Languages of the NE->Boro

Name of the Language                                                                          

BORO

The word Boro denotes both the language as well as the community and it is pronounced with a high tone on the second syllable. The dialects spoken in this area could be broadly sub-divided into three main groups,

 

(a) the Western Boro dialect,{(Swnabari)WBD};

(b) the Eastern Boro dialect, {(Sanzari) EBD} and

( c ) the Southern Boro dialect, {(Hazari) SBD}.

 The Western Boro dialects are spoken in the districts of Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon and the Eastern Bodo dialects are found mainly in the districts of Barpeta, Nalbari and Kamrup and some parts of Darrang as well. It is worthwhile to mention that the Western Boro dialect has gained the status of Standard Dialect and has developed a written form as well. The variations between these two dialect groups are mainly phonological and lexical.

Geographical Location

Speakers are primarily found in the Brahmaputra Valley in Assam, and its few adjacent areas of New Jalpaiguri, in West Bengal, with minimum concentration in the northern part of the Brahmaputra Valley

Number of Speakers

The population of Boro speakers is 11,84,569 according to the 1991 census report.

Phonemic Inventory

There are sixteen consonant phonemes including two semi-vowels and six vowel phonemes in the Boro language.

 

Vowels:

 

Front

Central

Back

High

i

 

w u

Mid

e

 

O

Low

 

a

 

 The vowel phonemes in Boro language occur in all the three positions, namely initially, medially and word finally. Examples are shown below:

Vowel phoneme

initially

medially

finally

/i/

/isin/ kitchen.

/bisi/ wife.

/si/ cloth.

/e/

/em/ bed.

/ekhutha/ lonely.

/ne/ wait.

/a/

/agan/ footstep.

/bar/ wind.

/agda/ right-side

/o/

/okha/ rain.

/bon/ fuel.

/no/ house.

/w/

/wNkham/ rice.

/gwthar/ pure.

/khw/ to heap up.

/u/

/udwy/ stomach.

/khulum/ to salute

/su/ measure;

to compare.

 

Consonants:

 

Bilabial

Dental

Alveolar

Alveolo-Palatal

Velar

Glottal

 

Vl. Vd.

Vl.

Vd.

Vl. Vd.

Vl. Vd.

Vl. Vd.

Unaspirated

Stop

Aspirated

b

pH

d

tH

 

g

kH

 

Nasal

m

n

 

N

 

Fricative

 

 

s z

 

h

Trill

 

r

 

 

 

Lateral

 

l

 

 

 

Semi-vowel

w

 

y

 

 

 

/b/: occurs in all the three positions namely initially, medially and finally.

/ban/ argument.

/babi/ thin.

/tho@b/ quick.

/d/: occurs in all the three positions namely initially, medially and finally.

/dan/ a month.

/dOr/ price.

/badi/ similar.

/tho@d/ sense.

/g/: occurs in all the three positions namely initially, medially and finally.

/gOr/ chief ; main.

/megon/ eye.

/tho@g/ a cheat.

/ph/: occurs in all the three positions, namely initially, medially and finally.

/phar/ to sharpen

/lapha/ a kind of plant vegetable.

/phaph/ sin.

/th/: occurs in the initial and medial positions only.

/thar/ a land measuring rod.

/tha@N/ to go positively.

/atha/ sticky.

/kh/: occurs in the initial and medial positions only.

/kha@N/ to rear.

/akha/ to be black.

/m/: occurs in the initial, medial and final positions only.

/maw/ to do.

/Ona/ no compassion.

/nim/ the neem tree.

/n/ : occurs in the initial, medial and final positions.

/naw/ young.

/Oma/ pig, boar.

/nin/ sleep.

/s/: occurs in the initial, medial and final positions.

/san/ mark ; seal.

/usi/ overflow.

/bis/ poison.

/z/: occurs in the initial, medial and final positions.

/zan/ life.

/za@b/ close.

/uzi/ to be born.

/aroz/ prayer.

/h/: occurs in the initial and medial positions.

