Asomiya is the Assamese language which belongs to the Eastern Indo Aryan group, genealogically. It is the easternmost Indo-European language. This group also includes the Oriya, Bihari and the Bengali languages. Asomiya and its related languages like the Maithili, Bengali and Oriya have developed from the Magadhi Prakrit which is one of the three Dramatic Prakrits, the ancient Indian written languages after the decline of Sanskrit. The Magadhi Prakrit in the east gave rise to four dialects, one of which is the Kamarupa Apabhramsa which resulted in Assamese predominantly in the Brahmaputra valley. Assam derives its name from the tract of the Brahmaputra valley.
Asomiya is not a Sanskrit originated language; rather, it was later influenced by Sanskrit as a result of the migration of people from Northern India in different ages and also because of the spread of Hinduism. Sanskrit is a highly Dravidian influenced Aryan language. The reason behind the Assamese language escaping the Dravidian influence is because of the fact that the people who spoke the Assamese language originally never came across the Indian Gangetic Civilisation on their route to Assam. The primary ancestors of the Kalita people of Assam who travelled across the Northern Himalayan tract of Southern Tibet on their way to Assam seem more likely to be the original speakers of Asomiya.
The earliest relics of the Assamese language can be found in the palaeographic records of the Kamarupa Kingdom from the fifth century to the twelfth century Anno Domini. Assamese became the court language in the Ahom Kingdom by the seventeenth century. There is evidence of rich heritage of oral traditions of Assamese language in folk songs, children’s stories, festival songs, religious hymns and ballads.
Asomiya language was withdrawn from schools and courts in 1836 and was reinstated in 1873. The British government, on advice of a section of public that included some missionaries and Bengalis, introduced Bengali as a medium of instruction in the schools and courts of Assam, removing Assamese. The American missionaries convinced the British that Assamese is a sibling of Bengali.
Asomiya is spoken by about fifteen million people. It is the state language of Assam which is the eastern most state in India. Assamese is also spoken in Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Bhutan and Bangla Desh. Assam is part of the Seven Sisters Region of Southeast Asia – Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura being the others. Assam is rich in tea, silk and petroleum resources. Most of the Assamese are Vaishnavas. They do not believe in idol worship and perform Namkirtana where Lord Vishnu’s glory is recited.
Asomiya has been declared as one of the major languages of the Indian Republic by the Constitution of India.
The Asomiya script came from the eastern variety of Gupta Brahmi script. It is written from left to right and from top to bottom. The phonetic sounds are similar to the Bengali language. The Assamese manuscripts can be categorised into three groups – Gorgoyan script, Bamuniya script and Kaitheli script.
Asomiya script is a variant of the Eastern Nagari script and has its roots laid down to the Gupta script. This language had a unique style of writing which was initially done on the bark of the Saanchi tree. The religious chronicles and texts in Assamese have been written on the same bark only.
The modern age of Asomiya script started with the British rule in Assam. The modern Assamese script is the one that was used by the Christian missionaries for the purpose of publishing books and magazines in the nineteenth century. In 1819, the publication of the Bible in Assamese marked the start of the Modern Assamese script period. With the advent of the printing machine, there was a drastic change also in the Assamese script. In 1836, the missionaries started the first printing press in Sibsagar. In 1846, Nathan Brown, Oliver Cutter and Miles Bronson printed the first Assamese newspaper called `Arunodoi’. Hemchandra Barua was the editor of the newspaper. In 1867, the missionaries compiled the first Assamese-English dictionary and the major work was done by Miles Bronson.
In the early stages of the Assamese script, say in the medieval period, there are some punctuation marks in Assamese. For example, there is use of single vertical line, double vertical lines, single star (*), two single vertical lines with a star in the middle position (I*I), double vertical lines with a single star in the middle position (II*II).
During the Ahom period when the Ahom kings had patronised the calligraphers, calligraphic representation of Assamese script was very popular but it lost its popularity gradually with time.
During the modern period, the English punctuation marks are used. For example, a comma, semi-colon, note of interrogation (?) and exclamation (!). The Assamese script has ten elementary numeric symbols. The Assamese alphabet is written with a version similar to that of the Bengali alphabet.
MORPHOLOGY AND GRAMMAR
The number and gender in Asomiya is not marked grammatically. There is a lexical distinction of gender in the third person pronoun. The transitive verbs are different from intransitive verbs. The agentive case is marked specifically and is distinct from the accusative. The kinship nouns are harmonised for personal pro-nominal possession. Adverbs are derived from the verb roots.
