Soiren: How Meiteis Look at Foetal and Infant Mortality

I wrote the following as part of one of my responses in a discussion (Manipuri Dictionary Project WhatsApp group discussion) on idiom, maxim, phrase and saying initiated by Ingocha Leishangthem (ingocha ):
Africa gi Igbo nachingba tribal culture kaya eikhoigi culturega mannaba lei.
  • Nungandang hui khongganu, watondagi adu ada paitharakkani ….
  • Angang sina sina poklagadi angan adu makak makak kaklaga thou touba
  • Mina tinkap laikap toubadagi masa inam namsillaba mibu maibi/maibada puraga layengbada sa-un oba
Ingocha teased something out of the second point–sorren or soiren, as many people say, which forms part of traditional Meitei belief system.
This is the reproduction of the group discussion that followed from this point.
Ingocha Leishangthem:
soiren haiba amasu leibra
cheiba thangbadasu sijinnei
pokpada ngairiba angang sikhibaga thawai haidouribra
I was busy at work and missed out on some hours of the discussion.
Ingocha further asks:

Tamo, soiren gi matangda khara ebiuba.

Jodhachandra Sanasam:

Eisu yamna munna khangjade. Angang oiringeida eikhoyna sum ngangnabadadi soren/shoren haaynarak-i, asumna haaybada ahalshingna chumthoklakte. Eina khangjaba haybabu pooknung dagee shina poklakpa, hingna poklaklabasu chahee phadringeida shiba angangdu soren chingngi. Hinduism laklabada soren chinglaba angang mei thanade, phummi. Sorensi yamna tamnagalli haaynei. Khoodam oina Singjamei makha Naorem Leikaiida shorrok achoubaga hek thangnana nongpok thangbada khongbal machin ama lei, adu gee mapadu eikhoy landuna chatpa ngamnaramde. Angang mayam wa wa hek hek kappi haay, angang mayam tungda sum innarak-i su haay. Nityaipa Chuthek, Tamphasana school he khongban aduwaidusu asumna hek hek tourammi haay. Eemoong’ amada soren pokpa yaorabadi, asigumba thawaay amuk hanna changlaktanaba tanthokpa heiba maiba kouduna hingchabee tanthokpadouna tanthoknei. Soren du hingchabeena chabadagee shibani haayba gee concept ni. Asigumba hingchabee tanthokluba maiba du Masha loongtek tek-i haay, chayol amaromdi chatkhro yadaba bingchabeeduga aheeng kbudeeng gee phoonei haay, Roomba ngamde haay, maiba du Masha yamna shokchallisu haay. Soren gee thawaay na bhoot ollibasisu hingchabeeduna chatbokkhibadu maagee thawaaydu lanba ngamdabada geeni, bhoot ollibadu protest touribani haay. Sigumba hingchabee ask tanthoktrabadi eemungdu awabada adum tagalli, hanjin hanjin soren pokkalli su haay.

Asem Sandeep:

Sorengi matangsi kyadi khngjde adubu eina thengnjbda thwdok 2 khkki paodmjge masi sum khnjbda science ki wadi khngdre masi naoron kungba mtmda hek hek thokpra khlli eikhoi parent singna eigi hek thngnba enaosi eina chahi fadrigei poke hai, mioi sude aduga kuinasu hingkhidre haibi aduga eikhoi leikaida naoron yamna kungba emung amasu lei asigi emungda RIMS ta angang ama pokkhi adubu angangdu soren oina poke aduna mapana porga turel mapanda fumgdwbni haiduna hospital dagi hllkpa numit tugi mmli mmli twbda turel mapanda fumba kumkhi eikhoi loina kinkhi. Msidagi khnjbdi soren thunglga/oina pokpa angang haibsi naoron kungna pokpa angang oigradra asini

Ingocha Leishangthem:
[8:19 pm, 18/09/2019] Ingocha Leishangthem: Sandipna pukhatlakliba wafam asina khara tonganba haibadu oire. soren mama puknungdagi sina poklakpa angang adubuni aduga. Sandipkisina khara pangan sonna asoiba yaina poklakpagi mong manli masidi masana naoron anigi marakta leigadaba matam adu sudrabadi asoiba khradi yaonabagi machak amadi leigni. period adu fajana ngaklabadi adum myamdi poknari madusu adum soinari. masidi angang sembagi paringda maram amana soibagi oiba tabani
Oja, soren asi etymologically morphologically neinaba yagadouribra? yaragadi neinabada nungaiba amadi oigani
soren amadi soraren ani asigi marakta mari leinadabra?
soiba haibasidagi soren haibasiga mari leinaribra
so haibasi matomta leppa ngamba morpheme ama oiba ngambra
soiba haibasidagi soi haibasi louribra
Jodhachandra Sanasam:

Meeronbada pooknungda nattraga poklaba matung ikui kuidana shiba gee (fetal death, stillbirth, infant death, premature birth, stunted infant health) asigumba mayamsigee causes shingdi yamna paak chaukhre, eisu kharadi khangjei adubu ei obstetrician amasu natchade. Literary oiba maaykeida khara asum haayjabani. Houjikti khajiktang hek chingnabaga obstetrician amaga thuna tanabigadabani. Pregnant oire khanglabadi ahanba gee thadudi chayol khoodeeng gee check touthokkadabani, asigee matungdageedi tha khoodeeng gee. Tha anee shurakpa aduwaida foetus tu noramalni nattraga abnormal ni haayba knangba mgamnarabani.

Houjik Manipurdasu intra-uterine death yamna hantharabani. Infant mortality rate su yamna hanthare. Thaaynadi mama amana macha manga pokpada ama nattraga aneedi shiba hek hek yaonarammi.
Ingocha Leishangthem:

Ojana soren gi matangda fajana khanghanbire. madugidamak thagtchari. chayetnaba amana soren haibasi mama puknungda ntrraga poklaba matung chahi fadringeida maram amana siba angang adubu soren haiba minthon asi piba nttabar. masi angang adugi pangan sonna mioi sudana poklakpaga mari leinabra. masi adugumba mioisu soren hainbra. masa fanabu oiro mioi sunabu oiro masa fattanabu oiro mioi sudanabu oiro poklaklabasu maram amana hekta siba thoklabadi angang adu soren haina maming thinba nattabra. siba haibasi maram amana hekta puknungda nattraga poklaba matungda siba oigani. angang ama masa fana mioi suna pokle adubu cheksinba watapana angang adu laibak thire madusu soren kougadra.

laibak thiraba angang adu soren haina koure dudagi magi thawai na amuk fattaba thawai oire masini maibasingna amuk tanthoknaba hotnaribasi. asi dead body aduda nattraga dead body adugi spirit nattraga ghost haibadu piriba mingla.

masida wafam amattang pusinhoujage eikhoigi eronda ghost/apparition asigi chap chaba mahut sinba yaba wahei leibra. boot haibasidi eikhoigi erondi mande. chap chana hindi nattraga sanskrit oibra khangjade. eikhoina tamnarai hairibasi bootka mannagadouribra. boot haibai meiteilon ngangbasingna yamnadi kina lounare. aapparition/ghost haibasi sikhraba amagi hinglibasingna ui haina thajnaba nattraga asengbabu oiro saktam aduni haina loue.
Eikhoina thwai hairibasi chap chana karini haina lougadouribano. masidi afaba fattaba pusinnabagi wafamdi leiroi haina khanli. mi ama sire adudagi mahakki thawai thoklaklani adudagi lairamlenda tinba nattraga tindaba haina thoklakani. thawai asina fattaba oirakpaduna boot( migi maron oirabasu) haina amuk kouribra. thwai haibasidi uba ngamloi haina khanli. uba ngamlaba thawai adu ming onlaklabadi kri haina mingthonnei. mathaktasu panjakhre fattaba onlaklabadi boot hekta haibagi mong manli. masi faba fattabagi wafam nattabida sikhraba amagi boot thok-e hainasu hainari. khudingmaksi thajanabi nattraga asengba oibasu yai. asengba oiragana matou karamna oiraklibano haibana wafam amani.
eikhoi meiteisingna thabak chatthokpada nupada oiragana mnga nupida oiragana taret chatpa fatte hainei yamna kannasu thajanari. masi wari amadi sagonnare. masibu hindu scripture mythology ga mari leinaribra.
asiba mi amagi laining laisonga mari leinabathouram kaya pangthoktuna mei thadokhiba aduna potloiba hainare. masi leiron chanbadasu haiba yabra yadabra khngde. lairon chanba haibasidi asiba adubu leibakta phumba aduni. pot + loiba leibak +marol /maron (chinsi haiba thoktre). Mi phumbasi leibak maron maron touraga phumbagira leiron chanba hainaba manli. potloibagidi keidoubagi pot hairibano khangde.
chanba haiba waheisi yamna pak sanna sijinnei
Jodhachandra Sanasam:

Eisu yamna munna khangba natte. Anvang oiringeida tahou-uhouba khara tamjabatani. Scientists shingna phana munna koopna thijile khanthare, soren, tamna lai, ghost ka haayriba asi meeoiibana waakhal na shagatpani, physically leite haay. Adunabu spirit haayna kounariba asini. Kanagumba kharana haay, thawaay si kg 2 loommi. Mee amagee weight si hek shibaga onbada kg 2 hanthei. Aduna thawaay gee arumba kg 2ni haayribani. Madusu thajanade, mee amabu hek shibagee mamangda kanana weight olluba yaobage? Toubabudi hospital kharadadi anabashing nungtigee wt olli.

