Language Borrowing in Hunphun-Tāngkhul

By Yatmi Luikham


This present paper will discuss on Cultural borrowing with the focus of the study on English Loan Words (ELW) in hunphun-Taŋkhul (HT). Words are then categorised into borrowable and non-borrowable, presenting the word groups mostly borrowed with examples, followed by discussion. This study also answers the question, ‘why borrowing?’and the contrastive attitude of the Native speakers toward English and their language. In the case of ELW in HT, it is the result of prestige language attitude towards English Language (EL) or prestige motive as part of westernisation, need-filling motive and preferential motive.Dialect Borrowing is studied as a factor leading to speech variation in HT. Discussion is also done on the role of Tāngkhul Literature Society(TLS) in standardising the language.

Key Words: English Loan Word (ELW), English Language (EL), Hunphun-Tāngkhul (HT), Standard-Tāngkhul (ST)


Language change is the result of many factors, among which borrowing is one major factor. Borrowing is the process of taking linguistic items from other language/s and using it as one’s own; these borrowed items are known as loan words. Lexical Borrowing is the borrowing of the content word groups: Nouns, Adjectives, Adverbs and Verbs (refers to some objects, action or characteristic). This process is also an important source of enriching the recipient language. Borrowing takes place due to language in contact. Almost all the languages of the world borrow from other language/s with varying degree. Language like, English for instance is an intense borrower as compared to those not much in contact with other cultures. The borrowed lexis in many cases dominated the lexicon of the recipient language. The result is that, the use of some native words ceased, as they were replaced by the new words. In such scenario as the process progressed, the native lexicon changes. “The acquisition of a loanword constitutes in itself a lexical change….” (Hockett: 1958). Borrowing becomes a need for effective communication in a globalised world today. 

Bloomfield(1933) divides borrowing into two types: dialect borrowing, where the borrowed features come from within the same speech-area (as, father, rather with [a] in an [ɛ]-dialect), and cultural borrowing, where the borrowed features come from a different language. Hockett discusses under the conditions of borrowing; the prestige Motive and the Need-Filling Motive. Borrowing occurs either because the borrowed language is considered more prestigious or because there is no lexicalised form to express something that is new to the native culture. Borrowing may also be due to language preference. The speaker may prefer to use the lexis of other’s language instead of his own, as he finds the other better expressed his thoughts. 

The present paper will discuss cultural borrowing within its sub-category on lexical borrowing from English language and dialect borrowing in connection to language change. In John Lyons’ words, two of the most general factors of language change were analogy and borrowing. It is to find out the category of words mostly borrowed and why words are borrowed in hunphun-taŋkhul(HT) Sociolinguistic context. The study is also done to find out how borrowing contributes to the language change in HT.

Data have been collected from primary as well as from secondary sources like published books and print media. The researcher is a HT speaker. So, data have also been collected from speaker’s native intuition of the language, interaction with the people and from observing the way people use language in everyday discourse

Language Area

HT Lexicon consists of words not only of native origin but many day today words and registers are borrowed directly or indirectly from Manipuri, European and Indo-Aryan languages. Loan Words from Indo-Aryan languages like Sanskrit, Hindi, Bengali and Assamese were indirectly borrowed from Manipuri which serves as the intermediary language.From European languages, English acts as the intermediary language. 

The researcher has specifically chosen Lexical Borrowing in HT from English Language (EL) as a focal area of this present study. Since the time HT was made as the Standard-Tāngkhul(ST), it has undergone numerous changes in its lexicon. Borrowing as a result of language contact is one of the major factors leading to change in a language. English Language (EL) bears the status of official language in Ukhrul district. It is also used as a medium of acquiring modern education. With such prestigious status, when in contact with HT, the latter is greatly influenced by the former. 

