The Central Institute of Indian Languages was set up on
the 17th July, 1969 with a view to assisting and co-ordinating
the development of Indian languages. The Institute was charged with the responsibility of serving as a nucleus to bring
together all the research and literary output from the various
linguistic streams to a common head and narrowing the gap
between basic research and developmental research in the
fields of languages and linguistics in India.
The Institute and its four Regional Language Centres are
thus engaged in research and teaching which lead to the publication of a wide-ranging variety of materials. Preparation of
materials designed for teaching/learning at different levels and
suited to specific needs is one of the major areas of interest of
the Institute. Basic research relating to the acquisition of
language and study of language in its manifold psycho-social
relations constitute another broad range of its interest. The
publications will include materials produced by the members
of the staff of the Central Institute of Indian Languages and
its Regional Language Centres and associated scholars from
universities and institutions, both Indian and foreign.
The Central Institute of Indian languages has initiated
the Phonetic Reader Series in Indian languages with a view to
presenting the range of phonetic variation obtaining in this
sub-continent and demonstrating the closeness of languages
on the basis of phonetic patterning. These Readers are biased
towards learning the sound systems of languages. Thus it Is
hoped that this series will be of interest to both scholars who
are interested in phonetic studies and practical learners of
languages who wish to make a beginning in their language
If these materials help solving the problems in the State
and help in understanding the people speaking the language,
then our efforts will have been amply rewarded.
The tribal people in India have for long lived in isolation
except to be exposed for exploitation. They have not participated to their benefit in the socio-economic development of
the country. To come cut of their isolation it is necessary for
them to learn the language of the majority people around them
and a number of them have done so. But this bridges the
communication gap only in one way and the whole burden of
building up this bridge is carried out by the minority group.
It is necessary, however, for developing mutual understanding and good-will, to increase bidirectional communication
between the tribal people and the majority people of the
region. For this purpose, the majority people, especially those
who come into contact with the tribal people for various
reasons such as civil administration, security, social service,
trade, etc., should learn their language. The Phonetic Reader,
which forms part of a package consisting of Grammar, bi- or
tri-lingual Dictionary and Teaching Manual, is prepared to
help them in their learning of the tribal language.
The Phonetic Reader gives a general description of the
human speech sounds and the organs of speech that produce
them, a detailed description of the production of the sounds
of the particular language drills to practice those sounds, the
phonemic inventory and orthography best suited for that
language. The general description of the human speech sounds
introduce and explains the technical terminology. The description of the sounds of the language under consideration is made
lucid enough for the person not trained in Linguistics to
understand even, perhaps, at the risk of being repetitive at
times. After describing how each sound is produced, the
technical name of the sound is given for identification and its
distribution in a word. This is followed, wherever possible,
by a comparison with the similar sound in other languages
assumed to be known to the prospective users of the book.
Then comes the list of words containing the sounds. This
section will help the reader to identify the sounds of the
language he is learning and to reproduce them in isolation and
in words. Words for drill are given for the learner to practice
correct pronunciation and to differentiate between similar
The script suggested is normally the script of the majority
of the official language of the region. This is to take the
barrier of script out for the learner from the majority group
and more importantly to ease the switch over of the tribal
children from their mother tongue to the majority language
at some point in their schooling. This will also make biliterate
the tribal adults who can already speak the majority language
when they are taught reading and writing of their mother-
tongue. The modifications given are only suggestive and they
take into consideration the conventions of the adopted script,
the practices already in vogue if the script is being used by
the language under consideration and the technological
Though the Phonetic Reader is primarily aimed at the
language learner and teacher, it is hoped that it will be also
useful to linguists interested in typology and universals.
The section on script will be of interest to the language
Except when the writer himself is the native speaker
of the language analysed, ,data are collected in the field
primarily from one informant and then checked with a few
other informants. Care is taken to transcribe the sounds as
accurately as possible. Still some inadvertent lapses might
remain. There might still be room for improving the
presentation of the material, Comments and_ suggestions
passed on to us will be useful to improve our future publications in the series.