Hoy bhoot Meeteilon natte. Tamnalai haybasina chaanaba wahei oiba taai. Atei waahei ei khangjade.

Eina khangjabadadi mamagee puknungdabu oire poklaba matungdabu oire chahee ama shudriba angang na shirabadi soren gee mathou oima loishilli. Shidriba angang di soren kounade, aduna soren haaybasi laanba ngamdraba thawaay aduna onba tamna lai du oiba tabani.

Hakchang amabu phumba hek haayba asi phajade khanduna leiron chanba haayba oiramgani khanjei. Masini eenak khunba lon haaybado. Leinung chanba haayrabasu yaabajatni; adubu leiron chanba haaynakhrabanina lon eethei theibadouna taay. Leikha chanba haaayragadi phajade, thawaaydu leikha taahalli haaybagee wakhallon oina louba yaabanina taaba nungaite.

Thoithoi O’Cottage:
Eina tajarakpadadi soiren haina tajaraki. Ayamba yamna ahal oirabasingna angangsingda saona, karigumbada fagi oinasu, cheibada sijinnakhi.
soiren, soirengi macha, soiren thungdouba, soiren changba asinachingba. (Karigumba matamda khouteknadouba, keina chagadouba, pukchatpada yaogadouba, … asinachingbasu hai. Ateisu leiri. Maribudi leinadre soiren ga.)
Masi angang sina pokpa nattraga mei changba matam youdringei mamangda siba angangsing amasung makhoigi thawai adudagi konna artha pakthok sandorakpa oiramgani khalli.
Kakchingda eina tajarakpadadi nahuttriba anhang khudingmak mei changkhiroi hai–haibadi sirabasu meina potloiba tounade, leirol chan-gani hai.
Ingochana haikhibada physically normal oina adum pokpa normal oina adum hingba angangna siragadi kamdouba haiba wafamdu maru oi. Meiteisingna madu traditional oina ikhan khanjilluramgadaba mande. Thawai amana nupi amada changduna kanagumba nupa nupi anigi macha oina puknungda yaorare, aduga puknungda sirare, mamagi puk adubu mongfam (mangfam) onthoklare, nattraga chahi kuina hingba toudana nungsikhraba matamda sijillare. Adu oiragadi asigumba macha adu jugot chaba natte, mama mapana macha fangjabagi nungaiba pige lakpa natte, otpa lakpani–masini meiteisingna khannarambasi. Houjiksu yamna khannari. Angangda tainabani. Layeng kanglonsu ningthina leiramba natte. Thainadi pukningda angangsiba, poklaba matung kuidana angang siba yamna toirammi. Oja Jodhanasu marik chumna haibikhre. Mei changba matam lanthoklaba matungdasu yamna sinarammi. Mama mapagi mamangmakta macha yamna sinarammi. Macha sibasi kayagi matik toirambage haibabu yumbanminnariba matei manaosingna macha pokpada khara sikhrabasu khara lemhounabagi wakhalda macha tara pokpa, taramathoi pokpa tounarammi.

Amatta sidana loina hingba imungsu yaoi. Mama mapa kokta khut happani.

Miyamna thajanaba, miyamna lounaba wakhal aduna tonganba ama oina thamlaga ei isagi wakhaldadi soirel gi idea asi asoiba mityengni khalli. Masi scientific oiba oidaba tokthokkhraga chumnagi logic ta yadaba wafam amani. Toubatabu mamangda eina haijakhibaduni mioibadi mi mayam amani, apangbasu asingbasu angaobasu punna leiminnabani, long ama punna ngangminnabani; aduna maram chadabasu konggai amani. Aduna dictionary gi oinadi mina lounaba adu iba tare. Eigisina eigi motni.

Physically yamna ka henna deformed oiba mibusu ahalsingna soiren hainaba takhi.

Thangjam Ibopishak:

Madudi soiren natte, soinaiba (handicap) haigadabani.

Thoithoi O’Cottage:

Hoi oja. Masi soinaibani.

