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Mundari Grammar (An Old and Rare Book)

Mundari Grammar (An Old and Rare Book)
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Item Code: NAW188
Author: N. K. Sinha
Publisher: Central Institute Of Indian Languages, Mysore
Language: English
Edition: 1975
Pages: 176
Other Details: 8.50 X 5.50 inch

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 Centers are thus engaged in research and teaching which lead te 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 publication 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 Grammar series in non-literate languages in general and tribal languages in particular presenting a description of every such language in the sub-continent. This is undertaken with a view to producing instructional materials necessary for learning and teaching the language concerned. It is also expected to be of synchronic and diachronic study of languages.

If these materials help solving problems, both individual and corporate, and help in understanding the people speaking the language, then our efforts will be deemed to 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 out 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 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 of people of the region. For this purpose, the majority people, especially those who come in contract with the tribe people for various reasons such as civil administration, security, social service, trade, etc., should learn their language. The Grammar, which forms part of the package consisting phonetic reader, bi-or tri-lingual dictionary and teaching manual is prepared to help them in their learning of the tribal language.

The organisation of the Grammar is based on grammatical functions rather than on grammatical forms. This will help the new learner to find easily how the different functions, which he already knows and wants to express, are formalised in this language. Since this Grammar is primarily meant for pedagogical Government officials in Ladakh district without whose co-operation the field, work could not have been done smoothly.

I would like to extend my thanks to my friends Mr. Iqbal B.Sc., State Bank of India, Kargil and Mr. Mohammed Shafi M.A, formerly Deputy Superintendent of Police at Leh for the help they extended during my field work.

I must express my thanks to Dr. D. P. Pattanayak,{Director, CIIL, Mysore for the academic atmosphere he keeps and the encouragement he gives.

I am grateful to Dr. E. Annamalai, Deputy Director, CIIL. Mysore for the guidance and supervision of this work and to Dr. H. S. Biligiri, former Deputy Director, CIIL, Mysore who supervised my work in its early stage.

My thanks should go to my friends Mr. N. Ramaswamy, Dr. M. S. Thirumalai, Deputy Director, Dr. B. B. Rajapurohit and Mr. S. Arokianathan who spared their time to discuss some of the problems which I encountered during the writing of this Grammar. I am thankful to Mr. Ananda Raj, CIIL, Mysore for helping me when I prepared the manuscript for the press.

My thanks go to Miss. N. K. Rukmini and Mr. Gopal for the neat typing.

Finally I would like to express my thanks to Mr. H.L. N. Bharati, CIIL, Mysore who saw this Grammar through the press and M/s. Sri Raghavendra Printers, Mysore, for their sincere efforts for a neat and quick printing of this Grammar.


Mundari is one of the principal languages of the Munda group of languages in India. The first scholar to christen this language family by the present name was Max Muller. George Abraham Grierson in his Linguistic Survey of India (reprinted by Moti Lal Banarasi Das in 1967) has traced some back history of this language group. Munda family forms a part of the bigger family of Austro-Asiatic languages which includes Mon-Khmer, Nicobarese, and the languages spoken by the tribals of Malay Peninsula. Scholars like F. A. Uxbond (Munda-Mayar-Maori, London, Luzac, 1928) and F.B.J. Kuiper (Munda and Indonesian, Orientalia Neerlandica, P. 372-410) suspect that Munda belongs to that great Austro-Asiatic family, the extent of which is from Madagascar to East Indies, including Newzealand and even a pocket in Hungarian. Mr. Ram Adhar Singh in his ‘"‘Inquiries into the Spoken Languages of India’ (Census of India, 1961, Vol. I, Part X1-Ci) presents a short but informative historical references about the Munda people and their language. In view of all the above, it 1s not necessary to supply such details here.

