Meghalaya is one of the seven sisters, a mountainous state rich in natural spectacle in northeast India. There are three major tribes residing in Meghalaya – Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia tribes. Although English is the official language of the state, the principal spoken languages of Meghalaya are Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia.
Khasi language is also known as Khasia, Khassee, Cossyah, and Kyi that comes from Mon-Khmer family and is one of the very few surviving dialects still spoken in India. Khasi are the only people in India who speak Mon-Khmer, they are primarily settled in Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya. It is spoken by nearly 1.6 million people in Meghalaya according to 2001 Census. It was declared as associate official language of Meghalaya in 2005 and has significant dialectal variations.
Garo language in Meghalaya is spoken in northeast India, particularly in the Garo Hills, some parts of Assam and Bangladesh. Garo Meghalaya language is a Tibeto-Burman language of Bodo-Konyak-Jingpho group and is closely related to Bodo language. Garo scripts were first collected by British officials at the end of the 18th century and acquired its Latin-based spelling system in 19th century. The language is not traditionally written down, customs, traditions, and beliefs are handed over to the next generation orally.
Jaintia language is another variation of Khasi language spoken by the people living in the Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya. Khynriam, Bhoi, Pnar, and War speak Jaintia along with Khasi.
Apart from these official languages there are other languages as well that are spoken by the people of Meghalaya that include Pnar-Synteng, Nepali, Haijong, Bengali, Assamese, Biate and Hindi. It is interesting to know that the three major tribes living in Meghalaya have demarcated their territory where Khasis inhabit central part, Garos the western part, and Jaintias the eastern part of Meghalaya.
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