Place of English Language in Ukhrul District

English and Manipuri serve as the official language of Manipur state but the later is mainly confined in the Capital city, Imphal. English co-exist with ST as the official language of Ukhrul district. Documentation in government offices are done in EL. ST is used mostly in verbal communication and in documentation within the community’s local bodies and organisations, but even there EL is used hand in hand with ST. EL is termed as the language of education in the district. People learn EL as their Second Language (L2). According to Yule, The term learning, however, applies to a more conscious process of accumulating knowledge of the features, such as vocabulary and grammar, of a language, typical in an institutional setting. All schools and colleges in Ukhrul district are English medium, except for government Lower Primary schools, even there EL is being taught with ST. Great knowledgeable books of the world are written or translated in EL which is why learning EL becomes a need in order to have access to the storehouse of knowledge.Somebody with good commands of EL is looked upon as an educated and learned person. V.Saraswati(2004) also asserts that English is inevitably used among literate Indianstoday and with the move to globalisation, there is no looking back.

Hunphuns are no exceptions to this. The only monthly journal of Ukhrul district, ‘Legacy’ is a bilingual of ST and EL. So also, TheᾹja/acɯ/ and The Dawn Tantak/tǝntǝk/are bilingual dailies. EL is made compulsory in formal education. Students are compelled to use EL in discourse within the school premises. Not adhering to the rules are punished or fined. So EL is either learnt out of compulsion or learnt out of the need-filling motive.

It was Rev. William Pettigrew, a Scottish Missionary, who Romanized HT dialect. After equipping few students the rudimentary of literacy, he sends them out to different parts of Ukhrul district to teach. The student turned teachers were highly respected by the people.Since from that time, till today EL has the ideological connotation of job and respect.

Today, educated people among the HT, especially the younger generation prefers to switch to EL in discourse as they feel their thoughts are better expressed in EL rather than their native language. Some use EL for style as part of westernization. Educated and uneducated parents send their children to English medium schools to learn to speak fluent English. Most of the formal meetings, seminars and the like are conducted in EL. Religious services in some cases are also conducted in EL. In such conditions, those without the knowledge of EL are out of place and feel inferior as compared to their counterparts.

Introduction of ST as a subject is made from 1 to 12th Standard by the Manipur Board of Secondary Education to promulgate the significance of preserving indigenous language.  ST is the first Tribal language from North East India to be included in the CBSE(Centre Board of Secondary Education)syllabus with effect from the year, 2011.It has also been included by the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE)as a major Indian language Subject

But in spite of all these, the fact is that EL is still looked upon as more prestigious than ST. When two or more languages are in contact, it is a natural phenomenon that the vocabulary of the more prestigious one are borrowed to its counterparts. This is vividly manifested in the English loanwords borrowed to ST/HT.

It is common to all the Commonwealth countries that even after colonialism, the colonizer’s language became impossible to be completely rooted out. There has been an issue on whether to continue using EL as the official and educational language or not.Many countries choose to retain the official status of EL along with the standard native language. “English has, as a consequence, retained its standing within Indian society, continuing to be used within the legal system, government administration, secondary and higher education, the armed forces, the media, business, and tourism.” (DavidCrystal, 1997).Sidney Greenbaum (1996) also discusses on the need to learn English in order to adopt the convention for public writing, as English language is the norm for public writing.Today, EL is spoken as a first or second language in most of the countries of the world. Many among have also developed their own native variety of English. General Indian English (GIE) is one fine variety.

English Loan Words in Hunphun-Tangkhul

Large influx of English vocabulary in HT has become the order of the day in this modernised and technicalised age. These vocabularies are then used as part and parcel of everyday discourse. The use of ELW in the HT has become so natural that hardly people are conscious about it at the time of use. Educated and uneducated; literate and illiterate; young and old are all inevitably within the sphere of using ELW with varying degree.

Not all the categories of words are borrowable. Words are categorized into functional and content words or lexical words. Functional words are those grammatical particles like prepositions, articles, pronouns, determiners, conjunctions; while Lexical Words are those words carrying the content of the message conveyed. Functional words are rarely borrowed when the structure of the languages are not the same. These are closed class of words and addition and subtraction of morphemes to and from these words are restricted. On the other hand, Lexical Words are those that form nouns, adjectives, adverbs and verbs in a language. These are open class words and there is flexibility in the addition and subtraction of morphemes or other lexical items. Lexical Words are for this reason more borrowable. The word group of ELWin HT is the lexical one. The categories of words that made up the ELW in HT are Nouns, Verbs and Adjectives. 


