Sunday, September 28, 2008

A brief historical linguistics of Kuki-Chin languages with special reference to diachronic linguistic studies of Zo language in India and Burma

Introduction to a brief historical records of the Zo people

The Zos are Tibeto-mongoloid group of people, a sub-family of the Kuki-Chin-Mizo race. The name Zo or Zou is the name of a group of Tibeto-Burman people inhabiting the Chin Hills in Mynamar and Manipur in India. It is also recorded as Yo, Jou, Zou by many colonial civil servants and modern writers. While colonial records referred to the Zou tribe variously as ‘Yo’ or ‘Yaw’, the Zou community living in Manipur called themselves ‘Jou’. The first Christian church established by the Zou tribe in Manipur was called Jou Christian Association (JCA) on 20 February 1954. But the Government of India officially recognised the name of this tribe as ‘Zou’ in 1956.I) The earliest historical records of Zo was written by Fan-Cho a diplomat of Tang dynasty of China who mentioned of a kingdom in Chindween valley whose princes and chiefs were callled Zo or Shou or Zhou in the year 862 A. D.
II)The most genuine historical records of the Zos/Zous were written down by Rev.Fr.Vincentious Sangermano; a Roman Catholic Missionary who came to Burma in 1783 A.D. He wrote a book entitled “A Description of the Burmese Empire” it was published in 1835 A.D in Rome in latin language,later on it was translated into English by William Tandy D.D. (reprinted at the Goverment Press,Yangon;MDCL XXXV) Page 35; wrote about the Jou.The extracts are given as under:- “To the East of Chien Mountains between 20o30’ seconds and 21o30’ North latitude is apetty nation called ‘JOU'. They are supposed to have been Chein,who in progress of time, have become Burmaniszed,speaking their language,although very corruptly, and adopting all their customs”
III) Betram S.Carey CIE,Assitant Commissioner,Burma, and Political Officer,Chin Hills and H.N.Tuck ,Extra Assitant Commissioner,Burma and Assistant Political Officer,Chin Hills wrote 'THE CHIN HILLS'. In that book Volume I page 140 they wrote about the Zos as follows:- “The Yos[Zos} tribe three generations back occupied the tract now occupied by the Kanhow clan of Soktes, and many of the Kanhow villages are inhabited still by Yos,whose tribal name has given way to that of Kanhow. As has been shown in the previous chapter,Kantum, the Sokte, conquered all the inhabitants right up to the borders of Manipur,and Kanhow,his so, founded Tiddim village and ruled the newly acquired conquests of his father. The conquered Yos thus became known as Kanhowte,Kanhow’s men, and as they intermaried with the Soktes who settled north with Kanhow Kanhow,there is no real difference between the conquerors and the conquered”.
IV ) F.K.Lehman of Illinois Studies in Anthropology No.3,The University of Illinois Press Urbans 1963,Page 179 states as follows: Between Burma and India there lived a racial group people who are living with their tradition and customs firmly. They are not easy to ruling. They worship “SHA” which was their dead peoples spirits. They called their dead people’s evil spirit JIN. Their origin name is “JOU”

V) The terms ‘Zo’ have been employed in many books written by the people. The first complete version of the Holy Bible in Zo language(1983 A D) used the title as ' The Holy Bible in Zo' and the second complete Holy Bible also used the word 'Zokam'. Pu. T.Gougin used the terminology : Zo and Zomi to denote this community in the book 'A Brief History of Zou'(1961 A.D.) and (L)Pu. Thangkhanlal also used the term 'Zo' in his Zo primer(1973) and Pu.Goupau in ' Zo Sânnêmla' others. The term ‘Zou’ is officially accepted to refer to the Zou tribe in Manipur since 1956. But in Myanmar(Burma) these very same people; they have been using the term 'Zo' to denote themseves in Chin Hills and Sagaing division of Myanmar since the beginning of Roman script for writing perhaps as early as 1920s. The name 'Zo' has been used by Zo Baptist Association (ZBA) and Zo Presbyterian Synod Church in Myanmar.
In the year 1926 two missionaries Mr. Hrangchuaka and Mr.Dawnthawma visited the Zo country and wrote their about them in the bulletin ‘Khristian’. Free translation of the above write up is given below:-

“First of all,I would like to tell briefly about the land as described below:- The country is located in the Imphal areas and north of Guite tracts,between the lands of Meitei and Sukte along the valley of Imphal river. Like,the Lushei country they people have petty chieftains in the small villages which are not extensive enough. They all called themselves by the racial name or tribal name; Zo .....they are very ignorant and illiterate; I learnt that they fought against the Government few years back. Religion: they are all worshippers of spirits of their forefathers, and they practised animal sacrifices to propitiate the spirits.. ‘I donot have a son. If I follow God will I have a son? They used to asked me,thus,the Zo ram ‘Zo country’ does not hear that God sent his only begotten son to redeem the sinners,therefore,I implore to you to please pray for this Zo people”.

