belong to the Northern Sub-group of the Tai group of languages whose point of origin seems
to appear to have been round Mung Kang in Upper Burma. After the capture of Mung Kang by
the Burmese, a number of Khamtis migrated to the north and east of Lakhimpur. In 1850,
around three to four hundred Khamti people came and settled in Assam. The Khamtis are
basically Buddhists. Khamti is spoken at the east end of the Lakhimpur District, between
Mishmi and Singpho, on the south side of the Brahmaputra.
The Khamti language
closely agrees with Northern Shan. The Khamti alphabet , which is a variety of the Shan
alphabet, was borrowed from the Burmese. The Khamti alphabet contains thirty-three
letters. Of these sixteen are vowels and seventeen are consonants. It is not as complete
as the older Ahom alphabet. In the vowels the sounds a and e is not represented,
unlike Shan. Again the sounds g,gh,j,jh,d,dh,b,and bh are also not
represented. Khamti is essentially a tonal language. It has about six to seven tones. The
Khamtis borrowed letters from the Burmese quite extensively, though Khamti is quite
different from Burmese linguistically. It has, however retained certain archaic forms
which have disappeared in Mung Kung . Khamti has the form of ka which was originally
borrowed from the Burmese.
In Khamti, every
consonant has the sound a inherent in it and hence all consonants are pronounced with the
a vowel attached to it. When it is desired to pronounce a consonant without this inherent
vowel, at the end of a closed syllable, a specific mark is placed over the consonant.
Every written vowel in Khamti represents several sounds, and also liable to modification
before a final consonant.
language there are at least three tones. Robinson in his grammar recognized four tones.
(1) The rising tone, this is the natural pitch of the voice, as,
ma, a dog. It is not indicated by any special mark.
(2) The level tone. For example- po (father.)
(3) The falling tone. For example- ma: (come.)
(4) The emphatic tone. For example-ma8: (a horse.)
infinite article is formed by adding a:lwng,(one) after the noun. For example-ko:n a:
-lwng,(a certain man) For the definite article, the pronoun nai (this) is used
.For instance-mu: nai khau(the pigs). Gender is unknown. In order to distinguish sex,
either different words are used. For example-po (father),ma: (mother), or else
differentiating words are added. The male word is chai for human being,thwk for inferior
animals and phu: for birds.
plural is indicated by prefixing or suffixing khau.When there is a pronoun or definite
article khau is suffix to it. For instance-pet khau (ducks); pet nai khau (the ducks).
relationship of case is formed by prefixing or suffixing words. The Nominative
takes no prefix or suffix. The accusative usually takes no suffix. Sometimes it
takes Mai. It is also used as a suffix of the dative and the locative. The Genative
takes no prefix or suffix, but is placed after the governing word. For instance- hang, a
tail. pa:, a fish. hang pa:,a fishs tail.
Other prefixes and
suffixes used to indicate cases are the following. A line following a word indicate a
prefixes. When two words are separated by a line, it indicates that the noun is placed
between them. For example-
ti---, ti---mai, to.
hang---, to, for.
luk-----, luk----mai, from.
au-----, with, by means of.
tang----, with, together with.
not change for gender. They follow the nouns they qualify. For example-ko:n ni: a
is formed by prefixing khen(more) For instance-khen thau(more). To form the superlative
it will be written like khen yow lwm-shi:ta:ng-mwng (larger then all, largest).
In Khamti all the
numerals are pronounced with the rising tone except lwng
pronouns have special forms for the plural. In other words they are declined like
nouns. They are-
||hau, tu: or ha:, We.
||shu: Ye or You.
|man, He, She, It
||khau or man khau, They
In the first person,
hau is the same as our we,tu: excludes the person addressed, and ha: is really
a dual. There are a number of compound pronouns. For example- ha:ng khw, we two.
sha^ng khw you two
sha^ng khw or nkha: They two.
Pronouns are a: nai or an nai,(This). a: nan or an nan,(That).They are adjectives, and
follow the nouns they qualify. The initial a: or a:n is often dropped. Nai is
often used as a definite article.
Pronoun is a#n,(Who or Which). For example-hu_ an cho#m,(the boat which sunk.
Pronouns are sometimes used as relatives. Interrogative pronouns are phau_,(Who). ka
shang(what) a:law( which). There are several indefinite pronouns. For instance-phaw kai or
phaw ko, (anyone, some one, etc.)
There is no proper
conjugation of verbs. There is no for number or pronoun. The bare root is commonly use for
any tense, especially the present and the past.
The follow is the
method of expressing the relations of tense of the verb kin, (eat).
Present- kau kin, I eat.
Present definite- kau kin u: I am eating.
Past- kau kin ka:, I ate.
Perfect- kau kin ka: you or kau kin you, I have eaten.
Future- kau ti kin, I shall eat.
Imperative- kin ta:, eat.
Negative Imperative- pi kin ta:, do not eat.
Permissive Imperative- kin haw ta:, allow to eat.
Infinitive- kin, to eat.
Infinitive of purpose- hang kin, in order to eat.
Participle- kin shi: having eaten.
Adverbial Participle-mw kin nai, after eating, on eating.
The prefixes and the
suffixes are quite commonly widely separated from the root. A prefix commonly appears at
the beginning of the sentence, and a suffix at the end, while the verb itself is in the
There is no passive
voice .The passive is the same as the active.
Participles are n,and ma: nis used in the direct negation. For instance, man
nkho#, she does not laugh.(direct negation).
ma# is used in
conditional interrogative sentences. The interrogative force is given by putting ke#, at
the end of the sentence.
The Khamti language is
influenced by the Tibeto Burman language in respect of order of words. The usual order of
words in a simple sentence is Subject, Direct object, Indirect object and Verb. In an
interrogative sentence, the indirect object precedes the Direct object.
follows the noun it qualifies. The genetive is depend on the noun. In the relative
sentence the demonstrative pronoun of the antecedent may be put either at the beginning or
end of the sentence.