,whose tribal name has given way to that of Kanhow. As has been shown in the previous chapter,Kantum, the Sokte, conquered all the inhabitants right up to the borders of Manipur,and Kanhow,his so, founded Tiddim village and ruled the newly acquired conquests of his father. The conquered Yos thus became known as Kanhowte,Kanhow’s men, and as they intermaried with the Soktes who settled north with Kanhow Kanhow,there is no real difference between the conquerors and the conquered”. V ) F.K.Lehman of Illinois Studies in Anthropology No.3,The University of Illinois Press Urbans 1963,Page 179 states as follows: Between Burma and India there lived a racial group people who are living with their tradition and customs firmly. They are not easy to ruling. They worship “SHA” which was their dead peoples spirits. They called their dead people’s evil spirit JIN. Their origin name is “JOU” VI) The terms ‘Zo’ have been employed in many books written by the people. The first complete version of the Holy Bible in Zo language(1983 A D) used the title as ' The Holy Bible in Zo' and the second complete Holy Bible also used the word 'Zokam' . Pu. T.Gougin used the terminology :Zo and Zomi to denote this community in the book 'A Brief History of Zou'(1961 A.D.) and (L)Pu. Thangkhanlal also used the term 'Zo' in his Zo primer(1973) and Pu.Goupau in ' Zo Sannemla' others. The term ‘Zou’ is officially accepted to refer to the Zou tribe in Manipur since 1956. But in Myanmar(Burma) these very same people;they have been using the term 'Zo' to denote themseves in Chin Hills and Sagaing division of Myanmar since the beginning of Roman script for writing perhaps as early as 1920s. The name 'Zo' has been used by Zo Baptist Association (ZBA) and Zo Presbyterian Synod Church in Myanmar. In the year 1926 two missionaries Mr. Hrangchuaka and Mr.Dawnthawma visited the Zo country and wrote their about them in the bulletin ‘Khristian’. Free translation of the above write up is given below:-“First of all,I would like to tell briefly about the land as described below:- The country is located in the Imphal areas and north of Guite tracts,between the lands of Meitei and Sukte along the valley of Imphal river. Like,the Lushei country they people have petty chieftains in the small villages which are not extensive enough. They all called themselves by the racial name or tribal name; Zo and their chief amongst them belongs to the Manlun clan,below them there are two other tribes but they are not worth mentioning,they are very ignorant and illiterate; I learnt that they fought against the Government few years back. Religion: they are all worshippers of spirits of their forefathers, and they practised animal sacrifices to propitiate the spirits.. ‘I donot have a son. If I follow God will I have a son? They used to asked me,thus,the Zo ram ‘Zo country’ does not hear that God sent his only begotten son to redeem the sinners,therefore,I implore to you to please pray for this Zo people”.

A brief Historical linguistics of Kuki-Chin languages with special reference to Diachronic linguistic studies of Zo language in India and Burma