Ahal kharana macha soiren thungba ama leibadu ka hainasu takhi mamangngeida. Masi khara fajadaba maonggi usage oiba tai haina khalli. “soinaiba” haibasida opinion pibagi sense ama yaode. Soiren thungba hairaklagadi hairiba misak aduna soiren thungngi hairiba midugi fibamda karigumba makhalgi mityeng ama yengba, mot ama fongdokpa, heinadaba utpagumbagi sense ama yaobadouna toui. Masi achumba usage oiragadi basic oiba siba khotpaga mari leinaba adomdagi theidorakpadi oigani khalli.

Thangjam Ibopishak:

Masigi waheisi tade. Lam amada hainabadu lam amada hainadaba oibasu yai.

Thoithoi O’Cottage:

Madu oirambasu yai, oja. Yamna common oinadi takhiba natte eisu.

soiren si morpheme amakhaktara nattraga soi + ren haina thugaiba yabajatla haiba ei khangdre.
so + iren di oigani thajade. Manipuri word formation da maningthangba morphemegi ahanba sound adu mamangthangba morphemegi mameida chongkhatlaga mamanggiduga punna syllaba amakhak oina haibasi eidi ngasi faoba thengnajadri.
Sanskrittadi yamna thoki.
sorarel or soraren gasu mari leinagani thajade. ren gi saruk asibudi mari leinaramba yai. inung sora teiba haibasida yaoriba sora asi phonological environment khennabadagi khonthok khara khennarabasu soraren gi sora ga morpheme amattani khalli.
Eina houjik houjiksu tabadadi soiren amasung soirengi macha haibasi swearing word/phrase oina adum sijinnari. Mida cheibadabu oiro, masana karigumba thabk ama toubada soibada, maru oina thabk machada hanjin hanjin soibagumbada mathanta saoningduna haijabada sohinnaba tai.

Thangjam Ibopishak:

Madugi khutchei adudi leibak macha tadabasingna tounabani. Sathina saoraba matamda.


Thoithoi O’Cottage
:

Ayoubida saobagi wa malli. Makha saoningai leitraba, loithokkhraba. Masana leihouraga. 😊
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য়া in Yachangba, Yahouba, Yaol, etc.

The morpheme য়া occurs in many words, such as
য়া-হৌবা
য়া-চঙবা
য়া-কৈবা
য়া-কায়বা
য়া-কায়রোন
য়া-চেপ্পা
য়া-ওনবা
য়া-হীপ্পা (with a slight sound change, য়াইহীপ্পা as in য়াইহীপ তানবা)
য়া-রেকপা
য়া-তাবা (and its derivative য়া-তাফম).

To this, we can add the slightly complicated idiom য়াম্ফক তাবা (yamfak taba), though it needs another separate article to deal with the additional and changed sound /m/ in it.