Noun is the word group that has the most ELW added to HT lexicon. Followings are the criteria of nouns which composed the ELWin HT.

Kinship Terms 

Mummy, Daddy, Aunty, Uncle, Papa, Mama, Baby.

Animal and Birds 

Lion, Tiger, Leopard, Tortoise, Rabbit, Hippopotamus, Giraffe, Rhinoceros, Parrot, Cuckoo,Peacock, Hornbill, Nightingale,etc.

 Fruits, Flowers and Vegetables

Apple, Mango, Grapes, papaya, Litchi, Watermelon, Rose, Lily, Lotus, Jasmine, Esther, Daisy, Sunflower, Orchid, Christmas flower, Tomato, Broccoli, ,Lettuce, Cauliflower, Ladies finger, Carrot, Beetroot,etc.

Weapons and Musical Instruments 

Machine gun, Air gun, Bomb, Rifle, Piano, Casio,Guitar, Drum, Trumpet, Violin etc.

Christian terms

Church, Baptism, Mass, Sabbath, Rosary, Fellowship, Worship, Fasting, Devotion, Offering, Deacon, Deaconess, Pulpit, Cross, Meeting, Reverend, Bishop, Father, Mother, Sister, Brother, etc.

Educational Related Items and Terms

School, College, University, Coaching, Teaching, Department, Higher Secondary, Elementary School, Primary School, Pre-Nursery, Kinder-garden, Tuition, Recess, Pencil, Pen, Notebook, Textbook, Office, Principal, Headmaster, Headmistress, Punishment, Question, Answer, Bell, Peon, Education, Physics, Science, Biology, Chemistry, Maths, Botany, Statistics, Home-Science, History, English, Civics,etc.

Political Terms

Government, Governor, President, Prime-Minister, Home Minister, Finance, Chief Minister, Deputy, Secretary, Vote, Parliament, Article, Constitution, Chairmen, Speaker, Legislative Assembly, Scrutiny,etc.

Cosmetics Related Terms

Cream, Lotion, Scrubber, Facial, Medicare, Pedicure, Hair Dye, Hair Dresser, Stylist, Beauty Parlour, Saloon, Body Massage, Toothbrush, Face Pack, Nail Polish, Soap, Sunscreen, Body Spray, Spa, Perfume, Compact, Lipstick, Lip-gloss, Eyeliner, Foundation,etc.

Technology and Electrical Appliances 

Car, Truck, Bus, Winger, Train, Aeroplane, Computer, Laptop, Mobile, Internet, Mouse, Pen drive, Hard-drive, phone, Tablet, GB, MB, Ship, Steam Boat, Rocket, Jetfighter, Satellite, Telescope, Microscope, Missile, RAM, Chips, Helicopter, Washing Machine, Fridge, Microwave,etc

Measurement Terms 

Weight, Kg., Drop, ml.,Litre, Centimetre, Inch, Feet, Metre, Kilometre, Mile,etc.


Black, White, Red, Yellow, Green, Indigo, Purple, Saffron, Violet, Blue, Golden, Silver, Sky Blue, Orange, Brown, Grey, Ash, LimeGreen, Dark, Light, Blue Black,etc

Garments and Footwear

Skirt, Frock, Mini Skirt, Long pant, Half pant, Jogging Shirt, Coat, Sweater, Jacket, Shirt, Jeans, High neck, Fitting dress, Inners, Stockings, Leggings, Neck-tie,etc.

Place and Person Names

View-land, Happy-land, New Canaan, Seven-Finance, Mary, Linda, Louis, Rosy, Moses, Peter, James, Henry, Lucy,etc.

Medical Terms and Diseases

Hospital, Ward, Doctor, Nurse, Lab technician, medicine, Syringe, Operation Theatre, Caesarean, Surgery, Injection, Glucose, Cancer, Allergy, Malaria, Diarrhoea, Brain tumour, Dysentery, Typhoid, Heart attack, Paralyse, Ulcer,etc.


Professor, Reader, Engineer, Scientist, Doctor, Peon, Businessman, Architecture, Designer, Painter, Artist, Astronaut, Pilot, Captain, Lieutenant, Brigadier, Advocate,etc.

