It is the easternmost native Indo-European language and is spoken by over 15 million native speakers. Its sister languages consist of Maithili, Oriya, Chittagonian, Sylheti, Angika, Bishnupriya, Rohingya and Chakma. It is written in Assamese script, from left to right, with a large number of typographic ligatures.
History of Assamese Language
The beginning of Assamese language is not comprehensible. Some suppose that it derived from ‘Kamarupi Prakrit’ used in earliest ‘Kamarupa’ Kingdom. On the other hand, it is believed that Assamese language developed at least before 7th century CE from the middle Indo-Aryan Magadhi Prakrit, but in some ways more ancient than Vedic Sanskrit with other Eastern Indo-Aryan languages. The earliest forms of Assamese in literature are found in the ninth-century Buddhist verses called ‘Charyapada’. In the late 13th century AD, Hema Saraswati, one of the oldest Assamese writers, wrote the very popular 'Prahlada Charita'. Another renowned figure of Assamese literature was ‘Madhava Kandali’.
The prominent works in Assamese literature include ‘Giti Ramayana’, several poems and songs, etc. It was followed by a generation of novelists, writers and poets like Rajanikanta Bardaloi (1867-1939), Chandra Kumar Agarwala (1867-1938), Padmanath Gohain Baruwa (1871-1946), Hiteshwar Bezbarua (1871-1931), Benudhar Raj Khowa (1872-1935) and many more. Moreover several contemporary writers like Raghunath Chaudhari also wrote generously at the age of social reforms and nationalism. From the 15th and 16th centuries, songs like ‘Borgeets’, dramas like ‘Ankiya Naat’ and the first prose writings (by Bhattadeva) were created. The fictional language, based on the western dialects of Assam moved to the court of the ‘Ahom’ kingdom in the 17th century, where it became the state language. This period saw the well-known development of identical prose infused with spoken forms in ‘Buranjis’.
Geographical Distribution of Assamese Language
Assamese Language is indigenous to Assam and is also spoken in states of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. Existence of Assamese script can be found in Rakhine state of present Myanmar. There are also important Assamese-speaking communities in Australia, Dubai, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. Assamese is the official language of Assam, and one of the 23 official languages recognised by the Republic of India.
Writing System of Assamese Language
The Assamese language makes usage of the Assamese script that is a variant of eastern Nagari script. The Assamese script traces its roots from the Gupta script. The writing style of Assamese language is very unique. It directly resembles the Mithilakshar script of the Maithili language, with the Bengali script. Assam had its individual system of writing on the bark of the ‘saanchi’ tree in which spiritual texts and chronicles were written. The contemporary spellings in Assamese are not essentially phonetic. ‘Hemkosh’ is the second Assamese dictionary, introduced spellings based on Sanskrit language.
Assamese literature of contemporary times is more popular because of a particular genre of vibrant short-stories. The present generation of some well known popular writers include names such as Harendra Kumar Bhuyan, Arupa Patangia Kalita, Phul Goswami, Indira Goswami and Manoj Kumar Goswami.
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