A brief history of A, AW, B, CH

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A brief history of A, AW, B, CH
By. Royal Thuamzapau Hangzo

RoyalThuamzapauHangzo

Paite Language :
Spoken by some 50,000 people is listed by UNESCO as vulnerable to extinction. Alphabets of the Paite was first propounded by Pu T. Vialphung in 1903. But it was not circulated nor came in to use.

The Paite speaking people in the past never recognized nor used the nomenclature of Paite among themselves. Reference was always made according to the villages and the dialects used therein like the Tedim, Lousau, Bukpi, Dapzar, Ngennung, Vaalpau, Tuichiap, Lamzang, etc. In fact, Rev. D. Jones authored a Paite primer around the year 1910, that is almost the same time he brought out a Lushai primer, ‘Zirtir Bu’. Since the term Paite was not recognized or popularly used at that time by the Paite people in Guite area of Manipur, the book was withdrawn and it never saw the light of the day .

There was hardly any book to read in Paite language. Bible, Hymnals, and any book available were books written in Lushai or Duhlian language. During that time there was a primer, “Tedim Primer in Kamhau Dialect”, prepared by Rev. Joshep Herbert Cope in about the year 1910. But this primer was just a translation of English in to Paite, viz., “ I ate with spoon” as “Sikkeu tawh ka ne” and, “Red Sea” as “San Tuipi” .

The birth of “Sintung Bu”:
Rev. Hangzo Nengzachin contemplated on the alphabets and its usages in the writings of the Paite language at that time. He wrote in his autobiography, ibid., how he longed to had alphabets that can be used by Paite speaking people in both sides of India and Myanmar. He tried his best to corresponded with leaders in the Chin Hills, Myanmar; he even wrote to Rev. S.T. Haugo. But received no positive response.

He turned to all available materials and seriously contemplated and concentrated on the different dialects spoken by the Tedim, Lousau, Bukpi, Dapzar, Ngennung, Vaalpau, Tuichiap, Lamzang, etc., where reference was always made according to the villages and the dialects therein.

Finally, Rev. Hangzo Nengzachin came out with 24 (twenty four) alphabets in 1945 - that can be read and written by the Paite speaking people according to their respective dialects. Thus born Paite Primer “Sintung Bu” in a slightly modified form. It was published in 1946 by Pu Tonsing Thangkhai, Chief of Pearsonmun. The primer contained the 24 Paite alphabets and its usages and sentence formation. Soon, it was approved and prescribed as Text Book for Beginners by Government of Manipur, Imphal.

The alphabets were:
Capital Letters :
A, AW, B, CH, D, E, F, G, NG, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, R, S, T, U, V, Z
Hand Writing :
A, AW, B, CH, D, E, F, G, NG, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, R, S, T, U, V, Z
Small Letters :
a, aw, b, ch, d, e, f, g, ng, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, u, v, z
Hand writing :
a, aw, b, ch, d, e, f, g, ng, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, u, v, z

By using these alphabets, the first Holy Bible in Paite was published by the Bible Society of India, Bengaluru, India, in 1971, and re-edited in 2016. Today, Paite speaking people write and read the Holy Bible in their dialects, sings hymnal, write and read daily newspapers, correspond in their administrations, teaches in their Sunday Schools by using these 24 alphabets! The Rev. Hangzo Nengzachin claimed, “of reading the Holy Bible and singing hymnals in my mother tongue! It’s the gift of God”.

Footnotes:

i. UNESCO languages by degrees of endangeredness
ii.“An Amazing Journey of My Life” by Capt. V. Dawngzathang, I.R.S.(Rtd), p/353.
iii. Forthcoming book , re-edited and enlarged “A Honpi” (autographed anecdote) by Rev. Hangzo Nengzachin, Chapter 17.