A brief Historical linguistics of Kuki-Chin languages with special reference to diachronic linguistic studies of Zo language in India and Burma

During the ancient period the Zo people are said to have possess their own script written on parchments. In course of their migration to distant lands these parchments were lost. Some believed that they were eaten by hungry dogs. Zo language is believed to be very old language as told by elders of the community. Zo language had been in usage circa A.D 850, Prof. G.H Luce stated that the though it is known as Tibeto-Burman their common language is either Chin or Kachin or the combination of both of them. The Zo language is very closely related to the Kachin language.

The coming of missionaries into the land of the Zo people nearly coincides with the education of the people and thus we may say that the historical linguistics of Zo language begins with the advent of the missionaries into the Zo country; eastern and western regions. In the year 1912 A.D the Royal Asiatic Society, Calcutta was founded with Dr.George A.Grierson as one of its founders. In one of its journal they proposed Roman alphabet to write the dialects of the wild tribes. Zo literature also saw its birth sometime in the second decade of the 20th century. In 1904-1930,Dr.George A.Grierson prepared a detailed descriptions of Kuki-Chin languages in Part 3 Vol No.3

Lushai/Mizo/Lusei language Dulien, Duhlian, Lusei and Lushai are one and the same language what is today known as Mizo. In 1893 R. Arthington of the Arthington Aborigines Mission sent two missionaries to Aizawl. In 1894 F.W.Savidge and J.H.Lorraine reached southwest Mizoram. They learned the Lushai(Mizo) language and introduced the Roman script for writing the unwritten Lushai language. They translated some Bible parables. They taught the people how to read and write in their mission schools. They translated the Gospel of St. John and the Acts of the Apostles in Lushai language. They were transferred in 1897. Thus, Lushai/Lusei literature began its long journey from then onwards. In 1898, Rev.D.E Jones reached the western part of Lushai Hills. By 1899,he visited all the important villages they opened up missionary schools and taught the Duhlien dialect. The complete New Testament was published in 1916. J.H.Lorraine started preparing the Lushai-English Dictionary which was published in 1940. The entire Holy Bible(minus Apocripha) translation was completed on 30th June,1955. It was printed at Calcutta and it was published in 1959 by BSI. Now,the Mizo language studied as MIL from Cl.IX,X till M.A level in the state of Mizoram and Manipur.

Hmar language: The Hmar language belongs to the Kuki-Chin-Naga sub-group of Tibeto-Burman stock of the great Sino-Tibetan family of languages. The speakers of the language are also known as Hmar. The allograph of Hmar,as recorded in some books is Mhar.Hmar speakers are scattered over a vast area in Mizoram,Manipur, NC Hills and Cachar districts of Assam state,India. There is no homogenous settlement of Hmar speakers alone. Hmar is a recognised language in the School curriculum of Assam, Manipur and Mizoram, and alsorecently recognised as one of the Modern Indian Language (MIL) at Manipur University. Board of Secondary Education, Assam has also included Hmar as an MIL in its matriculation syllabus from 2005. Beginning: The beginning of written languages in Hmar can be traced to the arrival of missionaries Dr Peter Fraser and his wife Mrs. Fraser sent by Welsh Missionary Society. in 1906 at Senvon. Evangelist Watkin R.Roberts was an independent missionary.In 1908-9, Dr. Fraser arrived at Aizawl where he opened a clinic to treat the hillmen. He appointed Rev. W.R. Roberts as his assistant. Rev. W. R. Roberts began to learn the Lushai language. He visited many villages in Lushai Hills. He bought 104 copies of the Gospel of St. John in Lushai and he distributed them among the Hmar people and one copy was specially sent to the Chief of Senvon,Mr. Kamkholun. The chief of Senvon was greatly impressed by the book he at once requested Rev. W.Roberts to come to Senvon to tell more about the book and his gospel. In those days,Senvon was the biggest Hmar village in Manipur. In spite of ,many warnings by the British officials in Aizawl from the wild head-hunters of those days, Rev.W.Roberts accompanied by two students Lungpau and Thangkhai(both belonging to Vaiphei tribe became the first Christians in Manipur south west area) began their journey from Aizawl on 31, January 1910 towards Senvon. They reached Senvon on 5th February 1910.On the request of Chief of Senvon, Rev.W.Roberts sent three Bible students who volunteered themselves viz; Savawma,Vanzika and Thangchhingpuia to be evangelist teachers. They arrived at Senvon on 7th May 1910. They opened a Mission School at Senvon Hmunte. They also taught the Good News to the peoples besides teaching them the 3 Rs. Thus, the Hmar literatures/language saw its birth through those missionaries. He translated the Gospel of St. John in Hmar language. In those days, the Mission was referred to as Thadou-Kuki Pioneer Mission(1910-1928) which was later on renamed as North East India General Mission(NEIGM) in 1928.In 1920,the Gospel of Mark in Hmar,translated by Mr.F.J.Sandy of Eldh Presbyterian Mission,was published at Aizawl. Later on,the whole of the New Testament was translated by Mr. H.S Thanglung,H.L Sela and others,was published in 1946.Mr. R. Dala wrote a book titled ‘Khrista Hnena mi huai Dan’ and he published a monthly magazine called ‘Thadou-Kuki Pioneer Mission’(Khristian Tlangau Bu).

