The multilingual beauty of Assam can be glimpsed in the notable variations of the language/dialects spoken by people of Upper Assam and Lower Assam. This variation can be identified by the tone of speech highlighting no distinction in writing.
Assam is popularly recognized as the ‘melting pot’ of variation of cultures, faith and ethnicities. Eventually, variations in culture acquaint many varied languages. Rightly called, Assam is a representation of Unity in diversity.
The oldest language of Assam
The “Assamese” language is the oldest and most dominant language spoken in the beautiful state, Assam.
According to the 2011 census report, Assam retains 31.20 million people. Assamese is enunciated by 15 million people accounting for 48%.
Assamese is an Indo-Aryan dialect given rise to Assam by Brahmins from Kannauj, Mithila, Awadh, Orissa and Bengal that is acknowledged as the sister language of Bengali, Oriya and Maithili. The language enunciated is called Asamiya and the term ‘Assamese’ is an anglicised aspect of it.
Linguistic Diversity of Assam
Assam poses for a rich cultural and linguistic history. The umbrella of varied languages prevailing in Assam coined it as Mini India in the heart of Northeastern India.
The diversity of languages varies in the range dividing Assam into Lower Assam, Middle Assam, Upper Assam, Hill districts, Barak Valley etc. However, Assamese and Bodo are the primary native and official dialects while Bengali is the native and precise language in the three regions in the Barak Valley and is the second widely vocal language in the state.
The range varies as in:
1. Lower Assam: Bodo, Rabha, Rajbongshi ( Goalpariya), Santhali, Hajong, Koch, Garo, Bengali, Nepali and Assamese ( Kampuriya)
2. Middle Assam : Assamese, Bengali, Tiwa, Khasi, Karbi (Amri)
3. Upper Assam: Assamese, Mishing, Deori, Baganiya, Nagamese, Tai Khamti- Phake.
4. Hill District : Dimasa, Kuki, Nagamese, Karbi, Hmar.
5. Barak Valley: Bengali ( syllethi),Kuki, Mizo, Kokborok, Dimasa, Manipuri ( both Bishnupriya and Meitei)
Eventually, the languages they enunciate pertain to four main language groups: Tibeto-Burman, Indo-Aryan, Tai-Kadai, and Austroasiatic.
Linguistics extinction in the state
Often, people around the state argue whether the Assamese language will survive shortly?
The history of the Assamese language is very old. With time and period, the Assamese changed its configuration and can be recognised as the contemporary Indian language in India.
But from a sense of view, we can conclude that the extent of the Assamese language is in threat shortly because of the rise in the practice of other dominant languages like Bengali spoken by around 10.92 million accounting at least 35% of the state population.
Hindi is the third most spoken language in the state.
Secondly, the use of the English language is primary and focused mainly on shifting the use of the mother language which decreases the fluency and use of traditional dialects.
However, the quantity of speakers is accumulating, the proportion of Assam’s population who retain it as their mother tongue has plunged infrequently.
With a ratio of a total of six Tai languages spoken in Assam, two namely, the Ahom and Turung are presently extinct while Khamyang is figured as critically endangered.
According to the 2010 Unesco list of susceptible languages, Bodo, Dimasa, Hmar, Karbi, Mizo, Angami, Baitei, Deuri, Khasi, Kabui, Koch, Ao, Konyak, Meter and Mech fall under the vulnerable and susceptible classifications. This susceptible classification includes most children who enunciate the language but it may be constrained to specific realms.
Linguistic, Cultural and Ethnic Diversity gives rise to a sense of unity among the people. It acts as a communication tool and brings diversity in cultural and linguistic pursuits.