|Native to||India, Burma, Bangladesh|
|Region||Mizoram, Tripura, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tahan-Myanmar, Nagaland|
|830,846 (2011 census)|
|Bengali-Assamese script, Latin script|
Official language in
The Mizo language, or Mizo ?awng, is a language belonging to the Sino-Tibetan family of languages, spoken natively by the Mizo people in the Mizoram state of India and Chin State in Burma. The language is also known as Duhlian, a colonial term, as the Duhlian people were the first among the Mizos to be encountered by the British in the course of their colonial expansion. The Mizo language is mainly based on Lusei dialect but it has also derives many words from its surrounding Mizo sub-tribes and sub-clan. Now, Mizo language or Mizo ?awng is the lingua franca of Mizoram and its surrounding areas and to a lesser extent of Burma and Bangladesh and in India in some parts of Assam, Tripura and Manipur. Many poetic language is derived from Pawi, Paite, and Hmar, and most known ancient poems considered to be Mizo are actually in Pawi.[clarification needed] Mizo is the official language of Mizoram, along with English, and there have been efforts to have it included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.
The Mizo language belongs to the Kuki-Chin branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. The numerous clans of the Mizo had respective dialects, amongst which the Lusei dialect was the most common, and evolved with significant influenced from Hmar,Lai and Paite etc to became the Mizo language and the lingua franca of the Mizo peoples due to its extensive and exclusive use by the Christian missionaries.
The Mizo alphabet is based on the Roman script and has 25 letters, namely:
A circumflex ^ was later added to the vowels to indicate long vowels, viz., â, ê, î, ô, û, which were insufficient to fully express Mizo tone. Recently,[when?] a leading newspaper in Mizoram, Vanglaini, the magazine Kristian ?halai, and other publishers began using á, à, ä, é, è, ë, í, ì, ï, ó, ò, ö, ú, ù, ü to indicate the long intonations and tones. However, this does not differentiate the different intonations that short tones can have.
The Mizo language is related to the other languages of the Sino-Tibetan family. The Kukish languages (which native Mizo speakers call Zohnahthlâk ?awngho/Mizo ?awngho) have a substantial amount of words in common.
The following table illustrates the similarity between Mizo and other members of the Sino-Tibetan family. The words given are cognates, whose origins could be traced back to the proto-language Proto-Sino-Tibetan (given in the first column of the table).
|Proto-Sino-Tibetan||Mizo language||Hmar language||Standard Chinese character (P?ny?n)||Early Middle Chinese||Old Chinese||Written Tibetan||Written Burmese||Written Sgaw Karen||Bodo||Tripuri (Kokborok)||Meitei language||Trung||English meaning|
|*s?j(H) (? / ?-)||thi||thi||? (s?)||si'||sjid||shi-ba||se||thee||thøi||thwi/thui||shi||?i||die|
|*n?-||nang||nang||? (r?)||na?||-||-||na||nøng||nung/nwng||nang||n?||thou (you)|
|*n?j||ni||ni/sun/nisa||? (rì)||?i?t||nji?||-||-||mu ni/mu||shan||Sal||nì||day/sun|
|*drua?||chhung||sung/sungtieng||?(zh?ng) (middle)||?ü?||tru? tru?s||g?u?||?twa?h||khuh tha||-||-||manung||a3-tu?1 (middle)||inside|
|*tk?||tâwk||huntawk||? (shú, sh?, chù)||-||-||sdug (pretty, nice)||th?uk (be worth, have certain value; be lucky)||-||-||-||-||enough, sufficient|
|*ch (be blue, green)||hring||hring||? (q?ng)||chie?||sh||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||green|
|*ch[?]t||sât||sat/chan/tan||? (qi?, qiè)||chiet||sh?t||zed||?ha?||-||-||tandi/Hradi||-||to cut|
The following few words suggest that Mizo and the Burmese are of the same family: kun ("to bend"), kam ("bank of a river"), kha ("bitter"), sam ("hair"), mei ("fire"), that ("to kill"), ni ("sun") hnih ("two") li ("four") nga ("five")
The Mizo language has eight tones and intonations for each of the vowels a, aw, e, i and u, four of which are reduced tones and the other four long tones. The vowel o has only three tones, all of them of the reduced type; it has almost exactly the same sound as the diphthong /o?/ found in American English. However, the vowels can be represented as follows:
|Starting with a||Starting with e||Starting with i||Starting with u|
|ai (/a/, /?:i/ or /ai/)||ei (/e/, /?i/ or //)||ia (// /?a/, /ja/ or /?a?/)||ua (/u?a/ or /ua?/)|
|au (/a/, /?:/)||eu (/?u/, /e?/ or /e/)||iu (// or /iw/)||ui (/?i/ or /?wi/)|
Mizo has the following triphthongs:
|aspirated||ph [p?]||th [t?]||kh [k?]|
|aspirated||chh [t?s?], [t??]|
|aspirated lateral||thl [t?l?]|
|aspirated flap||?h [t?r?]|
|aspirated||hm [?m]||hn [?n]||ngh [??]|
|aspirated||hr [?r]||hl [?l]|
|glottalized1||rh [r?]||lh [l?]|
As Mizo is a tonal language, differences in pitch and pitch contour can change the meanings of words. Tone systems have developed independently in many daughter languages, largely by simplifications in the set of possible syllable-final and syllable-initial consonants. Typically, a distinction between voiceless and voiced initial consonants is replaced by a distinction between high and low tone, and falling and rising tones developed from syllable-final h and glottal stop, which themselves often reflect earlier consonants.
The eight tones and intonations that the vowel a (and the vowels aw, e, i, u, and this constitutes all the tones in the Mizo language) can have are shown by the letter sequence p-a-n-g, as follows:
|Short tones||Long tones|
|a||(? / ?) / ?||(? / ã) / ?||?||â||á||ä||à|
|o||(? / ?) / ? / (ó)||? / (ò)|
|aw||(?w / ?w) / ?w||(?w / ãw) / ?w||?w||âw||áw||äw||àw|
|u||(? / ?) / ?||(? / ?) / ?||?||û||ú||ü||ù|
|e||(? / ?) / ?||(? / ?) / ?||?||ê||é||ë||è|
|i||(? / ?) / ?||(?) / ?||?||î||í||ï||ì|
Note that the exact orthography of tones with diacritics is still not standardised (notably for differentiating the four short tones with confusive or conflicting choices of diacritics) except for the differenciation of long versus short tones using the circumflex. As well, the need of at least 7 diacritics may cause complications to design easy keyboard layouts, even if they use dead keys, and even if not all basic Latin letters are needed for Mizo itself, so publications may represent the short tones using digrams (e.g. by appending some apostrophe or glottal letter) to reduce the number of diacritics needed to only 4 (those used now for the long tones) on only two dead keys.
The following table illustrates the pronunciations of various consonants, vowels and diphthongs found in the Mizo language:
|Z?whtë ka hmù||z.te: k? ?mu:|
|Thlàp?i a ëng||tl?a:.pwi :?|
|Tlángah k?n láwn||tla:. k?n lo:n|
|Phengphehlep chi hrang paruk ?hu chungin ka en||p?e:?.p.lp tsi ?ra? p?.r?k tr ts?.?in k? ?n|
|?ahbelh chu chhunah kan hruai ve lo vang.||tr.b?l? ts? t?u:.n k?n ?rwai ve: lo? v(or l?.v)|
|I va berh ve!||v? ber? ve:|
|Khàuphár th?wv?n vè êm êm r?ngawt mai che u hian.||k?au:.p?a:r t.v?n ve?:m :m ri.t mai/m?j ts? hja:n|
|Nghakuai kan chiah||a.kua?:i kan tsja?|
|I zuan kai ngam ka ring.||?i zua?:n ka:i ?am ka ri?|
|Hläu miah lovin.||?la? mj l?.vin|
|Kuai tliak||kwai tlja:k|
|I tán liau liau||i ta:n lja? lja?|
|I uar a ni lo maw?||ar n? lo? 'm?:|
|Paih darh suh||p d?r? s|
Mizo contains many analyzable polysyllables, which are polysyllabic units in which the individual syllables have meaning by themselves. In a true monosyllabic language, polysyllables are mostly confined to compound words, such as "lighthouse". The first syllables of compounds tend over time to be de-stressed, and may eventually be reduced to prefixed consonants. The word nuntheihna ("survival") is composed of nung ("to live"), theih ("possible") and na (a nominalising suffix); likewise, theihna means "possibility". Virtually all polysyllabic morphemes in Mizo can be shown to have originated in this way. For example, the disyllabic form bakhwan ("butterfly"), which occurs in one dialect of the Trung (or Dulung) language of Yunnan, is actually a reduced form of the compound blak kwar, found in a closely related dialect. It is reported over 18 of the dialects share about 850 words with the same meaning. For example, ban ("arm"), ke ("leg"), thla ("wing", "month"), lu ("head") and kut ("hand").