Sports and Related Terms and Items

Football, Cricket, Hockey, Bat, Volley Ball, Basket Ball, Long jump, High jump, Marathon race, Polo, Tennis, Goal, Draw, Golf, Coach, Trophy, Cup, Stump, Striker, Player, Wimbledon, Point, Ground, Stadium,etc

Parts of House and Day-to-day Items

Kitchen, Bedroom, Toilet, Bathroom, Sitting room, Veranda, Ceiling, Wall, Floor, Window, Chimney, Bed, Table, Blanket, Billow, Mosquito net, Curtain, Screen, Bed sheet, Cushion, Carpet, Plate, Spoon, Container, Fork, Gas Cylinder, Stove, Cooker, Plastic, Cotton, Silk, Aluminium, Newspaper, Magazine, Album,etc


Hunphun-taŋkhuls used  English  vocabulary  to express more  complex objects and  ideas which are new to  their culture and has no  lexicalised form to express.  The word group most borrowed is the noun as it is an open class of words. In using ELW for the things imported, people also tend to substitute some existing vocabulary  of the native language. Some English words have the HT version, but hardly many words are translated. Loan translation is time consuming and nobody likes to use the translated version,as it seems an obviously awkward form. For example, ‘gramophone’ was once translated as okola meaning ‘Box-Song’ and ‘mirror’ as kɯla-rɯ-ŋəyot meaning ‘image/shadow-liquid/water-look+purpose,’but nobody uses these translated forms.

Some native words are also completely substituted by the borrowed language because the existing native word cannot be used in all contexts. For example the word leingapha/leiŋəphɯ/ which means ‘trade-disperse,’ similar to the concept of ‘Bazaar,’ but it cannot be referred to all the trading place and occasion. During the olden days Hunphun, a specific place and time was fixed for this purpose and only on those days people from around the Hunphun village brought their own speciality to trade with each other: western villages or khɯrao were known for weaving traditional attires, northern villages or rɯphei were known for hǝmpai‘earthen pot’ and haomǝci‘hao-salt’ and Shirui village, situated at the foothill of ShiruiHill, which is at the east of Hunphun was known for sopkai ‘Bamboo baskets.’leiŋəphɯ was held only once a year during the luirɯ festival which falls in the month of February. So, only that particular place and time was termed leiŋəphɯ. As a result ‘Bazaar’ has completely substituted the former word as it surpassed the suitability of usage to refer to any trading place. Another factor is the intermixed settling of people speaking different languages.

Loan Translation is one of the altitudes of concern of the Tāngkhul Literature Society in order to enrich the ST lexicon. But the translated forms often remain within the four walls of the classroom as the general mass is not aware of it. There are not many publications of literature in the native language. Greater portions of the available literatures fall in the category of Christian literature. This is the reason that among the translated words, Christian terms havemore pragmatic effect. Words like kəsakhəva, kəziŋrəm, kəziŋrao, meifɯ, Seiha which were translated from the EL concept of Creator, Heaven, Angel, Hell, and Prayer are prominently in use today. Borrowing also occurs where there is no direct semantic translation into the borrowing language but only the concept is borrowed. Some of such words as innovated by The Tāngkhul Literature Society are: jaruiwo, məsowo, Khəmiwo, thanme, kuirǝ, kuirumvɯ, kuirumla which are borrowed from the EL concept of Chairman, Guest of Honour, Chief Guest, Moderator/Conductor, Mr., Mrs., and Miss.


Cool, branded, hot, sexy, smooth,bright, shine, dark, light, silky, patience, discipline, high-fi, standard, unique, smart, right, left, side, careless, straight, lucky, gentle, educated, uneducated,  proud, romantic, sensitive, serious, power, dry, attractive, naughty, mature, half, full, round, flat, unbreakable, blue, pink, green, yellow,etc.


Adjectives relating to the description of the quality, shape and texture of the noun are often borrowed. Colours are used to qualify the hues and shades of noun. Shape is used to describe the appearance of the noun. Raw material is used to talk about the texture of the object or thing.

HT: kuihon ci piŋk-nǝi.

Trans. The hat/cap is pink.


Trans. The bread is round.

HT: iwuiphɯhonasa hi kotən-nǝi.