Hyphen has been inserted in the above words to mark য়া off the rest of the words.
I have yet to work out the definite meaning of this morpheme but, at the moment, it seems that য়া means “body.” If this is right, then য়াহৌবা (য়া = body; হৌবা = to get up, begin, start) would mean (of the bodyto get up, start, begin and set to work. The body rests the long hours of night, and when morning comes, the body is up (হৌবা) from sleep, and you (or your body) begins (হৌবা) the day–you get out and set to (হৌবা) work. Your body gets up, sets out, set to work, and work all day. The time you (or your body, য়া) wakes up and get up (হৌবা) is the morning. You do য়াহৌবা (wake up, get up) in the morning.
In the evening, when the sun sets, you (the body, য়া) come back from the day’s work and enter or get into (চঙবা) your house. The time of the day when you come back from work and get back home (and enter into your house) is য়া-চঙবা (which is, sunset, evening, nightfall).
Though য়াচঙবা and য়াহৌবা are used to mark two specific times of the day–morning and sunset, respectively–the morpheme য়া has nothing to do with নুমীৎ, the sun, which universally has to do with time-marking words across all languages. One easy proof is that Manipuri has নুমীৎ য়াচঙবা and (নুমীৎ) য়ূমচঙবা to mean sunset. নুমীৎ য়াচঙবা literally means the sun (or its body) getting back into its house; however, it is worth assuming that য়াচঙবা must have already lost the original sense of the body getting back into the house with only the sense of the time of the end of the day (or sunset) remaining. য়ূমচঙবা is metaphorical and the symbolism is readily in it, without any attempt at literalness.
য়াকৈবা is a phonological variant of য়াকায়বা, which means (of the body) to break up or out (কায়বা, থোকপা) from sleep or night or what (such as the state) it was in while asleep. য়াকৈবা is considered more literary and is found in many ancient literary texts and pena songs; for example, য়াকায়রোল sung in the accompaniment of the pena to wake up the deity at dawn during lai haraoba.
য়াচেপ্পা is for your body to lie on one side–you (or you body, য়া) lie on your side (চেপ্পা). When you sleep, you most of the time lie on your side (চেপ্পা), and thus, in time, the word চেপ্পা comes to acquire a new meaning–to go to be or lie or sleep. চেপ্পা in the newer (which is very old now) is considered more dignified.
When you sleep, you don’t just fall flat like dead or a log. You turn or your body (য়া) turns (ওনবা) and change the side of lying. You do য়াওনবা.
When you য়াওনবা while asleep, the side of your body you sleep on change, and it relaxes your muscles. When a society has lived in one particular situation or structure or system for a long time, many people in this society becomes dissatisfied with the status quo. They want a change–the body of the society to turn or go for a change. Such a change is called য়াওল. য়াওল is a metaphorical derivative of য়াওনবা. য়াওল্লোই is another derivative, formed with the suffix -লোই (doer, agent, professional) added to য়াওল.
You usually sleep at a particular place–in your house. Or rather a particular place in your house. If you go to another place outside your house, and sleep at a place you don’t usually sleep at, you (or your body য়া) spend the night (লেকপা) there. You do য়ারেকপা. It may be under a tree, in the hay stack, or at your neighbor’s or at your friends or relatives. If you spend one night or two or so at a place that is not where you usually live, you do য়ারেকপা there–your body (য়া) spends (লেকপা) the unusual night(s) there.
When you have a deep, sound sleep, your body (য়া) falls (তাবা) motionless like a lifeless object. If you sleep like this, you do য়াতাবা. য়াতাবা is rather literary and has derived meanings.
Some other interesting occurrences of য়াক in which we have yet to work out the meaning are য়াখোয় or য়াকখোয়, য়াক (অয়াক, ঐয়াক) and their possessive, nominative (marked and unmarked) and objective derivatives. I think “body” as the meaning of য়া (য়াক in these words) works here as well. It is probable that য়া is shortened from য়াক, and the semi-vowel /j/ often changes to /h/ in the singular. This /h/ can turn to /kʰ/ as in তোম্বখোয়দি, মীখোয়দি, ঐখোয়দি (=ঐদি), etc.

Principles of Practical Lexicography in Languages with a Small Volume of Written and Printed Text

What dictionary makers of languages that have been in writing widely for a millennium (not to say more) or at least a half (for example, English) is to include or exclude words depending on whether they (words) occur in written text and the frequency of their occurrence. Linguistics in general and the principles of lexicography in particular, as we know them now, are built on the experience and practices of linguistic or lexicography practitioners that proved most convenient in their business. These linguists and practitioners being mostly from the West, specially from among the most prominent languages known all over the world (at least at the time when dictionary making began) in speech, writing and printing, the guiding principles were born and brought up in the linguistic, social and cultural environment of the West, particularly of England, which now has broadened to cover the United States. The primary guiding principle of contemporary lexicography is ransack the entire body of written texts, or rather printed texts now (because your private writings such as notes on your fridge doors or shopping list on your phone don’t count as printed simply because they are not published) for material.

Unfortunately, however, these well-meaning principles rather often get in the way of lexicography in less-written or less-printed languages than be the guide because if the lexicography of such lexicographically late languages is reduced to what is sourced in the printed (let’s generously cover written in this case), it would be tantamount to linguists recognizing these languages in a form emaciated or reduced to their bones, which is unfair and outright wrong. The literature (to include everything that is written and printed) of no language has in it all words and idioms spoken by its native speakers, and the body of words and idioms found in written and printed texts is usually what is considered the standard version or dialect of that language. Moreover, the literature of a language that has recently taken to writing and more recently printing covers as much as a quarter of the language’s “standard” dialect, let alone more.

It is essential here to note that the volume and frequency of writing, and also printing in recent times, matters particularly for these languages. Languages like Manipuri that are claimed to have had written for at least a millennium don’t have a body of written and printed words and idioms large enough not to derail communication between the speakers of these languages if they were to discard all the words and idioms not found in this printed source. The entire speakers of Manipuri, except only a meager handful, were illiterate until only recently and written texts were of no practical use to them linguistically–the texts were not distributed and the texts did not influence the speakers of the language. For written texts to be meaningful linguistically to the contemporary speakers of the language in which the texts are written, the texts have to be available to the speakers and the speakers should necessarily be able to interact with them (meaning that they should at least be literate). In the case of Manipuri, the volume of written texts was too meager to be linguistically consequential to the speakers of Manipuri and the frequency with which texts were produced was unsustainable (it would not have been able to sustain language, at least the way only writing has sustained Sanskrit without many speakers). Manipur had its first printing press in the later part of the second decade of the twentieth century (it was very rarely used), saw journalism for the first time in the early 1920s (Meitei Chanu (1922) was hand-written and ran for only four or five issues, and I would not consider the very short-stint handwritten magazine Meitei Leima during 1917-18 linguistically significant contemporaneously–though historically important–not because it lasted only for some issues but because it was published outside Manipur and its impact in Manipur was only historically important), and saw its first printed newspaper in the early 1930s (Tongjam Gokulchandra’s Dainik Manipur Patrika (23 March 1933)) and first monthly Lalit Manjuri Patrika edited by Arambam Dorendrajit (September 1933). These were only the beginning and the entire volume of Manipuri’s written and printed text is not yet large enough for a fairly comprehensive dictionary to be sourced from.

