Monday, December 7, 2009

An outline of the evolution of dialects and languages among the Kuki-Chin group of people.

Dr. Kham Do Nang in his ‘Upto date history of Zo tribes’ traces the begi-nning of the dialects and clans among the Kuki-Chin linguistic group of people. I have further researched the beginning of Zo dialects and clans adding some historical facts. We shall discuss them one by one.
The Beginning of Zo dialects and clans
Zote descendants are supposed to be the main root and the heir of Pu Zo or Pu Jou. Pu Jou was a king in Tibet circa 2000 B.C.
Teizang Dialect and Clan
The Teizâng people are believed to have originated from legendary settlement of Ciim Nuai village in about 1450 A.D, first settling at Luika village from there they moved forward to established Teizang village which is nearby the present Mualbem village in circa 1500 A.D. The name is derived from a kind of tropical hardwood tree called ‘Tei Síng’ which grew in a small plain(zâng) areas. So, Teizâng means ‘plain area where Tei trees grow’.There are sixteen villages inhabited by a population of about 10,000(ten thousand) in Tedim township. The Sukte family is the most famous people among the Teizang people or clan. It is told that Chief Hau Chin Khup even learned the Teizâng language when he started to rule his province. The famous Chief Kaih Mang, Khan Thuam, Kamhau and Hau Chin Khup were from Mualbem vilage. Many high ranking officers have hailed from Mualbem village. It is said that there are more than 40(forty) houses of Tungdim family of Pu Zo descendants living in Mualbem village today. It is told that the clever legendary Pu Penglam himself spoke Teizâng dialect.[P-176-77]
The Beginning of Sihzang dialect and clan
In about 1450 A.D Pu Suantak with his eldest son Pu Nge Ngu and party shifted to Ngal Phei village which is the place where the state middle school of Saizang village is situated. In the midst of Ngal Phei village therei is a small plain in which a salt spring called SIH appeared. SIH means salt spring and Zaang means plain. So, Sihzaang means a plain in which salt spring exists. Therefore, the people who were living around this salt spring in those days were called Sihzaangmi but not Siyinmi. The Britishers recorded them as Siyin. When they were about 80 houses in Ngap Phei, Vaipigaal pushed them further. Pu Nge Ngu and his party founded Suantak village, Pu Suante founded Kalzang village, Pu Sie Vang Samte founded Hâichîn village and Pu Tungnung of Tungdim family founded Khuongnung village.It seems that Pu Suantak and his sons did not speak Sihzang language because; All of their sons were not the style of Sihzang song, but the style of Zote songs only. The sons of Pu Nge Ngu and their descendants, Mulpi, Hanthual, Guizo, Hawlhang and Kunhen of the sons of Pu Neizo and their descendants are speaking Zote language and are practising Zo customs and cultures upto this day. So, the Sihzang language might have started from the sons of Pu Lamtam and the same level clans of their relatives in about the year 1500 A.D. The Sihzaang language originated from Zote language and later it got mixed up with the Ngawn and Teizâng languages, perhaps due to intra-tribal, inter-clan and tribal warfares.[P-179-180]. Among the Tedim people Sihzaang and Zote are the most closely related people that there are so many identical customs, cultures, names of things and goods, some manners and dealings. This is because the rest of the present Zote populations belong to the descendants of Pu Nge Ngu and Pu Neilut who wre the sons of Pu Suantak. Sihzaang people are scattered in places like Kalemyo, Tahan, Yangon and as a race namely Sailo in Mizoram state of India. Vaiphei people are so close to Sihzaang and Zote people. Vaiphei people are living in Tamu township and in Manipur state in India. Sihzaang people are about 5,000 in number and are living in fourteen villages in Tedim township at present; Khuasak, Thuklai, Buanman, Bekan, Liimkhai(Bung), Liimkhai(Zo), Pumva, SuangDaw, Theizang, Dawl luang, Lophei, Duh Mang, Khai kam and Voklaak.The Sailo people; Sihzaang descendants of Tedim people In about 1600 A.D, a Sihzaang lad went up to Seipi village in Falam township, to sell earthenware pto or clay pot (cooking pot). He married a Seipi village girl and lived in a hut by the road at the edge of the village. Their first born son was very handsome so much so that the villagers said, “Tu fa nge ni ava tha ngerngur ve” in Hualngo dialect meaning ‘whose son is this, handsome boy’. So, he was known as ‘Tha Ngura’. When they bore their second son they named him ‘Zadenga’ meaning ‘hundred stones thrown at’ by the villagers who used to scoffed at them and the village boys used to throw hundreds of stones at their house. When their third son was born they said that no one should trouble them, so they named him ‘Sailoa’ in Hualngo dialect. The Haka people of Thaangkhua village requested the Seipi chief to give them one headman, but the Hualngo people did not want to become the headman of Thaangkhua, so they sent ThaNgur and his family to be the headman of that village. The villagers paid him an yearly tribute of a handful of paddy. The Sailo people are known as a noble tribe. They are living in Mizoram state and that they are influenced by the Mizo cultures and language. But in fact, they are Sihzaang descendants of Tedim people and especially very close to the descendants of Pu Nge Ngu.[P-182-183].
