Thursday, April 30, 2009

Confusing Words - 1(edited)

(This post has been rewritten to incorporate the scheme of spellings employed by Habung Donyi in his dictionary which are enclosed under parenthesis in red letters e.g, [abi].)

There are some groups of words in Apatani which sound quite distinct while speaking but we tend to write them with same spellings thus causing confusion while reading and writing. However, Habung Donyi has done some work on it while compiling his dictionary, the Apatani Dictionary: let’s write in Apatani. Inspite of the good effort, lot need to be done to make the the group of letters that represent the tone or sound of a syllable to be consistent. Such as, a sound of a syllable containing aspiration (sound of h) in between a consonant and a vowel (as in abhi) and in the end of a word (as in abih, opah etc); sound of double vowel such as ee, ie, oo etc., in a syllable have to be worked out.

Some of them are given below with hint on phonetics (based on my understanding) [(simplified form) capital letter(s) for stressed syllable e.g., /A-bi/ ]:

  • abi:

/A-bi/ come on behalf of other; [abi]

/ab-bi/ movement [?]

/ab-bhi/ sufficient, complete [abee]

/ab-bih/ to make to something to swing [abih]

/a-bhi/ pant, skirt; [abhi]

/A-bie/ preferable to come (to a place, through a route etc) [bie as in barbie doll]; [abie]

** Look at above word ‘abi’, we tend to write word ‘abi’ which means (1) to come on behalf of other; (2) movement; (3) sufficient, complete; (4) to make to something to swing; (5) pant, skirt; (6) preferable to come (to a place, through a route etc)

Can we write the word ‘abi’, respectively, as shown by H. Donyi in his dictionary to avoid confusion while reading and writing? (may be we can discuss to make them more consistent for different words having similar sound unit as in aba (come tpgether), diiba (eat together), inba (go together) etc.)

Let’s look at some more similar words:

  • aba:

/a-ba/ father [abba]

/A-ba/ come together [aba]

/AB-ha/ put load on something, put something in addition to something that already exist [aba]

  • ami:

/a-MI/ cat [ami]

/am-mi/ tail [amie]

/a-MIE/ eye [amee]

  • aku

/a-ku/ uncle (maternal) [akoo]

/A-ku/ come (past pp) [aku]

/A-kuh/ come from/through wrong direction [akku]

  • alyi

/a-lyi/ (1) air, wind [allyi]

(2) arrow [allyih]

/A-lyi/ coming (here from some where (now)) [alyi]

/a-LYIE/ pig [alyee]

  • miido

/MII-do/ doing [miido]

/mii-DO/ rain [miidoh]

  • miine

/MII-ne/ did [miine]

/mii-neh/ (1) touch, (2) hurt [miinne]

  • kapyo

/KA-pyo/ good to look [kapyo]

/KA-pyoh/ see/look first [?]

/kap-yoh/ first [kappyo*]

*in anglo apatani dictionary HD corrected ‘kapyoh’ into ‘kappyo’

Disclaimer: The content in this post and other posts in my blog space are purely based on my observation and understanding of the Tanii language, difference in views from other authors and their works that one may come across in this post and in the other posts of the blog shall by no means be misconstrued as an act of discredit to any author and their works. Besides, I employ common-place Apatani for spelling things in the blog so readers discretion are sought. Readers are encouraged to follow spelling patterns used in Apatani Dictionary by Habung Donyi.


PB said...

Do you think that there is anything like 'bh' sound in Tanii like for eg. in Hindi (b followed by an aspirated h), or is it more like a double b ?

GT said...

hi pb
i do think so. i have given some example in this words such as 'abha'[to put load on sb/sth], 'abhi'[pant, skirt]etc, there appear to me a definite case of aspiration...not the case of double b ...speaking of hindi if you are familiar with it, anology can be drawn to a pair of similar sounding word 'aba'[come together] and 'ab(h)a'[put load on sb/sth]to a pair of hindi words 'pal'[moment] and 'p(h)al' [fruit]

however, as you know, we do have variation of pronunciation of words from village to village so i may be wrong for a village or two. but i have asked some friends from three different villages to utter the above two words and i did find the case of aspiration.

PB said...

Thanks for this information. I still have one more question: what is the difference between -EE and IE ? For example I came across amee = 'eye' and amie = 'tail'. It seems to me that ee stands for the long wovel /i/ (as in English), but what about ie ?

Millo Tago said...

aami = cat, ammi = tail, amee = name of a person, ammeeh = eye, how is it? Can we write aami instead of 'a-mi'? I am not a languist but to me it is more of a preconceived idea to pronounce. I pronounce in two tones for the same. Please rectify.

GT said...

@ millo tago

[aami = cat, ammi = tail, amee = name of a person, ammeeh = eye]i find the way u spell above words quite impressive.

i'm also of the view that we should use double vowels (aa, oo, ee)in good effect to show tonal difference.

i think
aa should be used to write for the verb root means 'to come' e.g, aane (came), aaba (come together), aabo (come along with) etc.
this will help to write words such as aba (father), ato (grand father, father in-law), atto (one's, oneself)etc. with more clarity

i'm hesitant to employ such spelling schemes here as i dont want to diverge much from the spelling scheme employed by Habung Donyi (in apatani dictionary), editorial teams of Apatani primer series (text books being introduced in schools of ziro valley) and others.

however, spelling scheme has to be worked out... keep commenting with such suggestions.

Millo Tago said...


I'm happy that you agree with my opinion. However, I am very poor in grammer. I only can comment broadly and on spoken tanii agung. I feel myself unfortunate, as I have not seen Mr. Habung Donyi's book. Language is not a static unit but a dynamic unit. Certainly you can express your opinion if it can contribute for greater interest of the entire society. Criticism or appreciation should be taken in right spirit.

As I am away from my main land, I don't get much opportunity to interact with my fellow friends in this regard. Hope this forum will help me think more about the subject.

When I jot down few sentences of my lyric, at time I cannot read it out again. Therefore, I feel there should be some scope for modification and our tanii writing should not be too rigid, as I found in some of my friend. I should be an evolving language as other language does like even English. Let us contribute something positive sense to our society.