Vaiphei language

The Gospel of St. John was translated into Vaiphei by Rev.Watkins.R.oberts and it was published in 1917 by Bible Society of India. The New Testament and Psalms printed in 1957 were translated by Mr. Siaklam assisted by Mssrs.Liankhopao,Khaivung,Zamkai and Pauva.In 1967,the book of Genesis was printed by the Bible Society of India. Mr. Th.Lamboi with the help of the Trinitarian Bible Society in London published Bible in 1979. Vaiphei is a developing language.

Haka/Hakha(Lai) and Khalkha languages

In 1898,Rev.Carson and his wife reached Haka to preach the Good News. On 15,March,1899, Rev. Arthur Carson and his wife of A.B.M reached Haka the capital of the Chin State/Hills,with much difficulties he managed to convert one person in 1904,after struggling for five years. He introduced the Roman alphabet and taught the people how to write in their mother tongue. He translated the New Testament into different dialects. He died on 1,April,1908 at Haka. On 5,April,1906 Chester Strait arrived at Haka. He learnt the Haka(Lai) language well. He established a Bible school at Haka in May,1928 with few students. He prepared Sunday school lessons and translated the New Testament in Lai(Haka) language which was published by Mission Press Rangoon in 1940.

Tangkhul language

In 1894,February William Pettigrew who was incharge of the American Baptist Mission,opened a school among the Meitei Hindus at Imphal. He was not welcomed in the land of Meiteis. In 1895,he establish a Mission centre at Ukhrul. From the years 1895 to 1910 he learnt the local language,later on he developed the Tangkhul language by unifying the various village dialectical groups into one single language; Hundung/Ukhrul dialect. Now,the Tangkhul language taken as MIL from Cl.IX,X till Cl.XII the state of Manipur.

Thado-Kuki language

On the demand of Rev. William Pettigrew, Dr.Grozier came to Kangpokpi in the last part of 1909. From 1910 onwards,he set up a Medical Centre at Kangpokpi Mission Compound servving as Doctor for the sick and the poor. The history of this language began with the arrival of the missionaries at Kangpokpi,Manipur state. T.C Hodson(1905) called this language as Thado,Rev. William Pettigrew named it Thadou. Longkhobel Kilong(1922) and Thomsong Ngulhao(Lekhabul,Thadou Kuki first Primer 1927) called it Thadou Kuki.T.Lunkim,in the early 1970s proposed the name of this language as 'Kuki'. He wrote the Holy Bible in Kuki.Mssrs. Lt.R.Steward (author of ' A slight notice of the Grammar of Thado or New Kuki language published in the Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal 1857) and Dament called it Thado language and local dialect it is known as Thado pao. Thadou or Thadou-Kuki is a language spoken in the states of Assam,Nagaland,Mizoram,Manipur and in the Chin Hills of Burma, Homalin areas of Upper Burma and Chittagong tracts of Bangladesh. It is widely spoken language belonging to the Kuki-Chin sub-group of Tibeto-Burman sub-family of Sino-Tibetan families of languages.It shares linguistic similarities and ethnographic similarities with the other dialects of th Kuki-Chin sub-groups.Now,the Thado-Kuki language taken as MIL from Cl.IX,X till Cl.XII the state of Manipur.

