Morphology is the grammar of words of a language. Thus, in the study of morphology of the Assamese language असामिया भाषा will come up alongwith the different items of formation of words used in this particular language.
A subject and a predicate form a sentence or it may be said that Subject, Object and Verb are the essential items of a sentence in Assamese. Of course, there are some exceptions, where sometimes a sentence is completed by only one item of a sentence stated above. Such thing happens in emotional description and conversational language. The roots of all these things of a sentence are generally noun, pronoun, objective, preposition, verbs etc. All are included in the study or analysis of the morphology of the Assamese language.
Nouns are generally inflected for number, gender and case in Assamese. As in other NIA languages, Assamese has two numbers such as Singular and Plural. Plural number is generally formed from the singular noun by addition of suffixes, which are also called by using the plural marker. In Assamese, the common i.e. popular suffixes are -b k, -bilak, -h t, -l k while -brndo, -x kal, -m nd li, -m kha, - zak, -pal, -bah etc are used with some restriction. All these are added after singular nouns to indicate plural numbers as shown below- -bor
(i) This suffix is used after an animate and inanimate things, eg. gosbƆr “trees”, masbƆr “fishes”, manuhb r “men”, gakhirb r “milks”.
ii) This suffix is used with the words indicating human beings to give a sense of inferiority, eg. l ra-sowalib r “boys and girls”, keranib r “the clerks” al hib r “the guests”, satrab r “the students”, xiks kb r “the teachers” etc.
-bilak: This suffix is used after animate and inanimate objects to indicate plurality. But it always carries a sense of honorific or superiority in case of animate object eg.
(i) kitap tilak “books”, 1Ɔrabilak “boys”, satrabilak “students”, s raibilak “birds”, z ntubilak “animals” etc.
(ii) xibilak /zibilak “those”, eibilak/ibilak “these”, ukil bilak “advocates”, xiksƆkbilak “teachers”, bEparibilak “traders”.
-hot: (i) this suffix is used to indicate plurality with the words- which group, caste, profession, trade etc. eg. l rah t “boys”, k harh t “bell- metal workers”, masm riah t “fishermen’s”, x narih t “goldsmiths” etc.
(ii) It is also used after pronouns to indicate plurality eg. I “this men” : ih t “these men”, xi “he”: xih t “they”, ti “you” (noun-hon): t h t “you all” (non-hon.) tai “she”: taih t “they” (used dialect), xih t “they”.
(iii) It is also used after nouns of relationship in a respectful sense to indicate plurality, e.g. Pitah t “fathers”, mah t “mothers”, deutah t “fathers”, haitih t “younger brothers”, dadah t/k kaih t “elder brothers” bh ntih t “younger sisters”.
(iv) It is also used after the works-indicating low profile eg. D kaith t “dacoits”, sorh t “things”, etc.
(v) It is also used as objective terms for men. Eg. (t h t) goruh t “(you) cows”, band rh t “(you) monkeys”, kukurh t “(you dogs)”, etc.
-lok: This suffix is used only after pronouns in honorific sense. Eg.
m i “I” : ami / amalok “we”
tumi “you” : tomalok “you all”
apuni “you” (superior) : aponalok “you (superior) all”
tEo “that person” : tEolok “those persons”
Eo “this person” : Eolok “these persons” etc.
-brnd: This suffix is used only with the nouns of human beings, giving a sense of respect. Its use in this way is very limited. Eg.
satr brnd “students”, x m bat bh kt b nds “followers gathered here”, pr sab nd “the subjects” etc.
-x k l : This suffix is used only with nouns of human beings, giving a sense of respect. So its use is also restricted eg.
xikkh k x k l “the teachers” likh k x k l “the writers”, xaŋbadikx k l “the journalists”, etc.
It is also used to mean plural with the only second personal pronouns of superior eg. apunmi “you (hon. sup.)” in pl. aponax k l “you all (Hon. Sup.)”.