The Assamese phonemic range involves eight oral vowel phonemes and three nasalised vowel phonemes. A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound that is used to link a meaningful contrast between utterances. Additionally, there are fifteen diphthongs (a gliding vowel with two adjacent sounds within the same syllable) and twenty one consonant phonemes.
A large number of ligatures where two letters are joined as a link are possible because all the consonants can combine with one another potentially. Vowels can either be dependent or independent upon a consonant or a consonant cluster.
The grammar and phonology of Asomiya have been influenced by the original inhabitants of Assam such as the Kacharis, the Boros, the Tibetan as well as the Burmese dialects in the region.
The phonological characteristics of the Assamese language are marked by curling the tongue upward towards the hard palate. In the entire lot of Indo-European languages, Assamese has a large collection of similar sounding words. The Assamese pronunciation transliterated by the Roman alphabet `X’ phonetically is not to be found in any of the Indian languages. On the other hand, it is prevalent in common use in many of the European and Persian languages. Common examples are the Scottish word for the lake (Loch), German proper names like Bach or Ulrich and the Greek word for `Xeros’.
In the East, Assamese shows similarities with the Anui language of Japan. Anui people are the aboriginal inhabitants of Japan who arrived there prior to the arrival of the primary ancestors of the Japanese people about thousands of years ago. Examples are words like `kora’ (to do), `pasi’ (basket) and `mekuri’ (cat).
In the middle of the nineteenth century, the dialect spoken in the Sibsagar area of Assam came into focus because it was made the official language of the state by the British government. The Christian missionaries based their work in this region. The Assamese taught in schools and used in newspapers today has evolved and incorporated elements from different dialects of the language.
The first dialect is the Eastern group which is spoken in and around the Sibsagar District. The second dialect is the Central group which is spoken in Nagaon, Morigaon and Sonitpur districts and their adjoining areas. The third dialect is the Kamrupi group spoken in Kamrup, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Nalbari and Darrang districts. The fourth dialect is the Goalparia group which is spoken primarily in the Goalpara and Dhubri districts.
Asomiya literature is quite ancient and rich. It developed into a literary language as late as 13 AD. The Ahoms of Burma who ruled Assam wrote a unique collection of prose works from the thirteenth to the eighteenth centuries. These works were called Buranjis and were liked by the people. One of the oldest and renowned Assamese writers is Hema Saraswati who has written the popular `Prahlada Charitra’ by the end of the thirteenth century Anno Domini. It tells the story from the Vishnu Puranas of how the mythical King Prahlada’s faith in Vishnu saved him from destruction and restored the moral order.
Another important figure in the Assamese literature was Madhava Kandali who wrote the famous Ramayana epic in the native language in the fourteenth century. The nineteenth century saw a rise of good Assamese poets in Rajanikanta Bordoloi (1867-1939) and Benudhar Raj Khowa (1872-1935). In 1894, Bordolai published the first Assamese novel, `Mirijiyori’. Some of the popular Assamese writers of today’s generation are Manoj Kumar Goswami, Phul Goswami and Harendra Kumar. Two famous novelists in Asomiya were Gunabhiram Barua (1837-1895) and Anandaram Dhekial Phukan (1829-1896). Gunabhiram Barua was a pioneer of modern Assamese literature. He had been an inspiration for many writers in the nineteenth century Assamese society.
Padmanath Goain Baruah was the first President of the Asom Sahitya Sabha which was the biggest literary organisation of Assam. He is considered as the Pitamaha (the great grandfather) in Asomiya literary world.
There was also technical literature written in the Asomiya language on several topics like dancing, music and mathematics.
The period of modern literature began with the publication of `Jonaki’, an Asomiya journal that introduced the short story form by Lakshminath Bezbaruah. Dr. Devananda Bharati was the pioneer linguist of the Assamese language.
Lipikaar is a simple typing software method that helps you type Asomiya on an ordinary keyboard. It does not require any learning. It is based on a simple presumption that if you can write in Assamese, then you can type in Assamese. It works on all Windows applications, MS Office, all websites, chat and eMail. The Lipikaar Desktop Application is not dependent on internet connectivity. It is an offline program that stays on the background of your Windows operating system. It is based on Unicode which is a universal standard for representing text in different scripts and is not dependent on a particular font. A document created by using Lipikaar can be seen on another machine on which Lipikaar is not installed.