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Mundari language

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Mundari Language Script For other uses, see Mundari (disambiguation).

Mundari (Mundari) is a Munda language of the Austroasiatic language family spoken by the Munda tribes in eastern Indian states of Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal. It is closely related to Santali. Mundari Bani, a script specifically to write Mundari, was invented by Rohidas Singh Nag. It has also been written in the Devanagari, Odia, Bengali, and Latin writing systems.

Table of contents
  1. History
  2. Geographical distribution
  3. Dialects
  4. Phonology
  5. Writing system


According to linguist Paul Sidwell (2018), Munda languages probably arrived on coast of Odisha from Indochina about 4000-3500 years ago and spread after Indo-Aryan migration to Odisha.

Geographical distribution

Mundari is spoken in the Ranchi, Khunti, Seraikela Kharsawan and West Singhbhum, East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand, and in the Mayurbhanj, Kendujhar, Baleshwar, Sundargarh district of Odisha by at least 1.1 million people. Another 500,000, mainly in Odisha and Assam, are recorded in the census as speaking "Munda," potentially another name for Mundari.


Toshiki Osada (2008:99), citing the Encyclopaedia Mundarica (vol. 1, p. 6), lists the following dialects of Mundari, which are spoken mostly in Jharkhand state. Bhumij, listed in many sources as a separate language, may in fact be a variety of the Latar (Tamaria) dialect of Mundari. It is spoken across Jharkhand state and in Mayurbhanj district, Odisha (Anderson 2008:196). There may be around 50,000 Bhumij speakers, although the census records around 27,000.


The phonology of Mundari is similar to the surrounding closely related Austroasiatic languages but considerably different from either Indo-Aryan or Dravidian. Perhaps the most foreign phonological influence has been on the vowels. Whereas the branches of Austroasiatic in Southeast Asia are rich in vowel phonemes, Mundari has only five. The consonant inventory of Mundari is similar to other Austroasiatic languages with the exception of retroflex consonants, which seem to appear only in loanwords. (Osada 2008)


Mundari has five vowel phonemes. All vowels have long and short as well as nasalized allophones, but neither length nor nasality are contrastive. All vowels in open monosyllables are quantitatively longer than those in closed syllables, and those following nasal consonants or /j/ are nasalized. Vowels preceding or following /n/ are also nasalized.


Mundari's consonant inventory consists of 23 basic phonemes. The Naguri and Kera dialects include aspirated stops as additional phonemes, here enclosed in parentheses.

Writing system

Main article: Mundari Bani

Mandari is also written in native Mundari Bani, invented in the 1980s by Rohidas Singh Nag.

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