Sunday, October 5, 2008

My views on use of foreign words in Apatani

There seems to exist a school of thought which believes in complete abstention of use of foreign words or words derived from other languages in Apatani. My view point is quite different in this context. I believe in freely using words of other languages when one feels that there is no Apatani word to convey what he intends to say or the word in Apatani does not exactly convey what he intends to say. So I feel it avoidable when some people use concocted Apatani words such as:

1. aro aya, alo aya etc, for greeting words- good morning, good day respectively;

2. danyi alo, piilo alo etc, for name of weekdays- Sunday, Monday respectively;

3. pinii anii, pinii aba for Mother Mary and Jesus Christ respectively;

4. henpyo ganda, heru ganda for heaven and hell respectively; etc.


1. In Apatani there is no direct words of greeting. We exchange our greetings by asking questions such as Noh in pa? [Where are you going?]; Knii mii du? [What are you doing?]; Da su da ha? [You are (simply) standing?]; Noh ho kii? [From where?] etc. One can use English or Hindi greeting words e.g, good morning or namaste etc., directly instead of using concocted words like aro aya.

2. There is no name for week days in Apatani. One can either use derived Assamese names or the English names for the same. Derived Assamese names which are more easily understood by older folks read like this: Humbar (Sunday), Mungolbar (Tuesday), Budhbar (Wednessday), Brishpatibar (Thursday), Hukurbar (Friday), Hunibar (Saturday) and Diyobar (Sunday).

3. The word ‘pinii’ stands for the creator in Apatani. To say pinii anii and pinii aba respectivly for Mother Mary and Jesus Christ is a misnomer. English equivalent word for pinii should be god.

4. There is no words for heaven and hell in Apatani. However, there are two worlds of dead or spirits in Apatani which are termed as talii myoko and neli myoko. Talii myoko is a world of dead where the spirit of the one who dies an unnatural death go and spend some time there before going to neli myoko. The neli myoko is the ultimate world of dead where the spirit of the one who dies a natural death go and the one who dies unnatural death go via talii myoko. If one has to use terms for heaven and hell, he should rather use English or Hindi terms such as heaven, hell, swarag, narag etc., as per ones convenience, instead of using concocted words which could be, at a time, sound very unnatural.

It is a fact that a language is a tool to express ones thought. So, the easier the better. English has thousands of Sanskrit words in its vocabulary illustrate the point that no language is complete in itself. So, one should not be reluctant to use borrowed or derived words from other languages. Having said that, one should always try use Apatani words while speaking or writing in Apatani; use foreign words or derived words only when there are no alternative Apatani words.

In my earlier post entitled ‘Ziro Daka Alyi Atan’, I have used some English words and derived words:

English words include- traffic police, whistle, board, school, food poison, health-hygiene teacher, scooter, market, basket, bulldozer, modern, animal right activist, luck, and Sir.

Derived words include- cycle (English) means bicycle, nallah (Hindi/Assamese) means drain, bazar (Hindi/Assamese) means market, hoi (Assamese) means to be, to happen or to affect.

Readers, be feel free to give input as to which English words or derived words I should have replaced with Apatani words. Besides do let me know about the readability of the post. Punctuation used in the text may look unlike English pattern: there is comma after each word string.


wiian said...

aya luda ka ah [me laughs]

wish i could hear someone say aro aya, alo aya for good morning, good day respectively.

GT said...

these apatani version of good morning (aro aya) , good evening (alyin aya)etc were started in the churches of Ziro by the preachers. i was quite amused when our Hon MLA, Mr Nani Ribya, while addressing the gathering during this year Dree festival, greeted them with aro aya. For me it sounded quite unnatural and very funny

toophat said...

@ GT
I personally had no knowledge that 'aro aya' and 'alyin aya' are forms of christian greeting. When my friends from other communities and states ask me for an equivalent for 'good morning' or 'good night', I would always give the literal translation :
aro= morning, alyin= evening, aya=good.
so, 'aro aya' and 'alyin aya' are words that would come naturally to lay people like us. So you cant assume that its is unnatural and funny.
Another point I would like to add after going thru your blog - it is better to use apatani equivalents for english words instead of using any other language such as hindi or assamese, as is common.