The state language of Manipur is Meithei. The people of this beautiful north-eastern state use Meithei or Meetei to communicate with each other. Meithei is also listed in UNESCO as one of the vulnerable languages. There are other states besides Manipur such as Tripura, Assam and Bangladesh that speak Meithei.
All that is known about Manipur language Meithei is that, it is a Sino-Tibetan language but its classification remains undiscovered. The vocabulary of Meithei resembles Tangkhul Naga and Kuki.
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Meithei is the main language spoken in Manipur and the Indian Union has recognised it by adding it to the list of scheduled languages.
All the government schools of Manipur impart education in Meithei upto standard eight and it is also a medium of instruction till the undergraduate level in Manipur.
There are several universities that teach Meithei as a subject till Ph.D. It is also one of the oldest languages of Northeastern India and its existence goes back as far as 2000 years. Meithei encompasses the culture of northeast and is respected deeply by the people of Manipur.
Main language of Manipur is Meithei as 60% people living in Manipur speak Meithei. Although Meithei is the official language of Manipur, there are many other local language of Manipur that are spoken throughout the state. There is a diversity of culture and tribes in Manipur that practise different religions and speak different languages such as Thado, Anal, Kabui, Vaiphei, Simte, Hmar, Poula, Gangte, Kuki, Maring, Kom, Hindi and Bengali.
The hill people of Manipur speak 29 different dialects; every tribe has its own language and the tribes are known by the language they speak. For instance Tedim Pau, dialect of Tedim people, Gangte, dialect of Gangte people and so on.
|Second State Language||English|
|Regional/Local Language||Thado, Anal, Kabui, Vaiphei, Simte, Hmar, Poula, Gangte, Kuki, Maring, Kom, Hindi and Bengali|
The main language of Manipur, Meithei has several dialects and the exact number cannot be determined. With the steady development that has taken place throughout India intermarriage and communication have increasingly widened. This has bought differences in the dialects making them almost inconsequential.
There are three main dialects in Meithei: Meithei proper, Pangal and Loi. The main differences among these dialects are the shifts in their tone and extended new sounds. Meithei proper is the primary dialect and is thought to be more vibrant and energetic compared to Loi and Pangal.
The origin of the Manipur language – Meithei dates back to 11th century. Till the 18th century Meithei had an independent script. Its script was taken from the Tibetan group of scripts. At the time of British rule, the script was amended and was used and known as Bengali script and this is what is being used in the modern times also.
The government is trying to get back the original script and then renew it so that the future generations understand its value and importance. 60% people of Manipur speak in Meithei and it is important to bring back the original script before it is lost.
Until the 18th century Meithei –mayek was the original script of Meithei but later Bengali or Eastern Nagari script is used till date. Phonologically Meithei can be classified into three different stages – Vowels, consonant and tones.
The literature of the official language of Manipur – Meithei can be divided into three phases – the old, medieval and modern phase. Although there is no exact date that can be found of when the Meetei puyas and Meetei Mayek had been written. The old phase can be dated from 8th century to 1074 AD, this was the time when the dialect of Ningthoujas came up to the standards. This period comprises mainly of folklores and poetries. 1074 AD to 1709 AD can be classified as the medieval period. There was much influence of the Shans from Burma on the language and the literature of Manipur. It is from this period that the Loiyamba Shinyen is from. The Royal Chronicle or Chitharon Kumpaba also belongs to this era.
Modern Meithei literature started to get popular when the British ruled over India. The regional language of Manipur was then used by famous writers like Pacha Meitei and H.Guno Singh.
There was a sad event that happened in the history of Manipur in 1732 when many manuscripts were burned in the reign of Meidingu Pamheiba, which destroyed much of valued literature of Manipur. The reason for the king to have ordered such an act is still unknown.
Manipur language name is Meithei and there are more than 1,500,000 people throughout the world that speak this language. The language upholds its respect among the tribes. Although there are many other languages that are spoken among the tribal people of Manipur their basis comes from Meithei. Government is trying hard to revive the original script and save Meithei from fading away. Despite the broad usage of English, the people of Manipur have preserved their language and love to communicate in Meithei.