learning Naga dialects

Nagaland is one of the most diverse states in India with 16 main tribes and many further sub-tribes. The most interesting thing is that within the same tribe or sub tribe, the different villages too have different dialects.

so, for example: if there is someone from Ungma village in Mokukchung district (Ao Naga inhabited district) of Nagaland, the dialect he’ll follow is Ungma Ao Naga dialect.

Therefore, it is extremely important for Nagas to have one common dialect that can be followed by all tribes. Since, Nagaland touches Assam on the North, and Assam is noticeably the BIG BROTHER of North East India, a lot of references were taken from Assamese dialect and thus NAGAMESE was born, as an intelligible language and preferred form of communication among all Nagas or Nagas and others in North East India. It is more a Creole than a dialect/ language itself. It is now (since 1936) also officially used by the Nagaland Legislature and even taught as part of academics though English stays the official language.

Nagamese has two cases, two tenses, three aspectual distinctions and no gender. (ref. Wikipedia)

While i was travelling in Nagaland, i realized it was most essential for me to understand and learn basic Nagamese.

I have put together these phrases of Nagamese for everyone who wishes to travel into Nagaland.

SR. NO. ENGLISH NAGAMESE
1 What are you doing? Ki kori ase?
2 How are you? Kinika ase?
3 I am coming to <place’s name> Moe ( place’s name ) aahebo
4 When are you coming to <place’s name>? (place’s name) te ketiya ahibo?
5 What are you saying? Aponi ki koi ase?
6 Where is <place/ person name>? (place/ person name) kuthe ase?
7 How do I get there? Moe tatte kinika jabo?
8 Where are we going? Kuthe jabole ase?
9 YES Hoi.
10 NO. No hoi.
11 What do you do? (more interms of profession etc.) Apone ki kore?
12 How is your work going? Aponar kom kinika jaye ease?
13 I don’t eat meat. Moe manso na khae
12 I eat meat. Moe manso khae
13 What do you feel like eating? Apone ki khabole mon ase?
14 I will see you soon. Moe apone ke joldi luk papo.
15 Is it raining in <place name> or no? (place name) te paani ah e ase no nai? / Pani giri ase neki?
16 I am not feeling well. I need to see a doctor. Moe gao theek no hoi. Moe doctor ke dikhabole jabo.
17 I will give you one (tight) slap. Apone ke aekta thapor debo.
18 You do it Kori be
19 I will do it Kori bo
20 How much is it? Kiman ase?
21 I would like to buy that? Moe ittu kinibole mon ase.
22 <It, she/he> is very beautiful <Ittu,Tar> Beshi sunder ase.
23 I don’t like <it, her/him, them> Moe <ittu,tar, tar khan> ke bhaal na lage
24 I am very happy Khushi pai she
25 You are a nice person Apone mano bhaal ase
26 girl mayeki
27 boy motta
28 We are friends now Itiye to moe khan sathi ase.
29 I am in love with <you/place/ person> Moe <aponar/place/person> ke morom peshi kore
30 I am missing/ think of you all. Moe aponar sabke bhabi ase

Numbers:

1 aekta
2 Duita
3 Teenta
4 Charta
5 Paanchta
6 Choita
7 Saatta
8 Aathta
9 Nota
10 dosta

when you refer to these numbers as money, replace “ta” with takka”.

Apart from Nagamese, i picked few other languages. since i spent quite a long time in Mokukchung, here are few Ao Naga phrases that i learn. Akok, my Naga friend is from Ungma village so i am assuming it is Ungma Ao Naga dialect.

