Download Mao Naga Book



As mentioned in an earlier chapter, Mao was reduced to writing inthe early part of this century when the Christian missionaries trabslated the bible into Mao for the first time The script they did it in was the Roman Script. Since then, Mao is being written in the spellings that were first standardized by a committee comprising O-kathipri and M-Lohro. The Mao Academy, the native agency for developmental efforts in the language, has since made a change here and a change there.

     Tone is not marked in the script. The high central vowel is symbolised by ü. Perhaps ü (as accepted by the Mao Academy in Imela Bvü Karai- Mao Premiers 1 and 2) is a better alternative. Among the diphthongs, the falling diphthong, [ i] is represented, strangely, by ei in words like ota katamei ‘cultivator’, kasamei ‘friend’, robvemei ‘Punanamai (village)’. It is better represented by üi so that these words are written as ota katamüi, robvemüi. There is an argument put forth by some native speakers that the central vowel is qualitatively phonetically different when it forms part of a diphthong as in the suffix, müi, and, therefore, ü may not be in the right orthographic representation of the vowel in diphthongs. This does not wash as we are here talking of a phonemic (not an allophonic or phonetic) orthography. In any case, the current spelling viz., -mei is absolutely without any basis. my, as Ashiho (1964 : 15) has it, or mai are obvious choices in a phonetic orthography. Nasalization is symbolized in the script as ng, or ngh since h always accompanies or precedes a nasal vowel. For example, ohõ ‘nose’, is written now as ongho, ohi) ‘eye’ as onghi. hn would be, we suggest, a better representation so that the words in question could be rewritten as ohno ‘nose’, ohni ‘eye’. There is no preaspirated nasal in Mao. Alveolars are represented by diagraphs as opposed to dentals which are represented by single letters. t, for instance, symbolises [t], the dental stop as in a word like ote ‘son-in-law’ whereas tt

symbolises [], the alveolar stop as in words like ottamüi ‘relative’, pfottona ‘boy’, nettomüi ‘woman’. This is fine. It’s not clear what nn, as in words like monnü ‘be soft’, pinno ‘brother’ stands for. This is unnecessary since there is no phonemic contrast between the dental and alveolar nasals. There is no tth in the writing system. This is justifiable because there is no contrast between [th] the dental (represented by th) and [h] the alveolar (represented also by th). [c] the palatal affricate is represented by the diagraph ch.
     Under the circumstances the absence of chh in the writing system to represent [ch], the aspirated palatal affricate is justified. One could either keep ch as it is or make it c throughout. Both the voiceless retroflex fricative [ § ] as in pri§i ‘to slip’ and the coarticulated segment of the voiceless trill and the glottal fricative [hr] as in [kohrü] ‘physique’ are represented in the orthography as hr. The former could be represented as Ą, or S and the latter by the now existing hr, although hr gives the impression of a sequence of sounds, which the phonic stretch is in fact not.
The following chart presents the letter used now in printing and writing Mao, its phonemic equivalent, the suggested symbol and the corresponding representation in Devanagari script (which is partly impressionistic) at a glance.
ii  i ü

i  i i
e  e  e
a  a a
o  o o
u  u u
ng(h)  h  hnV
  ( nasalized vowel preceded by h )  
p  p  p
b  b  b
t  t  t
d d d
tt   tt
k  k  k
g  g g









Mao Naga Index Page
FeedBack | Contact Us | Home
ciil grammar footer