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Assamese Language

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Introduction of Assamese Language

The official language of Assam, Assamese is the easternmost Indo-Aryan language. Though mostly spoken in the state of Assam, the language is also used in parts of Arunachal Pradesh and other northeast Indian states. Basically found along the Brahmaputra valley, Assamese sounds quite similar to Bengali, with the exception of a few, minor differences only. In fact, the old text Charya Padas is claimed by both Old Assamese and Old Bengali.

 

History

There is not much information on the history of Assamese language, either in the form of historical records or otherwise. All that we know is that the initiation of Assamese and the other related languages, such as Maithili, Bengali and Oriya, came from Magadhi Prakrit. In fact, Magadhi Prakrit gave rise to four Apabhramsa dialects, out of which one further gave rise to the dialects in West Bengal and Assamese, in the Brahmaputra valley. With time, the language recorded developments and today, it is spoken by a large number of people in India.

 

Literature

Assamese is the strong body of literature. This growing language are seen in the Charyapadas composed in between eight and twelfth centuries. It consists of many writings and poets initially. Later it is seen in form of Ojapali which was well crafted. The Vaishnavite literature came into existence in sixteen to seventeen centuries. Moreover in nineteenth century modern form of Assamese literature came into existence.

 

Dialects

Assamese has number of regional and non regional dialects. Banikanta Kakati identifies two regional dialects which are Eastern and Western. Recently four dialects are recognised which are Eastern Group in and around Sibsagar district. The Central group is in Nagaon and Morigaon and also in its adjoining districts. The Kamrupi group is undivided between Nibari, Kamrup, Darang and Bongaigaon district and finally the Goalpariya group is seen in Golpara and Dhubri districts. The regional dialects are often used in creative works and in novels.

Also there are number of non regional dialects which are community based. Most literary activity takes place in this dialect and therefore it is often called as Likhito bhaxa. There also exist some of the regional dialects which are Standard dialect influenced by neighbouring centres. The fisherman community has a dialect which is used in eastern and central region whereas the astrologer community of Darrang district uses dialect called thar which is coded and secretive. Additionally the Bhakatiya dialect is highly polite and sattra based which contains different set of nominals, verbal forms and prenominals. It also consists of passive and indirect expressions. Some of the features are even used in standard dialect on very formal occasions.

 

Writing Style & Grammar

A variant of the Eastern Nagari script, Assamese script has its roots laid down to the Gupta script. The language had a unique style of writing, on the bark of the saanchi tree. In fact, the religious texts and chronicles in Assamese have been written on the same bark only. The spellings in Assamese, which were initially in use, are not phonetic. Instead, Hemkosh, which is the second dictionary of Assamese, is known to have introduced Sanskrit-based spellings in the language, which are deemed as standard, today.

 

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