The Beginning of Thado Dialect and Clan
Thado clan is known to be the first settlers of Ciim Nuai. The name of the Thado headman of those days was Do Ngel(Aisaan Pa). The Thado people had lived first in places where the Tedim people settled down to their villages later. The Thado descendants of nowadays believe that they are descendants of the ThaDumin of a Burmese king. Thado people are scattered in both Myanmar and in India. They are largely to be found in India. The Indian Thado people are quite developed that they even participate in Indian Army as high ranking officers and there are many educated people among them. In Myanmar the Thado descendants are living in both Tonzang and Tamu township. In Tonzang township they are living in Hangken, Humnuai, Baalbil, Hiangzaang, Singpiel and some other villages. We are told that Zote, Thado, Sihzaang people are one group among the Zo tribes.I realize that the Thado and Zote descendants are quite closely related due to geographical and social proximity, it is a fact that, even today the Mantuong, Mate, Taithul, Phiemphu, Tungdim, Tungnung and some other Zote clans are living among the Thado descendants upto this day in India and Myanmar. He noted that the Thado descendants aslo live in Kale valley with other Zo tribes until the year 1374 A.D. So, the Thado language came into being or started from circa 1400 A.D, from the time their elders settled down in Ciim Nuai village.[P-183-184]
The Beginning of Vang Teh Dialect and Clan
We are told that the first Ciim Nuai headman was Do Ngel(AisaanPa) of Thado people. And the second headman was Guite people. Among the Guite people Neih Guk, Ngaite separated into two families such as Vang Aw and Vang Kawm as they are known today. Vahui family founded Kaalzang Botung, the former Vang Teh village which is situated somewhere between Dimpi to Vang Teh road and Saizaang to Vang Teh road and about three miles from the present Vang Teh village. They took Pu Kulh Gen the younger brother of Pu Mang Suum of Guite people from Ciim Nuai village to be their chief in Kaalzang Bo Tung village. Pu Gen Dong the son of Pu Kulh Gen founded Khuum Nuai village of the present Vang Teh village. This village is situated below the Khuum mountain that they called this village; Khuum Nuai village ‘the village below Khuum mountain’.When the British forces led by General Founce and Major Raike captured the Sial Lum camp in 1889, they captured Vang Teh village too on the same day. A British soldier happened to ask a man who was measuring his house, about the name of the village, he thought that he was asking him what he was doing to that he is said to have answered ‘Vaang ka Teh’. So, the British soldier recorded it as if it were the name of that village. In those days, the village had about one hundred and thirty houses and its headman was Pu Kaai Thawng. So, the beginning of Vang Teh dialect might have started in about the year 1889, when they Britishers captured the village. It might have started from the time Pu Gen Dong founded Khuum Nuai village. Some people say that the Vang Teh people are known as Guite descendants and Neih Guk, Ngaih Te of Vang Aw and Vang Kawm families.Vang Teh people are found in villages such as; Thang saan, Tuizaang, Pakzaang, Kapteel, Heilei, Tuitawh, Tuimaang, Bapi, Paangzaang, Tuipi, Dak Dung and also among the Zahau people in Falam Township. Moreover, they are living in Mualpi, Teikhang, Phuaizaang, Lailo, and Tonglong villages in India.Vahui family migrated to Tui San village below Valung village of Falam township and Voklaak village. And they are now living in Taakkhawl(Duh Mang) village somewhere between Khuasak and Dak Dung village and this is still called the province of Va Hui Family.[P-1185-187].
The Beginnning of Saizaang dialect and clan
Saizang is a place somewhere southeast and below the present Saizang village. Saai means ‘worm wood’, the name of onekind of a bitter plants and zaang means ‘plain’. So, Saizang means ‘a plain of worm wood’. In about 1500 A.D, some of our ancestors founded it from Ciim Nuai. The Saizang people are scattered in thirteen villages such as; Saizang, Kapteel, Tuitawh, Phaiza, Lailo, Tualzang, Teklui, Thangzang, Vongmual, Aipha, Hiang Awn, Thal mual,and Tuisan zaang. They are also found in Tonzang, Kalemyo, and Tamu townships. Their populations is about 10,000. Thus, the Saizang dialect and clan might have started from the year their elders lived in Saizang village in about 1500 A.D.[P-189]. Saizang headmen were: 1. Thado 2. Guite 3. Thawmte(Mangsuum his wife was a demon named Kom Kiim 4. Tawmbing 5. Gualnam 6. Sukte.
Dim dialect and Dim Clan
Dim means a pond and that pond is situated somewhere below the present DimLo village and there is a small plain where a salt spring exists, where there is a muddy pond. In about 1500 A.D, their elders founded Dim village from Ciim Nuai. The people lived in this Dim village are called Dim people from that time.They are scattered in villages such as Dimpi, DimLo, Laitui, Sezaang, Tungzang, Tuichin lui, Muizawl and some other villages numbering about 10,000.