/ha@b/ to enter.

/gaham/ good.

/m/: occurs in the initial, medial and final positions.

/metha@y/ song.

/nimaha/ pardon.

/nim/ the neem tree.

/n/: occurs in the initial, medial and final positions.

/naza/ try.

/lanzai/ tail.

/nin/ sleep.

/N/: occurs in the medial and final positions.

/zeNna/ problem.

/meseN/ winter season.

/r/: occurs in the initial, medial and final positions.

/re@b/ to write.

/zuri/ to begin.

/gar/ to forsake

/l/: occurs in the initial, medial and final positions.

/le@b/ to peel off with knife.

/zuli/ pair, mate.

/gal/ side.

Grammatical Categories

Some morphological features of the Boro language

        The morphological features of the Boro language corresponds to the ‘Boro-Garo’ group of languages that lie within the Tibeto-Burman sub-family of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Some morphological features of the Boro language are as follows:

Number: Number in Boro is a grammatical category and it has two sets, Singular and Plural.

        The plural of nouns and in some cases pronouns are formed by adding certain morphemes like: phwr, mwn, swr and others to the singular one. For example:

ada-mwn> adamwn

(elder brothers).

agwi-mwn>agwimwn

(younger sisters).

gotho-phwr>gothophwr

(children).

mwswu-phwr>mwswuphwr

(cows).

mansi-phwr>mansiphwr

(people).

mauzi-phwr>mauziphwr

(cats).

biphang-phwr>biphangphwr

(trees).b

        It may be mentioned here that the plural morpheme -swr can also be added to the personal pronouns. For example:

bi-swr>biswr

(They).

nwng-swr>nwngswr

(Us).

Where bi and nwng are third person singular pronouns.

        In certain cases words like hanza and phalw when added to nouns gives plural meanings. For example:

subung hanza

(a group of people).

phoraisa hanza

(a group of students).

dau phalw

(a flock of birds).

mwswu phalw

(a herd of cows).

It may be mentioned here that the term hanza (group) is related to human beings and phalw (flock, herd, and others) is related to birds and animals.

 

Gender: Gender is also a grammatical category in Boro. There are two types of genders: Masculine and Feminine. There is no gender division of inanimate objects as found in Hindi. Gender is present only in the noun class of animate beings in Boro. The following are the ways of distinguishing gender.

(a) In certain cases gender formation is realized by using different sets of words. For example:

Masculine.

Feminine.

ada (elder brother).

bazwi (sister-in-law).

ai (father).

apha (mother).

abwu (grand-father).

abwi (grand-mother).

bisai (husband).

bisi (wife).

gumwi (brother-in-law).

abo (elder sister).

(b) Sometimes feminine genders are distinguished by adding morphemes to the masculine noun words. For example:

Masculine.

Feminine.

bengd (a deaf man).

beng-i (a deaf woman).

phagla (a mad man).

phagl-i (a mad woman).

haytha (a short man).

hayth-u (a short woman).

balonda (a man whose wife has died)

balond-i (a woman whose

husband has died)

          ( c)     It may be mentioned here that by affixing certain words indicating the sex to noun words, masculine and feminine genders are distinguished. In case of pigs and cats ‘bunda’ is used for the masculine and ‘bundi’ is used for the feminine gender. For example:

Masculine.

oma bunda

(he pig).

Feminine.

oma bundi

(she pig).

Masculine.

mauzi bunda

(he cat).

Feminine.

mauzi bundi

(she cat).

Likewise in the case of ‘he goat’ phanta is used for masculine and in the case of ‘she goat’ panthi is used to determine the feminine gender. For example:

Masculine.

bwrma phantha

(he goat).

Feminine.

bwrma phantha

(she goat).

Similarly in the case of birds, zwla and zw both are used for the masculine and feminine genders respectively. For example:

Masculine.

dau zwla

(cock).

Feminine.

dau zw

(hen).

In the case of dog dongla and dongli, both are used for masculine and feminine genders respectively. Examples are as follows:

Masculine.

swima dongla

(he dog).

