Shakuntala Mahanta
Current Research

I specialize in phonology, a branch of linguistics which primarily concerns itself with the human knowledge and organization of sound systems. As a fall-out of working in this specialized area I also take an interest in the interaction of phonology with morphology, phonetics and to a lesser extent with syntax. I have worked and still working in each of these areas. Please refer to my presentations and publication pages for more information.

I have worked on phonological theory and dealt with various aspects of vowel harmony, stress and intonation in South Asian languages. My work in phonology has been on vowel harmony, exceptions and also on stress and rhythm.

I am currently investigating a few Tibeto-Burman languages and trying to understand tone and intonation in Tibeto-Burman. To carry on research on this topic, I am conducting field work on Deori (with the help of project staff). This research is funded by the ICSSR as I am the principal investigator of the sponsored project "A phonological and sociolinguistic study of Deori".

The other project is in collaboration with five other universities of North-East India (the Universities of Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tezpur and Tripura). The title of this project is Digital preservation, analysis and technology development of the languages of the North East. The aim of this project is to create a large archive of the some languages of the North-East (at least as many as possible). Currently the consortia will be engaged in the preservation of 12 languages. IIT Guwahati has undertaken to conduct field work and create a  technologically sound database of Dimasa and Tiwa. Currently 4 project fellows are engaged in this project.

    My research and publications in the recent past and present ongoing work is largely concentrated on the following areas:

    • OT (Optimality Theory) analysis of vowel harmony
    • Nature of exceptional patterns
    • Stress and intonation in South Asian languages
    • Variation in phonology
    • Tone and Intonation in Tibeto-Burman


  • PhD students working under my supervision

  • Mr.Asimul Islam Twaha (UGC Teacher Fellow) –to submit in December 2015

Thesis title “A comparative study of Intonation in Assamese Dialects”

  •  Mr.Kanak Kanti Bera (UGC Teacher Fellow) –to submit in December 2016

“Coarticulation in some dialects of Bengali”

  •  Mr. Amalesh Gope (UGC-JRF Fellow) –to submit in July 2015

“Lexical tones and tonogenesis and intonation in Sylheti”

  •  Ms. Prarthana Acharyya (Project Staff) –to submit in 2016

“Some aspects of the phonology of Deori”

  •  Mr. Kalyan Das (UGC Teacher Fellow) –to submit in December 2015

“Tone and Inrtonation in Bodo”

 Project Staff  currently working under my supervision

 Mr. Hitlar Machahary (Btech)

Mr. Nilutpal Sundi (BTech)

Ms. Bornali Phukan  (BTech)

Ms. Priti Roychaoudhury (MA, Linguistics)

Ms. Sandipana Duarah (MA, Linguistics)