South Assam, by which the Old Cachar region and the present Cachar and Karimganj district are known, is a very important linguistic area. The present work gives a description of the dialects of this region. These dialects are Cachar Bengali, Bishnupriya Manipuri, Dheyan, Cachar Hindustani and Cachar Oriya. The last two are the descendents of the immigrants brought as tea garden labourers in the late last and early this century. Cachar Bengali is the Bengali as spoken in Cachar and Karimganj and is very closely linked with Sylhet Bengali of Sylhet in Bangladesh. The two are customarily called sylheti in outside world. The present work is a comparative and descriptive study of languages and can be roughly called a survey of the dialects of South Assam, although a few dialects present in the region have not been considered at all. These are the speeches of Tibeto-Burmese group and as such they do not come up. However, the work deals with the dialects under survey from the view of ethnography as well as ethnology and then analyses them phonetically, historically and comparatively. Comparison is made with each of these dialects and languages as also with the languages from outside like Standard Bengali, Assamese, Hindi and Oriya. Never before such a broad-based survey had been undertaken in the region. The present study is important from another aspect also. This is the only comprehensive research on South Assam dialects which has resulted in a large number of valuable findings. Some of them completely new for the Indo-Aryan linguists.
Dr Sudhansu S. Tunga (b.1936) obtained his B.A. (Hons.) Degree in 1960 from Calcutta University and triple M.A. (Bengali, English & Comparative Philology) from the same University in 1962, 1965 and 1969 respectively. He was awarded D.Litt. Degree in Comparative Philology and Linguistics by the Calcutta University in 1981. Dr. Tunga served for a short stint as Programme Executive in A.I.R., Patna in 1963. He started his teaching career in 1964 and is currently serving as Professor in Bengali in Gauhati University. He is life Member of Linguistic Society of India, Pune and Linguistic Society of Assam, Guwahati. He is Member, Asiatic Society, Calcutta, Bangiya Sahitya Parishad, Calcutta and North East India Council for Social Science Research, Shillong. He is the author of (i) Ami Ek Sadagar (A collection of poems in Bengali), Calcutta, 1960 (ii) Santir Pakhira Ebong Tumi (A collection of Poems in Bengali), Calcutta, 1961 and (iii) Benglar Baire Bangla Gadyer Carca: Sodas-Astadas Satak (A Reference book on early Bengali prose), Calcutta University, Calcutta, 1984. He has also over two dozen learmed papers published in various journals.
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