Feminine.

swima dongli

(she dog).

        (d)There are certain words that denotes the meaning of masculine and feminine gender. For example:

Unique Masculine:

badari

(wood-cutter).

barlampha

(a traditional folk-dancer

who participates in the

marriage ceremony).

dwuri

(priest).

laukhar

(cow-boy).

oza

(folk medicine man).

zwusai

(drunkard).

Unique Feminine.

dwudini

(a woman folk-dancer

who participates in the

kherai puza).

bokhali

(a baby’s nurse).

adunggari

(an aged unmarried lady).

sundauri

(a naughty girl).

randi

(widow).

 

(e) Besides there are some other specimens of common gender in Boro. They are as follows:

mansi

(man).

alasi

(guest).

mwswu

(cow).

swima

(dog).

biguma

(owner).

maoria

(orphan).

gotho

(child).

nikhaori

(poor).

bibayari

(beggar).

It may be mentioned here that the above stated specimens do not uniquely represent masculine or feminine. These are an intermixture form of gender to some extent.

 

Tense and Aspect:

        Boro verbs comprises of three tenses and some aspects;

 

1) present tense

The present tense has three aspects: 1) indefinite, 2) progressive and 3) perfective.

2) past tense 

The past tense has two aspects: 1) simple past and 2) past progressive.

3) future tense

The future tense has no aspects and it may be mentioned here that the realization of future tense is very simple in Boro.

(a) The Present Tense:

The present tense is realized in three aspects : simple present, present perfect and present progressive. The three aspects are marked by adding different morphemes.

The present indefinite is marked by –w morpheme.

For example:

mansia thwi-w

(man dies).

sana sanza wngkhar-w

(the sun rises in the east).

buhuma dulur-w

(the earth is round).

In the case of present progressive dwng is used to the verb stem.

For example:

ang wngkham za dwng.

(I am eating rice).

ang laizam lir dwng.

(I am writing a letter).

biw siphung su dwng.

(he is playing a flute).

Sometimes bay is added after the verb stem and then dwng morpheme is added to the stem.

The present perfective is marked by-bay morpheme and as a result it shows that the action is just completed. For example:

ang wngkham za bay

(I have eaten rice).

ang lir bay

(I have written).

bi thang bay

(He has gone).

(b)   Past tense:

In Boro, the past tense is realized in two aspects: simple past and past progressive.The simple past is realized by adding a set of morphemes to the verb root. For example:

bi phwi-dwng mwm

(He came).

bi za-dwng mwm

(He eats).

bi thang-dwng mwm

(He went).

It may be considered as immediate past in Boro; but in some cases such as:

iragdaoa dimaphurao ra za-dwng mwn

           (Iragdao      in Dimapur      King        became).

This is an example of distant past in Boro. In ancient times Iraagdoo was a King in Dimapur dynasty.

The past progressive is realized by suffixing a set of morphemes: For example:

ang za-bay dwng mum

(I was eating).

ang lir-bay dwng mwm

(I was writing).

bi undu-bay dwng mwm

(he was sleeping).

Here, za, lir, and undu are all verb roots and bay- is an intermediate morpheme used for denoting perfective tense. -dwng mwm is suffixed after that intermediate morpheme.

 

Cases And Case Inflections.

Case is a grammatical category and it is a form of noun and pronoun in Boro. Boro has seven cases and all these cases are realized by adding case-inflections to the noun and pronoun. Case inflections are combined as bound morphemes to the noun and pronoun class of words. It changes the form of words but not the meanings. Boro expresses seven such relations, namely:

 

(a) Nominative Case.

(b) Accusative Case.

(c) Instrumental Case.

(d) Dative Case.

(e) Genitive Case.

(f) Ablative Case and

(g) Locative Case.

 

The nominative case expresses as the doer, performer or initiator of the action of the verb. It has {-a} inflection; For example:

ada-a wnglcham zabay

(brother has eaten rice).

agwi-a gabdwng

(sister is weeping).

mwswu-a thwibay

(the cow has died).

