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Assamese: from the land of Bihu Festival

Brief Description

The English word "Assamese" is built on the same principle as "Japanese", "Taiwanese", etc. It is based on the English word "Assam" by which the tract consisting of the Brahmaputra valley is known. The people call their state xm and their language xmiya.

The Assamese phonetic inventory consists of eight oral vowel phonemes, three nasalized vowel phonemes, fifteen diphthongs (two nasalized diphthongs) and twenty-one consonant phonemes.

Regions where spoken

It is a language spoken in the state of Assam in northeast India. It is also the official language of Assam. It is spoken in parts of Arunachal Pradesh and other northeast Indian states. Small pockets of Assamese speakers can be found in Bhutan and Bangladesh. The easternmost of Indo-European languages, it is spoken by over 20 million people.

Development & Spread

Assamese and the cognate languages, Bengali and Oriya, developed from Magadhi Prakrit, the eastern branch of the Apabhramsa that followed Prakrit. Written records in an earlier form of the Assamese script can be traced to 6th/7th century AD when Kamarupa (part of present-day Bengal was also a part of ancient Kamarupa) was ruled by the Varman dynasty. Assamese language features have been discovered in the 9th century Charyapada, which are Buddhist verses discovered in 1907 in Nepal, and which came from the end of the Apabhramsa period. Earliest examples of the language appeared in the early 14th century, composed during the reign of the Kamata king Durlabhnarayana of the Khen dynasty. Since the time of the Charyapada, Assamese has been influenced by the languages belonging to the Sino-Tibetan and Austroasiatic families.


Assamese uses the Assamese script, a variant of the Eastern Nagari script, which traces its descent from the Gupta script.

Important Writers or Works

Laxminath Bezbarua, Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, Lakhinandan Bora, Parvati Prasad Baruva


Assamese was banished from schools and courts in Assam in 1836. It was reintroduced in 1882. (source: Assamese Literature by Birinchi Kumar Barua). The American missionaries along with many Assamese educated people convinced the British that Assamese is a sibling of Bengali. The missionaries had published a lot of books starting from 1813 (the first Assamese printed book was a translation of the Bible done by Atmaram Sarma of Koliabor in 1813; published by the Serampore (Calcutta) English Missionary Press) onwards.

Source: www.bhashaindia.com , www.assam.org , www.wikipedia.com

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