Language of Meghalaya

Meghalaya is one of the beautiful states of northeast India. Meghalaya is literally translated to the ‘abode of clouds’ in Sanskrit. This state has the most beautiful landscapes, the mountains, hills, waterfalls and rivers make Meghalaya a great tourist destination. The three major tribes of Meghalaya are the Khasi, Garo and Jaintia.

Khasi is the official language of Meghalaya that was recognized as an “associate official language” in the year 2005. It is spoken by more than 900,000 people in Meghalaya mostly by the people living in Khasi Hills. There are many tribes in Meghalaya and the local languages spoken are Khasi, Pnar, Garo and English as the official language. Meghalaya is one of the states of India however Hindi is not spoken as widely as they do in many other states of the country.

The tribal people have developed a certain form of accent hence it might be difficult for some outsiders to easily understand what they speak. Khasi people are related to Khmer (Cambodians) and this reflects in their language and sounds as well. They may not speak Hindi as much but they are well learnt and many of them know the language. Almost all the people in Meghalaya can speak English well especially in towns and urban areas. English is also one of the official languages of Meghalaya and is easier for travelers to communicate with the locals whenever they visit the state.

However as you start to explore offbeat trails and places in Meghalaya you will realize that the majority of the people speak Khasi and most of them cannot speak Hindi or English. Khasi language is the most spoken language in Meghalaya and while visiting the state learning some important phrases of Meghalaya language will be really handy and useful.

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Languages of Meghalaya

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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