The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter Four. Above the Clouds
caption: visit to Shiong; linguistic differences
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching Shiong
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: The next day we visited the small village of Shiong. Though lying with its fifty houses hardly one hour's march away, it is astonishingly different from Wakching. Even the languages of the two villages have little resemblance; most of the men comprehend their neighbour's speech quite well, but the women, who do not go about very much, cannot understand each other at all. A very intelligent Wakching boy, whose mother came from Shiong, told me that, whereas he could speak a little Assamese, he could not say a single word to his mother's relations. This difference in language was not, as I ascertained later, restricted only to the vocabulary, but applied also to the phonetic system. If you go a few miles farther, you come to Tanhai, where the people speak yet another language, and on a two days' march you can easily pass through four distinct language (38) areas. It was well that we took three Konyak dobashi with us, for they had to translate the language in question into the usual Naga Assamese. Talking among themselves, each of the three spoke his own language, the others understanding, but not being able to speak it without difficulty.