However, even if one says Ka ziak lehkhabu, its meaning is not changed, nor does it become incorrect; the word order becomes Subject-verb-object. But this form is used only in particular situations.
The verbs (called thiltih in Mizo) are not conjugated as in languages such as English and French by changing the desinence of words, but the tense (in a sentence) is clarified by the aspect and the addition of some particles, such as
Mizo verbs are often used in the Gerund, and most verbs change desinence in the Gerund; this modification is called tihdanglamna. This modified form is also used as the past participle. Some verbs which undergo modification are tabulated below:
|Mizo verb||Tihdanglam (modified form)||English meaning|
|ziak||ziah||ziak - to write |
ziah - writing (g.), written
|tât||tah||tât - to whet (such as a knife)|
tah - whetting (g.), whetted
|mà||mâk||mà - to divorce (said of a man divorcing his wife)|
mâk - divorcing (g.), divorced
However, even if the spelling of a verb is not changed, its tone is sometimes changed. For example, the verbs tum (to aim), hum (to protect) etc. change tones; the tone is lowered in the modified form. There is a third class of verbs - those which neither change tone nor are inflected (modified). Examples include hneh (to conquer), hnek (to strike with one's fist).
Modification of words is not restricted to verbs; adjectives, adverbs etc. are also modified.
There is no gender for nouns, and there are no articles. There are some specific suffixes for forming nouns from verbs and adjectives, the most common of which are -na and -zia. The suffix -na is used for forming nouns from both verbs and adjectives, whereas -zia is used specifically for nominalising adjectives. For example,
|Case||Desinence||Tone (in pronunciation)||Examples|
|Ergative||suffix -in for non-proper nouns, 'n for proper nouns||short low pitch for -in||1. tuiin|
|Instrumental||short high pitch on -in|
|Locative||suffix -ah||1. tuiah|
Nouns are pluralized by suffixing -te, -ho, -teho or -hote, for example:
|mipa - man|
mipate/mipaho - men
|naupang - child|
naupangte/-ho - children
|Free form||Clitic form|
|keini (we)||kan (we)|
|nang(you, singular)||i (you, singular)|
|nangni (you, plural)||in (you, plural)|
|nangmahni (you, plural)|
|ani (he, she, it)||a (he, she, it)|
|amah (he, she, it)|
|anni (they)||an (they)|
The free form is mostly used for emphasis, and has to be used in conjunction with either the clitic form or an appropriate pronominal particle, as shown in the following examples:
The clitic form is also used as a genitive form of the pronoun.
Mizo pronouns, like Mizo nouns, are declined into cases as follows:
|Pronoun (Nominative case)||Genitive case||Accusative case||Ergative case|
|kei||keima||keimah, keimah min||keimahin=keima'n|
|keimah||keima||keimah, keimah min||keimahin=keima'n|
|keini||keini||keini, keini min||keini-in=keini'n|
|keimahni||keimahni||keimahni, keimahni min||keimahni-in=keimahni'n|
Mizo adjectives (Mizo: hrilhfiahna) follow the nouns they describe, as follows:
|1.||naupang||fel||a good child|
|2.||lehkhabu||chhiartlâk||a readable book|
For declarative sentences, negation is achieved by adding the particle lo (not) at the end of a sentence. For example,
|Lala a lo kal
Lala is coming/Lala came
|Lala a lo kal lo|
Lala did not come
|Pathumin paruk a sem thei
Three divides six
|Pathumin paruk a sem thei lo|
Three does not divide six
Also, for words such as engmah (nothing), tumah (nobody) etc., unlike English we have to add the negation particle lo; for example
Thus we have to use double negation for such cases.