This points to the unfortunate fact that the lexicography of a language with a small amount of written and printed texts cannot do justice to the language if it source its material only from written and printed texts. This brings us face to face with a whole new problem–if lexicography opens the door to speech, where do we draw the line to determine what to include and what to exclude. Is every distinct chunk of speech sounds in a meaningful order a word to be included in a dictionary? If yes, how old is the word? Are dashanihe, mei tai (probably the literal translation of the English hot), neiba, touraroige and pot kappa words? If these are words, isn’t olong (humorous clipping of hoirong) a word? Where do you draw the line?

Since the lexicography of a language with a small volume of written and printed texts cannot be guided entirely by the established principles of lexicography, are followed by the makers of Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Dictionary, there is a pressing need for a new set of principles to guide the practical lexicography of smaller languages. Building a body of principles would take time, and it cannot be fully arbitrary–we cannot form organizations to determine this for the entire language and impose their determinations on other organizations though there can be small houses with their own deliberations. Linguists should ideally collate and compare such practices and develop a general set of principles without committing the mistake of imposing. During this, there will be a lot of disagreements, which can get nasty, but that is not necessarily bad, and the speaking and writing community will spontaneously do their linguistic selection across time and, in time, there will emerge non-arbitrarily agreed-on best practices for a more evolved set of guiding principles to surface (which will also keep evolving).

Is chatlaroige a word?

Words with the suffix string -laroige (or -raroige) began to trickle in to my ears at least fifteen years ago. Considering the remarkably small scope of my social interaction, specially where Manipuri is the air, it must certainly have been writers that I heard such words spoken by for the first time. The first mention of any such words as far as I can remember was by a writer friend of mine, Thokchom Kiran, from Wangoo Mamang Sabal when he spoke in a Sahitya Seva Samiti literary function at Yambem Mani Sahitya Bhawan, Kakching, around 2005. He was–I don’t know if he still “is”–a Meitei or Meetei (not sure which one) revivalist at least in language. When he mentioned a -laroige or -raroige word, he was not just using it unconsciously–he was damning it, he said it was wrong, meaningless and unreasonable, and symptomatic of shameful degradation of the so beautiful and dignified language of Manipuri.

Why I assume it must be the first time I heard a word with the suffix string -laroige or -raroige said or written is that I was surprised when he used those example words. He used more words than one (one word I can remember is touraroige), I think, and he was mentioning them as examples. The first time I heard such words said was when they were sad by one of their die-hard critics. Interestingly I did not find anything wrong or so degraded in the words. I must have heard such words so many times after that day and I must not have paid much attention to them that three years ago, I found–when I paid attention to what I talked with people on the phone–many such words to have crept into my speech.

Then, in recent years after I find myself saying such words, I find a new wave of language saints (writers, especially elderly ones) outspokenly hating such words and doing all they can to throw them into the sea.

Now the question is: Is chatlaroige a word? Are such formations words?

In the last few years I have heard several people who do things with words as the primary occupation of their life–poets, columnists, general language lovers–damning words of the form verb+la/raroige and cursing those who say these words.

One of their arguments is that such words are formed of two negative elements making the word something like the English word irregardless, blamed equally and for similar reasons. A teacher of mine, P. Kunjo, who taught me English in the late 1990s, has criticized this word in a couple of public speeches, one being when he presided over my third book, the Manipuri translation of some of Tomas Transtromer’s poems. P. Kunjo is an MA in Manipuri, has taught Manipuri at college (he was the Principal of Kakching Girls College), has tutored hundreds of students in English grammar at his residence, writes prose and poetry in Manipuri, often contributes articles to the most widely circulating local vernacular newspaper, Poknapham. His major argument against verb+la/raroige is that it is double negative. I also have read poet Birendrajit Naorem appealing to his follow poets against such words.