Paite language

The beginning of written languages in Paite can also be traced to the arrival of missionaries Dr Peter Fraser and his wiwfe Mrs. Fraser sent by Welsh Missionary Society. in 1906 at Senvon. Evangelist Watkin R.Roberts was an independent missionary.Rev. W. R. Roberts began to learn the Lushai language. He visited many villages in Lushai Hills. He bought 104 copies of the Gospel of St. John in Lushai and he distributed them among the Hmar people and other neighbouring people.In spite of ,many warnings by the British officials in Aizawl from the wild head-hunters of those days,Rev.W.Roberts accompanied by two students Lungpau and Thangkhai(both belonging to Vaiphei tribe became the first Christians in Manipur south west area) began their journey from Aizawl on 31,January 1910 towards Senvon. They reached Senvon on 5th February 1910.On the request of Chief of Senvon,Rev.W.Roberts sent three Bible students who volunteered themselves viz; Savawma or Thangbula ? , Vanzika and Thangchhingpuia to be evangelist teachers. They arrived at Senvon on 7th May 1910. They opened a Mission School at Senvon Hmunte. They taught the Good News to the peoples besides teaching them the 3 Rs. He translated the Gospel of St. John in Hmar language. In those days, the Mission was referred to as Thadou-Kuki Pioneer Mission(1910-1924/28?) which was later on renamed as North East India General Mission(NEIGM) in 1924 or 1928? by Rev. H. Coleman,due to some misunderstandings between him and Rev.Watkin Roberts. Mr. H.K.Dohnuna and Rev.Watkin Roberts established a denominations called Independent Church of India(ICI).The Assembly includes various communities such as Paite,Lushai,Hmar,Thado-Kuki, Zo. From 1910 till 1947 there was one administration under the umbrella of NEIGM. As the number of tribes increased there arose linguistic problems amongst them. So,inorder to facilitate smooth functioning of the NEIGM,a resolution was passed in 1948 to divide NEIGM into different Presbyteries.In March,1948, just before the General Assembly to be held in 1949, the South Eastern Area Presbytery consisting mainly of Paite tribe and others(e.g. Zos of South District of Manipur now known as Churachandpur district,India), resolved to remain as separate Presbytery and they held their own conference at Kaihlam in 1949. It became the first Paite Christian Conference. In 1950 Songtal conference it was renamed as Manipur Christian Convention,later on was renamed as Evangelical Convention Church, now it is Evangelical Baptist Church.The Gospel of St. John was translated by T.C Tiankham,Nengzachin, Vungthawn, Chinlang and Thangkhawgin were published by NEIGM. The first edition of the New Testament and Psalms as translated by the above persons was published in 1951 by the Bible Society of India(BSI). Another version of the New Testament edited by Rev. Nengzachin, Jamkhothang, Vungthawn, Nengthawn, Khamkam and Englian was printed in 1959 by BSI. The complete Bible in Paite(minus Apocripha) was translated by Rev. Nengzachin and committee was published in 1971.Now,the Paite language taken as MIL from Cl.IX,X til B.A(TDC) in the state of Manipur.

Gangte language

The Gospel of St. Mathew was first book to be translated and published in 1951 by the BSI. The whole New Testament translated by Mr. Thongzakham and Mr. Vungzadal was published in 1959. The entire Bible (minus Apocripha) was translated by Mr. Khaigin Gangte of Evangelical Christian Synod(formerly known as Manipur Christian Synod) printed in 1991.

Kom language

The Gospel of St. Mathew was translated by Evan. Lunkhohen of American Baptist Mission was printed by BSI in 1954 and the entire New Testament was published in 1976 under the Chief translator Mr. Daniel Kom.Simte languageThe Gospel of St. John was translated by Mr. Ramlien Pudaite in 1957. The New Testament was printed in 1975 published by Trinitarian Bible Society of London. The entire Bible based on KJV English (minus Apocripha) was released on 20th January 1993 at Churachandpur,New Testament Baptist Church.

Diachronic Linguistic Studies of Zo language in Burma and India

In Burma the development of Tedim dialect and Zo language and its literature owes to one great missionary in the person of Rev. Joseph Hebert Cope of American Baptist Mission. In December 21,1908, he reached Haka and learnt the Haka and Falam dialects to spread the word of God but he was not very successful. In 1910, he arrived at Tedim town in Chin Hills and he began to learn the local language;Tedim-Chin or Tiddim-Chin. He had to face a lot of resistance and hardships especially from the orthodox Zos. The practice of social drinking was prevalent in those days,it took quite a long time to convert souls for Christ due to the orthodoxy of the Zo people who use to worship the supreme being called ‘Pasien’ and their ancestors’ spirits called ‘Pusha’ .The form of worship is known as ‘Pusha Bieh’. Their form of ancient ancestor worship or religion may be termed as ‘Lawkism’ in anglicized terminlogy.

