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Volume 21:8 August 2021
ISSN 1930-2940

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A Comparative Analysis of
Assamese and Nagamese Compound Words

Riya Singh, M.A., B.Ed., M.Phil.


This paper investigates the compound words in Nagamese. Nagamese is a creole spoken in one of the states of North-east India chiefly in Dimapur and Kohima district of Nagaland. Earlier Nagamese is known as Naga-Pidgin. According to Bhattacharya (1994), “Nagamese is Kachari’s language”. But people of Nagaland considered Nagamese as medium of communication among different tribes of Nagaland. According to Ethnologue (2015) there are around 30,000 speakers of Nagamese in Nagaland. In this study, data was collected by using word list. This word list of compound words is taken from Baishya (2003) work on ‘the structure of Nagamese’. This paper firstly talks about the compound words in Nagamese in terms of syntactic perspective namely Noun compound, Verb compound, Adjective compound and Adverb Compound. Even compound words in Nagamese are also discussed from semantic perspective namely endocentric, exocentric and copulative compound word. This paper also provides evidence of different possible combinations available to create compound words in Nagamese.

Nagamese is a creole which is highly influenced by Assamese. So, later this paper compares Nagamese compound words with their Assamese word forms or counterparts. This study was conducted to explore the relation between Assamese and Nagamese in case of one of the word formation processes namely compounding. It also highlights the similarities and differences between Nagamese compound words and their Assamese counterparts. For this comparison Nagamese data is collected from 5 participants and Assamese data is collected from single native speaker of Assamese. On the basis comparison, compound words have shown three conditions i.e. word substitution, borrowed compound words and non-compound words (totally different vocabulary).

Keywords: Nagamese, Compounding, Assamese-based creole, Naga-Pidgin.


Nagamese is an Assamese based creole. Nagamese is a mixture of many languages i.e. Assamese, Bengali, Hindi, English, Naga (tribal) languages and so on. Nagamese creole is a mixture of Indo-European Languages and Tibeto-Burman languages. It is spoken chiefly in Dimapur district of Nagaland. Dimapur is the gateway of Nagaland which connects Nagaland to other parts of India through railway and airport. Nagaland has only one railway station and a single airport, both are situated in Dimapur district. Kohima is the capital of Nagaland but Dimapur is a financial capital of Nagaland. Basically, Dimapur is a hub of commercial business activities. Other than Kohima, Dimapur is the only district in Nagaland which is multi-cultured, multi-tribal and multi-lingual because the residents of Dimapur belong to Assam, Bihar, Nepal, Rajasthan (Marwari), other tribes (like Angamis, Aos, Changs, Chakhesangs, Kacharis, Khamniauns, Konyaks, Kukis, Lothas, Phoms, Pochurys, Rengmas, Sangtams, Semas, Yimchungers, Zeliangs) and they live together. This kind of multi-cultured and multi-tribal area needs some contact language, and this need of time has been full-filled by the Naga Pidgin. Now this Naga Pidgin is known as ‘Nagamese’ creole. Many districts have particular tribe(s) predominance in Nagaland like Wokha district has majority population of Lothas, Mokokchung district has majority population of Ao and so on. According to Bhattacharya’s review (1994) “Kachari is an indigenous group of non-Naga who are residents of Dimapur district. Kachari lost their own indigenous language i.e. Dimasa dialect so, now they speak Nagamese as their own language.” But according to people of Nagaland, Nagamese is not Kachari’s language but it is used as medium of communication. As Kacharis are residents of Dimapur, so, they have predominance in Dimapur. Earlier Dimapur district is known for Kachari tribe. But nowadays Dimapur becomes multi-cultured and multi-tribal as many people travel towards Dimapur for jobs, services, business, etc. and they do not know Naga tribal language(s) and even sometimes they do not know Nagaland’s official language i.e., English, that’s why they use Nagamese for communication.

As Nagamese is an Assamese based creole and it is a mixture of many other languages so, it takes different features from different languages like Nagamese do not have grammatical gender like Bengali. Similarly, it follows Subject Object Verb (SOV) word order like Hindi. Nagamese does not have its own script so, it follows Roman (Latin) script like English. Like many other languages, Nagamese also follows word formation processes to enrich their vocabulary. This paper discusses one of the word formation processes, i.e., compounding.

Compounding is a process which we study under morphology. Morphology is one of the subdiscipline of linguistics which deals with word and its structure. It also deals with word formation processes like compounding, affixation, blending, reduplication etc. According to Katamba (1993:54), “Two or more words or root morphemes come together to form compound words”. Similarly, according to Booij (2005), “word formation process is the process in which two or more lexemes combined together and create a new word namely compound word”. So, basically when two or more independent words or root morphemes clubbed together and form a new word then that new word is known as compound word.


Riya Singh, M.A., B.Ed., M.Phil.
Assistant Professor (Linguistics)
Central Institute of Hindi (Agra), Dimapur Centre
Dimapur-797112 Nagaland

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