Angami language

Native to India
Region Nagaland
Ethnicity Angami Naga
Native speakers
130,000 (2001 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 njm
Glottolog anga1288[2]

Angami (also: Gnamei, Ngami, Tsoghami, Tsugumi, Monr, Tsanglo, Tenyidie) is an Angami–Pochuri language spoken in the Naga Hills in the northeastern part of India, in Kohima district, Nagaland. In 2001, there is an estimate of 125,000 first language (L1) Angami speakers.[3] Under the UNESCO’s Language Vitality and Endangerment framework, Angami is at the level of "vulnerable", meaning that it is still spoken by most children, but "may be restricted to certain domains".[4]

There are several dialects, the most prominent being Khonoma (around Khonoma village), and Tenyidie AKA Kohima (in the state capital of Kohima). Others include Dzüna, Kehena, Chakroma (Western Angami), Mima, Nali, Mozome. Tenyidie is the prestige dialect, used for publications and taught in the schools.


Ethnologue lists the following dialects of Angami. Tenyidie is the cover term used for all the dialects spoken by the Angami people (Ethnologue).

The Tengima (Kohima) dialect is the standard dialect. The Naga Chokri and Naga Khezha are eastern Angami groups with their own dialects. The two southern varieties Viswemal and Jakhama are not intelligible with the other dialects.


This description covers the Khonoma dialect, which is spoken by 4,000 people at the western extreme of Angami territory.

Kohima dialect is reported to have five tones. Khonoma has four register tones: /˥ ˧ ˨ ˩/ (with diacritics, /a̋ á ā à/). The lower three are approximately equally spaced in pitch, while the topmost is more distant. Low tone may be accompanied by breathy voice, especially at the end of an utterance.

Angami has six vowels, /i e̞ a̠ o u̟ ə̝/. Diphthongs occur, but are rare.

Khonoma consonants
Labial Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar Labio-
Nasal m̥ʰ m n̥ʰ n ɲ̊ʰ ɲ ŋ
Plosive pʰ p b tʰ t d kʰ k ɡ kʷʰ kʷ ɡʷ
Affricate ts
Fricative v s z ʃ ʒ~ʝ x~h
Approximant l̥ʰ l ɻ̊ ɻ ȷ̊ j w̥ w

Other dialects also contrast /tʃʰ tʃ dʒ/. [f] only occurs as an allophone of /p/. The velar fricative is in free variation with [h]. The post-alveolar approximants are truly retroflex (sub-apical) [ɻ̊ ɻ] before mid and low vowels, but laminal [ɹ̠̊ ɹ̠] before high vowels (/i u/).

Angami voiceless nasals are unusual in that, unlike the voiceless nasals of Burmese, they have a positive rather than negative voice onset time—that is, they are aspirated rather than partially voiced. The same is true of the laterals. In both cases, the aspiration has the formants characteristic of Angami h, which is somewhat velar in pronunciation. The other voiceless approximants may not be aspirated, as the h-like formants occur during the entire hold of the consonant.

The labial and labialized consonants have labiodental affricate allophones before /ə/ (but not in /Cɻə/ consonant clusters). In addition, about half the time, the rhotic becomes syllabic (a rhotic vowel) in this environment:

Phon. allophone
before /ə/
p pfə ~ fə ?[5]
(b) (bvə)[6]
m̥ʰ ɱ̊ʰə
m ɱə
kʷʰ kʰfə
ɡʷ ɡvə
ɻ ɻ̩ ~ ɚ

Angami syllables may be of the form V, CV, or CɻV. Attested clusters are /pʰɻ/, /pɻ/, /kʰɻ/, /kɻ/.

Grammar and lexicon

A wealth of Angami grammars, lexicons are available in Tenyidie and in English. However, these collections often conflict in their analysis of the phonemic or syntactic nature of the language. This is due to the difference at the time of the documentation, and the choice of informants from varying dialect. Especially in the earlier language documentations (1870s-1960s), mostly by Christian missionary; their informants’ meta-data were not specified and any dialect of Angami were assumed to be the “standard” of Angami within the Nagaland region. The Angami-English Phrasebook [7] and Angami-English-Hindi dictionary [8] available online.

Text Collection

The bulk of available Anagami texts are from printed materials (novels, poems and textbooks, the largest text assortment of electronic texts are mostly Christian religious or devotional materials written in Tenyidie. This is because the majority of Angami speakers in the Nagaland are Christians . The complete Tenyidie bible was published in 1970. However, only the translated chapter of Genesis [9] from the bible was posted on the internet under The Rosetta Project. Also, Christian devotional materials such as The Bible…Basically® in Tenyidie [10] are also available online.

Another source of text is largely from the ethnic folktales (e.g. Angami Naga folklore by Sekhose, 1970) and especially from song lyrics written in Tenyidie. Other than Christian songs written by the Angami church community (e.g. Shieshülie songbook by Baptist Revival Church[11]), the rising rock music culture started to stir in the Nagaland as the music events and societies like the Hornbill National Rock Contest [12] and Rattle and Hum Music Society [13] and Angami pop/rock bands such as the Cultural Vibrants[14] take the Angami music by storm; they popularized traditional Angami folk music that used to be passed down orally, it is foreseeable that these lyrics will be written in the near future.

The next largest source of Tenyidie is the educational materials used in the Kohima schools and university. Although much of these texts are in printed forms, a query on the web does retrieve some Indian exams papers [15] that contain test questions on Tenyidie. Also the Tenyidie syllabus for the university courses in Kohima College would have been the primary source of language data for Angami.

See also




  1. Angami at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Angami Naga". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version:
  4. Moseley, Christopher (ed.). 2010. Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, 3rd edn. Paris, UNESCO Publishing. Online version:
  5. Blankenship states that [f] is an allophone of /p/. However, in the text only [pf] is found. It is not clear if these are in free variation, or if one is perhaps an allophone of /pʰ/.
  6. In Kohima, but not Khonoma dialect.
  7. Rivenburg, S.W. (1905). Angami-English Phrasebook.
  8. Giridha, P.P and Handoo, L. (1987). Angami-English-Hindi dictionary. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-11-12. Retrieved 2012-08-22.
  9. The Bible Society of India. (1970). The Holy Bible: Angami Naga – Genesis Translation. The Long Now Foundation.
  10. Griffin, R. (n.d.). The Bible…Basically® in Tenyidie. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-05. Retrieved 2012-08-22.
  11. Baptist Revival Church (2011). Shieshülie - Tenyidie songbook. Retrieved from
  13. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-24. Retrieved 2012-08-22.
  15. (n.d.).Tenyidie Exam Papers. Retrieved from[] pp.48-52. and pp.36. from "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-09-12. Retrieved 2012-08-22.

External links

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