SR. NO. ENGLISH Ungma Ao Naga dialect
1 What are you doing? Na kichi aser?
2 How are you? Na ku ma lier?
3 I am fine. Ni chunga lier
4 I am coming to <place’s name>? Ni  (place’s name) ee arora.
5 What are you saying? Naya kichi jimpierba?
6 Where is <place/ person thing>? Ner (place/ person thing) kolen lier
7 YES ai
8 NO ma
9 Nice to meet you Ni na aa churuba kanga pilar
10 Please don’t worry. its alright. Kicha ma ser aa sizatobalu
11 Thanks a lot Kanga pilar
12 What would you like to eat? Na kichi cheenar.
13 I don’t want to eat anything. Ni Kicha mi cheener.
12 I would like to have some <food- which is always taken as rice> Ni chi tilaga chiongner.
13 See you tomorrow Asung yana a churuti
14 See you soon Asung yana yakta a churuti
15 Where are you from? Na kulen a lier?
16 I am from <place name> Ni (place name) nu a lier
17 Your son drinks a lot. (which was probably my most used sentence in mokukchung) Ner chiri yi kanga a chimer
18 You are very beautiful Na kanga tebur tajung
19 You are very good/ nice. Na kanga chunger a
20 king chuba
21 queen chubatz(u)
22 Are you the king of Nagaland?- mostly used as a sarcastic statement. Nagaland indang chuba ana?
23 I am going to town (hill people usually go DOWN to the market) Ni townee ken (aoera or uti- down/ atur- up)
24 friend metermer
25 i ni
26 you na
27 they parnok
28 he ba
29 she la
30 your ner
31 forehead tingichi
32 head tukulak
33 Hair ku
34 cat Taann/ munn
35 today tann
36 dog aazz
37 blood Aaz (shorter than dog’s aazz)
38 House ki
39 Sun Ann
40 Moon Itta
41 Month Ita
42 year kem
43 I hate you Ni na ma chiner
44 I love you <a lot>. Ni na (kanga) meimer.
45 I am missing/ think of you. Ni na pilamer.

i might be very wrong with this… i wrote it as i heard it.

Now learning… Ao Naga Number Chart:

1 Ka
2 Anna
3 Assem
4 Pizz<u>
5 Pungo
6 Terok
7 Tinit
8 Tee
9 Toku
10 Ter
10 Ter
20 Mizz (u)
30 Simmer
40 Lier
50 Tinam
60 Rocker
70 Nutter
80 Tier
90 Tokur
100 Noklanka

Now its easy…

Take multiples of ten and add the first 9 numbers to it. in cases starting from 20 onwards… multiple of ten will be followed by “er” and then the first 9 numbers.

Eg.

11- terka

12- teranna

13- terassem

58- tinam(er)tee

87- tier(er)tinit

Etc…

Now,

100 Noklan(ka)
200 Noklan(anna)
300 Noklan(assem)
400 Noklan(pizz)
500 Noklan(pungo)
600 Noklan(terok)
700 Noklan(tinit)
800 Noklan(tee)
900 Noklan(toku)
1000 Merjangka

now the magic begins…

just add “ser <and>” after multiples of 100 and then using the multiples of 10 and first 9 numbers… you are a master at AO NAGA numbers!!!

Eg…

104- noklanka ser pizz(u)

508- noklanpungo ser tee

750- noklantinit ser tinam

999-noklantoku ser tokurtoku!!!

Have fun!!

Now, if you are wondering, why would i want to bombard your screen with these strange words that have absolute nothing in relevance to you…

there’s a reason to it.

when i went to North East India, i went there with almost no information. only once i got there, and especially Nagaland, i knew, for me to communicate better, i will need to pick basics of their language because where few Nagas do talk in English (because Nagaland is now a christian state) but most of them know only their local dialect.

I asked my Naga friends to help me with this. And i learnt it by writing it against its english translations. initially i was terrible but with practice, i learnt quite a few phrases and started saying them fluently (like a Naga would.. :P)

what i loved about learning a new language(even though it was just basics) was that now i could partially understand when people would talk in a group. they found it strange and absurd when they saw me nodding my head to their conversation. but the look on their face when i responded in their dialect was PRICELESS!

then, i was immediately taken in… i was their “metermer” instantly!

with a language you can bridge that huge barrier… i wish one day i can communicate with my naga friends in their mother tongue… then i know i will be really communicating with them!

it also helped me a lot in finding my way around… within Nagaland.