-m nd li : this is also used like x k l with the means of human being indicating respect but never used with pronouns. Eg-
xikkh k m nd li “The teachers”, satr m nd li “the students”.
-m kha/ -zak / -pal/ -bah : These suffixes always indicate something. Both in human being and living beings exact suffix gives a combinative sense and now they are used like
Em kha “one group”, paszak “five groups”, du pal “two group”, tinibah mau “three groups of bees”, etc.
Note: This is another pl suffix -x b “all present here” is used with the Ist and IInd personal pronouns of human being. Eg-
amax b “we all”, tomax b “you all”, aponax b “you (Hon. sup) all”, etc.
In Assamese, gender is not grammatical. Moreover, only animate subjects in Assamese distinguish gender. Gender is indicated by sex and it is distinguished in these different ways either with some qualifying terms, or using different words or by using suffix as elaborated below:
(i) In Assamese, qualifying terms to indicate male and female are “m ta” and”maiki” respectively eg.
m ta g ru “male cow” = he cow, maiki g ru “female cow” = she cow
m ta m h “male buffalo = he buffalo, maiki m h “female buffalo = she buffalo, m ta xap “he snake”, maiki xap “she snake:
Dialectal use m ta l ra “boy”, maiki sowali “girl”
Such distinction is also indicated by using to end ---zoni for male and female respectively. But such use is also
restricted in dialectal use only eg- 1 rato “boy, 1 razni “girl”.
ii) Gender indicated by using different used as in other NIA language:
1 ra “boy” sowali “girls”
dada / k kai “elder brother” n bou “sister-in-laws”
pita / deuta “father” ma “mother”
b l d “your bull” gai “cow female”
iii) The suffixes used to indicate feminine are -i, -ni, - ni and – xi. These are illustrated below-
a) The female suffix - I is added to the masculine form ending with a consonant. Eg-
k ra “idiot man” ak ri “idiot women”
nilaz “shameless men” nilazi “shameless women”
p g la “mad man” pag li “mad woman”
kumar “less aged boy” kumari “less aged girl”
bura / bruha “old man” buri /burhi “old woman”
mama “maternal uncle” mami “maternal aunty”
pEha “father’s sisters husband” pEhi “father’s sister”
k na “blind man” kani “blind woman”
Note: Gender in female form, masculine word ending is dropped and in some cases the initial vowel becomes as shown above.
b) The female suffix -ni is added to the masculine ending words either simply or words ending in - or -e eg.
k lita “man of Kalita caste” k loitani “woman of Kalita caste”
b rua “man of Baruah title” b ruani “woman of Baruah title”
deka “man being Deka title” dekani “woman being Deka title”
b ra “man being Bora title” b rani “woman being bora title”
khasie “a khasi man” khasiani “a khasi woman”
xial “a male fox” xiali “a female fox”
p ndit “scholar man” p ndit ni “scholar woman”
Some time -ni is added to indicate females with the words ending in -a or -i with name changes of that vowel - eg.
nati “grand son” natini “grand daughter”
goxai “god/spiritual guide man” goxani “goddess / spiritual guide woman”
mita “friend, call like this of the same name” mitani
Sometimes after consonant ending format with some changes or vowels – eg –
bagh “tiger” baghini
dhoba “washer man” dhubuni “washer woman”
sor “thief male” suruni “thief woman”
naga “naga man” nagini “naga woman”
k c “konchman” kucuni “konch woman”
c) The few suffix - ni is added to the noun of masculine form ending with a consonant eg-
guru “a garo man” guru ni “garo woman”
bandhu “friend male” bandhu ni “friend female”
miri “missing male” miri ni “Missing woman”
napit “male barber” napit ni “barber’s wife”
phuk n “male being phukan tile” phuk n ni “wife of phukan”
ahom “male ahom” ahom ni “Ahom woman”
d) The Few suffix - ai is added to indicate feminine in a few words in Assamese –eg.