Tedim Dialect and Clan
In 1857, after the Lushai and Manipuri wars were over, there lived Teizang, Dim, Zo, Vaiphei, Thado, Gangte and Paihte people in Tedim and the number of households grew upto 300. When these different dialects and customs lived together, they knew they need a more usable relationship between them. And the Tedim dialect was born from these different dialects Teizang, Dim, Zo and Vaiphei. This Tedim dialect started to be used in 1860 A.D. And the Kamhau bye-law also was borne and it was used within the Kamhau province only. He listed the committee member who founded the Tedim dialect and the Kamhau Customary law which were patronized by the British rulers, as Messrs. Pau Vum Sukte, Khoi Lam Hatzaw, Mang Gin Hatlangh, Kimthuam Zilom, Pau Am Samte, Chin Kim Samte, Tel Khat Thomte.[Page 174-175].
Khuano Dialect and Clan
Pu Hau Chin Khup gave the following thriteen villages to one of his beloved uncle Do Thawng to collect tributes and taxes.They are; Mualbem, Vangteh, Dimpi, Dimlo, Suangpi, Phunom, Pangzang, Phaileng, Zangzawl, Dakdung, Buam, Thangnuai, Takkhawl. Pu Do Thawng named those 13(thirteen) villages as ‘Khua No Kual’. The Khuano and Khuano clan began to developed as a different linguistic realm since 1890 A.D.[Page 175-176].
The Beginning of Khuongnung dialect and Simte clans In the early part of 1860s due the constant inroads of Pu Khanthuam into the Zo territorial villages many Zo clans were displaced in the regions and across the Indian side of the borders. There were a lot of transborder migrations in search of better pastures and freedom from the heavy taxes imposed by the Sukte rulers of Chin Hills.The Zo people established Khuongnung village under the chieftainship of Pu Tungnung in circa 1450 A.D as proven by his folksongs. Later on, sometime before the rise of the Sukte rulers, the Khuongnung people(now called Simte in India) faced a lot of inter-tribal wars against the Poite, Hualngote and others so they invited Pu Hanghil to send one able son to be their chief. So, Pu Manlun became the chief of the Khuongnung people. About 1843 A.D, while Pu Langza was the chief of Khuongnung, they were attacked by Pu Khanthuam, and so they migrated to Singpitam later on again they migrated to Indian side of the border settling in the villages of Behieng, Hiengtam, Tonzang, Zomun, Singat, Muallum etc. and in Thanlon, Aina, Milongmun, Zotung, Sumtuh etc. While, the Samte families and some Tungdim clans continued to stay on. The Simte or Khuongnung language must have developed due to intermarriages beginning circa 1850 A.D from the intermingling of Zo clans and Simte ‘southerners; clans in course of their migrations because of intra-clan and inter tribal conflicts.
The Beginning of Thangkhal dialect and clans
In circa 1700 AD Pu Thangkhup founded Thangkhal village.Till the time of the Sukte rule, Pu Za Gen and his families lived in it. In 1873 A.D Pu Za Gen founded Khaukuol village from Thangkhal. The Sukte rulers invaded the village in about 1887 A.D and they captured it and imposed heavy taxes on the villagers. The Sukte soldiers settled in the village intermarried with Zote girls, thus, was born what is known as a pidgin or creole of Zo language in linguistic terminology. Therefore, Thangkhal language is a curious mixture of Zo, Simte(Tedim) and Thado-Kuki speeches. While Zatual was ruling the village there were some misunderstandings among the villagers that all Zote descendants immediately left the village in 1863 A.D and they shifted to Thaangkaai province in villages such as Taitam, Theizuan, Khiangkan, Tual khiang, Khenzui, Cingtu. Pu Zatual completely burnt down Thangkhal village in circa 1868 A.D. The Zote shifted to Buanmual, Bizang, Sielmei, Phaisat, Aisih, Philang, Talai, Mualkawi, Mulam, Tuidam, Singheu, Saiboh and other villages.[P-122]. One interesting case history which proves the splitting or divergence of dialectical groups from the Zo/Zou or other main linguistic family is found in the contradictory tribal polarisation amongst the Thangkhal dialectical groups or clans; Tungnung, Suantak Dopmul, Manlun, and the Mate and some Thado clans, though, historically they are considered one and the same group of people who settled at Thangkhal village, recently there has been splits in their ideologies and their concept of tribe and language. On the other hand, the Thangkhal tribe movement has gained momentum recently due to various socio-economic and political factors. While, Thangkhal tribe is founded purely on basis or language or linguistic identity, whereas the Mate tribe which is demanding tribe recognition does not possess a common language like the Thangkhal tribe, large chunk of their population are still Thado-Kuki speakers, only time will tell how many tribes emerge out of Kuki-Chin linguistic groups in the coming years.
Philip Thanglienmang M.A(Linguistics)

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