A Grammar of Atong by Seino van Breugel

By Seino van Breugel

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Extra resources for A Grammar of Atong

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The official language of government administration in Meghalaya is English. My perception was that English is mainly used as a written language and that the administrative staff speak whatever language is most convenient with the person they are talking to. Village meetings on the other hand are held in Atong or Garo. For a historical overview and references on colonial historical description I refer the reader to van Driem (2001: 528 ff). All I will say here is that, despite the fact that the British colonial administration gained control over the Garo Hills in the 1870s, the Atong speaking area was reportedly still almost inaccessible in the 1950s for lack of a road.

Each household has its own rice field house where those who work in the field can eat and sleep. In the villages where I stayed during my fieldwork, in the Badri area and Sijyw, this form of cultivation is never enough to support a whole village, or even one household for the course of a year, so that rice grown elsewhere in India and other food supplies have to be bought on the market. The Atong living in the Badri area, Badri Maidugytym, Badri Rongdyng Ha•wai, earn most of their money from the exploitation of their coal mines.

According to the Atongs, Siju 2 The Atong word morot ‘person, man’ is an Indic loan, cf Hindi /mard/ ‘man’. There is also a Niger-Congo language in the African country of Cameroon which is called Atong. This language also goes under the alternate name of Etoh (see Gordon (2005 b). 3 1 THE ATONG LANGUAGE AND ITS SPEAKERS 7 [sidu] is the Garo pronunciation of the name of the village; the Atong pronunciation is [sidw]. The Garo pronunciation is widely used among the Atongs nowadays, and Siju is the conventional way to write the name of this village.

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