Kamhau dialect,Tedim,Tedim-Chin,Tiddim-Chin language

Prior to the development of Zo language in Burma,the most developed language and literature was that of Kamhau dialect or Tedim dialect found in the Northern Chin Hills of Burma.The beginning of the 20th century Pu. Kamhau was one of the Sukte rulers(Innpite) of Tedim,Tonzang and other Zo villages in Chin Hills,his dialect was similar to the Tiddim-Chin dialect, therefore, he propagated his own dialect amongst his subjects after his name; Kamhau and he made it as the official language of his tracts with the patronage of the British Rulers and missionaries of those days. It was known as Kamhau dialect. In many books it is also recorded as Sukte dialect. The loconym Tedim is the allograph of Tiddim-Chin vice-versa. Rev. J.H. Cope compiled hymn book in Tedim dialect and he also published portions of the Gospels. In 1913, he compiled the first Chin Primer in Tedim dialect using Roman Scripts called Mang Tual Lai). In 1915, J.H Cope translated the ‘Mate Lai Siangtho’ (Gospel of St.Mathew) in Kamhau dialect and it was printed by British & Foreign Bible Society,Rangoon and the ‘Zawhang Lai Siangtho’(Gospel of St.John) in Kamhau dialect,1923. These Bibles were the forerunners of the later days Tiddim-Chin Bibles. In 1931, The Sermont on the Mount was published in Pau Cin Hau script with the help of Mrs. Cope and Pu.Thang Cin Kham of Tonzang village. Due to the non-availability of printing technology for this script it could not be fully developed as a means of education in schools. He began to publish a 16 page bulletin called Tedim Thukizakna with the help of local pastors and literates from 1919 till his death in 1938.About 1920-21,there was a Educational Conference at Falam which agreed to develop the Roman alphabet as a medium of instructions for schools in place of Burmese. The Chin Education Conference at Maymyo was held on 23rd October 1923,wherein the members resolved to prepare school textbooks in Tiddim-Chin language. Consequently, Rev. In 1922, J.H Cope was confered the rank of Honorary Inspector of Schools for the whole of Chin Hills. Hence forth,he was known as Sângmâng Pa ‘Master of Schools’. In the year 1925,he organized all the Primary Schools into Tedim Chin Primary Schools.It is recorded that as told by Rev. Thang Kho Chin of Phaitu village, that when Rev. J.H Cope tried to prepare folktales in the Tedim-Chin Readers he could not satisfactory gather detail accounts of the Zo folktales among the Tedim speaking people of Tedim town,he said that some Tedim speaking elders pointed out to J.H Cope that the Zo people who preserve their customs, traditions and folktales still in tact, should be consulted for the purpose of writing folktales and other stories and so he approached them accordingly. So, he consulted and interviewed Pu Tuong Za Go of Lomzang village in Tongzang Myone who knew many folktales and stories,thus many Zo folktales and legends of course, the native Zo language also came to be incorporated into the Tedim-Chin Reader which was later on through several revisions the native Zo language was gradually dropped in place of Tiddim-Chin dialect. By 1925 A.D he prepared the Tiddim-Chin Readers. In 1931, he translated portions of the New Testament in Tedim dialect. In 1932, assisted by Sia Vial Nang, Rev. J.H.Cope completed the first complete New Testament Bible in the Chin Hills which was published by British and Foreign Bible Society(Rangoon) in Kamhau/Tiddim-Chin dialect. In 1948, Sia Hau Go reprinted the New Testament, in Tedim dialect(Lai Siang tho thak,Tedim kam). In 1967, The New Testament and Psalms in Tedim kam was published by Bible Society of India,was officially released at Guwahati Conference of CBCNEI. On 12th June 1977, under the aegis of the Tedim Baptist Association and Chin Baptist Association(Lamka),with the assistance of the Bible Society of India published the complete Holy Bible(minus Apocripha) translated and edited by Rev. Kam Khaw Thang of Burma,was released at Churachandpur,Manipur.

Zo language [Zokam/Zohâm]

After the British Rulers left India and Burma,the Zo language suffered much disintegration and diversifications in terms of its orthographies specially in N.E India.With coming of the tribe recognitions in the beginning of 1950s by Government of India(vis a vis Government of Manipur), various speech communities of the Kuki-Chin groups began to adopt their own dialects as the basis of their ethnic differentiation and identities. The Kuki-Chin linguistic world was split up into various ethnic components such as ; Kom, Chothe, Anal, Paite, Simte,Thadou, Zo, Gangte, Vaiphei etc. We have already seen the growth and develpment of Zo language in Burma through the pioneering works of Rev.J.H Cope, the Zos also benefited from the point of literature and religion.

