The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book : Return to the Naked Nagas (1939;1976)

caption: Chapter Twenty-two. Love and Poetry
caption: difficulties of language and translation and variations
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: Poems and song give us often a clearer insight into a people's soul than the most lengthy discussions, and in the poetry of the Konyaks lie certain important clues to their philosophy of life. But the recording and translation of their innumerable songs meets with peculiar difficulties. Konyak, as other languages of the Tibeto-Burman group, has a complicated tonal system. Nagas of neighbouring tribes comment on the great difference between the Konyak dialects and their own languages: indeed I have rarely met a non-Konyak Naga who could converse in Konyak, and after a year's stay in a Konyak village my Lhota servants had picked up hardly a dozen Konyak phrases.