All kinds of Parts of Speech like noun, pronoun, verbs, etc. can be found in Mizo language with some additional unique kinds - post-positions and double adverbs.
|Mi zawng zawng hi zalèna piang kan ni a, zahawmna leh dikna chanvoah intluk tlâng vek kan ni. Chhia leh ?ha hriatna fîm neia siam kan nih avangin kan mihring puite chungah inunauna thinlung kan pu tlat tur a ni.||All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience. Therefore, they should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.|
|Ka läwm e||Thank you|
|I dam em?||How are you?|
|?hà mâw? (informal)||How are you?/What's up?|
|Dár engzât nge?||What time is it now?|
|Khaw'nge i kal dáwn?||Where are you going?|
|Dam takin [(u) le]||Goodbye/Go in peace|
|Nûai(khat)||Hundred thousand/One lakh in Indian English|
Mizo has a thriving literature with Mizo departments in Mizoram University and Manipur University . The governing body is the Mizo Academy of Letters, which awards the annual literary prize MAL Book of the Year since 1989. The books awarded so far and their authors are tabulated below along with the years:
|Year||Book||Author||Comments on the book|
|1989||Ka Lungkham||B. Lalthangliana|
|1991||Zoram Khawvel-I||L. Keivom||Contemporary Mizo history|
|1993||Mizo Literature||B. Lalthangliana|
|1994||Kum za Kristian Zofate hmabâk||Bangalore Mizo Christian Fellowship|
|1995||Ram leh i tan chauh||H. Lallungmuana|
|1996||Bible leh Science||P.C. Biaksiama||Creationism|
|1997||Pasal?ha Khuangchera||Laltluangliana Khiangte||Drama|
|1999||Tlawm ve lo Lalnu Ropuiliani||Lalsangzuali Sailo||Mizo history|
|2000||Chawngmawii leh Hrangchhuana||R. Rozika||Novel|
|2001||Ka khualzin kawng||Robuanga|
|2002||Runlum Nuthai||L.Z. Sailo||Eulogy|
|2003||Kan Bible hi||Zairema||Theology|
|2006||Pasal?hate ni hnuhnung||C. Lalnunchanga||Historical adventure novel|
|2007||Zofate zinkawngah zalenna mei a mit tur a ni lo||R. Zamawia||Factual description and idealisation of Mizo uprising|
|2008||Chun chawi loh||Lalhriata||Novel|
|2009||Rintei zùnléng||Lalrammawia Ngente||Novel|
|2010||Beiseina Mittui||Samson Thanruma||Novel|
|2011||Zodinpuii (posthumously awarded)||Lalchhantluanga||Novel|
This award is only for books originally written in Mizo, not for translations, and it has been awarded every year since 1989. The award has been given to books on history and religion, but most of its winners are novels. Each year, the academy examines about 100 books (in 2011, 149 books were examined), out of which it selects the top 20, and then first shortlistling it further to top 10, and then to top 5, then top 3, finally chooses the winner.
The academy also awards lifetime achievement in Mizo literature.
Some of the best-known Mizo writers include James Dokhuma, ?huamtea Khawlhring, C. Laizawna, C. Lalnunchanga, Vanneihtluanga etc.
The Mizoram Press Information Bureau lists some twenty Mizo daily newspapers just in Aizawl city, as of March 2013. The following list gives some of the most well-known newspapers published in the Mizo language.
|Name of newspaper||Publication frequency||Editor||Place|
|Dumde||Daily||F. Lalbiakmawia (Fam)||Champhai|
|Ramlai Arsi||Daily||Lalremruata Ralte||Serchhip|
The Zozam Times| Daily| H.Laldinmawia| Aizawl
|Vanglaini chanchinbu,||Daily||K. Sapdanga||Aizawl|
|Zoram Thlirtu||Daily||Lalrinmawia Sailo||Aizawl|
Most of them are daily newspapers.
There are around 850,000 speakers of the Mizo language: 830,846 speakers in India (2011 census); 1,041 speakers in Bangladesh (1981 census); 12,500 speakers in Burma (1983 census).