Prior to the 1950s, like the Zos in Burma,the Zos in India were staunch believers of their ancient fore-fathers religion; ancestor worship which I may be called it ‘Lawkism’ in anglicized terminology. In the early 1950s,with the advent and invasion of foreign religion in the form of Christianity, the majority of the Zos were converted into Christian faith some were converted individually,major chunk of population underwent mass conversion resulting in drastic transformations of their social systems,kinship systems,customs,culture,and tribe solidarity. The advent of the new faith and its missionary activities came the western education. Many youngmen became literate and enlightened. In course of time,the newly educated people felt the necessity of having a denomination based on their tribe or community. The Zos of India and Burma were using either the Paite or Tedim Hymn Books and Gospels since the beginnning of the 20th century. Some even used to read the Lushai Bible. They also longed to have hymn books and the Bible in their own mother tongue. In 1946, some schools were opened among the Zos in South district of Manipur state. The E.C.C missionaries Mssrs.Vungdal, Khamzalian, Thongluon used to preach the Gospel among the Zos of South District. Some people were converted to Christianity. However, in those days, there was no single organised Zo Christian denomination amongst them, in fact, they were scattered among various denominations such as E.C.C, E.A.C etc. After few years many Zos left their parent denominations MCConvention/ECC which were under N.E.I.G was rechristened as Evangelical Congregational Church of India (E.C.C.I) in November,1986. Some newly educated Zos like Mr.Thawngzakhup and Mr.Kamzakhup began to organise the new converts into associations due to tribalism and linguistics differences as perceived by them. On 20, February1,1954, they founded a new denomination known as ‘Jou Christian Association’ at Daijang village, South district,Manipur under the Chairmanship of Late Pu. Ngulzakhup. In 1956 they held the second JCA session at Buhsau village in which they renamed it as Manipur Christian Conference(MCC) so as to get a separate Presbytery affiliation under NEIGM.Through their newly established church denomination,the Zos began to develop their own language and literature in their own mother tongue. The first hymn book called ‘Zomi Christian Labupi’ was printed in 1954(500 copies) compiled and edited by Zomi Theme Committee, Tuaitengphai under the leadership of Pu. Thonghang(T.Tungnung), Pu.Kaizakham (K.Phiemphu) and Pu.Semkhopao (S.K.Samte). They can be given the status of the Pioneers of Zo literature in Manipur(India). The second, third, fourth editions came out in 1956(2,000 copies), 1970(3000 copies), 1985( 1000 copies) and 1989(3000 copies;tonic solfa) respectively. Pu.S.K Samte published the first newspaper known as 'Jougam-Thusuo' in March,1954. He used a mixture of Hunterian orthography and the A,B,C....Z system based on phonological features of the then unwritten Zo language,as it is evident from the spellings found in the newspaper1.In 1956 A.D, (L) Pu. T. Nengkhogin prepared and published a Zo primer known as ‘Jou Simpat Bu 2 ’ with the assistance of Pu.S.K Samte. In that he proposed the use of the Roman Script,which is today known as the English Alphabet. Since,he was the pioneer in Zo orthography(reading and writing system) in Manipur he could be given the title of the Father of Zo Literature(Zo Laipa) in Indian context. In 1957, Pu. T. Gougin, Sub. Peter Thangkhokam, Pu.Vummâng and Pu.Jâmkhogin all of them painstakingly collected and compiled the ancient mores, customs and traditions of the Zos from the various chiefs. On 1.12.1957, they published the first ever Jou Customary Law 3 book with the patronage of the Zo chiefs. Thus, all of them may be given the titles of the Fathers of Zo Customary Law book. In 1958, Pu S.K.Samte prepared 4(four) books they are; Jou Lai Bu Ina, Jou Lai Bu IIna, Tuottung Bu and Jou Hindi Simpat. In 1961, Pu T.Gougin M.A published a book on Zo people known as ‘A Brief History of Zou’. In 1967, the first New Testament in Zokam was translated and published by Pu.S.K.Samte.In 1967, Pu Thangkhanlal prepared 6(six) books on Zo language viz; Zolai Bu Khatna, Zolai Bu Nina, Naupangte Zolai Patna, Learners English. He followed the Hunterian system i.e A, AW, B, CH orthography which is adopted by the Lushai(Mizo) literature and partly of Rev. J.H Cope’s orthography which is still used by the Tedim-Chins and some Zo people in Burma.

Pu S.Mangsuanthang also prepared some Zo Primer following the same orthography. But the spelling usages employed by the two authors are not same.In the early 1980s a man named Pu Siehzathang claimed to have discovered the lost script of Zo language in his dreams! Later on, UZO accepted it to be the script for Zou vernacular in 1983. But,on detailed analysis it seems to be admixture of Burmese and Bengali script. Of course,the invention of this script shows his creativity of thought and his love of language. This script also needs fine tuning in terms of tones and vowel system.