Lotha Naga belongs to the Central group of Naga Languages of Tibeto-Burman language family. It is spoken by people
who live mainly in the Wokha District of Nagaland. According to 1971 Census? Lotha speakers number about 36949.
Lothas do not call themselves by that name. They refer to
themselves as ‘kyon’ which literally means ‘people’.
According to a local tradition, the word ‘Lotha’ was
not used originally in its present form. The term was originally introduced by the Assamese as ‘ot a’ which means
"a creeper’ in Assamee. Then the Britishers pronounced it
as ‘"‘Lhota"’ by aspirating the initial consonant. After independence ‘"Lhota’’ was changed to ‘‘Lotha’’, which is the
Lotha language is surrounded by Ao in the north, Sema
in the east, Miker in the west and Angami, Rengma in the
It is not clear how many dialects of Lotha are there.
J.P. Mills in his book Lhota Naga says that the main
division of Lotha Naga is made by the river Doyang, those
to the north being known as ‘‘Live’? and those to south as
‘Ndreng’. The local people say that there is only one dialect throughout the Lotha area but they admit that the language differs for tone in different regions. Lotha spoken in
and around Wokha is considered to be the standard. The
religious songs, textbooks and other literary works are
composed in the dialect spoken in this area by the Lotha
Literature Committee appointed by the Govt. of Nagaland.
Very few earlier works are found on Lotha. They include
(1} Grierson’s Linguistic Survey of India Vol. WII, Part
(2) Rev. W.E. Witter’s Outline Grammar of Lhota Naga
Language published in 1886, (3) Marrison’s Classification of
Naga Languages, vol. I-II., London, 1967. Regarding the
Anthropological studies of Lotha Nagas, J.H. Hutton’s The
Angami Nagas, London, 1921, contains a chapter on Lotha.
There is a separate book on ‘‘Lhota Naga’’ written by J. P.
Mills dealing with the social aspects of Lotha Nagas. He has
also written an article titled ‘Folk Stories in Lotha Naga’
(published in J. A. S. B. M.S. Vol. 22, 1926, pp. 235-318).
Apert from the American missionaries, many local leaders
like Tsanso, Motsuo, Chundemo Murry of Okotso, Ashio
of Koto, Yikhyingo of Tsungiki have tried to standardize the
language in the area of pronunciation and script. Among
those who are currently working, the names of N. L.
Kinghen, Chairman, Lotha Literature Committe, M. Mozhui,
Rev. A. Patton, Ellis Murry, Nzanbemo Murry, Rev. Zanao,
Rev. Phandeo may be mentioned.
Lotha language is taught in schools as mother tongue and
is used as a medium of instruction in all the primary schools.
The textbook production branch of the Directorate of Education, Nagaland, produces textbooks in this language also.
There is a Literature Committee appointed by the Govt. of
Nagaland which works for the development of Lotha Language and Literature. Nagaland Bhasha Parishat also has done
some linguistic work on Naga languages including Lotha.
English is being taught as a compulsory subject from the
primary stage to the secondary stage. It is the medium of
instruction from class VI and above. English continues to
be the state language until one or more of the Naga languages are sufficiently developed to replace it.
Hindi is being taught as a compulsory subject from class
VIII. In classes IX and X it is being taught as an optional
subject as per the regulations of the secondary board. Cash
awards have however been instituted to encourage students to
opt for Hindi.
The main purpose of this Phonetic Reader is to introduce
the sound system of Lotha Naga language to the non-native
speakers by providing descriptions of sounds in detail with
examples. The Reader also gives drills in Lotha sounds. It is
hoped that they will enable the learner to acquire a reasonable
and correct pronunciation of Lotha sounds.
An attempt has been made to explain the sounds of Lotha
as far as possible without introducing technical terminology
so that the learner may understand the description without
much training in linguistics.
Like other Naga languages, Lotha Naga language is a tone
language. The learner should take special efforts to acquire
the correct tones using drills given in the Reader Intensive
practice will help one to acquire near native mastery of
The Reader consists of five chapters and is arranged in
the following way.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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