Trans. The fabric of my dress is cotton

HT basic colours are kəcər, kəzik, kəhuŋ, khəmətek, khəməjiŋ(white, black, red, green, blue). Other colours other than these are expressed along with the object modelling that colour as ŋəleipan(soil-colour), cinaipan(Chinai+mushroom-colour) etc. But with the influx of English colour terms, preference has been shifted to it. 

Adjectives of number is also borrowed to specify the number of nouns and also to state the place or position of the noun in order. Words indicating directions and geographical locations associated with a noun, like southern, northern, eastern are also borrowed. 

HT: a northənʃoŋ wui minə.

Trans. He belongs to the northern side.


Turn, practice, maintain, repeat, betray, doubt, encourage, try, call, send, receive, edit, save, rewind, forward, backward, record, on, off, renew, recycle, kick, repair, conduct, organize etc.


Action words relating to technology and sports constitute the major portion of the ELW verbs in HT. Words like copy, install, uninstall, download, browse, insert, delete, upload, call, receive, message etc are the computer and mobile phone related verbs that is widely used among the Tāngkhulstoday. Rarely these words are translated. Some of the sports related verbs like kick, throw, pass, strike, hit, loose, practice etc. are unavoidably used while playing games.  

Messaging on mobile phones through social media apps like Whatsapp, Facebook, Hike and also emails and the likes are mostly done in English even among the Tāngkhuls. This is one great influence that leads to large influx of ELW in HT. The affluence of American media entertainment shows and movies has a dramatic effect on the way people use language, especially among the youngsters; they tend to mimic the westerners in every aspect in their craving to be identified with them. Language and culture are inseparable. Wardhaugh has defined culture as “whatever a person must know in order to function in a particular society.” With the shade of westernisation, there has been a tremendous change in all aspects of HT culture. As culture change there is also change in its language to accommodate the new culture.It is true that every living language change; this change shows the fact of the language being alive. But complete substitution of the native word by the loan word is a problem itself which if not checked on time may lead to language endangerment. Likewise, negative attitude of the native speakers toward their language is an agent to language endangerment, which if not checked on time, may lead to language dead.

Dialect Borrowing

hunphun-taŋkhul(HT) is originally the dialect of the hunphun village which is the district headquarters of Ukhrul in Manipur state. The district comprises of 221 villages with a population of 183,998 as per 2011 census, with almost all the villages speaking a dialect of its own. Like allother Naga villages, Hunphuns in the past were xenophobic towards intruders. However, the social scenario changed dramatically with the setting up of Hunphun Village as the American Baptist Mission headquarters and centre for education in 1896 by Rev.William Pettigrew, a Scottish missionary and an educationist. It was this time few youths from surrounding villages began to take temporary settlement at Hunphun village for educational purpose. Housing system began to change slowly after 1960s. Somewhere from mid 20th century after the 2nd World War, the actual migration from other villages to Hunphun village began, eventually leading to exposure of its dialect to the rest of the Taŋkhul-NagaVillages’dialects which gradually rise to variations in the use of HT.

There is so much spelling irregularity in HT. Much probable reason lies on the Romanisation; the alphabet was adopted as it is, regardless of the unavailability of some sounds in the adopting language. As taught and learnt academically, Standard Tāngkhul(ST)/HT alphabet comprises of 28 letters: A,Ᾱ,A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L,M,N,O,P,Q,R,S,T,U,V,W,X,Y,and Z. For   instance there are no voiced sounds like /b/, /d/, /g/,/Ɉ/in HT native words except in loan words. Voiceless /p/,/t/,/k/, /c/can be heard instead in speech. There’s no sound with C alone without being accompanied by H as/ch/./ch/is likely to be written as J when it occurs in an environment where it is followed by i or a/ɯ/in a syllable. Some continue to write /ch/as pronounced. Other sounds like /q/and /x/are absent. There is variation in the use of /r/and /l/. This causes inconsistency in spellings,as people usually writes the way as pronounced by them. So, it is often complained by some taŋkhullanguage teachers as careless in speaking. But spoken language is more alive than written; the former is what linguists are concerned of. 

