Mundari language

Mundari (Munɖari) is a Munda language of the Austroasiatic language family spoken by the Munda tribes in eastern Indian states of Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal. It is closely related to Santali. Mundari Bani,[3] a script specifically to write Mundari, was invented by Rohidas Singh Nag.[4][5] It has also been written in the Devanagari, Odia, Bengali, and Latin writing systems.

मुंडारी, মুন্ডারি, ମୁଣ୍ଡାରୀ, 𞓧𞓟𞓨𞓜𞓕𞓣𞓚
Shukla Mundari.svg
'Mundari' in Mundari Bani script
Native toIndia, Bangladesh, Nepal
EthnicityMunda and Bhumij
Native speakers
1,661,656 (2011 census)[1]
1,061,352 (2001 census)[2]
  • Munda
    • North
      • Kherwarian
        • Mundaric
          • Mundari
Mundari Bani
Others: Odia, Devanagari, Bengali, Latin
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3unr
Mundari Bani (Mundari script)


According to linguist Paul Sidwell (2018), Munda languages probably arrived on coast of Odisha from Indochina about 4000–3500 years ago and spread after Indo-Aryan migration to Odisha.[6]

Historical number of Mundari speaker
Census year Speaker ±% Ref.
1971 7,71,253 [7]
1981 7,42,739   3.70 [7]
1991 8,61,378  15.97 [7]
2001 10,61,352   23.22% [7]
2011 11,28,228   6.03% [7]

Geographical distributionEdit

Mundari is spoken in the Ranchi, Khunti, Seraikela Kharsawan and West Singhbhum, East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand, and in the Mayurbhanj, Kendujhar, Baleshwar, Sundargarh district of Odisha by at least 1.1 million people.[8] Another 500,000, mainly in Odisha and Assam, are recorded in the census as speaking "Munda," potentially another name for Mundari.


Toshiki Osada (2008:99), citing the Encyclopaedia Mundarica (vol. 1, p. 6), lists the following dialects of Mundari, which are spoken mostly in Jharkhand state.

  • Hasada ([hasa-daʔ]): east of the Ranchi-Chaibasa Road
  • Naguri ([naguri]): west of the Ranchi-Chaibasa Road
  • Tamaria ([tamaɽ-ia]) or Latar: Panchpargana area (Tamar, Bundu, Rahe, Sonahatu, Silli)
  • Kera ([keraʔ]): ethnic Oraon who live in the Ranchi city area

Bhumij, listed in many sources as a separate language, may in fact be a variety of the Latar (Tamaria) dialect of Mundari. It is spoken across Jharkhand state and in Mayurbhanj district, Odisha (Anderson 2008:196). There may be around 50,000 Bhumij speakers, although the census records around 27,000.[9]


The phonology of Mundari is similar to the surrounding closely related Austroasiatic languages but considerably different from either Indo-Aryan or Dravidian. Perhaps the most foreign phonological influence has been on the vowels. Whereas the branches of Austroasiatic in Southeast Asia are rich in vowel phonemes, Mundari has only five. The consonant inventory of Mundari is similar to other Austroasiatic languages with the exception of retroflex consonants, which seem to appear only in loanwords. (Osada 2008)


Mundari has five vowel phonemes. All vowels have long and short as well as nasalized allophones, but neither length nor nasality are contrastive. All vowels in open monosyllables are quantitatively longer than those in closed syllables, and those following nasal consonants or /ɟ/ are nasalized. Vowels preceding or following /ɳ/ are also nasalized.

Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a


Mundari's consonant inventory consists of 23 basic phonemes. The Naguri and Kera dialects include aspirated stops as additional phonemes, here enclosed in parentheses.

Labial Dental Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m ɳ ɲ ŋ
Plosive voiceless p ʈ t͡ɕ k ʔ
aspirated () (t̪ʰ) (ʈʰ) (t͡ɕʰ) ()
voiced b ɖ d͡ʑ g
Fricative h
Approximant w l ɽ j
Trill r


