Biate is a Kuki-chin language spoken in the district of Dima Hasao in Assam and the Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya. SIL Ethnologue(2016) estimates an approximate
population of 19,000 of the Biate community in Assam and Meghalaya. There are about 13 Biate villages under the Umrangso Circle in the Dima Hasao district of
Assam. These are the villages of New Sangbar, Old Sangbar, Langpui, Tingdol, Vaitang Hebron, Khobak, Kharthong, Lungphumphai, Khothlir, Mualdam, Zahai, Kotnipui,
and Thuruk. The faculty and staff of the Centre have been conducting field work in the Dima Hasao area since June 2016. Till date they have conducted three
field trips in the Dima Hasao district: the first and the second field trip were made to the Fiangpui village; the third to the Mualdam village. The Fiangpui
village has 300 native Biate speakers. This village is 6 kilometres away from the Haflong town. The Mualdam village has 319 native Biate speakers and it is 152
kms (approx.) from Halflong. The dominant languages spoken in the Dima Hasao area are Halflong Hindi, Dimasa, and English. The natives of Biate are well versed
in the dominant languages. Biate is spoken in the home domain and the dominant languages are spoken outside the home domain. Biate is definitely endangered in
the Dima Hasao area. The traditional occupation of the Biate community is Jhum cultivation and growing ginger, sugar cane, turmeric, etc. The literacy rate of
the community is 87%. 51% of this is the literacy rate of the women of the community. The Biate community traditionally worshipped the large python so that they
were called Koilam (Kawilam); now the entire community has converted to Christianity.
Data collected from the 3 field trips:
1847 lexical items, 675 sentences, 2 stories about the origins of the Biate community. Word sound segmentation and the phoneme inventory are completed. Analysis of
the sound system, phrases and sentences are in the process.
Biate traditional attire
Research Associate & Field Assistant with Informants