Authored by: Shobhana L. Chelliah

The Sino-Tibetan Languages

Print publication date:  December  2002
Online publication date:  May  2006

Print ISBN: 9780700711291
eBook ISBN: 9780203221051
Adobe ISBN: 9781135797188


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Meithei, also known as Manipuri and Meitheirón, is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in the Indian state of Manipur which is bordered by Myanmar to the east, Mizoram to the south, Nagaland to the north, and Assam to the west and northwest. The state is 22,356 square kilometres, 1813 square kilometres of which are level country approximately 750 metres above sea level. This level area is populated mainly by the Meithei and 120,000 Muslims who are the progeny of the intermarriage of Muslim traders and labourers with Meithei women. The 20,543 square kilometres of hill territory are populated by about 657,000 people belonging to Tibeto-Burman speaking Naga and Kuki-Chin tribes. There are 1,180,000 native speakers of Meithei, although the number of actual speakers is higher since Meithei is used as a lingua franca in the state (Encyclopedia Britannica Online 1999). English and Meithei are the state languages.

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