Nestled deep within the northeastern corner of India, Assam is known as the land of red rivers and blue hills. It is bounded on the northern side by the kingdom of Bhutan and the state of Arunachal Pradesh; the east by the states of Nagaland and Manipur; to the south lies Mizoram and Tripura; and to the west by the state of Meghalaya, West Bengal and the republic of Bangladesh. With all the surrounding influences of culture, religion, politics, cuisine, and fashion, it’s rather amazing that this small state is held together by one official language: Assamese.
Assamese is the principal language of Assam, and one of the 22 officially recognized languages of India. Hindi, the official language of a united India, is spoken here as well as Bengali and English. The major indigenous languages other than Assamese are Bodo, Karbi, Mishing and Rabha. Approximately 20 million people speak Assamese throughout Assam, and the neighboring Indian states of Meghalaya & Arunachal Pradesh, and also in the countries of Bangladesh & Bhutan. Foreign tourists will enjoy Assam without fear of language barriers. Local travel agencies are experts in matching English speaking guides with visiting guests.
Assamese is the easternmost Indo–Aryan language thought to have originated around the 14th century. Assamese script originated by the Gupta script, a variant of the Eastern Nagari script. The unique style of writing did not prove possible for phonetic based spelling. Thus, when a second dictionary of Assamese was introduced, Sanskrit spellings in the language were incorporated and are still relevant today.
The Assamese script has 41 consonants and 11 vowels. These are similar to the Devnagari script which is used by Hindi, the present national language. The language has a number of juktakhars which are combination of consonants. They are not simple juxtaposition, rather some combination of modified versions of the consonants. Surprisingly about 80 of them exists and each of them need to be defined in the font for a complete representation. Another characteristic of Sanskrit based language is the use of post-consonantal forms of the vowels. Unlike the Roman script, a vowel used after a consonant changes form and gets attached to the consonant.
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