I feel its almost necessary for me, to share this little knowledge that i gained there especially for the ones who someday wish to travel there.

it will be just amazing, if next time someone plans their trip to Nagaland , they would invariably take along with them photo copies/ prints of these. Thats when i will send a bit of myself with each and everyone of them.

These little things i can’t stop dreaming of or wishing for…

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69 Responses to learning Naga dialects

  1. kaloskaiagathos says:

    I noticed you quickly learnt the ‘ i don’t eat meat’ and the ‘ I will give you one (tight) slap’
    :p

  2. hahhaa… yes yes it came very handy!!

  3. Thanks a lot Shahwar for the corrections!

  4. Sruti says:

    Wow – Quite similar to Bangla and Assamese, no?

  5. sachindra mehra says:

    super super… this is wonderful travels , learning and a way of life which is much needed and brilliantly shared.. and i my self will like to learn and share some more..
    well i saw u at kisama and danced with the kuki,s… this morning had a msg on my facebook wall to go thru this blog.. from a friend u know called jordyn… i went thru this and realized..we were swinging on the same tunes!!!!!! cheers,,,,pl. keep sharing..

  6. Meiyang Chang says:

    Wish I’d read this post before I went in for the Naga dance. You make the reader feel ever more eager to travel to Nagaland. If only the rumors of me being in Dimapur on the 14th of Feb were true, but then again you’d be in Mumbai. And I feel I’d be lost there without you ma’am 🙂

  7. mark says:

    I just got back from Nagaland — “Bishi” (thanks) –for these Naga phrases — they are very close to what I was taught on my brief visit to Kohima and several villages which ended several days ago… Nagamese is really fun to learn — they spoke Angami as the local dialect where I was …

    • beshi bhaal ase… khushi paye she! next project is to learn angami dialect… m traveling again in april so that shoudl be on top on my head… isn’t it totally amazing when u can understand a certain dialect when the people arnd you think you don’t… n suddenly you reply in their dialect… thats when the fun begins… n you make friends! na?

  8. wow! this has helped me a lot! (:
    thanks a ton!

  9. zephyr chalke says:

    I will learn these nagamese words because I will go to dimapur and kohima in January to be married to a naga girl. thank you

  10. Really nice, im a Mizo guy studying in Patkai College(Dimapur) so this will come in handy 🙂

  11. Albert says:

    Nagamese is a pseudo-language taken from Assamese (or adopted from) by our ancestors to communicate with other Naga tribes or outsiders. Since Nagas don’t have common language among them, this has come very handy and helpful in communicating among tribes. Author of the page has done a great job divulging basic Nagamese tot the readers and would be visitors to the state. These few sentences and words are almost enough to see you thro the towns and most villages in Nagaland.
    Bon Voyage

    Albert

    • thanks a lot albert! something funny happened recently- there was this foreign tourist who was doing the rounds of nagaland. he saw me diligently writing my sentences on my notebook- taking down the translations. he interrupted and said why would u want to keep writing down these sentences, they are all available online.. and pulled out the print outs of the same post! it was hilarious whn i told him that it was my post and a result of the same scribbles on my notebook! technology i tell you!! i still love my small notebook! 🙂

    • Surbhee says:

      Dear Sir,

      We are a translation Company, We have a project of 100 words from English to Naga.

      It would be a grateful to us if you can handle this project.

      Payment Mode: Paypal, Moneybooker or Bank transfer.

      Please Confirm ASAP.

      Affectionately,

      Surbhee Taneja

  12. anuja says:

    could u help me with meaning of sukha and axonne.

    • NishaB says:

      ‘sukan maas’ is what you’re looking for; it means dry fish. And Akhuni (or Axonne as you’ve written it) is fermented soya bean. Both absolute core to Naga cuisine and unbelievably good together. Enjoy!

