|L1 44,800, L2 1,320 (worldwide)|
Majhi is an Indo-European language spoken in parts of Nepal and some small pockets of neighboring India.:1 The language is associated with the Majhi people, an ethnic group in those regions who dwell historically near the Saptakoshi River and its tributaries and elsewhere in central and eastern Nepal. The Majhi people generally subsist off of work associated with rivers, including fishing and ferrying.:2 Majhi is written using the Devanagari writing system.
Ethnologue classifies Mahji as a 6b threatened language. There are roughly 24,400 L1 speakers of Majhi in Nepal and roughly 46,120 L1 and L2 speakers of the language around the globe. Most of the Majhi speakers in Nepal are bilingual with the more predominant Nepali language,:2 and the latter language is replacing Majhi in use. Majhi's lack of official status, use in education, in media, in print, etc. places the survival of the language in a precarious position.:2
- 1 Phonology
- 2 Morphology
- 3 Syntax
- 4 Notes
- 5 References
Majhi has a total of 13 vowels, five of which are diphthongs.:6, 8
Majhi has a total of 29 consonants, covering six different areas of articulation and seven different modes of articulation.:9 In the chart below, symbols to the right are voiced, and those to the left voiceless.
Majhi allows consonant clusters to form in the onset but not the coda. However, researchers believe that further study on syllable structure is necessary to ascertain a fuller understanding of the syllable structure.:17 When Majhi features two consonants in the onset, the second consonant will be a glide (/j, w/).:13 Some examples of the syllable structure are included in the chart below.
Majhi uses affixation to derive words through nominalization, verbalization, and negation. For nominalizers and verbalizers, Majhi uses suffixation. For negation, Majhi uses prefixation. Examples are included in the chart below.
|Example 1:19||Example 2:58||Example 3:58||Example 4:70|
(noun to noun)
|Majhi||hiṭh-ai||nid-ai||moṭ-ai [note 1]||dzun-bal|
|Translation||'the walking'||'to be asleep'||'to be fat'||'don't speak'|
Majhi uses morphemes to inflect words (specifically, to decline nouns and to conjugate verbs). Nouns are declined for case, number, and gender. Nouns are also declined for pronominal possessive suffixes, which indicate the possessor of the noun (see example below).:43 Verbs are conjugated for person, number, tense, aspect, and mood.:89
|Example 1:21||Example 2:19||Example 3:48|
|Function||Noun declension||Noun declension (with
pronominal possessive suffix)
|Translation||'in the field'||'your daughter-in-law'||'I finished'|
Other morphological processes
Majhi can form new words by combining two roots. In the example below, combining the words for grandfather and grandmother yields the plural grandparents.:22
|First Root||Second Root||Combined New Word|
Majhi sometimes completely reduplicates a full noun, verb, adjective, or adverb form in order to add extra emphasis. For nouns, Majhi also adds a suffix "-e" to the first instance of the noun. For example, the noun "kapal" means 'head,' and, when it is reduplicated with the suffix as "kapal-e kapal," the combined phrase means 'all heads.':20 Verbs do not have such a suffix. For example, the verb "bəl-ni" means 'I said,' but, when reduplicated "bəl-ni bəl-ni," the combined reduplication would mean 'I said it (which I will definitely not change).':89 Adjectives can be reduplicated for emphasis in the same manner. For example, the adjective "lamo" means "long," and, when it is reduplicated as "lamo lmao," it means very long.:54 Adverbs can be reduplicated in the same manner as adjectives. For example, the adverb "tshiṭo" means 'quickly,' and, when it is reduplicated as "tshiṭo tshiṭo," it means 'very quickly.':96
Mahji features several particles that perform various functions, including indicating questions, emphasis, and hearsay.:73, 97 Mahji also shares some particles with Nepali.:97 Examples of some Mahji particles are given below.
Question particle te
The particle te comes at the end of a sentence and indicates a question.:97
hək-lə pətshi keti kha-a-i te
become-PRF after what eat-CAUS-INF PRT
'After the child was born, what was fed to her?'
Contrastive, emphatic particle ta
Mahji uses the particle ta in order to provide an emphatic contrast.:97
muĩ ta dzainai
I PRT go-PST.1SG
'Now I go (as for me)."
Hearsay particle ni
Mahji uses the hearsay particle ni to indicate an uncertain secondhand knowledge.:73
keṭo a-le ni
boy come-PST.3SG HS
'The boy came (they say).'
Standard word order
The basic word order of Majhi is SOV.:111 This word order is fairly consistent across the language. Mahji is an in situ language for wh-questions and yes-no questions, meaning that it maintains its standard word order for questions.:118 The three examples below illustrate this word order:
Subject Object Verb
ram-in kam sək-le
Ram-ERG work finish-PST.3SG
'Ram finished the work.'
Subject Quantity Object Verb
tui kətte mun kha-tshəs
you how-much liquor eat-NPST.2SG
'How much liquor do you drink?'
Subject Object Verb
hoi-nin gai ban-le
he-ERG cow tie-PST
'Did he tie the cow?'
Noun phrases and adpositional phrases
Possessee + possessor
With the possessee + possessor relationship (genitive modifiers), the possessor precedes the possessee.:105
'the splinter of bamboo'
Adposition + noun phrase
In Mahji, the adverb generally precedes the verb. For example, see below.:96
Subject Adverb Object Verb
hoi-nin bhərkhər kətha sun-le
He-ERG recently story heard-PST.3SG
'He has recently heard the story.'
- The grammar lists the adjective as 'moṭo,' but context would suggest that 'moṭ' is the root unless there is some transformation, which the grammar does not describe.
- The abbreviation PROH indicates a prohibition.