Well known linguist, G. A. Grierson in his book, “Linguistics Survey of India, Vol. III, Part III” demonstrated clearly that Zomi language is a branch of the Tibeto-Burman family of languages. The Zomi speaks numerous dialects, but linguistic affinities prevail among them, and verbal or non-verbal communication has never been too great a problem. Much less in the olden days Vum Kho Hau writes:
“But in traditional songs and poetry, they still retain its original uniformity and the meaning is generally understood by the hearer regardless of whether he comes from Teddim, Tukhiang, Assam, Manipur.”
Thus, not only do the old songs preserved among different clans but even the folk songs being composed at present, reveal the extent of the uniformity of language that existed in the not-so-distant past. The small dialectical differences that are there stem from the words that are borrowed from Burmese, Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, Manipuri or Arakanese, so that they sound mutually unintelligible to an unaccustomed ear. They remain basically the same, nevertheless.
On the basis of slight differences, the Zomi language may be divided into two: R-Group and Non-R-Group. The non-R-Group (like the Thadou, Paite, Simte, Vaiphei, Zoute, etc) has no R-sound and is devoid of some consonant clusters like Tl, Hm,….. in their dialects. The R-Group includes Lushai, Hmar, Lakher, Pawi and all the so-called Old Kukis like Kom, Anal, Chiru which have R-sound and are closer to the Lushai or Hmar dialects.
Professor Gordon Luce analysed 700 words of Zomi Language common to at least three Zo dialects. From these 700 words 230 words are common in all dialects of Zomi. Pu Lalthangliana also estimated that the Zo dialects share about 60% of the words in common. About 40% are peculiar to the locality in which they are spoken. An illustration of these linguistic affinities are provided by Lamka Town in Manipur, where people belonging to various Zo groups live together and are able to communicate with ease, each using their own dialect.
William Shaw also wrote:
“The Koms, Aimols, Khothlangs, Thadous, Lushei, Chirus, Pois, Suktes, Paites, Gangtes, etc are undoubtedly all connected. The language also has many similarities and the syntax is not dissimilar”.
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