The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - extracts on the Nagas from 'Census of India, 1931 - Volume III - Assam Report'

caption: Chapter X. Language
caption: Tibeto-Chinese family. The Naga group.
medium: reports
person: Mullan/ C.S.
date: 1931
text: 138. ....The Naga group is one of the most interesting groups o the Assam-Burmese branch. The number of speakers of this group has increased from 227,000 to 265,000 but about 13,000 of this increase is due to the incorporation within British India of previously unadministered territory in the Naga Hills and in the Sadiya Frontier Tract. A considerable improvement has been effected since 1921 in the statistics of this group by the reduction of the number of persons speaking an unspecified Naga language from over 22,000 to 3,627. As a result, some of the figures of the individual languages show considerable increases. Thus Kachha Naga (including Lyengmai and Nzemi) which showed a decrease of 5,000 speakers in 1911-21 has now increased from 3,339 to 19,754. Mr Lloyd in 1921 suggested that the decrease was due partly to inaccuracy in 1911 and partly to some speakers of this language having been returned in 1921 under Angami and Naga (unspecified). As a matter of fact the decrease in 1921 was more probably due to greater inaccuracy in 1921. In that year a few thousand speakers of this language were possibly returned under Angami as Mr Lloyd suspected but the great majority of the tribe must have been returned under Naga (unspecified). This is shown by the fact that there are now 7,259 speakers of this language against only 1,931 in 1921 and 6,868 in 1911. It is obvious that the 1921 figure is far too low. Speakers of Kabui, who decreased slightly in 1911-21 (owing to the influenza epidemic), have increased by nearly 3,000 to 18,475 but speakers of Angami, Kezhama, and Lhota have remained almost stationary. Sema, Rengma and Ao all show an increase in the number of their speakers; so, also, do Tangkhul and Memi. Sangtam, Kalyo-Kengngu, Yachami, Rangpang and Phom appear for the first time prominently in our tables. Rangpang - itself an inaccurate word - covers all Naga speakers of the Sadiya and Lakhimpur Frontier Tracts.