Bodo language

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Bodo in Devanagari script.svg
The word Bodo in Devanagari script
Native to Assam, India
Ethnicity Boro, Mech,
Native speakers
1,482,929 (2011)[1]
Devanagari (official)
Latin alphabet (frequently used)
Deodhai (historical)
Official status
Official language in
 India (Assam)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 brx
Glottolog boro1269[2]

Boro (बर' [bɔɽo]), or Mech, is the Sino-Tibetan language spoken primarily by the Bodo people of North East India, Nepal and Bengal. It is official language of the Bodoland Autonomous region and co-official language of the state of Assam and India[3] It is also one of the 22 scheduled languages that is given a special constitutional status in India. Since 1963, the Boro language has been written using the Devanagari script. It was formerly written using Latin and Assamese script. Some scholars have suggested that the language used to have its now lost script known as Deodhai.

History and linguistic classification

Boro is a Sino-Tibetan language of the Boro group. It is closely related to the Dimasa language, Chutia/Deuri language and Tiwa (Lalung) Language of Assam, the Garo language of Meghalaya and the Kokborok language of Tripura. The Boro speaking areas of Assam stretch from Dhubri in the west to Sadiya in the east. In Alipurduar, Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri and other adjacent districts of Bengal, the Boros are known as "Mech". The population of Boro speakers according to 1991 census report was 2,644,390 (Boro 1,984,569), (Mech 659,821). The census reports of Boro tribe, however, comprises only the Boros, excluding Mech tribe. The word Boro denotes the language and the community and it is pronounced with a high tone on the second syllable.

The dialects spoken in this area could be broadly sub-divided into three main groups:

  1. The Western Boro dialect, {(Sønabari) WBD}:
  2. The Eastern Boro dialect, {(Sanzari) EBD} and
  3. The Southern Boro dialect, {(Hazari) SBD}.

The Western Boro dialects are spoken in the districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Bongaigaon and the Eastern Boro dialects are found mainly in the districts of Barpeta, Nalbari and Kamrup and some parts of Darrang as well. It is worthwhile to mention that the Western Boro dialect has gained the status of Standard Dialect and has developed a written form as well. The variations between these two dialect groups are mainly phonological and lexical.

The University Grants Commission has included Boro as subject in UPSC and NET[clarification needed] examination.


In the aftermath of socio-political awakening and movement launched by the Bodo organisations since 1913, the language was introduced as the medium of instruction (1963) in the primary schools in Bodo dominated areas. The Bodo language serves as a medium of instruction up to the secondary level and an associated official language in the state of Assam. The language has attained a position of pride with the opening of the post-graduate course in Bodo language and literature in the University of Guwahati in 1996. The Bodo language has to its credit large number of books of poetry, drama, short stories, novels, biography, travelogues, children's literature and literary criticism. Though the spoken language has been affected by other communities, especially the Assamese, in and around Kokrajhar, it is still to be heard in its pure form, in and around Udalguri district.

Writing system

Bodo did not have written literature until the second decade of the twentieth century when Christian missionaries began publishing works in it. These missionaries also published some books on grammar and dictionary. Sidney Endle compiled An Outline of the Kachari Grammar in 1884. The grammar is based on the dialect of Darrang district. Endle also wrote an important monograph on the Bodos. The monograph is entitled The Kacharis. The book was published in 1911 and it contains chapters on social customs, agriculture practices, festivities, food habits, life cycle rituals, crafts and textiles of the Bodos. The book has also incorporated specimens of Bodo folktales, rhymes and grammars. J.D. Anderson's Collection of Bodo Folktales and Rhymes (1895) incorporated seventeen Bodo folktales translated into English, besides the original versions in Bodo language.[citation needed]