dEka “young man” dekerii “young girl”
k la “deaf man” kal ri “deal woman / wife of deaf”
bEna “man who can’t speak properly” beni /benuri also bena
In Assamese, same noun forms are used frequently in the sense of feminine, which don’t have any masculine forms. Eg-
bo ni “weaving woman”
namoti ‘woman expert in singing songs”
phuloti “woman expert in embroidery”
e) The few suffix -ini- is added to indicate feminine only in a consonant ending word and sometimes morho-phonemic changes occurs in the word. Eg-
bagh “tiger” baghini “tigress”
zokh “evil spirit male” “z khini” “evil spirit female”
xinho “lion” xinhini “lioness”
sor “thief” corini /curuni “thief woman”
dukhi “poor man” dukhni / dukhu “poor woman”
kox “male koch” kocini / kucuni “koch woman”
(1) In Assamese, there are some nouns, which are always used as feminine form eg- a ti (oay ti) “iman” dhai “female
nurse”, phuloti “woman expert in embroidery”’ lah ti “woman using fashionable and shoury dream”’ namoti “woman expert in
singing local songs, marriage songs etc” ru ni (row ni) “woman transplanting seedling, bidhova “woman whose husband
died”, xipini “woman expert in weaving” etc.
(2) The Assamese, sexes of same words are identified from the use only, the context. Eg-x khi “intimate friend”, randhani
“the cook”, gunda “notorious one”, ognix rma “angry like furious fire”’ etc.
There are only three persons, such as first person, second person and third person. These are m I “I” andami “we” is IST
person, tumi “you” and tomalok “you all” and the honorific superior apuni “you superior” and aponalok “you all superior” in 2nd
person which xi “he” (mase) and tai “she” (fem) xih t “they” and all there are 3rd person.
In Assamese, some post positional words or affixes are added to nouns, adjectives and numerals and these are having the sense of definite article “the” and after attached to the word much definitive becomes a part of the word. So case-suffixes are added to the definite eg-
manuh “men”, manuh-to “the man”, 1 rato “the boy”, 1 rato “to the boy”, 1 ratoloi “to the boy”, 1 ra Eta “boy one/ a boy”, 1 ra Etak “to one boy” dhuniato “the beautiful one”. Dhunia tarp ra “from the beautiful”
Such definitives affixes in Assamese are -k n / -k ni, kh n/ -kh ni / -kjhini, -g rakii/ -g s/ -g si/ -s ta, -zn / -z na/ -z ni, -to / -ta / -ti, -dal / -dali, -tar / -lari, - thak, -dhar / -dhaai, -pat / -pati, -phEra / -pheri, -mutha/muthi. All these definitives are added to the word as affix -eg-
-k n/ -kani: aik n “the little girl” 1 rak n “the little boy” -k ni is used in the sense of diminutive in place of -k n -kh n / -kh ni: kitap kn n “the book” gh r kh n “the family” khela kh n “the play/game” hat kh n “the hand” etc. - kh ni is used in place of -kh n in the sense of diminutive. -khini: seni khini “the sugar/ that portion of sugar” gur khini “the molaces/that portion of molaces” mithai khini “the sweet / that portion of sweets” -g raki: Generally used to with the word showing much respect- masnuh g raki “the man/ the body” p ribar g raki “the wife” sikhh k g rai “the teacher” x bhap ti g raki “the president” -g s/ -g si: Generally used with the word indicating small and delicate. z ri g s “the rope” sakig s “the lamp of mustard oil or……” -s ta : Generally used with word indicating flat and small. bahs ta “the split of bamboo” kh ris ta “the split of fire-wood” -z n / -z na/ -z ni: honorific superior/ feminine respectively manuhz n “the man, the gentleman” b ktaz n “the person who delivers lecture, the speaker” upaukt z na “the Deputy Commissioner” gorakiz na “the image of God” raniz na “the queen” tirotaz ni “the woman” gh iniekz ni (ghoiniyekz ni) “the wife”
-to/ -ta/ -ti : added after masculine is used for word indicating living-being to give diminutive sense and -ta is used after numerals only. Gruto “the cow” hahto “the duck” 1 rato “the boy” aiti “the little girl” mahiti “the sister of mother” kkaiti “the elder brother” k inati “the little bride” ek+to = eta “the one-only one” dui+ta = duta “The two” s y+ta=s ta “the six” bar ta “the twelve”.
