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Maram, Maring and Liangmei. The Naga languages are spoken in the state of Nagaland, the southern part of Arunachal Pradesh and the north-eastern part of Manipur.

The Characteristic features of the Naga languages include the modification of the verb phrase by stringing together of affixes within the verb phrase rather than by the use of independent adverb, making little or no use of numeral classifiers and the sub-ordinate phrase preceding the main phrase. The last usage according to Marrison derives from the fact that in Naga languages there are two points of emphasis in a sentence; the subject is stated in the beginning and the principal action at the end rounding of the whole theme so that the subordinate matters are placed in between. The Negative particle is post-posed to the principal verb in most of the languages except the central group. In fact, the position of the negative particle was the chief criterion of Grierson in sub-dividing the Naga languages. The inherited features include the use of tones, occurrence of the interrogative particle at the end of the sentence and the NP->N± A± PP± plural. Grierson subdivides the Naga languages into Western, Central and eastern Naga languages: The western Naga includes, Angami, Sema, Rengma, Kezha and some minor languages, the Central Naga includes Ao, Lotha, Sangtam, Yimchungr* and some minor languages and the Eastern Naga includes Konyak, Phom, Wancho, Chang, Nocte, Tangsa and some minor languages, Marrison also sub-divides the Naga languages into three but on a different criteria viz; occurrence of certain initial clusters and final stops. His groupings are (i) Konyak group (ii) Ao-Thangkhul group and Angami-Zeme group. Marrson (1967-Vol. I-P. 20) also questions the validity of the setting up of the intermediate transitional groups like Naga-Bodo and Naga-Kuki group. Sreedhar (1975) also sub-grouped the Naga languages on the basis of the phonetic pattern of the Naga Pidgin used by each group. In all these sub-groupings, the Sema has the same position, viz: clubbed with Angami group.

An important linguistic feature that distinguishes Sema language from the other Naga languages is the total absence of the [r] sound in their phonetic inventory1. This feature is found with a number of Kuki languages.


The term Naga has been used to refer to the people living in the hill region of Indo-Burman border between the valleys of Bramhaputra and Chindwin. Besides Nagaland, the Nagas are found in Arunachal Pradesh, parts of Assam and Manipur states.

Haimendrof (1970) claims that both linguistically and culturally the wanchoos of the Tirap Division of Arunachal-Pradesh are Konyaks. The Konyaks are also found across the international boundary on the Burma side. The Konyaks of Burma come to India to pay tributes to their Angs (Rulers) who happen to be on the India side. Despite the very wide use of the term Naga from time immemorial, the Nagas themselves do not know as to how the term Naga came to be applied to them. They never had a generic term for the entire people, rather a Naga was known as belonging to such and such village. Right at the moment it is not possible to discover the circumstances under which the term `Naga’came into being. It can, however, be assumed that not all these people belong to a common stock. The assumptions, among others, are based on the following1:

(i) The Changes are divided into four occupational clans, Viz: Ongh, Haongang, Kangsho and Lamo.

Functionally, these clans parallel the four varnas of the Aryans. However, unlike the Aryans, in whose case the varnas got stratified to the extent of preventing intervarna marriages, the Changs living the midst of an entirely different set of social practices seem to have partially modified their earlier clan practices so as to permit inter-clan marriages. But the relics of the varna system is still found amongst the Changs. For instance, the Ongh, the priestly clan amongst the Changs was prevented from eating beef and flesh of a number of other animals. Despite conversion to christianity, the elders amongst them even today observe these restrictions. Whenever a new village is established, the respresentatives of the different varnas would first go to the site and perform the duties customarily assigned to each varna. This Practice prevailed till very recently, i.e. as long as there were opportunities for establishing new villages. The Changs also did not have the practice of marrying the widows of their elder brother, nor do they marrying the widows of their elder brother, nor do they marry even their cross cousins, though cross cousin marriages are considered preferred ones amongst the Nagas. The clan practices amongst the Phoms, the next door neighbours of the Changs, show a near parallel to that of the Changs, for instance, they are divided into five clans. These clans are: Besemthu, Ngyoyem, Yongpakthu, Yagangh and







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