Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 8 : 12 December 2008
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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Noun Classification System in Mizo

Atanu Saha, M.A.


This paper investigates the Noun classification system of Mizo language. After the initial analysis a lot of interesting things have been found which are described in the paper. Like any other classifier language, the Mizo classifier system is highly productive. In case of borrowing from other languages, the noun categorization components fit well into the new words.

Introduction to Mizo, a Language of the Tibeto-Burman Family

Mizo is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken by over half a million people (approximately 539,000 in India, 1,000 in Bangladesh, and 12,500 in Myanmar). The language is spoken throughout Mizoram, parts of southern Manipur and the eastern Zampui hills of Tripura.

Mizo is a dependent marking language and the word order is SOV. It is a tonal language. There have been several descriptive works on its sound system in general (e.g., Henderson 1948, Bright 1957, Burling 1957, Weidert1975), and its tone system has been described and analyzed by native speakers (Chhangte 1986; Fanai 1989, 1992) as having four tones: High, Low, Rising (=LH) and Falling (=HL).

Mizo is a classifier language and it has both Noun classifiers and Numeral classifiers. Only animates in the language takes up Noun classifiers, inanimate are not classified. The distinctions for Noun classifiers are mainly made by Gender Markers in [+Human] while the classifiers for [- Human] are Gender Markers and Change of State like pre and post-reproduction as well as prenailed/horned or post-nailed/horned. The distinction for Numeral classifiers is made from the shapes and size of the objects.

There has been an interesting observation in Mizo where the numeral classifiers for mass nouns [+cumulative] take a state of action.


Noun classifier

In order to describe the noun phrase construction in a language it is obligatory to investigate whether the language is a noun class language or a noun classifier one. In both cases there are some categorization devices which occur in surface structures under specific conditions and entail some features of the entity to which an associated noun refers.

In general a noun classification system is realized by agreement relations in the sentence, noun classifiers are often independent words and can be used separately in a noun phrase or clause in comparison to a noun class system which is typically consists of countable number of classes and each noun in that language belongs to one class. There is some semantic basis of classifying nouns into gender class and often be some constituent outside the noun itself must agree into gender with a noun. Agreement can be within the other elements of the noun phrase.

The system of categorization of nouns in Mizo reveals the fact that the language is a classifier language. The evidences for this proposal are as follows:

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Evaluation of English-Manipuri Bilingual Dictionaries | Internet Projects of Language Learning - A Student-Centered Approach | Skype Voice Chat - A Tool for Teaching Oral Communication | Noun Classification System in Mizo | How Authority and Leadership Evolve - A Study of Leadership Functions and Authority in the New Testament Community | Trends and Spatial Patterns of Crime in India - A Case Study of a District in India | Problems of Visually Challenged With Special Reference to School Children in Coimbatore District, Tamilnadu | Tenor in Electronic Media Political Discourse in BBC News - A Functional Analysis of English-Arabic Translation | Materials Development in English as a Second language in India - A Survey of Issues and Some Developments at the National Level | An Eyewitness Account of the Third Indian National Congress in 1887 at Madras - Excerpts from Dr. Henry Lunn's Book A Friend of Missions in India | HOME PAGE of December 2008 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Atanu Saha, M.A.
Center for Linguistics
Jawaharlal Nehru University
New Delhi 110067

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