When –ta is added, some morphophonemic changes occur in the main word.
-dat/ -dati : generally used with the word indicating disrespect- bah dal “the bamboo” manuhdal “that man” sak rdal “that servant” apedal “that girl/that maid servant” dali in the sense of diminutive. -tor/-tari: generally used with the word indicating small……. sulitar “the bunch of hair” bar ni/ barh nitar “the broom” zarutar “the bunch of broom” tari indicate a long diminutive. -thok: generally used to indicate bunch of fruits- k lthok “the bunch of banana” narik l thok “the bunch of coconut” -dhar/ -dhari : generally used to indicate long and delicate something…… mala dhar “the garland” m nidhar “the Jewel, garland” g lpotadhar “the necklace, garland” -dhari indicate diminutive. -pat / pati: tulapat “the hand made paper piece” x rpat “the arrow” -pati indicates diminutive. -phEra/pheri: something small or little quality. gur phEra “the small/little quality of houses” seniphEra “the little quality of sugar” -pheri indicate diminutive. -mutha/-muthi used to indicate small bundle- kher mutha “the bundle of strake” kux muthat “the bundle of sacred grass” khari mutha “the bundle of firewood” -muthi indicate diminutive sense -l da: used with the word indicating act something gurloda “the mustaches”
Note: i) All these definitive are used as third personal pronominal forms indicating near demonstrative and far demonstrative i.e.- ei/i “this” and xi/sei “that” eg- ito “this one” xito “That one” eiz n “This one” xiz n “that one’ eipat “this one” eipat “that one etc.
ii) In plural, the definitive are used with the prefix –kei to the definitives as 1 ra-kei-z n “the boys”, par-kei-ta “the pignuts”, kath-kei-s ta “the wood splits”, bah-kei-dal “the bamboo”
Indefinite sense is indicated by using kei as prefix and man as suffix to the definite keitaman. E.g. kei-kh n-man kitap “some books, a few copies of book”s, kei-z n-man-manuh “a few numbers of men”etc.
Assamese is having a special feature to indicate relationship. Different affixes are used to indicate the relationship of some one with first, second and third persons. Such suffixes are (i.e. whiting or zero element), =-Er/- Ers, -zra, -Ek, as shown below-
Relationship Ist person 2nd Person 2nd Person 3rd Person Inf. Hon. Mother ma ma-r/ma-ro ma-re mak Brother bhai bhai-er/bhai-er bhai-Era bhai-Ek Son put/po put-er/put-er put-Era put-Ek
The case relationship in Assamese sentences are indicated by using the case endings as suffixes directly to the nouns and pronouns or with some post positional words, after which case ending are added to indicate the case relation. Such case ending in Assamese are as follows-
Nominative: -e Accusative- -k Instrumental -re/-dvara Dative -loi Ablative -p ra Genetive -r/-er Locative -t/ -t/ -e
It is interesting to note that when the subject is having an interrogative verb, nominative case ending is zero. When the verb is transitive the subject text is case ending, e.g.- -e. for example.
madhu (madhu+o) g l “madhu went” m dhwe (m dhu+e) bhat khale “madhu ate food” hariye p rhile “hari read”
Similarly, when plural suffix is added to the noun followed by the case ending, some morpho-phonomic changes take place, e.g- m I kitap p rhil “I read book”
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