Thadou language

Thadou or Thadou-Kuki
Native to India, Burma
Ethnicity Thadou people
Native speakers
229,350 (2011 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 tcz
Glottolog thad1238[2]

Thadou (Thado, Thaadou, Thado-Pao, Thadou-Kuki) is a Northern Kuki-Chin language spoken widely in the northeastern part of India (specifically in Manipur, Assam, Nagaland and Mizoram) and Burma, as well as the Bangladesh borders. It is spoken by people (known as The Thadou tribe) in Myanmar, mostly in the Chin State and Sagiang Division. The Thadou language is known by many names, including Thado, Thado-Pao, Thado, Thadou-kuki, Chin, and Thādo-pao. There are a few dialects of this language: Changsan, Hangshing, Khongsai, Kipgen, Saimar, Langiung, Sairang, Thangngeo, Haokip, Sitlhou, Singson(Shingsol). These dialects are taught in Manipur schools, however, those outside the school, such as elders, are less familiar with them. The Saimar dialect[3] was reported in the Indian press in 2012 to be spoken by only four people in one village in the state of Tripura.[4] The variety spoken in Manipur has partial mutual intelligibility with the other Kukish varieties of the area including Paite, Hmar, Vaiphei, Simte, Kom and Gangte languages.[5] Although this language is spoken in various areas, it is not utilized as much today. As of a 2001 census, the estimated total number of Thadou-Kuki speakers is 269,200. The language is rapidly becoming endangered.

Thadou Culture

The Thadou language comes from the Tibeto-Burman family of the Sino-Tibetan phylum. The Thadou people were settled in dense jungle sites. The Thadou villages mostly cultivated agriculture and domesticated animals. A unique aspect of the Thadou culture is that men and women shared these cultivation and domestication responsibilities.

Knowing a language connects one to the culture and traditions of the speakers of the language. This was especially the case with the Thadou language. Four important words in this language: chongmou, sahapsat, jol-lha', and kijam mang. These terms represent four different forms of marriage. Chongmou represents the form of marriage where there is a negotiation price of the bride between the parents of the groom as well as the parents of the bride, along with feasting and wrestling. The sahapsat is a form of marriage where just the negotiation between the parents of the bride and groom take place. The jol-Iha' and kijam mang both are similar forms of marriage, equivalent to eloping. Divorce is allowed and happens often within this culture. Children have a lot of independence in this culture and are encouraged to learn through experience including parental guidance as a stepping stone.

Thadou people consider Pathen the god who has created everything and is thus, the ruler of the universe. They pray to him in times of need and trouble. This culture is very into religious ceremonies. Many of their ceremonies are specific to individual groups or genders. In earlier times, the Thadou also believe in spirits moving on to Mithikho, which is the village of the dead. As time passed by most of the Thadou people embraced Christianity.

Geographical distribution

Thadou is spoken in the following locations (Ethnologue).


Ethnologue lists the following dialects of Thadou, the names of which mostly correspond to clan names. There is high mutual intelligibility among dialects.

  • Changsan
  • Hangsing
  • Chongloi
  • Khongsai
  • Kipgen
  • Langiung
  • Sairang
  • Thangngeo
  • Haokip
  • Sitlhou
  • Touthang
  • Haolai
  • Singson(Shingsol)
  • Hanghal
  • Lhouvum
  • Mate
  • Lunkim
  • Lhungdim
  • Baite

Comparison between Thadou Dialects

The Saimar dialect is only spoken by 4 people in one village, which is located in Tripura. The other dialects, Changsan, Jangshen, Kaokeep, Khongsai, Kipgen, Sairang, Thangngen, Langiung, Sitlhou, and Singson have a high mutual intelligibility, which means that speakers, although from different backgrounds and areas, can speak to each other without much effort and with ease.

Comparison between Thadou vs. English

Thadou English
Endangered Not endangered
269,200 speakers 1.5 billion speakers
Spoken locally (villages, tribes) Spoken as a universal language
Approx. 11 different dialects 100+ dialects
Few literature and writing pieces;

no real translation from Thadou

to another language.

Many literary pieces along with translations from

language to language.

Didn't spread around to other villages Widespread across the world


  1. "Statement 1: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues - 2011". Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Thado Chin". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Albrecht Klose, 2001. Languages of the world
  4. "Just 4 people keep a language alive". The Hindu. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  5. Singh, Chungkham Yashawanta (1995). "The linguistic situation in Manipur" (PDF). Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area. 18 (1): 129–134. Retrieved 19 June 2014.

Further reading

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