Site Search Anukriti Search Contact Us Site Map Home


On the language

            Apatani is the language spoken in the south central region of the Subansiri district in the Union Territory of Arunachal Pradesh. Tehyare surrounded by Nishi speakers. The settlement of Apatani speakers is popularly known as the Apatani plateau. The Apatani area is marked in the map given in this book. The plateau is about 26 and is surrounded by steep mountain ridges on all sides. It is connected to North Lakshmipur in Assam by road. The district head quarters is located in this plateau.

            According to 1971 census figures, there are 12888 Apatani speakers. Out of them there are only 724 literate persons. Apatani, which is closely related to Nishi, is classified as Abor-Miri-Dafla group of languages. (Dafla is the term used by outsiders to refer Nishi). It is a sub-group in the North Assam group in the Tibeto-Burman family of languages. Simon (1978) sub-groups them and establishes the Central sub-group which is the largest of any in the entire territory of Arunachal Pradesh. The number of people belonging to his sub-group is 221.136 out of the total population of 369,408. The break-up is as follows:

            The Adi group of tribes                                - 99,372

            The Nishang group                                      - 80,325

                                                                                    Including Nishis

Apatanis                                                         - 12,888

Hill Miris                                                          - 8,174

Tagins                                                            - 20,377

Simon’s ‘Apatani-an Introduction’ was the only book available on the language. The Central Institute of Indian Languages has taken up the descriptive analysis of the language in the late seventies. A Phonetic Reader and a Grammar were prepared and the present dictionary forms a part of that project. It has not yet developed a writing system. The Apatani adult literacy primer published by the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, is in Devanagari Script.


The materials for the present work were collected during my field work in Apatani plateau, during October-December, 1975 and April-June, 1977. Messrs, Khoda Gyati (Reru village) and Tatu Tayung (Mudan Tage village) were my principal informant. Mr. Gyati was a student of the government Hingh School, Ziro and was a part time employee at the electrical office in Ziro. He was staying with his family members in Reru village. His grand father is very good at telling stories and singing the ayu (the traditional song of Apatani Community chanted at the time of performing pooja or celebrating festivals like Murung and Myoko). Mr. Tayung was also a student at the same school at Ziro. He was the secretary of the Apatani Youth Association. Others with whom I had discussions on the Apatani language are Messrs. Hage Tadde (Cycle shop owner at Ziro township) Tasso Sai (working in the forst department of Arunachal Governemtn), Dani Duri (Medical Student), Michi Tagia, Kago Chandra, Hage Tatum, Hage Tatung and Nani Challa (school teachers). All the entries were checked once again with Messrs. Hage Tatum and Hage Tatung after they were brought in the present shape.


The dictionary and the entries

            The present Apatani-English-Hindi Dictionary is a pedagogical one. The entries are given in the Devanagari script followed by the same in Roman script. Then the grammatical category is indicated followed by classifier (in the case of those nouns which take specific classifiers). The English glosses are given first followed by the Hindi glosses. The entries are arranged in an-Indian order of alphabet viz., =अ, इ, उ़, उ, ए, ओ, क, ख, ग, ङ, च, ज, त, द, न, प, ब, म, य, र, ल, स, ह. Through Apatani is a tonal language, the tone is marked in the entries in the Roman script to enable the users to master the correct pronunciation. The abbreviations used are listed with their expansion below:

adj.      -           adjectives

adv.     -           adverb

interj.   -           interjection

n.         -           noun

pp.       -           post position

pro.     -           pronoun

vi.        -           verb (intransitive)

vt.        -           verb (transitive)


            As far as possible one word equivalents are given as English and Hindi glosses. Wherever such equivalents fails to encapsulate the semantic range of the Apatani entry, descriptive meaning is given. When a word belongs to more than one grammatical category, separate entry for each category is given. Words having more than one meaning that are related are given in the same entry with the meanings numbered. Classifiers are used in Apatani. Those who learn Apatani as a second language may face difficulty in suing the appropriate classifier. Hence the classifier is also given with those nouns which take specific classifiers. Other nouns take the generic numeral and hence the classifier is not given with those nouns.


Special features

The Apatani word formation is very productive. The verb particles are added to the verb to change the inherent semantic range. Since the derived from encapsulates a new semantic range it can even be considered as a new lexical item. For example, the verb stem mü to do is converted to mülyang ‘repair’ by adding a regular verb particle lyang ‘rectify when something is not in sound condition’. Here the verbs for ‘do’ and ‘repair’ can be considered as separate lexical items. (See the appendix). Argumenbt incorporation in the verbs also is noticed (see appendix).



Pronunciation guide



rising tone



falling tone


low central unrounded vowel like a as in father /अब


high front unrounded vowel like i as in ship/इमान



central unrounded vowel like ə as in away/अंक


high back rounded vowel like u as in put/उन्नति


higher mid front unrounded vowel like e as in bed/एक


higher mid back rounded vowel o as in note/दो


voiceless velar stop like k as in key/कलम


voiceless velar fricative kh as in queue/खाना


voiceless velar stop g as in gay/गाना


velar nasal like ng as in sang/डीङ् डाङ्ग


voiceless palatal fricative c as in cheer/चाल


voiceless palatal fricative j as in jump/जहाज


voiceless alveolar stop t as in tea/भात


voiced alveolar stop d as in day/दात


alveolar nasal n as in sun/नयना


voices bilabial stop p as in pay/पिता


voiced bilabial stop b as in boy/बाल


bilabial nasal m as in sum/मन


voiced palatal frictionless continuant y as in yet/यमुना


voiced alveolar flap r as in red/रवि


voiced alveolar laternal l as in let/लड़का


voiced alveolar fricative s as in soon/समय


voiceless glottal fricative h as in hot/हाथी






  1. Proper name
  2. Time
  3. Units of Measurement
  4. Numerals
  5. Word Formation
  6. Verbs with incorporated argument/adverb
| About the site |  About Translation |  Translator Education |  Tools |  Translation Today: E-zine |
|  Professional Translation |  Inlan: The e- translator |  News & Events |  Other links |
| Search Database |