During the ancient period the Zo people are said to have possess their own script written on parchments. In course of their migration to distant lands these parchments were lost. Some believed that they were eaten by hungry dogs. Zo language is believed to be very old language as told by elders of the community. Zo language had been in usage cir A.D 850, Prof. G.H Luce stated that the though it is known as Tibeto-Burman their common language is either Chin or Kachin or the combination of both of them. The Zo language is very closely related to the Kachin language. The coming of missionaries into the land of the Zo people nearly coincides with the education of the people and thus we may say that the historical linguistics of Zo language begins with the advent of the missionaries into the Zo country; eastern and western regions. Lushai/Mizo language In 1893 R.Arthington of the Arthington Aborigines Mission sent two missionaries to Aizawl. In 1894 F.W.Savidge and J.H.Lorraine reached southwest Mizoram. They learned the Lushai(Mizo) language and introduced the Roman script for writing the unwritten Lushai language. They translated some Bible parables and started preparing the Lusei-English Dictionary . They taught the people how to read and write in their mission schools. They translated the Gospel of St. John and the Acts of the Aposltes in Lushai language. They were transferred in 1897. Thus, Lushai/Lusei literature began its long journey from then onwards. In 1898, Rev.D.E Jones reached the western part of Lushai Hills. By 1899,he visited all the important villages they opened up missionary schools and taught the Duhlien dialect. Haka(Lai) and Khalkha languages In 1898,Rev.Carson and his wife reached Haka to preach the Good News. On 15,March,1899, Rev. Arthur Carson and his wife of A.B.M reached Haka the capital of the Chin State/Hills,with much difficulties he managed to convert one person in 1904,after struggling for five years. He introduced the Roman alphabet and taught the people how to write in their mother tongue. He translated the New Testament into different dialects. He died on 1,April,1908 at Haka. On 5,April,1906 Chester Strait arrived at Haka. He learnt the Haka(Lai) language well. He established a Bible school at Haka in May,1928 with few students. He prepared Sunday school lessons and translated the New Testament in Lai(Haka) language which was published by Mission Press Rangoon in 1940. Tangkhul language In 1894,February William Pettigrew who was incharge of the American Baptist Mission,opened a school among the Meitei Hindus at Imphal. He was not welcomed in the land of Meiteis. In 1895,he establish a Mission centre at Ukhrul. From the years 1895 to 1910 he learnt the local language,later on he developed the Tangkhul language by unifying the various village dialectical groups into one single language; Hundung/Ukhrul dialect. Thado-Kuki language On the demand of Rev. William Pettigrew,Dr.Grozier came to Kangpokpi in the last part of 1909. From 1910 onwards,he set up a Medical Centre at Kangpokpi Mission Compound servving as Doctor for the sick and the poor. The history of this language began with the arrival of the missionaries at Kangpokpi,Manipur state. T.C Hodson(1905) called this language as Thado,Rev. William Pettigrew named it Thadou. Longkhobel Kilong(1922) and Thomsong Ngulhao(Lekhabul,Thadou Kuki first Primer 1927) called it Thadou Kuki. T.Lunkim,in the early 1970s proposed the name of this language as 'Kuki'. He wrote the Holy Bible in Kuki. Mssrs. Lt.R.Steward (author of ' A slight notice of the Grammar of Thado or New Kuki language published in the Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal 1857) and Dament called it Thado language and local dialect it is known as Thado pao. Thadou or Thadou-Kuki is a language spoken in the states of Assam,Nagaland,Mizoram,Manipur and in the Chin Hills of Burma and Chittagong tracts of Bangladesh.It is widely spoken language belonging to the Kuki-Chin sub-group of Tibeto-Burman sub-family of Sino-Tibetan families of languages.It shares linguistic similarities and ethnographic similarities with the other dialects of th Kuki-Chin sub-groups. Hmar language: The Hmar language belongs to the Kuki-Chin-Naga sub-group of Tibeto-Burman stock of the great Sino-Tibetan family of languages. The speakers of the language are also known as Hmar. Hmar speakers are scattered over a vast area in Mizoram,Manipur, NC Hills and Cachar districts of Assam state,India. There is no homogenous settlement of Hmar speakers alone. Hmar is a recognised language in the School curriculum of Assam, Manipur and Mizoram, and also recently recognised as one of the Modern Indian Language (MIL) at Manipur University. Board of Secondary Education, Assam has also included Hmar as an MIL in its matriculation syllabus from 2005. Paite language (to be added later on please be patient)

In the year 1912 A.D the Royal Asiatic Society,Calcutta was founded with Dr.George A.Grierson as one of its founders. In one of its journal they proposed Roman alphabet to write the dialects of the wild tribes. Zo literature also saw its birth sometime in the second decade of the 20th century. In1904-1930,Dr.George A.Grierson prepared a detailed descriptions of Kuki-Chin languages in Part 3 Vol No.3


1. J.C.A; JOUGAM-THUSUO Vol.I Douta March 1954 Ist year which is recorded as 10 Feb,1954 by M.G.P/M.E.P in JCA Golden Jubilee Souvenir 2004.

2. Jou simpat Bu; JOUGAM-THUSUO Vol.I Douta March 1954 Ist year

3. Jou Customary Book; Jou Tawndan collected and compiled by Pu.T. Gougin M.A dated 1-12-1957

4. Leivui Panin by Late Rev. Khup Za Go

5. Zou Lai Khantousah dingdan thu(How to develop the Zou Literature) ‘A Seminar Paper presented at the U.Z.O Lamka Block Conference on the 12th Dec 1995 by Nehkhojang B.A.,B.D,B.Ph,Secretary, Literature,U.Z.O Hqs.

6. Zomi Christian Church,Tapidaw-40 (1954-1994) Souvenir editor: David K.Samte

7. Tapidaw Golden Jubilee 2004 sungah "Tawndan leh Tapidaw biehna" by Upa Suonkhanmang Chief of Tangpijol 8. A.D 2000,ZO MAGAZINE dated March 2001,Kalaymyo,Myanmar(Burma)

9. Tapidaw 50 Golden Jubilee 2004

10. What is in a name? Everything is in a name! Thado vs Kuki by Dr.M.S Thirumalai dated 9th Sept,2005.

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