Phonemic Distribution of /l/ and /r/in hunphun-taŋkhul(HT)

/l/initial/            l/medial            /l/final

La-lasem,lanpar         yamkuili

Le-lepao, lengkhor         philavɯ

Li-likrɯ            ŋǝlǝi

lo-loŋnao, lokhui

lu-luk, luŋkui

lǝ –lǝn, lǝŋcin

lǝi-lǝipan, lǝikǝʃi

lui-lui, luiva

/r/initial                /r/medial            /r/final

Ra-ram,raman            hǝrva,ŋǝrǝi, otrom        khor, khǝjir, kǝthǝr,

Re-reŋkhor, riŋronthǝi        sarip, varok, ŋǝreo,         var, kǝthor etc.

Ri-riŋkǝpha, rinrin            carui etc.

Ro-rontha, roŋrǝr

Rɯ-rɯwon, rɯtǝk

On keen observation, /l/ occurs both in the initial position and medial position but absent in the final position. HT uses mostly /r/ in the medial position and /l/ in the initial, which is castigated by those who goes by the Standard variety. In fact, /l/ and /r/ are used interchangeably in these two positions which sound typical hunphun-Taŋkhul. This is termed as an error in speech by many, but which in fact is a fine feature of HT dialect/language

HT: wukruŋ, mǝruŋ, khǝrǝp,raruirǝ

ST: wukluŋ, mǝluŋ, khǝlǝp, raluirǝ

Some Hunphuns will pronounce /l/in these words while some /r/ and some other use both, depending on the speech context. This results in the inconsistency in the use of /l/ and /r/.An evident that HT/ ST do not have final /l/ is the pronunciation of ‘Ukhrul’ as ukhrur and Tangkhul as tangkhur by many people, as the etymology of these words are not of the native origin.

HT dialect change in progress can be observed in the variation in the use of the dialect by other Tangkhul village dialect speakers in speech. Some people from the north or rɯphǝivillages find difficulty in pronouncing /h/so they pronounce /kǝthi/meaning ‘dead’ as /kǝti/. Likewise some other people belonging to westernvillages have difficulty with /v/, where these sounds occur they tend to substitute with /w/. Southern villages are more fluent with Manipuri than Tāngkhul, mostly they have issue with/ʃ/and /z/,for which they substitute with/s/and /c/. Some eastern villages also have issues with/ʃ/and /z/. There are many such variations in use, the cause/sof which are yet to be studied intensively.  

Role of Tāngkhul Literature Society

The Tāngkhul Literature Society(TLS) was founded in the year 1937 by a few Tāngkhul elites who were the second generation western-educated Tāngkhul-Nagas. The society was founded with the motive of enriching the language in the field of literature. Christian Literature was the primary concern of the society. Loan Translation is one of the altitudes of concern of the Tāngkhul Literature Society in order to enrich the ST lexicon. The present Bible translation in ST which is used by all the Taŋkhul Christian denominations is the work of TLS. The Tāngkhul Literature Society has much to do in bringing about change in HT linguistic sphere. There was a subtle change in the language before the intervention of the TLS. The society takes initiative in uplifting the standard of Taŋkhul literature by taking charge in publishing academic textbooks for students, they are the sole responsible for Bible translation from English to ST. Apart from these the bi-monthly bi-lingual of English and Taŋkhuljournal ‘The Legacy’ is a publication of TLS under the forum ‘A Centre for Tāngkhul Socio-Historical Research and Documentation’ (CENSHIRED) which points its origin to a seminar of Taŋkhul Language intellects conducted by the TLS. The main focus of CENSHIRED is to open a forum to standardise HT in all its linguistic spheres to bring uniformity in speech and letter. The wide range of irregularity and inconsistency in the use of the language ushered to such step forward. Lots of spelling modifications have been done depended on tonal value. As per the TLS spelling rule, in homonymic words or syllables, voiced sounds are used when pronounced in low tone but voiceless is used when the tone is higher. This rule is applied to voiced /b/,/d/,/g/,/Ɉ/ and its counterparts voiceless /p/, /t/, /k/, /c/. In an attempt to use all the letters that consist the English alphabet, /q/ has been agreed upon to use with quira and quirumla which actually sound as kuirǝ and kuirumla in native speech. The only word with /x/as given by TLS in Class IX and X students Tangkhul Grammar textbook, 2013 is sixileironrixxila where /x/is pronounced as in English ‘six’ with /ks/immediately followed by /s/. Since TLS is the apex body in shaping the language, not adhering to its laid down rules is considered incorrect. Formal writing goes by this, whereas on the other hand many hunphun-Taŋkhuls continue speaking the unmodified form, which in some cases are even visible when put down into words. There are no voiced /b/, /d/, /g/, /Ɉ/ in HT speech but are likely to have been introduced .The unavailability of these sounds in HT can be confirmed when the native speaker, especially those who have no idea about the difference between voiced and voiceless sounds pronounce loan words which require these sounds.Ahum (1997) placed the voiced/b/, /d/, /g/,/Ɉ/as the allophone of/p/, /t/, /k/, /c/ rather than placing them as separate phonemes. 

