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Manipuri (Meeteilon / Meithei) Manipuri (ꯃꯩꯇꯩꯂꯣꯟ / Meiteilon)

Manipuri is one of the official languages of the Indian state of Manipur in north-east India and has about 1.6 million speakers. It is a member of the Tibeto-Burman branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family and is also spoken in Bangladesh and Myanmar. Manipuri is also known as Meithei or Meiteilon.

Written Manipuri

Manipuri has been written with the Manipuri alphabet, or Meetei Mayek, with the Bengali alphabet, and with the Latin alphabet.

The old Manipuri alphabet developed sometime during the 11th century and was used until the 18th century. It origins are uncertain as many historical documents were destroyed at the beginning of the 18th century during the reign of King Pamheiba.

Between 1709 and the middle of the 20th century, the Manipuri language was written with the Bengali alphabet. During the 1940s and 50s, Manipuri scholars began campaigning to bring back the old Manipuri alphabet. In 1976 at a writers conference all the scholars agreed on a new version of the alphabet containing a number of additional letters to represent sounds not present in the language when the script was first developed. The current Manipuri script is a reconstruction of the ancient Manipuri script.

Since the early 1980s the Manipuri alphabet as been taught in schools in Manipur, and education through Manipuri is available in schools and universities in Manipur.

Notable features (Meetei Mayek)

Manipuri alphabet Manipuri alphabet (ꯃꯤꯇꯩ ꯃꯌꯦꯛ / Meetei Mayek)

Manipuri alphabet

Sample text

ꯃꯤꯑꯣꯏꯕ ꯈꯨꯗꯤꯡꯃꯛ ꯄꯣꯛꯄ ꯃꯇꯝꯗ ꯅꯤꯡꯇꯝꯃ, ꯑꯃꯗꯤ ꯏꯖꯖꯠꯑꯃꯁꯨꯡ ꯍꯛ ꯃꯥꯟꯅꯅ ꯂꯩꯖꯩ꯫ꯃꯈꯣꯏ ꯄꯨꯝꯅꯃꯛ ꯋꯥꯈꯜ ꯂꯧꯁꯤꯡ ꯁꯦꯡꯏ, ꯑꯐ ꯐꯠꯇ ꯈꯡꯏ, ꯑꯗꯨꯅꯑꯃꯅ ꯑꯃꯒ ꯂꯣꯌꯅꯕꯗ ꯃꯆꯤꯟ ꯃꯅꯥꯑꯣꯒꯨꯝꯅ ꯂꯣꯌꯅꯒꯗꯕꯅꯤ꯫

IPA transcription

miːɔɪbə kʰʊd̯ɪŋmək pɔkpə mət̯əmd̯ə niːŋt̯əmmɪ, əməd̯i ɪjjət əməʃung hək mɑːnənə ləɪjəɪ. məkʰɔɪ pʊmnəmək wɑkʰəl ləʊʃɪŋ ʃeːŋɪ, əpʱə pʱəːt̯ə kʰəŋɪ, əd̯ʊnə əməgə əməgə lɔjnəbəd̯ə mət͡ʃɪn mənɑogʊmnə lɔjnəgəd̯əbənɪ.

Transliteration

Mioiba khudingmak pokpa matamda ningtammi amadi ijjat amasung hak ma¯nnana leijei, makhoi pumnamak wa¯khal loushing shengi, apha phatta khangi, aduna amaga amaga loinabada machin mana¯ogumna loinagadabani.

Translation

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)


Bengali alphabet for Manipuri

Bengali alphabet for Manipuri

Note: the letters highlighted in red are not generally used in Manipuri.

Sample text

Sample text in Manipuri (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Translation

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Download a spreadsheet with the Manipuri alphabets


Ancient Manipuri Script (Meithei Mayek)

The script was used to write the Meithei / Manipuri from about the 11th century until the 18th century.

Manipuri alphabet

In order to represent a vowel other than /ə/, Meithei Mayek follows other Brahmi-derived scripts by adding diacritical marks around the letter to modify the inherent vowel. One notable difference with Indic scripts but similarity with Tibetan is how vowels at the beginning of words are represented. In Indic scripts, there is a different letter for each word-initial vowel. However, in Meithei, there is a single letter to denote word-initial vowel, and diacritical marks are added to it to change it into another vowel.

Manipuri alphabet

Note that there are seemingly two letters for /i/ and also two for /u/. In reality, they represent the sounds /i/ and /u/ in two different tones. Meithei is a Tibeto-Burman language and has tones typical of many languages in that family. However, the representation of tones in the Meithei script is not complete. Tones are denoted only in a few cases (such as this), and often disambiguation of which tone is intended can only be achieved by context of the sentence.

Manipuri alphabet

Source: G.H. Dament, (1877) Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal. Vol. XLVI Part-1

Sample text in Manipuri

Information about the Manipuri scripts and pronunciation compiled and corrected by Wolfram Siegel and Athouba Chingakham.

Information about Manipuri | Manipuri phrases

Links

Information about Manipuri
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meithei_language
https://www.ethnologue.com/language/mni
http://manipuri.freeservers.com/
http://eyek.e-pao.net/tamba/

Manipuri phrases
http://manipurian.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/learn-basic-manipuri-languages.html
http://www.e-pao.net/epPageExtractor.asp?src=education.Learn_Manipuri.html
http://www.jamia-physics.net/manipuri/basic.html

Manipuri web portal
http://manipuri.org

E-Pao! News from Manipur (in English and Manipuri)
http://www.e-pao.net

Tibeto-Burman languages

Arakanese, Bantawa, Burmese, Dzongkha, Garo, Karbi, Karen, Kayah Li, Ladakhi, Lahu, Lepcha, Limbu, Lisu, Manipuri, Marma, Mizo, Mro, Naxi, Nepal Bhasa / Newari, Sikkimese, Sunuwar, Tibetan, Tshangla, Tujia, Yi

Syllabic alphabets / abugidas

Languages written with the Bengali alphabet

Also used to write: Bishnupriya, Bodo, Chakma, Chiru, Koda, Nisi, Deori, Dimasa, Hajong, Koch, Khasi, Kudmali, Tiwa, Sauria Paharia, Miri, Chothe Naga, Thangal Naga, Moyon Naga, Maring Naga, Rabha, Rangpuri, Santali, Sadri, Oraon Sadri, Sulung, Panchpargania, Tippera, Kok Borok, Toto and Usui.