  13. anuja says:

    i meant sukhamas

    • Hukheto Sema says:

      sukhamas means :- dried fish 🙂

    • Mhabemo ezung says:

      Well, Anuja i would say literally ‘sukha(dry)mass(fish)’ means dry fish in nagamese but most of the youngster as seen recently being use it as a symbol of ”funny/boring/hopeless” and so on. Eg: we have exam tomorrow but i’m still playing a video games. Sukhamass(funny/boring/hopeless) hope that helps.

  14. Merjangka Chuba says:

    Very Good Page

  15. Sunup says:

    Kanga chunger Ritika!!!!!! you have quite a priceless Acquisition now. Bishe bhal ase upni laga Ao to. Cheers!!!

  16. bhakta says:

    Thank you so much..

  17. jack bk says:

    thnk 4 putn up d basic ao dialect it wud hlp a lot as m planin to vist mokukchung by d end of decembr

  18. Kazu Jamir says:

    thank ‘Q’ so much

  19. halder says:

    i am staying in delhi, though i speak nagamese but i want to be fluent in it- can anyone suggest me a book which i can buy in delhi to fluent in nagamese

  20. Andy Rickloc says:

    Well….i hav known Nagamese along time back ……and would love to Speak Ao Naga dailect ……you have posted basics and where can i learn more about how to reply when i am asked about something

  21. Vivek says:

    Any chance you can learn how to speak Naga dialect using a dictionary?
    If so,Kindly suggest.

  22. I feel goood to read this topic about nagas…… and i am really interested to learn more language as soon a i can……. thanks…

  23. Diana says:

    thank you for sharing your knowledge about this language. I have many naga friends and even i tried to learn but could pick up few sentences only. But now i could learn more 🙂

  24. Imkum imchen says:

    A little changes for the Nagames translation no. 18&19.. (you do it- Abni Kori be)(I will do it- Moi Kori bo)

  25. Jacob Ahomz says:

    Nic to know that we can learn from i really appreciate but i wanna learn sumi language can you help please!

  26. Jake Jamir says:

    Hi, there Im very much pleased to see your blog. Was on google searching about some Naga Info but suddenly I bumped into your blog.

    Nothing much to say; Your translation for Nagamese was preety good(almost all are correct). Coming to Ao translations since I myself is Ao and from Ungma I would like to add some like;

    1. What are you doing?
    -Na kechi aser? (Commonly spoken Ao)
    -Na Kuchi er ? (Pure Ungma Tune)
    2. How are you?
    -Na kuma lir?(Commonly Spoken Ao)
    -Na Tsonga lili te ?(Pure Ungma Tune)

    Well, great works you’ve done.
    Much Appreciated, looking forward for more blogs.

    Good Luck.

    • hey jake thanks a lot. this year i spent a lot of time in ungma and mokokchung and have started distinguishing pure ungma dialect a little. ni ungma tsur! wei ali kibor! moji aro… chunglu aro… mapon aro… takam tachon meepa aro is the new song i made after i went to moatzu!

      • Kenny says:

        I have successfully managed to learn these few translated texts of ao, I was hoping you could add on some more of ao translations or may even direct me to another link

      • kishore says:

        I Ritika,

        went through the blog and it was very helpful, i do have couple of friends from nagaland and these where very helpful in our daily conversation… also please do help me with this …how should we say
        ” welcome to chennai, i wish you all a very happy independence day”

      • Jamir says:

        Ha ha ha…ritika, I guess u should change your name…wen I was reading those things u hav written…u sound so much like an ungma girl…and I m very happy and proud to learn that you have given your 100% to learn these words…cheers to you..

  27. Manjeet Dogra says:

    I Really Wanna Know Naga Language…..

  28. p b sing wangs says:

    i’m very glad to see this page’s……..

  29. Elyisus says:

    I read somewhere that numbers in naga, from 1 to 10 are something like Hun, Cas, Ox, San, Ho, Usac, Uac, Uaxax, Bolan, Lahum with the x pronounced somehow like the english sh, and now I am trying to corroborate if that is true, at least to some extent and at least in one of the many languages spoke there, but I have not yet found any source that make that info I read to be true. If you have a clue on this I much appreciate your input, thanks.