Since HT is the lingua franca of the Taŋkhuls who are further divided into different native speech communities, there is always the influence of their L1 when using the L2. The peer group gets influenced with each other, which therefore results to variation in HT speech.There is also shortage of letters to represent all the phones of the language orthographically. /e/and/ǝ/ are both represented by letter e,in words like saser ‘do all’ in which it is pronounced as /sasǝr/instead of */saser/while serkakhui‘to tear and take’ is pronounced as /serkǝkhui/ and not */sǝrkǝkhui/. 


The place of English Loan Words (ELW) in Hunphun-Taŋkhul(HT) language is to fill the wide gap of effective communication in today’s globalised world. If not for ELW, coping with the ever growing science and technology would have been very difficult. Loan translation is often time consuming and not very necessary when the idea and the concept can be rightly conveyed in much lesser time by Loan terms. Use of ordinal numbers like first, second, third and educational terms like school, class, blackboard etc., in speech by people above 70 or 80 years old who have never gone to school is an evidence of the inevitability of ELW in the present social context. Local news papers, radio program, journal and books have ample amount of ELW present in each of it, which if translated would consume a lot of time.On the other hand, depending too much on the loan terms, some of the existing native vocabulary lost its use to the new loan terms. Today nobody uses the word khayiyar/khǝjijar/ for which they use either Shartin, a modified version of Manipuri Shatin or umbrella in English. If we ask any HT ‘what do you call the thing on which you sleep on? All young and old, without fail would say it is called bed. People below 20 years would hardly know that ‘peacock’ is called yongyingkui/yoŋjiŋkui/ and ‘hornbill’ hangkhokkhrāng/hǝŋkhokkhraŋ/ in HT. In the case of ELW in HT, it is the result of prestige language attitude towards English Language (EL) as part of westernisation or prestige motive, need-filling motive, preferential motive and suitability motive. Borrowing on one hand is a need for effective communication in this globalised world.While a very crucial issue in language change is the negative attitude of the native speakers towards their language; which if fed and foster, may lead to language dead.

The kind of borrowing which Bloomfield called dialect borrowing has also contributed to variation in the use of HT. One would hear multiple dialects in HT area where people from all the villages of Ukhrul district settled in amalgamated sociolinguistic context. In this case, the ground of borrowing is the interference of the first language (L1). Everybody speaks in their own accents which is why it is very audible in native earto identify the village or the region one belongs to. Villages from Northern region would somewhat speak HT alike as Tāngkhul-Nāgā is a dialect continuum.The orthographic representation of the language has also contributed to the phonological variation of HT in speech.The Tāngkhul Literature Society plays a vital role in standardising the spelling and innovation of new words in the language.

Disclaimer: The Arek do not claim ownership of this article.

The author Yatmi Luikham is Ph.D Research Scholar, Department of Linguistic Manipur University. Interested researcher can contact through email: 

For reference: Luikham.Y. (2017). Language Borrowing in Hunphun-Tāngkhul. Language in India, ISSN 1930-2940.

Click here for direct access

Related readings:

Ahum, Victor.1997. Tangkhul-Naga Grammar: A Study of Word Formation. Unpublished Thesis Submitted to Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Tangkhul Literature Society. 2013. Tangkhul Grammar. Prescribed for use as Text-Book in Class