Mundari Transliteration Translation
मिसा Missa Once
बरसा Birsa Twice
अपिसा Apisa Thrice
उपनुसा Upnisa four times
मोंड़ेसा Mondesa Five times
तुरिसा Turisa Six times
ए'सा Eh sa Seven times
इरलसा Erklsa Eight Times
अरे-सा Are sa Nine times
गेलसा Gelsa Ten times
Gel Miyad ... Eleven
Gel Bariya ... Twelve
, Apiya ... Thirteen
, Upuna ... Fourteen
, Modeya ... Fifteen
, Turiya ... Sixteen
, Eya ... Seventeen
, Iriliya ... Eighteen
, Areya ... Nineteen
Mid Hisi ... Twenty
Hisi Miyad ... Twenty-one
Mid hisi Gel ... Thirty
Hisi Gel Miyad ... Thirty-one
Bar Hisi ... Forty
Bar Hisi Miyad ... Forty-one
Bar Hisi Gel ... Fifty
Aapi Hisi ... Sixty
Aapi Hisi Gel ... Seventy
Upun Hisi ... Eighty
Upun Hisi Gel ... Ninety
Mid Saaye ... One hundred
Bar Saaye ... Two hundred
Mid Hazar ... One thousand
Mid Lak ... One lakh


Mundari Transliteration Translation
ऐंन्गा Enga Mother
आपूम Apum Father
हग्गा Hagga Brother
मिस्सी Missi Sister
गुया Guya Sister/brother of sister/brother in law
गतिंग Gatin Friend
Hon koda ... Son
Hon Kudi ... Daughter


Mundari Transliteration Translation
रिकाएआ Rikā'ē'ā Does
ओलेआ Ol'ē'ā Write
जगरेआ Jagor'ē'ā Talk
पढ़वएआ Padv'ē'ā Read
लेलेआ Lel'ē'ā Look / see
सेनेआ Sen'ē'ā Come along with
नमेआ Nem'ē'ā Found
निरेआ Nir'ē'ā Run
सबेआ Sab'ē'ā Hold
लेका एआ Leka'ē'ā Count
मुकाएआ Muka'ē'ā Measure
रिका एआ Rika'ē'ā Cut
Hedem ... Sweet
Kete-e ... Hard
Lebe-e ... Soft
Singi ... Sun
Chandu-u ... Moon
Ipil ... Stars
Sirma ... Sky
Ote Dishum ... Earth
Rimil ... cloud
Hoyo ... Air/Wind
Gitil ... Sands
Dhudi ... Dust
Losod ... Muddy
Hodomo ... Body
Tasad ... Grass
Daru ... Tree
Sakam ... Leaf
Dayir ... Branches of Tree

Writing systemEdit

Mundari Bani (Mundari Script)

Mandari is also written in native Mundari Bani, invented in the 1980s by Rohidas Singh Nag.


  1. ^ The Bhumij often considered as distinct language


  1. ^ "Statement 1: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues – 2011" (PDF). Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Archived from the original on 6 March 2021. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues –2001". Archived from the original on 26 May 2022. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  3. ^ "Mundari Bani".
  4. ^ "BMS to intensify agitation on Mundari language". Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  5. ^ "Adivasi. Volume 52. Number 1&2. June&December 2012". Page 22
  6. ^ Sidwell, Paul. 2018. "Austroasiatic Studies: state of the art in 2018". Presentation at the Graduate Institute of Linguistics, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan, May 22, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Statement 8 : Growth of Non-Scheduled Languages - 1971, 1981, 1991,2001 and 2011" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 June 2021.
  8. ^ "Mundari". ethnologue.
  9. ^ "Keeping Munda in mind". Pune Mirror. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  • Anderson, Gregory D.S (ed). 2008. The Munda languages. Routledge Language Family Series 3.New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-32890-X.
  • Osada Toshiki. 2008. "Mundari". In Anderson, Gregory D.S (ed). The Munda languages, 99–164. Routledge Language Family Series 3.New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-32890-X.

8. 9.

Further readingEdit

  • Evans, Nicholas & Toshki Osada. 2005a. Mundari: the myth of a language without word classes. In Linguistic Typology 9.3, pp. 351–390.
  • Evans, Nicholas & Toshki Osada. 2005b. Mundari and argumentation in word-class analysis. In Linguistic Typology 9.3, pp. 442–457
  • Hengeveld, Kees & Jan Rijkhoff. 2005. Mundari as a flexible language. In Linguistic Typology 9.3, pp. 406–431.
  • Newberry, J. (2000). North Munda dialects: Mundari, Santali, Bhumia. Victoria, B.C.: J. Newberry. ISBN 0-921599-68-4


External linksEdit