CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY WORKS ON MISING LANGUAGE
The study of Mising language was initiated by the foreign Christian Missionaries in the early nineteenth century and also, in the same time, by the officials of the colonial regime, who took up the subject of their academic interest in linguistic matters. Some officers had obviously felt necessary to learn the language for administrative merit while others had perhaps moulded their tongue as a result of close contact with the community for long. However, the prime intention of missionaries was to communicate the good news of the Gospel to the people in local dialects.
The eminent personalities noted below were a few amongst many others who had mastered over the dialect and in the process, laid a solid foundation for further study of the Mising Language.
(1) William Robinson: Rev. Robinson was one of the American Baptist Missionaries and frontline academicians of the nineteenth century, a period of Assam’s transition to mass education, who stationed at Guwahati as the Principal of “Gowahati Government Seminary” in 1841 and later he became the Inspector of Schools, Assam. Besides ethics and education, the study of language was his forte. He mastered over the Mising Language and unbelievably happened to be authority of Dafla language also. Robinson was the first man to attempt to grammarise the Mising Language for institutional use. His “A short outline of Miri (Mising) grammar ” was published the March issue of “Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal” , in 1849. (Vol, 18, part 1, page 224). He was also the author of “Notes on the Daflas and the peculiarities of their language”.
(2) Joseph Francis Needham: Mr. Needham was the assistant political officer at sadiya from 1882 to 1905. During his twenty three years of service career there, he travelled far and wide, visited places high and low and met people known and unknown. With captain Molesworty he went far across the Indian border to discover a mountainous route to Tibet through the lofty range of Mishimi Hills in 1886.
He made himself the Mising language his own tongue . in 1886, Mr Needham published a grammar of the Mising language, spoken mainly in and around Sadiya- titled “Outline grammar of the Shaiyang Miri Language as spoken by the miris of that clan residing the neighbourhood of Sadiya”. In 1986 he rendered the all time popular story of “prodigal son” from the Bible into Mising language. He also wrote a story in 1899 based on an episode prevailing in the village courts (Do:lung Kcbang). Later these two stories were published in the Linguistic survey of India as the specimen paragraph of the Mising language by Sir George Abraham Grierson.
3. James Herbert Lorrain: Rev. Lorrain was a clergyman with amazing personality. Amazing in the sense that he learned and became authority over the Mising language within a time span of only two and half years during practicable for ordinary person to pick up a foreign tongue within such short spell of time, that too a language which had got no printed literatures in any discipline, except however, Needham’s grammar Mr. Lorrain was posted to sadiya in june 1900 and then suddenly transferred to Lushai Hills in February 1903.
He complete the first ever dictionary of the Mising language 1906 called “A dictionary of the Abor-Miri language” and the same was published from shillong in 1910. Later rev. Lorrain had prepared a dictionary for the Lushai Language,- titled “A Dictionary of the lushai Language” and published in 1940. Two other works of Rev. Lorrain in Mising language were: “ Isorke Doyinge in 1902” and “Jisuke Doyinge in 1902”. The latter was the summery translation of his own work “the story of the true God”. In missionary colleague Rev. Frederick W. Savidge who was also stationed at Sadiya.
4. Rev. LWB Jackman: Rev. Jackman succeeded Mr. Lorrain at sadiya in 1903. Like his predecessor he also picked up the dialect of the region very quickly and gained complete command over the language Mrs. Mary M.Clark, an American missionary, once aluded, “The Miris (of sadiya) are asking more schools, and teachers for this new opening must be trained. With building and other manifold labour mr. Jackman has worked steadily upon the language of the Abor-Miri people and has already several manuscript ready for press.” (A Corner of India , New York, 1907)
Rev. LWB Jackman Authored three books on Episcopal literature in Mising Language, the names of which are: “ Keyum kero Kitab (1914)”, “Rom Kiding kela Korintian Doying (1916)” and “Mathike Annam Baibal (1917)”. All were published in the local press sodiya.
5. Captain W Hore: Capt. Hore, an intelligent Officer, was commanding the 120th Rajputana Infantry, who had otain a favourable notice from major general Hamilton Bower for his dependable service during Abor Expedition of 1911. He mastered over the Mising Language during his stay in the border areas. Hamilton Angus, the author of “In Abor Jungle” quoted him as “an exceptionally good knowledge of the Abor and Miri language and was of the great assistant.”
6. Mr. J.H.F.Williams: Mr. Williams of the Indian Police was the Assistant Political Officer at Pasighat, who looked after the affairs of the country-north towards the Mcmahan line and west towards the subansiri. He was one of the British subjects who made Adi-Mising language as his for a brief Christmas holiday and he crossed the river to pasighat. Mr. Reid met him and made a small profile as this: “Young and able, who had masterd the Abor-Miri language, toured wide and knw the tribes habits.” (years of change in Bangal and Assam, by Robert Reid, London, 1966)
7. Bible Society of India: the gospel of St. Mark st. Hohn were translated into Mising language by the Baptist Missionaries. As usual, the names of individuals who transcripted the two books of the gospel were not mentioned. Gospel of st. John called “Joanke atnam tatporyune doyinge” which runs 52 pages was printed in 1932 and the Gospel of st. Mark titled “marke atnam tatporune doyinge”. Page 38 published in 1935, both by the British and foreign Bible Society, Calcutta.
The copies of the these two “doying books” are now completely out of stock. However, the British Museum has preserved these publications as rare archives with the identifying library catalogue numbers “8-14180 pp 30” for johns and “8-14180 pp31” for Marks ” (Ref. British Museum subject index of Modern books acquired between 1946 to 1950. Trustees of the British Museum, London, 1961)
8. Sir George Abraham Grierson: Dr. Grierson did not know Mising Language for mass communication but in the linguistic survey of India he had recorded grammatical discipline of the language most exhaustively with illustrative examples. He had aided in his field works by Prof. Conrady and Dr. Stenkonow who were entrusted to go into the grammatical details of the language.Sir Grierson made reference to the grammars written by Robinson and Needham.
9. Sir WW Hunter and Sir George Cambell: although these two public servants of Indian Civil Service had been fully conversant with the Mising language yet their studies were overly broad based Mising language had just found a place in their agenda. Vocabulary of the Mising language had been included in Sir hunter’s “A Comparative Dictionary of Language of India and High Asia” and Sir Combell’s “Specimen of language of India”.
CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY WORKS ON MISING LANGUAGE