    • 🙂 i checked on 3 of the dialects from local sources that these are not the numbers they are aware of. So, i am not too sure if any one of the many dialects in Nagaland say their numbers like this. Though when i am back in Nagaland in October, i will check on this for sure 🙂 regards, Ritika

      • Elyisus says:

        Hello thanks for your comment. My interest here comes from an article I read some time ago and it was about the amazing similarities between some Naga language and Maya in regard to numbers 1 to 20. This was more than 20 years ago and I can not find it again. I live in the Maya land and want to see if this similarity really exist. Browsing your forum I have had a lot of appreciation for the rich content found in it. I have found a strong similarity between the textiles I see in your pictures and what I see here. Certainly this sort of similarities are often due to the similar looms used around the world. Best regards.

      • Yes i have been reading up on the same too and recently met an artist from columbia as well who mentioned about the similarities of that part of the world too. i am fascinated by the thought of where it all began. if you happen to visit this side of the planet, i will host you in the jungles and in the rural villages 🙂 here is my email id: mittal.ritika@gmail.com regards,ritika/ akala
        Ritika

  30. sharadmani says:

    Good work. This will help people know more about each other. As such NE states are geographically remote and very few know about it. I appreciate your initiative.

  31. mithun chakraborty says:

    thanks ……. it help me lot

  32. bynn kham lann says:

    kanga pilar ritika…

  33. Chubainla Jamir says:

    Last night, one of my friend from Lonavala sent me voice messages through watsapp in Nagamese and my Ao Naga dialect. I didn’t expect him to speak in Ao dialect so I asked whether my cousin (they stay in the same campus) is helping him. He told me that he is learning all by himself, he googled it. I was starled. I couldn’t believe what he said. He sent me your page link. I opened it… Look what I found! 😀 I am really happy to see your page. Hoping that this page will help those who are eager to learn Naga dialect, just like it did to my friend. God bless you. 🙂

  34. senthony says:

    awesom page..i wan 2 lern lotha tribe language any1 there 2 hlp me?

  35. its to easy like bengali laguage. i also know bengali laguage.. and thnkxx…

  36. Ritu V says:

    I speak Nagamese fluently and also know a few Sema words (Sumi) and so was pleasantly surprised by your page and responses to it. It was very interesting as an initiative and the response to it was equally amazing. I am Naga by choice so feel great when I see something like this!!

  37. nirmal thapa says:

    I was born and brought up in Nagaland. In 1969 I was in in Naginimora then I went to Longling, after that to Changtongia from the government high school there, I appeared my board exam of class VI in Mokokchung. Our Head master was S.M, Royshilla from Meghalaya. Then I came to Dimapur and joined Dimapur Government High School. I passed HSLC in 1976 and joined Dimapur College…… After a long time when I googled ” Nagamese” I found this….your page and I poured my ……….I became very happy to see songs, movies etc…in Nagamese I will visit this page regularly now and get to know more about Nagas and Nagaland. Thank you very much.

  38. Suku says:

    Osum work….well done.

  39. Surabhi says:

    Please could you help me by translating “My India,Clean India” in AO Naga Language.

  40. vinoka chishi says:

    Hats off to u #kuknalim

  41. James says:

    Wanna learn Sumi n angami language!!

  42. Along Imsong says:

    Actually nagaland’s official language is english and our language was believed to be taken from our ancestors from south-east Asia

  43. Sumiyaro says:

    Learning a language is fascinating and teaching them a trade to better their lives. Is something else.

  44. Arpan lewang says:

    it is very helpful to me to learn Nagamess Languge I learn something thanku

  45. dibro jamir says:

    yea thats gud language.bt sm sentence nt clear

  46. vill says:

    Hello 🙂 Can you help me translate following sentence: Zumo mhom kaje, nzamo. Anzamo

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