However, I don’t see no double negative here. -loi/roi is negative but -ge is not negative. I would rather say what is apparently problematic and troubling the sprachgefühl of the peevers is this unlikely combination of the negative and the affirmative-looking element in a single word. Still I don’t think it should necessarily be a problem because, not just in linguistics but in all human realms of understanding, we first conceive of something affirmative and make the negative counterpart of it. Even the philosophers who believe in the harmony and unity of things base their negatively polarizing terms on already existing affirmative terms–advaitanon-dual, etc. Moreover, I think -ge is not really an affirmative polarity item. In linguistics, polarity is a grammatical category associated with affirmative and negative. -ge functions as a maker of four things in different cases:

  • Asking permission for what you want to do. For example, Ima, imannaba mayam chak chanadouri. Ei yaoruge?
  • Asking somebody’s opinion about what you are going to do. For example, Sigi hidaksi thajillaga yenge. Bera kadourijatla?
  • Making your intention (what you are going to do) known, at least just for information or for your own pleasure. For example, Hayengdi furit fajaba ama leiruge.
  • Telling somebody that you will do what they have told you to do. For example, Hoi, ngaihak leirage touge.
The four above uses of -ge (and its phonetic variant -ke) are distinct. Interestingly these sentences are all in the affirmative and this polarity is not because of -ge. How will you ask the opinion of your superior when you say you are wondering if it is OK not to do something, or when you ask the permission for not doing something, using the negative equivalents of the first two examples above, without introducing new words or phrases? Normally we add negative polarizing items at the end of verbs–chat-te, chat-loi, etc. But these straight negatives don’t carry the additional senses or nuances that could have been conveyed with -ge.
To be continued.

Haggard House

Its stairs creaking to the weight of
the ghosts of memories walking up and down
while I lie curled up in the bed
like a fetus in the wombing dark
listening to the trembling house pumping
memories in and out mixing times
into watercolor clouds.

The house is going home–
the roof, the walls, the floor boards, the cornices–
piece after piece, faithful to the earth’s beckon,
its pull of love,
and I feel being lowered in a wheelchair in a hospital elevator
to an underground theater
where they contrive to stop the clock.

কাউনখ্রবা চান্নবশিং

নীংশিংবদগি খরা চৎলগা লৈবা য়ূম ৷

নুংশীৎনা তপ্না নোম্লুবদা
চ্রিং চ্রিং তপ্না খীংলকই
মাঙ্গোলদা য়ানবা ৱিন্দ চাইম
নীংশিংবনা অচীকপদা পোক্লিবগুম ৷

অদো ঊনানা তপ্না কেনশিনবদা
নোংলৈনা ঈপাক নৈরগুম
য়ূমগি মমি কয়াা মচোই মচোই গ্লাসকুম
মখোল থোকতনা ৷
অদৈদি নাপু মচুগি ঊনা ৷

নাপু মচুগি ঊনা ৷

কুইনা লংথোক্লবা রেল লম্বীদা
রেলগারী অমা চেনখি লমহাঙ লমজাউ ফাওনা
মাগি অমুবা তুরিনা
কোইয়েক য়েকশিন্দুনা ঊৎমান মচুগি অতিয়াদা ৷
লম্বী কাউরব্রা অথৌবদো?
লাঙবদি উদে অতোংবা কনাশু,
অচীকপতনিদনা অরাপ্পদগিদি
লানশু, শিবশু, কপ্পশু ৷

শকখঙদবা নুংশীৎ ৷
অরাপ্পদগি লাকপা পাউ
ঊফুল ৱাইফুল ইতৈ তৈ
ইৱাউ ৱাউনা থুংলৈ ৷
কনাশু খঙদে কনাগি পাউনো ৷

মথৌ লোইরবা রেলগারী
অরোইবা খাম্ফমদা মশা অসুম ঈংথরকই ৷

অহিংনা হৌবা লেপখিবা

য়ূমদোম্পোক ৷

অরাপ্পদা
পুুুুন্সিনা মখোল থোকতনা লেঙ ওৎলী
ত্রাফিক্কি কার মরী মরীগুম অরাপ্পদা
তহাবা হায়খৈ লৌথোকখ্রবা
পুুুন্সি ৱারীগুুুম শকখঙদবগি ৷

মতোন্দা অমম্বা কা ৷
নুুংদাংদদি অতিয়াদা য়ানবা য়ূমগুম
মনুংদু ইঙান ঙাল্লী ৷

হনুবী৷
নাইতোম্লবী ৷

ইতৎ তত্তনা
চিথীশিংনা পাইথোরকই
অমম্বা কাগি থোঙনাউদগি
অঙৌবা খুনুগুম ৷

কদায় কদায়দনো পাইখি ৷

কনা কনাদা থারিবা পাউনো?
করি হায়রিবনো অচীকপদগি?

