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Title: Tani Languages
Contributor(s): Post, Mark  (author)orcid ; Sun, Jackson Tian-Shin (author)
Publication Date: 2017
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Abstract: Tani refers to a compact cluster of Tibeto-Burman languages situated at the eastern end of the Himalayas, in a primarily mountainous area skirted on four sides by Bhutan, Tibet, Burma and the Brahmaputra River in Assam. The main concentration ofTani languages covers the central part of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, comprising the bulk of the following districts: East Kameng, Upper Subansiri, Lower Subansiri, Upper Siang, West Siang, East Siang, Lower Siang and Dibang Valley. Tani languages are spoken by populations who either are currently or at one time were 'tribally' identified as Apatani, Nyishi, Na, Bangni, Tagin, Galo, Hill Miri or Adi (various subtribes), in addition to numerous smaller, usually clan-based or village-based self-identifications (such as Komkar). The single largest population of Tani language speakers, however, is the Mising tribe of upper Assam. The Tani ianguages are spoken in a basically continuous area, bordered in the west by Miji, Puroik, Koro and Hruso speakers, in the east by ldu speakers, in the south by speakers of Boro and Assamese, and in the north by speakers of Tibetic languages. Lingua francas spoken in the Tani area include Assamese in the south and Arunachali Hindi in the central area. Tibetic languages were used as lingua francas in earlier decades, although their use has recently waned. The 2011 'Census of India' reports a total of 1,380,878 individuals in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam who self-identified as belonging to a tribe whose mother tongue is a Tani language (Census of India 2011): these included 631,042 Tani tribespeople in Arunachal Pradesh, and 680,424 Mising in Assam (plus an additional 7,412 Mising in Arunachal Pradesh). These figures must be treated with caution, as it is not the case that all people who align tribally with a primarily Tani language-speaking population speak this language themselves; given the rapid spread of Hindi throughout Arunachal Pradesh (Modi 2005), and of Assamese among the Mising in Assam (Pegu 2011: 157), the number of fluent Tani language speakers as a percentage of this total must be considerably lower. Scattered Tani communities spill over the Sino-Indian border into adjacent areas in Motuo (Miguba and Misinba tribes), Milin (Bokar and Tagin tribes), and Longzi (Bengni, Na, Bayi, Dazu and Mara tribes) counties ofTibet (Ou-Yang 1985: 76), where they are lumped with certain linguistically non-Tani peoples (e.g. the Idu, Sulung and Bangru) to form the Luoba nationality. Very little current information regarding these groups is available (although see Huber 2012). Tani languages vary greatly in tenns of number of speakers, adequacy of description, and degree of endangerment. Mising has perhaps half a million speakers, but lacks a modem, comprehensive dictionary and grammar, and is currently undergoing considerable retraction under the influence of Assamese. On the other hand, Tangam has only 150 speakers; however, it has a forthcoming modern (if relatively slight) comprehensive description, and all Tangam children seem - for the time being, at least - to be learning Tangam as a first language and speaking it fluently. Relatively urgent descriptive priorities include Nyishi, a large and important language about which very little current information of certain reliability is available, Apatani, a relatively divergent language with a robust and intricate tone system which lacks a comprehensive and reliable description, as well as all Tani varieties still spoken in Tibet.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: The Sino-Tibetan Languages, p. 322-337
Publisher: Routledge
Place of Publication: Abingdon, United Kingdom
ISBN: 9781138783324
Field of Research (FOR): 200406 Language in Time and Space (incl. Historical Linguistics, Dialectology)
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 950201 Communication Across Languages and Culture
HERDC Category Description: B3 Chapter in a Revision/New Edition of a Book
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Series Name: Routledge Language Family Series
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Appears in Collections:Book Chapter

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