The state language of Meghalaya is Khasi. Once an endangered language UNESCO has now removed Khasi from the list once there were more speakers of this Meghalaya language. There are around 9 million people in Meghalaya that use Khasi to communicate with each other. The language is mainly spoken by the Khasi tribes that come from the Mon-Khmer family belonging to the Austro-Asiatic society. People from Bangladesh and Assam also speak Khasi. Khasi is more than just a language to the people of Meghalaya. It reflects their culture, traditions and customs.
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The main language spoken in Meghalaya is Khasi yet the official and administrative office follow English. Schools whether private or state government are run in English only. The other languages like Garo, Khasi, Assamese, Mizo, Hindi, Bengali, Nepali and Urdu can be learnt as optional subjects.
Main language of Meghalaya is Khasi as 47% people living in Meghalaya speak Khasi. The official language of Meghalaya is English, but there are several other languages that are spoken by various societies and tribes of Meghalaya.
Besides Khasi the two other main languages that are next to being most important are Garo and Pnar. Pnar is also known as Jaintia and is spoken by War, Bhoi, Pnar and Khynriam tribes. There are different dialects in which Garo is spoken in like Chibok, Atong, Gara-Ganching, Matchi Dual, Abeng, Ruga and Lyngngam. Nepali is also spoken in many parts on the Meghalaya and English language is a common language that helps all the people in Meghalaya to communicate with each other.
|Regional/Local Language||Khasi, Garo and Pnar|
|Second State Language||Khasi
The main language of Meghalaya has an important and distinct dialectal. There are many dialects that have an incomplete mutual intelligibility, and Nonglung and Bhoi are different enough to be thought of as different languages. Maram, Sohra and War are also dialects and War and Sohra happen to be same lexically. Sohra dialect is considered to be the standard Khasi and was the first language which the missionaries documented in the Latin alphabet. There are about eight dialects of Shillong that are formed by Standard Khasi, these eight dialects together form a dialect continuum in the capital region.
This Manipur Language does not have enough sources to show how old it is. Khasi is a Mon-Khmer language and is thought to have a connection with other language of central India and some of the Mon-Khmer languages of Southeast Asia. Only Khasi, War, Lyngngam and Jaintia are considered to be the main languages of Manipur even though there are more 15 other languages that are spoken in this state.
A distinctive likeness exists among the Khasi and the Mon Khmer Palaung languages that are prevalent in Indo-China and Burma. Sankardeva’s Assamese paraphrase of Bhagvata Purana that was composed in 1500 A.D. is the earliest reference that has been found to have the mention of Khasi language. Also one of the noted Sanskrit sources ‘Rajatarangini’ – Chronicle of Kashmir refers to hill people known as ‘.he Khasi’ and that these tribes lived in the Southern parts of the mountains in Kashmir. The descendants of these people are present till this day.
Earlier Khasi did not seem to have a script of its own. It was in 1813 when a missionary William Carey tried to write the language with the help of Bengali script. Another Welsh missionary known as Thomas Jones wrote the language in Latin script in 1841. This is why Khasi has some resemblances with the Welsh alphabet.
The now official language, also the local language of Meghalaya – Khasi’s first works were the translated version of Gospel of Matthew in the Bengali script published in 1816 later in 1833 Serampore Mission printed the ‘Khashee New Testament’. It was in this year that a school was also opened by this missionary group for the Khasis. However the Mission was shut down in 1838 but in 1841 a Welsh missionary Thomas Jones helped in the improvement of Khasi literature and language. With a small group of literate people he wrote script in Latin and the first Khasi book ‘Ka Kot Pule Nngkong’ and ‘Ka Kitab Nyngkong’ was printed. ‘Kot Bah’ or the Khasi Bible printed in 1891 is also an important development in literature.
After this there were more writers who used the regional language of Meghalaya for their works like Joel Gatphoh, Radon Sing Berry and Morkha Joseph made important contributions such as ‘The Khasis’ which contains the customs and rituals of the tribe. Some famous 20th century works are ‘Ki Sngi Barim u Hynniew trep’ by Soso Tham, ‘Translation of Cantlie’s notes on Khasi Law’ by T. Cajee, ‘Ka Kot Niam Khasi’ by H. Lyngdon and much more.
Meghalaya language name is Khasi and even though its development started late but the language has now become important. Khasi has slowly gained its importance over the years and we now have more literary geniuses who are dedicated in developing this language.