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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: October 2011

6 - Some Aspects of the Phonology of the Barpetia Dialect of Assamese

from Tonology and Phonology in the Assam Floodplain


One of the major dialects of Assamese is Barpetia dialect (BD, hereafter), spoken in Barpeta district, situated on the north bank of the river Brahmaputra in Western Assam (locally known as Lower Assam). Barpeta is almost eighty kilometres away from the capital city of Assam, Guwahati (Dispur in Figure 6.2) in Kamrup district.

Until July 1983, Barpeta was a Sub-Division under greater Kamrup district. Historically, Assam was known as Kamrup as well as Pragjyotikhpur and Kamrupia/Kamrupi language is mentioned as having existed at the time of the visit of Hiuen Tsang in 643 A.D. (Kakati, 1941).

Medhi (1988) opines – ‘the origin and growth of Assamese language is not as simple and clear as we generally suppose…But its source is not to be found in the Sanskrit or Vedic literature…Its origin is to be found in the popular dialects of Assam.’ Hence, we find that there are many words used in BD which are pre-Vedic without relationship to any roots in Sanskrit.

Many of these words are not found in Standard Assamese (SA, hereafter) and in Standard Colloquial Assamese (SCA, hereafter) for example [telos] ‘towel’ which is always [gamosa] in SA. Before the seventeenth century, Kamrupi was the literary language of Assam. Today, the notion of Kamrupi language includes the spoken dialects of Kamrup, Nalbari and Barpeta districts with some inter-variations among them. However, major phonological traits like vowel deletion, dominant word initial stress, diphthongisations etc.

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North East Indian Linguistics
  • Online ISBN: 9788175968554
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