Coming to the classification of Mundari within Munda family, Grierson, after Skrefsrud and Prof. Thomson as well as some Santhal traditions, suggests that Mundari, along with Santhali, Ho, Bhumij, Birhor, Koda, Asuri, Turi, Korwa, Kurmali and Mahle belongs to a sub-group named Kherwari. All of the above languages are spoken in the Chotanagpur division of Bihar state. Although Mr. R. C. Nigam, Linguist, Language Division (vide Census of India, 1961, Vol. I, Part II ) does not accept the existence of any Kherwari, as a common source for all the above, there can be no objection in giving the name of Kherwari to such a common source, which may be easily reconstructed on the basis of striking and most obvious grammatical similarities among these languages. Even Grierson mentions about the existence of a of 7 Kherwari tribe, the grammatical peculiarities of whose language a have very much in common with those of the above languages.. As such, he includes the existing Kherwari also in this sub-family. — a However, the treatment of Santhali as the closest representative of an proto-Kherwari by Grierson is not validated by any comparative study and as such may not be accepted.

A summary of grammatical sketch of Mundari is available in LSI. Among the earlier grammats, mention may be made about ‘¢An Introduction to the Mundari. Language "’ by Rakhal Das Haldar, published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal Vol. XL, Pt. 1, 1871. and also. about. Rudiments of Mundari Grammar (Calcutta, 1891) by J. De Smet: Almost contemporarily to the LSI, Rev. Paul Wagner published English ‘translation of A Nottrott’s Grammar of the Kol Language (Ranchi, 1905). However, the most important work in Mundari Grammar was completed by ~ Rev. J. Hoffmann in 1903 and to this day it is held as an . authoritative source.

In collaboration with Dr. Norman H. Zide of the Chicago University, the presert work was taken up in 1962 by the present author in India. Recently Dr. W. A. Cook submitted a dissertation to the George Town University entitled ‘‘ A Descriptive Analysis of Mundari to ‘study of the Structure" for his Ph.D. degree in, 1965.

The phonology and morphology of the present work were completed by 1966, but for syntax, the author made another field in 1972 as part of the Tribal and Border Languages Project of the CI.

The necessity of bringing out this descriptive grammatical works may be spelt out here. Rev. Hoffmann’s Mundari Grammar, doubt, is very comprehensive as far as morphology is concerned, but syntax is rudimentary and a part of phonology is missing. | Even morphology has been treated in the traditional frame work and it needs to be re-written on the basis of formal analysis, even if not much can be added to it. Perhaps these facts induced Dr. Cook to write a descriptive grammar of Mundari, employing modern techniques. In most cases, however, he has used the data collected by Rev. Hoffmann and has given his own interpretations. Unfortunately, several of his conclusions are disputable, but as the book is not yet published, it is not intended here to give a critical review of it. This fact as well as the fact that it is not available to the general readers justify the publishing of the present grammar. This grammar is to serve as a base for writing a pedagogical grammar of Mundari in future in order to be used for teaching Mundari as a first or second language.

Mundari has two major dialects, the area of which is divided by Ranchi-Chaibasa Road. The eastern side uses Hasada dialect and the western side Naguri dialect. In the knowledge of the present author only one work, by Dr. D. Terene Langendoen of the Ohio State University, has been done on Naguri. Both Rev. Hoffmann and Dr. Cook have written on Hasada. The present work also is based on the same dialect, as spoken in Murhu, some 40 Km south of Ranchi, and a place very close to Sarwada, where Rev. Hoffmann had spent some twenty years writing his Mundari Grammar and Encyclopedia Mundarica.

Mundari population is concentrated in Ranchi and Chaibasa districts of the State of Bihar. Making these places as the nuclei, the Mundari population is scattered around the neighbouring areas in the States of Bihar, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh in diminishing density. Some Mundari population migrated to Assam tea gardens early in this century and therefore in that state also there is some concentration. Total population of Mundari speakers would come to around one million, out of which more than seven lakhs is in the State of Bihar only. Ranchi district alone has more than five lakhs of Mundari speakers.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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