Mongsen Ao language

Mongsen Ao
Native to India
Region Nagaland
Ethnicity Ao Naga
Native speakers
260,000 (2001 census)[1]
  • Chungli
  • Mongsen
  • Chanki
  • ? Dordar (Yacham)
  • ? Tengsa
Language codes
ISO 639-3 njo
Glottolog aona1235[2]

Mongsen Ao is an Ao language, a branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages, predominantly spoken in central Mokokchung district of Nagaland, northeast India. Gordon (2005) estimates that there are 141,000 speakers of Mongsen and Chungli Ao (the main dialect of Mongsen).

A chapter in the anthropological monograph of Mills (1926) provides a grammatical sketch of the variety of Mongsen Ao spoken in Longchang village. Coupe (2003) is one of the few acoustic studies published on a Kuki-Chin-Naga language (only three exist). Coupe (2007) is a reference grammar of the language, based on a revision of his PhD dissertation (Coupe 2004).


Ethnologue lists the following dialects of Mongsen Ao.

Chongli and Mongsen are nearly mutually unintelligibile.


Location of Nagaland

The Ao Naga tribes of Nagaland speak three languages: Chungli, Mongsen, and Changki. (Mills 1926). Chungli Ao and Mongsen Ao are spoken in majority of the Ao villages whereas Changki speakers form the minor speakers.

Chungli as a common Ao language

During the American Baptist Mission to Naga Hills, Dr E.W.Clark first came in contact with the Molungkimong village that paved the way for a common Ao language. Chungli Ao is spoken in Molungkimong and Molungyimsen and other villages throughout Ao territory by roughly 60% of the Ao-speaking population. The speech of Molungkimong is the prestige dialect due to Baptist missionaries' influence. Most Ao can speak Chungli even if they are from Mongsen-speaking regions. Chungli is taught in schools. Various trans-Dikhu neighbouring dialects of Chungli Ao are spoken east of the Dikhu River in Yacham, Tengsa, and Longla. These are poorly documented; Yacham and Tengsa may be separate languages (van Driem 2001).

Mongsen Ao is spoken primarily in the western part of Ao territory. The Changki dialect is spoken only in 3 villages - Changki, Japu and Longjemdang - which is poorly documented though reportedly related to Mongsen Ao. Some Changki speakers can fluently converse in both Mongsen and Chungli, but a Mongsen Ao cannot speak Changki or understand it, whereas a Chungli can hardly understand or speak Changki. Chungli Ao and Mongsen Ao are not mutually intelligible.[3] The speech of each Ao village has its own distinctive characteristics. Many villages contain both Chungli and Mongsen speakers.


This section describes the sound system of Mongsen Ao as spoken in Waromung village and is based on Coupe (2003).


Mongsen Ao has 20 (or 21) consonants:

Bilabial Dental Post-
Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive unaspirated p t k (ʔ)
Affricate unaspirated t͡s t͡ʃ
aspirated t͡sʰ t͡ʃʰ
Fricative voiceless s h
voiced z
Nasal m n ŋ
Approximant central w ɹ j
lateral l


Mongsen Ao has 6 vowels:

Front Central Back
modal creaky
Close i ʉ u
Mid ə
Open a


Ao is a tonal language with 3 contrasting lexical tones:

All are register tones.

Syllable and phonotactics

The generalized syllable structure of Ao is abbreviated as the following:







All syllables occur with one of the three tones. In a VG sequence, tone only occurs the vowel head.


Ao is an SOV language with postpositions. Adjectives, numerals and demonstratives follow the nouns they modify, whilst relative clauses may be either externally or internally headed. Adverbial subordinators are suffixes attached to the verb and the end of the subordinate clause.


The Ao alphabet is based on the Latin script and was developed in the 1880s by the Christian missionary Edward W. Clark for Chungli Ao. The system is not based on phonemic principles and does not represent tone. A Christian Bible was published using the orthography in 1964. Coupe (2003) suggests a more consistent alphabet for Mongsen Ao.

See also


  1. Mongsen Ao at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Ao Naga". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Escamilla, R. M. (2012). An Updated Typology of Causative Constructions: Form-Function Mappings in Hupa (California Athabaskan), Chungli Ao (Tibeto-Burman), and Beyond. Unpublished PhD dissertation, U.C. Berkeley.


Mongsen Ao language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 5/11/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.