An interesting glimpse into the Assamese language

Author: Darshika Chettri
Date: 2019-12-02

An interesting glimpse into the Assamese language

Assamese is the official language of Assam. It is an Eastern Indo-Aryan language and is also known as Asamiya.

Influence

Assamese is majorly influenced by the Tibeto-Burman dialects in terms of structure, vocabulary, and phonetics. Assamese has no grammatical gender distinctions. Its grammar is known for its highly inflected forms. There are also different pronouns and noun plural markers for use in honorific and nonhonorific constructions. For a non-native, Assamese may sound like Bengali. 

Assamese script

The source of the Assamese script lies is the Gupta script. Spellings were not phonetic when people first started writing in the Assamese language, but later on specific spellings were based on Sanskrit. 


Interesting derivations

Nagamese, an Assamese-based Creole language, is widely used in Nagaland, while Nefamese is an Assamese-based pidgin used in Arunachal Pradesh.

The Kamtapuri language of Rangpur division of Bangladesh and Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri districts of India are linguistically closer to Assamese, though the speakers generally identify with the Bengali culture and the sort of literary language. In the past, it was the court language of the Ahom kingdom from the 17th century.

It is generally believed that Assamese (Assam) and the Kamatapuri lects (Cooch Bihar and Assam) particularly derive from the Kamarupi dialect of Eastern Magadhi Prakrit by keeping to the north of the Ganges, though some authors contest a close connection of Assamese with Magadhi Prakrit. The Indo-Aryan language in Kamarupa had differentiated by the 7th century, before it did in Bengal or Orissa. These changes were due to non-Indo-Aryan speakers adopting the language. The evidence of the newly differentiated language is specifically found in the Prakritisms of the Kamarupa inscriptions.

Assamese Literature

It is believed that Assamese literature had existed before the 14th century, with evidence of rich oral traditions, which include folk songs, festival songs, religious hymns, and children’s stories. 

However, the earliest forms of Assamese in literature are essentially found in the 19th century Buddhist verses called Charyapada and in 12-14th century works of Ramai Pundit (Sunya Puran), Boru Chandidas (Krishna Kirtan), Sukur Mamud (Gopichandrar Gan), Durllava Mullik (Gobindachandrar Git), and Bhavani Das (Mainamatir Gan). In these works, Assamese features coexist with features from other modern Indian languages.


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