The Bodo Sahitya Sabha took a decision to adopt Roman Script as the script of Bodo Language in 1970 in its 11th Annual Conference held at Mahakalguri, West Bengal. The demand was raised before the Government of Assam till 1974, but the Government refused to grant Roman Script. As a result,the Bodo Sahitya Sabha launched democratic movement from 12 September 1974, where millions of general public and Bodo students took part. But unfortunately, instead of granting the Roman Script, the provincial Government of Assam dominated with strong hand resulting in death of 16 Bodo peoples and many others to serious and minor injury. Later, finding no other way of solution, the Bodo Sahitya Sabha decided to adopt Devanagari Script and the Sabha called the movement off on 13 February 1975. Later giving some terms and conditions before the Prime Minister of India from Bodo Sahitya Sabha, an agreement was reached in between Indira Gandhi the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India and the Bodo Sahitya Sabha on 9 April 1975. The outcome of this movement was that rounds of discussions between Bodo leaders and Govt of India were held, and Devanagiri script was imposed on the Bodos against their will.[4]

Some researchers have suggested that the language used to use a now-lost script called Deodhai.[5]

But there is a difference in using the letters in Bodo than the Devanagari. Kalaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha gathered a few specimen of the Deodhai alphabet from an informant of Dimapur area which was noted for the Kachari reign and remains representing the art and architecture.


The Bodo language has a total of 22 phonemes: 6 vowels and 16 consonants, with a strong prevalence of the high back unrounded vowel /ɯ/. The Bodo language use tones to distinguish words. There are three different tones used in the language : high, medium and low. The difference between high and low tone is apparent and quite common.


Examples of high and low tone and the difference of meaning
High Meaning Low Meaning
Buh to beat Bu to swell
Hah earth, to be able Ha to cut
Hahm to get thin Ham to get well
Gwdwh to sink Gwdw past
Jah to eat Ja to be
Rahn to get dry Ran to divide


Sentence structure

The sentences in Bodo language consist of either a "Subject + Verb" or "Subject + Object + Verb".

Examples of sentences in Bodo language
Subject + Verb Subject + Object + Verb
Ang mwntiya Laimwn ah Apple jadwng
Nijwm ah wndudwng Nwng wngkam jabai?


The numerals used in Bodo language are :

Numerals in Bodo language
Number In Bodo language In English
0 Latikho Zero
1 Se One
2 Nwi Two
3 Tam Three
4 Brwi Four
5 Ba Five
6 Do Six
7 Sni Seven
8 Daen Eight
9 Gu Nine
10 Zi Ten
11 Zi se Eleven
12 Zi nwi Twelve
13 Zi tam Thirteen
14 Zi brwi Fourteen
15 Zi ba Fifteen
16 Zi do Sixteen
17 Zi sni Seventeen
18 Zi daen Eighteen
19 Zi gu Nineteen
20 Nwi zi Twenty
100 Zwouse One Hundred
200 Nwi zwou Two Hundred
300 Tam zwou Three Hundred
1,000 Se Rwza One Thousand
2,000 Nwi Rwza Two Thousand
10,000 Zi Rwza Ten Thousand


Bodo is a compulsory subject till class 10 in tribal areas of Assam who do not want to study Assamese. The subject is mandatory in all schools including those under the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS). The legislation was passed in assembly in August 2017.[7]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Bodo (India)". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ "OMG! These 8 famous facts about India are actually myths | Free Press Journal". Archived from the original on 19 August 2017. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 
  4. ^ "Bodo Sahitya Sabha". Bodo Sahitya Sabha. Archived from the original on 2 October 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2018. 
  5. ^ "Battle of the Bodo language". MeriNews. 12 December 2007. Archived from the original on 12 June 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2012.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  6. ^ Mochari, Moniram (1985). Bodo-English Dictionary. Bengtol, Kokrajhar: The Bodo Catholic Youth Association. 
  7. ^ "Assam to make Assamese mandatory till Class 10; Bodo, Bengali options for some". 19 April 2017. Archived from the original on 22 April 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2017. 


  • Sarma, Chandan; Talukdar, P H. "Dialect variation in Boro Language and Grapheme-to Phoneme conversion rules to handle lexical lookup fails in Boro TTS System" (PDF). International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications. 2 (9): 1–4. Retrieved 2017-06-06. 

External links

  • Abley, Mark (2006) The Verbs of Boro, Lost Magazine, March 2006
  • Boro Language
  • Bodo computing resources at TDIL
  • Language Information Service – India

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