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Guide to Pronouncing Khasi

Some general Khasi pronunciation tips:
It is a created written language from the 1880’s so it is very predictable/phonetic.

‘ng’ is the hardest, its the last part of the word ‘hang’ made in the back of the throat. Our eyes, seeing an ‘n’ followed by a ‘g’ in words often want to attribute them to separate syllables, but they are always together, one sound.

‘I’s make a long eee sound
‘e’s make a long aaa sound
‘a’s make the ahhh sound
‘y’s make a short I sound (igloo)
‘o’s make the awhh, short o, sound
‘ew’ makes the long o sound
Double vowels are pronounced in order,
‘ai’ is ahheee
‘ia’ is eeeahh
‘ei’ is a-e
‘ie’ is e-a

Love is “ieit”  said aheeeaht—sound almost exactly like ‘eight’

~Rev. Eva Cameron

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Information About The Khasi Language

(all rights retained by original author)

You may be aware that the Khasis are a unique matrilineal tribe- the basic feature of which is that we adopt the mother’s surname. And the youngest daughter is the sole custodian of all ancestral property. Regarding our system of nomenclature, before the advent of Christianity in the 1840s, we were so influenced by the Hindu culture (especially by the Sylhetis of the erstwhile East Pakistan, Bangladesh now, with whom we were engaged in trade and commerce), that naming was adopted from them. Even our language was overwhelmingly Bangla then. The folklore it that, once upon a time,in the beginning, a Khasi and a non-Khasi were swimming across a river, their respective scripts in their mouths. After a while, while struggling against the waves, the Khasi, unable to breathe, swallowed down his script, leaving us scriptless. Well, when Christianity was introduced here by the Welsh missionaries, one Rev. Thomas Jones gave us the alphabet ( Roman, with a few modifications here and there, like pronouncing “a’ as in “can”, omitting the “c” and putting “k” in its spot, gluing “n” and “g” together as in “ loving”, and doing away with “x” and “z”). Ours is a 23-letter alphabet. My personal feeling is that Rev. Jones did all this with the sole intention of enabling the new converts to read the Bible (we adore him today as the Father of the Khasi Alphabet). With Christianity going from strength to strength, proselytizing one and all, the nomenclature changed rapidly. Names of Biblical figures abound today, particularly, as you know, amongst the Roman Catholics. So . . . this, coupled with the liberal “westernization” of our Khasi culture, has resulted in “westernizing” Khasi names.So, don't be surprised if, the next time you visit us, you are introduced to Jerusalem, Judea, Israel, Holland, Switzerland, California, New York, and the like.

~by Bah Pearl Greene

(Madan Laban Church)

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About the Seven Tribes (Hyniewtrep)

There are actually only 4 tribes that make up the Hyniewtrep that we can meet (are in the living flesh). These four tribes are named: Khasi also called Mylliem (shillong area, south to Cheripungee/Sohra), the Jaintia also called Pnar (in the Jowai area),  the Ri Bhoi (in general all of these areas “ri” which is what it means (region or homeland), but for this region the title ‘ri’ is commonly used). It is located to the northern part of the area—toward Guahati. Then lastly there are the ‘War’ (notice given the pronunciation guide, this is not pronounced the same way as our word for warfare). This area is in the southern region, nestled up against Bangledesh. Their language is most different from Khasi. And they are the shortest in stature of these people, I found. These are the tribes “below.” The other tribes live “above” having never chosen to leave heaven and explore the realm of earth. In the US we have taken to calling all of these tribes Khasi. Ask a Khasi to tell you the story of the tribes above and below.

~Rev. Eva Cameron

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