Bodo language

बर'/Boro Rao
The word Bodo in Devanagari script
Native to Northeast India
Ethnicity Bodo people
Native speakers
1,482,929 (2011)[1]
Devanagari (official)
Latin alphabet (frequently used)
Official status
Official language in
 India (Bodoland, Assam)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 brx
Glottolog boro1269[2]

Boro (बर' [bɔɽo]), or Mech, is the Sino-Tibetan language spoken primarily by the Bodo people of North East India, Nepal and Bengal. It is official language of the Bodoland Autonomous region and co-official language of the state of Assam and India[3] It is also one of the 22 scheduled languages that is given a special constitutional status in India. Since 1963, the Boro language has been written using the Devanagari script. It was formerly written using Latin and Assamese script. Some scholars have suggested that the language used to have its now lost script known as Deodhai.


In the aftermath of socio-political awakening and movement launched by the Bodo organisations since 1913, the language was introduced as the medium of instruction (1963) in the primary schools in Bodo dominated areas. The Bodo language serves as a medium of instruction up to the secondary level and an associated official language in the state of Assam. The language has attained a position of pride with the opening of the post-graduate course in Bodo language and literature in the University of Guwahati in 1996. The Bodo language has to its credit large number of books of poetry, drama, short stories, novels, biography, travelogues, children's literature and literary criticism. Though the spoken language has been affected by other communities, especially the Assamese, in and around Kokrajhar, it is still to be heard in its pure form, in and around Udalguri district.

Writing system and script movement

In 1970, the Bodo Sahitya Sabha decided to adopt roman script for the language in its 11th annual conference. The demand was raised before the Government of Assam till 1974, but was refused by the government. The BSS than launched democratic movement from 12 September 1974. The movement saw participation by millions of general public and Bodo students. But unfortunately, the provincial Government of Assam dominated with strong hand resulting 16 peoples to death and many of the people to serious and minor injury. The movement was than called off on 13 February 1975, and Devanagari script was imposed on Bodos.[4]


The Bodo language has a total of 22 phonemes: 6 vowels and 16 consonants, with a strong prevalence of the high back unrounded vowel /ɯ/. The Bodo language use tones to distinguish words. There are three different tones used in the language : high, medium and low. The difference between high and low tone is apparent and quite common.


Examples of high and low tone and the difference of meaning
High Meaning Low Meaning
Buh to beat Bu to swell
Hah earth, to be able Ha to cut
Hahm to get thin Ham to get well
Gwdwh to sink Gwdw past
Jah to eat Ja to be
Rahn to get dry Ran to divide


Sentence structure

The sentences in Bodo language consist of either a "Subject + Verb" or "Subject + Object + Verb".

Examples of sentences in Bodo language
Subject + Verb Subject + Object + Verb
Ang mwntiya Laimwn ah Apple jadwng
Nijwm ah wndudwng Nwng wngkam jabai?


The numerals used in Bodo language are :

Numerals in Bodo language
Number In Bodo language In English
0 Latikho Zero
1 Se One
2 Nwi Two
3 Tam Three
4 Brwi Four
5 Ba Five
6 Do Six
7 Sni Seven
8 Daen Eight
9 Gu Nine
10 Zi Ten
11 Zi se Eleven
12 Zi nwi Twelve
13 Zi tam Thirteen
14 Zi brwi Fourteen
15 Zi ba Fifteen
16 Zi do Sixteen
17 Zi sni Seventeen
18 Zi daen Eighteen
19 Zi gu Nineteen
20 Nwi zi Twenty
100 Zwouse One Hundred
200 Nwi zwou Two Hundred
300 Tam zwou Three Hundred
1,000 Se Rwza One Thousand
2,000 Nwi Rwza Two Thousand
10,000 Zi Rwza Ten Thousand


On May 18, 1963, the then Assam chief minister Bimala Prasad Chaliha had declared Bodo language as the medium of instruction in lower primary schools in the Bodo-dominated areas of Kokrajhar subdivision in the then undivided Goalpara district of lower Assam. The first batch of Bodo-medium students appeared in the HSLC examination in 1975. The Bodo language was declared an associate official language in 1985. It is now being taught as a Modern Indian Language in Gauhati University, Dibrugarh University, Tezpur University and Bodoland University. It was listed under the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution via the 92nd constitutional amendment 2003.

Bodo is a compulsory subject till class 10 in tribal areas of Assam who do not want to study Assamese. The subject is mandatory in all schools including those under the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS). The legislation was passed in assembly in August 2017.[6]

See also


  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Bodo (India)". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. "OMG! These 8 famous facts about India are actually myths | Free Press Journal". Archived from the original on 19 August 2017. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  5. Mochari, Moniram (1985). Bodo-English Dictionary. Bengtol, Kokrajhar: The Bodo Catholic Youth Association.
  6. "Assam to make Assamese mandatory till Class 10; Bodo, Bengali options for some". 19 April 2017. Archived from the original on 22 April 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2017.


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