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Onaeme la (The Language of Onaeme)

Language Metadata

Name of the language: Onaeme la
Classification: Unclassified Tibeto-Burman Languages
Code: 005_Ona/M_CFEL_TU_2016
Places/ region spoken at: Oinam hill village, Ngamju village, Tingsong village, Sorboung village, Oinam Laila village and Taphou Onaeme village, in Senapati District of Manipur, India
Other languages spoken: Manipuri/Meiteilon and Poumai Naga language
Language Status: Threatened
Language Resource: Centre for Endangered Languages, Tezpur University.

Oinam, one of the Poumai Naga villages, is located on top of a hill surrounded by exquisite views. The village is 168 km away from Imphal; it is 88.4 km away from the district headquarters of Senapati. According to Census 2011, Oinam has a total population of 4328. The word 'Oinam', which is officially recorded by the government of Manipur, is derived from the word onaeme meaning 'the mud smelling people', which is probably related to their expertise in pottery. Thus, the name of the language became 'the language of the mud smelling people', i.e. Onaemila (la 'language'). Though the language is considered unclassified, the data and their ethnic identity show that it is closely related to the Southern Naga group of the Tibeto-Burman family. Till date two field trips have been conducted in the Oinam and the Ngamju villages in the Senapati district (18 Feb - 5 March, 2017). The dominant languages spoken in these villages are Manipuri and English. Onaemila is spoken both at home and the market place. It is used in religious functions. The dominant languages are spoken to interact with other communities. The traditional occupation of the Oinam community is Jhum cultivation and pottery. 99% of the community have converted to Christianity. The remaining 1% is Pegan. The literacy rate of the community is 90.67% in Oinam and 42.81% in Ngamju.

Data collected from the 3 field trips:

3000 words; 350 sentences; 9 narratives;1 story; and 3 songs. Word sound segmentation and the phoneme inventory are completed.

View of the Oinam Village

View of the Oinam Village, Senapati

Field Assistant with Informants

Field Assistant with Informants