A documentation of the Upper Belt variety of Minyong (Adi), Arunachal Pradesh, North East India
|Affiliation||James Cook University|
|Collection Status||Collection online|
Summary of the deposit
This collection documents the Upper Belt variety of Minyong, a language of the Adi cluster of Eastern Tani languages (ISO639-3:adi). Spoken by approximately 20,000 traditionally animist hill tribespeople in eastern central Arunachal Pradesh state, north-east India, Upper Belt Minyong is currently almost completely undocumented and in an increasingly endangered state due primarily to the meteoric rise of Hindi in the region. Special attention is given to documentation of animist Minyong ritual speech and practices, which are acutely threatened by disappearance within the present age.
This collection represents members of the Minyong community, a group of approximately 20,000 traditionally animist hill tribespeople in eastern central Arunachal Pradesh state, north-east India.
Minyong trace their origins to Riga village, a very large and ancient settlement which is situated approximately halfway up the Siang Valley toward the Tibet border. Here as well as in five or six related villages to the north and west, the highly differentiated “Upper Belt” variety of Minyong is found. Despite its central importance to Minyong identity and culture, Upper Belt Minyong has not before undergone documentation or description.
Documentation of Upper Belt Minyong was a matter of critical importance at the time of data collection. When visiting the area in 2008, under auspices of a broader survey of the Eastern Tani languages and the Galo-Adi contact area, Mark Post observed a far more conservative culture than elsewhere in the region. Although electricity existed, it was hardly used. Televisions were nowhere to be found. House construction by and large followed a traditional “chaining” method in which a family’s sons built their own houses directly adjacent to the house of their father, a method which had completely disappeared from other Minyong areas. Traditional plant fibre garments were still woven, and worn, and although Christianity had made inroads, traditional animism was still overwhelmingly dominant in most households. But there was also Hindi-based government-run education, and the main road was close by. Children whose parents could afford to were being sent to boarding school far from home. Such children were strongly influenced by two regional giants: the “melting pot” variety of Adi spoken around Pasighat and the semi-creolized variety of Hindi which was at the time sweeping the state at an extraordinary rate (Modi 2005). In modern-day Riga, it was as easy to find elderly monolingual speakers of Upper Belt Minyong as it was to find youths who could not use Minyong even to the extent of asking an outsider where he was from.
Minyong is a language of the Adi dialect chain, which stretches throughout the Siang River Valley in east-central Arunachal Pradesh. Like all varieties of Adi, Minyong falls genetically within the Eastern branch of the Tani subgroup of Tibeto-Burman (Sun 1993), and is perhaps spoken by around 20,000 traditionally animist hill-tribespeople in the lower third quarter of the Siang Valley, an area roughly the size of Dover.
At the time of data collection, Minyong remained almost completely undocumented. K. Das Gupta (1977) is an article published in the local Arunachali research journal “Resarun and contains a small wordlist and a few grammatical notes. Sachin Roy (1960) includes some remarks concerning Minyong culture appear in the brief and highly generalized study “Aspects of Padam-Minyong Culture”. Moreover, both publication primarily treat lowland Minyong language and culture, which is strongly convergent with the Padam/Pasidominatedarea centred in Pasighat, the major town in the region. Accordingly, one finds little that is characteristically Minyong in these brief works.
When completed, the collection will include
- between 30 and 40 hours of parallel audio and video recordings of texts exemplifying a wide set of language domains, including spontaneous conversations, personal narratives, folktales, Minyong animist rituals and their poetic speech registers, “kebang” village council orations, child-oriented language registers (including lullabies) and traditional songs
- between 15 and 20 hours of time-aligned segmentation, transcriptions, translations into English, interlinearisations, glossing and supplementary cultural comments in ELAN and Toolbox
- a grammar of Minyong primarily targeted at linguists
- a bilingual dictionary of Minyong for local publication and distribution
The materials in this collection were gathered between 2010 and 2011 during six months of fieldwork as part of Mark Post’s ELDP Small Grant.
The materials in this collection will be locally archived at the Centre for Cultural Research and Documentation (CCRD) in Naharlagun, Arunachal Pradesh, a local NGO specializing in documentary filmmaking and community outreach.
Acknowledgement and citation
To refer to any data from the collection, please cite as follows:
Post, Mark. 2015. A documentation of the Upper Belt variety of Minyong (Adi), Arunachal Pradesh, North East India. London: SOAS University of London, Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/2196/00-0000-0000-000F-B657-8. Accessed on [insert date here].