 

The accusative case is the case of direct subject of the verb. It is marked by the case-inflection {-khwu} and is added to the noun: For example:

mwswu-khwu dabu

(don’t beat the cow).

onnanwi bi-khwu linghor

(please call him).

bizab-khwu dwn

(keep the book).

pulisa sikhau-khwu bubay

(the police has beaten the thief).

In these structures, the case-inflection {-khwu} determines the particular animate and inanimate objects. It corresponds to denominatives of grammatical category to some extent. But while the direct subject of the verb denotes a multitude; sometimes this inflection remains unknown in the syntactic structure. For example:

ang wngkhan { } zagwn

(I shall eat rice).

biw onthai { } bukhrubbay

(he has crushed stone into pieces).

 

The instrumental case expresses the means (inanimate force or object) by which the action identified by the verb is done. It is realized by adding {-zwng} inflection to the noun. For example:

daba-zwng dan

(cut with the knife).

lauthi-zwng bu

(beat with the stick).

athing-zwng zw

(kick with the foot).

 

The dative case is the case of indirect object of the verb. It is marked by {-nw}, suffixed to the noun. For example:

biw mwswu-nw gangsw hwdwng

(he is giving grass to the cow).

rama romen-nu rang horbay

(Ram has given money to Romen).

gosai-nw bibar bau

(offers flower to God).

 

The accusative case which expresses the passive relation with some other animate and inanimate objects in the sentence is called associative or genitive case. It is marked by {-ni}, suffixed to the noun and pronoun. For example:

ai-ni dokhona

(mother’s garment)

bi-ni mwswu

(his cow).

ang-ni ada

(my brother).

 

The ablative case is the case of separation from the source. It is marked by {-phrai} and occurred after the genitive form of the noun. For example:

dongphang-ni-phrai phithai siriw

(the fruit falls from the tree).

gazri akhu-ni-phrai gwzanao tha

(abstain from bad habits).

besor-ni-phrai thao mwnw

(mustard oil is derived from mustard seeds).

 

The locative case expresses the location of the action or state identified by the verb. For example:

dwi-ao na thaw

(fish live in water).

oron-ao zunar thaw

(animals live in the jungle)

bi no-ao dong

(he is at home).

nosing-ao daphwi

(don’t enter the house).

 

Morphological Variation:

The suffix /-lia or -la is used in negative sense in the W.B.D. and it is found /-le/ in S.D.B. and E.D.B.

 

WBD

EBD

SBD

Meaning.

thaN (go)

/thaNlia/

/thaNle/

/thaNle/

Won’t go.

 

/thaNla/

 

 

 

 
Classifiers: The extensive use of classifiers in the Boro language is another striking feature. It is attached with all nouns operating in the language. Hence, nouns are realized as phrases consisting of the noun + classifier. A list of classifiers operating in the language are given below:

/sa/

with human beings.

/ma/

with all types of living things.

/thui/

with fruits, currency, teeth, stones etc.

/gON/

for leaf-like objects.

/phaN/

for trees, saplings etc.

/doi/

for eggs.

/thote/

for posts, bamboo, etc.

/suba/

for bamboo groves.

/thuba/

for bamboo groves, shrubs, etc.

/nON/

for abstract objects.

/goN/

for horns, wooden objects, houses and weapons.

/doN/

for hair rope, etc.

/daN/

for garlands, etc.

/mutha/

for betel leaf, paddy.

/athi/

for firewood.

/dor/

for fish, nuts, etc.

/bar/

for flowers and plants.

/dan/

for days of the month.

/san/

for days.

/kha/

for human beings.

It may again be mentioned here that the combination of classifiers with a noun and a numeral in constructing phrases and sentences are abundantly used. Examples from Boro:

mansi + sa + noi.

man classifier two.

gan + se + kitap.

one classifier book.

moi + der + nase.

one classifier elephant.

 

 

 

 

 

References