In the late 1970 and early 80s the Catholic Church, Manipur published a book combining the Doxology and Hymns in Zo language called Jesu Minphat Un edited and compiled by Late Samuel M.Khamzakhup.

In 1977,the Zomi Inter-confessional Bible Translation Committee under the Chairmanship of Mr. T.Stephen Semkholun began the translations of the entire Holy Bible in Zo at Daijang village in South District of Manipur. It took 7 years to translate the entire Holy Bible. Mr. T. Aloysius Nehkhojang B.A,B.Th took over the Chairmanship of the ZICBTC in the year 1979, then on he proceeded to Madras for proof-reading, editing, compiling etc its printing took nearly 5 years to complete. In 1983, the first complete Holy Bible in Zo (including the first Apocripha translation among the Kuki-Chin group of languages) published by the Diocese of Imphal was released at Good Shepherd Parish,Churachandpur,Manipur.In 1995,under the aegis of the Bible Society of India, Bangalore, Rev. L.Taithul published the Holy Bible in Zomi minus Apocripha. These two versions of the Holy Bible in Zokam has greatly influenced the literature world of the Zos. The old orthographies of the Rev. John H.Cope and Rev. James Herbert Lorraine(he followed the Hunterian system developed by Sir William Hunter-author of Imperial Gazetteer,1900) underwent profound changes during the past 27 years of the existence of the Bibles in Zokam/Zohâm(Zo language) in India and Burma.

In the year 1995 Zou Literature Society Manipur was registered under the Societies Registration Act. In the year 1998 Zou Cultural-cum-Literature Society Delhi was registered which was rechristened as Zo Cultural-cum-Literature Society India later on. Besides, these societies there are other literature committees set up and maintained by various Church denominations for the development of Zo language; prominent among them is Zomi Christian Literature Committee of the former Zomi Christian Church now converted into Evangelical Lutheran Church Manipur(ELCM). The Zo Presbyterian Church is regularly bringing out a bulletin called Khristian Tangkou, the counterpart of this in the E.L.C.M is Gospel Tangkou. Both these bulletins more or less follow the Bible orthographies.

In 2000,the Zou Literature Society,Manipur published books for Cl.IX and X which is studied in the state of Manipur India. The orthography used in these books are mostly based on the Bibles in Zo language but there are lot of double vowels which gives the writings very clumsy looks. Then,the punctuations are filled with hyphens and dashes which again gives the writings uneconomical and cumbersome. The contents of the books are mostly upto the mark.

In 2001,the Zo Baptist Association Hqtrs, Kalaymyo,Myanmar(Burma) published a magazine known as ‘A.D 2000,ZO MAGAZINE’ dated March 2001 which gives a lot of information about the history,language,culture and religions of Zos in Burma. One notable feature of this book is that it is written according to the orthography followed in the Zo Bibles(1983 and 1995). In this magazine there are proper blends of the old orthography(J.H Cope,Hunterian) and new orthography A,B,C,D,….Z system propounded by Mr. T. Aloysius Nehkhojang B.A,B.Th in Holy Bible in Zo(1983) which also again consists of beautiful blends of the old ones and the new ones. The orthography adopted in this magazine is easy to read but this newest trend in Zo linguistics still requires much more fine tuning and proper refinements for its final adoption as the orthography of Zo language.

In 2001 Rev.Fr, Andrew Gou Lien published a book called Catholic Biehpiehna leh Missa Bu with help of Catholic Church of Haka diocese. This publication is the first ever in Zo literature world of Myanmar in the Catholic Church. There is a lot of room for improvement in the punctuations used here.

In 2006,under the aegis of the Zo Cultural-cum-Literature Society India Mr. Philip Thanglienmang, DANICS, B.E(Civil),M.A(Linguistics) published 5 books the most prominent being; ‘Dictionary of Zo Poetic Words,Metaphors and Similes Vol.I’. The other books are i) The Brief Biography of Subedar Peter ThangkhokamTungdim ii) Ka hinkhuo tomkim by Mari Lienzanieng iii) Ka Katekizam Masapen iv) Katholik Zailate leh Mass zuidan.

In 2006,the Zou Literature Society Manipur publised two books for Cl.X and XII viz; Chinthu Zaila by ZLSM and Zou Grammar and Compostion(Zouham Zahdan) by Philip Thanglienmang, DANICS.

In 2006,the Zo Baptist Association,Hqtrs,Myanmar with the help of Bible Society of India, Bangalore published the Zo Lai Siengtho; Zo Bible consisting of the New Testament version with Psalms for their own use in Burma and India.

