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Language Documentation

Tai Phake or Phakial Documentation

The people
Tai Phake or Phakial is one of the six Tai groups found in Upper & Upper Middle Assam. The Tai Phake or Phakial population is about 2000 (17th edition, Ethnologue, 2013) and mostly found in Dibrugarh & Tinsukia districts of Assam, India. Presently they live in these nine villages - Namphake and Tipamphake in Dibrugarh district, and Mounglang, Man Mou, Bor Phake, Man Long or Long Phake, Ningam Phake or Ningam, Nonglai and Phaneng in Tinsukia. The Tai Phake or Phakials are a very small Tai speaking Mongoloid ethnic group of Upper Assam.
The Language
The Tai Phake is a tonal and monosyllabic language and spoken by around 2000 speakers. Tai Phake or Phakial language is considered to be one of the endangered languages in India. Linguistically they belong to Tai-Chin group of Sino-Tibetan family. They have own script (Burmese and Tai) and volumes of written literature in manuscript form in Tai & Pali language. They have 4000 handwritten manuscripts at monastery and their homes. The manuscripts are a rich compendium of abundant themes such as- history, religion, fables, narratives, folktales, Tripitakas, proverbs, riddles, dream interpretations, charm and magic, the Jataka Tales, Principles of Buddhism, codes for monks, customary laws, astrology, herbal medicine, instruction of house building etc. They have lama mang (the Ramayana), dhamma puktram (the Mahabharata), phung jain (Description of universe), pun son laan (grandfather’s wisdom and teaching to grandson), woo paim cham loo, fyakongma (love story), loka samuk thi (death related texts) etc. No documentation has done yet on this language or the valuable manuscripts.
Religion and Occupation
Theravada Buddhism is a common belief practice of the community. Cultivation is the main occupation of Tai Phake people in which paddy is a major cropping. Poi-chang-ken, a new year which occurs in mid April, is the main festival of the Tai Phakes.
The present work
Presently, an attempt to document Tai Phake grammar and to produce a Tai Phake-English-Hindi dictionary and Tai Phake ethno linguistic profile is undergoing.