[Tibeto-burman-linguistics] Changes to Myanmar Naga group names in Ethnologue

Alexander Coupe ARCoupe at ntu.edu.sg
Fri Jan 20 11:15:05 UTC 2017

Dear Nathan and colleagues,

I believe it is time to drop the label “Naga" from any linguistic classification, because is will continue to mislead non-specialists into assuming that these "Naga" languages of Myanmar and the so-called "Naga" languages of northern, central and southern Nagaland and adjacent regions of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur somehow form a robustly attested branch of Sino-Tibetan. The term “Naga” has become an important political tool for helping to establish an ethno-nationalistic identity for disparate and marginalized minorities in the northeastern border region, but it lacks credibility as a linguistic label. This is because we currently know that it includes at least 2 and possibly even 3 or 4 more separate branches – subgrouping is still a work in progress, and we just don’t have enough reliable descriptions at present to make any strong claims beyond Burling's (1983) Sal branch.  I have been campaigning for a revision in naming conventions for these languages in recent publications, and also consulting with Ethnologue to address the currently misleading nature of “Naga” nomenclature (e.g. see https://www.ethnologue.com/language/nsa/feedback). Ethnologue is currently  considering adopting a number of these recommendations, so following suit with similar naming conventions for the languages of Myanmar would be consistent with the revisions.


From: Tibeto-burman-linguistics <tibeto-burman-linguistics-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org<mailto:tibeto-burman-linguistics-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org>> on behalf of Nathan & Carey Statezni <nathan_statezni at sil.org<mailto:nathan_statezni at sil.org>>
Date: Thursday, 19 January 2017 at 6:09 PM
To: "tibeto-burman-linguistics at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG<mailto:tibeto-burman-linguistics at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG>" <tibeto-burman-linguistics at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG<mailto:tibeto-burman-linguistics at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG>>
Subject: [Tibeto-burman-linguistics] Changes to Myanmar Naga group names in Ethnologue

Hi all,
I'm proposing changes to the name in the Ethnologue for some Naga groups in Myanmar, to match their own name for themselves and the spelling used in their orthographies, based on discussions with these groups. Here are my proposed changes (all the current names would become alternate names): Any thoughts?

Makyan Naga [umn] becomes Paungnyuan Naga
Kyan-Karyaw Naga [nqq] becomes Chen-Kayu Naga
Leinong Naga [lzn] becomes Lainong Naga
Kokak [nxk] becomes Kokak Naga (for consistency with the other Naga group names)

By the way, all Ethnologue updates need to be in by January each year. The new edition comes out on February 21 each year, International Mother Language Day.


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