Karbis Of Assam

Ethnology on the Karbis also Known as Mikirs

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A Brief History of Karbi Grammar

Posted by Administrator on July 5, 2009

BY :  Dharamsing Teron

Rev. Dr. Nathan Brown’s ‘Grammatical notes of the Assamese Language’ first published in 1848 originally was not intended to ‘be regarded as a Grammar of the Assamese Language’ but ‘they were commenced with the intention of printing only a few sheets, for private use of the most common grammatical forms’[1]. These ‘notes’ however did not remain ‘private’ and in fact provided the foundation of the grammar in Assamese that clinched two very crucial issues of the day—firstly, Assamese gained recognition as ‘much superior in beauty and softness’ and not ‘a merely corrupt form of Bengali,’ and secondly, the language emerged as a ‘system of imparting formal or institutional education’[2] in Assam. It was not to say that what Dr. Brown and the missionaries had devised more than a century ago was free from shortcomings. In his introductory remarks to Dr. Brown’s seminal work, Dr. Nagen Saikia during whose tenure as the General Secretary the third and the last edition was reprinted in 1982 by the ‘Assam Sahitya Sabha’, had these observation to make: the missionaries had ‘followed the model of the English grammar’ as they had ‘no other model before them’[3] and since Dr. Brown’s grammar was basically an effort to ‘make the learners acquaint themselves with the important characteristics’ of the language, he ‘very naturally left out sandhis and samasas, besides krit and taddhit suffixes from his discussion’. Dr. Brown also ‘did not discuss about syntax of the language.’[4] What the grammar achieved in its aim was to ‘teach the grammatical rules of Assamese as the target language’[5] and the emergence of Assamese linguistic nationalism in the later years. Read the rest of this entry »

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