By Philip Thanglienmang


1. J.C.A; JOUGAM-THUSUO Vol.I Douta March 1954 Ist year which is recorded as 10 Feb, 1954 by M.G.P/M.E.P in JCA Golden Jubilee Souvenir 2004.

2. Jou simpat Bu; JOUGAM-THUSUO Vol.I Douta March 1954 Ist year

3. Jou Customary Book; Jou Tawndan collected and compiled by Pu.T. Gougin M.A dated 1-12-1957

4. Leivui Panin by Late Rev. Khup Za Go

5. Zou Lai Khantousah dingdan thu(How to develop the Zou Literature) ‘A Seminar Paperpresented at the U.Z.O Lamka Block Conference on the 12th Dec 1995 by Pu.T.AloysiusNehkhojang B.A.,B.D,B.Ph,Secretary,Zou Literature Society Manipur.

6. Zomi Christian Church,Tapidaw-40 (1954-1994) Souvenir editor: Rev.David K.Samte

7. Tapidaw Golden Jubilee 2004 sungah "Tawndan leh Tapidaw biehna" by Upa Suonkhanmang Chief of Tangpijol

8. A.D 2000,ZO MAGAZINE dated March 2001,Kalaymyo,Myanmar(Burma)

9. Tapidaw 50 Golden Jubilee 2004

10. What is in a name? Everything is in a name! Thado vs Kuki by Dr.M.S Thirumalai dated 9th Sept,2005.

11. Christianity in Manipur by Pu.H.S. Hatzaw 2003,Lamka

About the author

Pu.Philip Thanglienmâng ahileh Pu.(L) Subedar Thangkhokâm tapa lîna ahi. Amapa pên February 22,1964 kum in Singtom ,khuo Chandel District,Manipur ah apieng hi.

Alâisimnate:-Pawl Kg-IVtan;1970 apat 1975 kum sungin St.Joseph’s School,Sugnu,Manipur ;ah ana kâi hi.

1980 kum in Loyola High School,Jakhama,Nagaland;ah Pawl X ana jou a,Nagaland pumpi adingin topper 10th Rank(asawmna)in ana panghi. Hygiene,Science leh Geography subjectte ah 80%(distinction) ana mu hi.Nagaland State Government Scholarship mu in St.Edmund’s College,Shillong ah P.U.Sc 1982 kum in 75% in ana jou hi.

1986 kum sungin Lukhdhirji Engineering College,Morvi,Gujarat ah ;B.E.(Civil) Engineering First Class in ana jou hi.1987 kum in Manipur Public Works Department ah Section Officer-I asem hi.

1993 kum June ha in Assistant Engineer in ana kâisâng hi.DC,Churachandpur ah AE(Dev) in ana toukha hi.

1994 kum in Anthropology leh Geography subjectte la in Civil Service(Main) Examination ah ana lawching a, Delhi Andaman &Nicobar IslandsCivil Service(DANICS) amu hi.

1997 apatin Delhi Government ah

1)Sub-Divisional Magistrate(Chanakyapuri)

2) Sub-Divisional Magistrate (HQ)

3) Sub-divisional Magistrate(Elections)

4) Deputy Director(Transport)

5) Deputy Director(Higher Education)

6) Assistant Commissioner,Food &Supply Department ana sêmkha a ,Tuin .... in asem hi.

HOBBY: Nga thângkam(Angling)

Author: The author is a civil servant belonging to Delhi,Daman&Diu,DNH,Andaman,Nicobar Islands Civil Services(DANICS) of UT Cadre in the Government of India,Ministry of Home Affairs. He is presently posted in the Government of Delhi as Dy.Commisioner (T&T). Prior to this,he was posted in Delhi from 1997 till 2005. He completed M.A(Linguistics) in 2006 from Annamalai University,Annamalainagar,Tamilnadu. He has authored/compiled 5(five) books in one year(i.e 2006) they are; 1)Zo Lahâmtengte, Kigêntênate leh Kitêkâhnate Hâmbu vol.I(Dictionary of Zo poetic words,metaphors and similes Vol.I), 2)A Brief biography of Subedar Peter Thangkhokam 3)Ka hinkhuo tomkim by Mari Lienzanieng(compiled) 4)Ka Katekizam Masapên5) Katholik Zailate leh Mass Lamzûina(compiled). He is doing his own amateur research on Zo language.

Presently posted as Dy.Commisioner (T&T),Government of Delhi

1 comment:

Maraland said...

A good read, but it seems you have forgotten to mention Mara language and the Missionaries to Mara people starting in 1907. I hope you will include later... nice blog...