A Grammar of Mongsen Ao, the result of the author’s fieldwork over a
ten-year period, presents the first comprehensive grammatical description
of a language spoken in Nagaland, north-east India. The languages of this
region remain under-documented for a number of historical reasons. During
the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the widespread cultural
practice of head-hunting discouraged outsiders from entering the Naga
Hills. Shortly after Indian independence in 1947, an armed rebellion by
Naga separatists and a government policy of restricting access to the
troubled area ensured that Nagaland remained a difficult place to conduct
research. In this context, A Grammar of Mongsen Ao offers valuable new
insights into the structure of a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in a
linguistically little-known region of the world.
The grammatical analysis documents all the functional domains of the
language and includes four glossed and translated texts, the latter being
of interest to anthropologists studying folklore. Mongsen Ao is a highly
agglutinating, mostly suffixing language with predominantly
dependent-marking characteristics. Its grammar demonstrates a number of
typologically interesting features that are described in detail in the
book. Among these is an unusual case marking system in which grammatical
marking is motivated by semantic and pragmatic factors, and a rich verbal
morphology that produces elaborate sequences of agglutinative suffixes.
Grammaticalisation processes are also discussed where relevant, thereby
extending the appeal of the book to linguists with interests in
This book will be of value to any linguist seeking to clarify genetic
relationships within the Tibeto-Burman family, and it will serve more
broadly as a reference grammar for typologists interested in the
typological features of a Tibeto-Burman language of north-east India.
Northeast Indian languages; Tibeto-Burman languages;language typology; grammars
Research Libraries, Researchers and Advanced Students of Linguistics
(Language Typology) and of Indian Languages.