খুনুদি অমত্তসু হল্লকতে
নুংথিলদসু,
নুংদাংদসু ৷
অঙৌবা খুনু ৷

নোংমদি অহিংনা মম্বদা
কা অসিসু য়াওখি ৷

লৈমায়দা হৈদোক্লবা পুন্সি

অৱাংবা য়ূমদগি তারকতুনা
পুন্সি অমা হৈদোক্লে লৈমায়দা।
পুন্সি কোনবা থুংদবা য়ূম।
য়ূম্না কোন্দবা পুন্সি।

লৈ পুন্সিনা লৈবা য়াদবা মফম,
পুন্সি থম্বা য়াদবা মফম,
লম্বীগুম্বা, চৎপদি য়াবা, লৈবদি য়াদবা।
কৈদৌনবা মফম্নো খঙদে--
থিরুগবা নকশিনফম করিদগি লাপথোক্লগা করিদা
মপান্নাইদবসিদা?
খঙদববু ইমিংগি বনানগুম ইরায় লায়বগুম।

হৌদুনা চেল্লী মখোয় খরদি
তম্নবা য়ূমদগি।
লম্বীগি লম্বীমক্তা--
ত্রেইন তালিশু, ঈরোইনদবা তুরেলসু,
অঙাংগি তেলঙ্গা মরকসু।

অদুনা
ইচোৎ চোৎশিল্লী লাঞ্জেল্লকপা পুন্সিনা
চঙজফম পীদবা মফমদা,
পুন্সি থমদবা মফমদা।

পুন্সি অমা হৈদোক্লে লৈমায়দা।

খোমজিন তাশিল্লী ৱা ঙাঙদবা খরনা
পুন্সিগি মচেৎ মকায়শিং
মফম চাবদা থম্নবা।
(পুন্সিগা লোন ফাওনব্রা মখোয়,
অরোনবা খঙব্র মখোয়?)

অদুদগি হল্লকই অচীকপগি মহৌশা।
নুমীৎ তাবগুম
নত্রগা নোং ঙানবগুম।

ইনাক্তদি লৈয়ুদনা ৱা ঙাঙদ্রসু

ইনাক্তদি লৈয়ুদনা ৱা ঙাঙদ্রসু

 

তুমিন লাকই অচীকপদগি খোঞ্জেল ওইফাত্রিবা অমা
খোঞ্জেলগি লমদা, পুরকপগুম করিগুম্বা পাউ অমা
অচীকপদগি৷
মখোঙ থাংদুনা চৎপা অচীকপনা অচীকপদা
মখোঙ লৈমায় তাদ্রিবা
থোৎপা, নৌবা, লৈতবগুম্না তনৌবা অঙাং৷
অচীকপা৷

তহা তহাই খোঞ্জেল খরদি
কৌরবগুম মমানা চৎখিনু য়াদনা লাকপা শান্নফমদগি৷

অচীকপগি ফক্লাংদা নাকোঙ থমদুনা ৷
মখোল থোকপা লেপখ্রবা খোঞ্জেল, মদুনা লেঙবা খোৎপা নুংশীৎতা
কনাগিদমকশু নত্তনা৷ মশাগি৷ মহৌশাগি৷

নুংশিবা খোঞ্জেল, নুংশিবা ঈশৈ
মখোঙ থাংদুনা চঙখি অচীকপদা
শুমখি অচীকপনা নিংথমগি অরুম্বা ফৈজূপ য়োম,
ঙংদুবীদুনা ঈশৈ নঙ ঐনা তাদবা৷
খঙবিদ, করিশু থোক্নদবগুম ঐখোয়গা৷

My House a Few Steps from Life

My House a Few Steps from Life

The rain paints the city on the windswept street
where leaves from forgotten places
desperately scoop up memories fading out into the past,
those memories I once tore off my hair to get rid of,
things that turn out what I am made of.
How far can you get away from life?
You just stretch it only like a bodycon.

From a distance, life is silent like an unread poem,
all its noise a frozen tale trapped in a magic ball.

The wind says nothing—it just blows the dust
off the dusty park bench I wake up on
to bring forgotten dust from other parts of the city.
You see there is a time in life that wombs you
so perfectly with nothing beyond it that
the keys on the piano repeat on the few same notes
and nothing crosses the landscape
to become a memory, and you—
a beautiful, sad painting in tawny sunset.

It all turns golden at sunset before it’s all dark.