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Dictionary of the Lushai language

Explanatory Notes on Signs and Symbols used
Modifications (With Reference Table)

[page vii]



The Lushais are a fine intelligent tribe of Mongoloid hillmen inhabiting parts of the wild forest-covered mountainous region forming the watershed between India and Upper Burma.

Their ancestral home would appear to have been somewhere in the neighbourhood of S.E. Tibet and Western China, whence, by slow degrees through the centuries, they have pressed southward and westward to their present habitat.

Their speech belongs to the Assam-Burma branch of the Tibeto-Burmese family of languages.

Until the annexation of their country by the Indian Government in 1890 they were only known to the outside world as a race of daring headhunters, whose periodic raids were a source of terror to their more peaceable neighbours in the lower hills and plains of Eastern Bengal and Assam.

With the suppression of headhunting and the establishment of law and order by the British Raj—followed almost immediately by the arrival of the late Rev. F. W. Savidge and myself as Christian missionaries—a new day dawned upon the Lushai Hills, giving to the hardy inhabitants just the opportunity they needed to develop their latent powers of heart and mind hitherto held in check by the deadening weight of their animistic beliefs and fears. We have had the privilege of watching from the beginning the wonderful change, which—thanks to a sympathetic and wise government and the God-blessed labours of many missionaries both Welsh and English—has gradually through the years transformed this once wholly illiterate and semi-savage tribe into one of the most loyal, literate and progressive communities in the Assam province.

When we first came into contact with the Lushais at Kassalong in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in 1892, and settled amongst them at Fort Aijal in January, 1894, the tribe had no written language. Years before—in 1874—Lt.-Col. (then Capt.) Thomas Herbert Lewin, Deputy Commissioner of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, had published his ‘Progressive Colloquial Exercises in the Lushai Dialect’, and in 1884 Assistant Surgeon Brojo Nath Shaha, Civil Medical Officer of the same district, had published his ‘Grammar of the Lushai Language', both of which we found extremely useful in our earliest efforts to learn words and phrases. Neither of these works, however, pretended to suggest a mode of literation which could be taught to the Lushais. It therefore fell to our lot to reduce the language to writing in such a way that our system could be readily adopted by the people themselves. For this purpose we chose the simple Roman script, with a phonetic form of spelling based on the well-known Hunterian system, and this, with a few slight emendations adopted since, is still used throughout the tribe with eminently satisfactory results.

In 1898—four years after our settling in the North Lushai Hills—we had our ‘Grammar and Dictionary of the Lushai Language' (long since out of print) published by the Assam Government. I was personally responsible for the ‘Dictionary’ section of that work, and it therefore forms the nucleus around which this new Dictionary of mine has grown to its present proportions.

The compiling of that small original Lushai Dictionary so captivated me that shortly afterwards, when Mr. Savidge and I had handed over our work at Fort Aijal to the Welsh Mission and had gone ourselves to Sadiya in N.E. Assam for pioneer work amongst the Abors and Miris, we not only learned their language and reduced it to writing, but I left behind me, when we again were transferred [page viii] to the South Lushai Hills, ‘A Dictionary of the Abor-Miri Language’ which was also published by the Government.

This re-transfer in 1903 gave us even greater opportunities of studying the Lushai language than we had had in our pioneering days. Our headquarters were now at Serkawn, near to Fort Lungleh—a military outpost, eight days march, south of our original Lushai home at Fort Aijal. In spite of the distance, however, there was practically no difference in the language spoken by the people, and as all restrictions regarding travel had now been removed we could go anywhere and get much nearer to the people in their village and home life than was possible before. These contacts were used not only to impart the best of all knowledge to the Lushai tribesfolk, but to learn more and more ourselves concerning their thoughts, beliefs, customs and language. It was thus that the formation of this new Dictionary began to take place in my hands. It had become a delightful hobby.

As the years passed new missionaries from Wales came to the north, and others from England joined us in the south, until the Aijal and Serkawn Mission Stations became veritable hives of industry—with their educational, medical, literary and evangelistic activities reaching out in all directions. My chief tasks were those of translating the Scriptures into Lushai, and the pastoral oversight of the now far-flung Christian Church all over the Southern Hills. In both of these I was ably assisted by a splendid staff of competent Lushai workers. No better environment could possibly have been found for the gradual collecting of material for the Lushai Dictionary. Wherever I might be or whatever I might be doing I always had a pocketbook handy, and very few words or phrases uttered within my hearing ever knowingly escaped my notice and swift record. Some of my friends good-naturedly dubbed me ‘The Man with the Notebook’. As these books filled up they would be handed to one or another of my Lushai helpers, who would enter each word on a separate slip of paper together with any recorded information concerning it, and these slips (4½" X 3¼") would be arranged in alphabetical order and kept in long trough-like wooden boxes for easy reference when necessary.

In the midst of my busy life it was only occasionally that I could find time to go through this ever-increasing accumulation of slips with my faithful ‘boys’—verifying, correcting and augmenting the entries as might be necessary. But, as the years went by, a great deal in the aggregate was accomplished in that direction, and when at last, after forty-three happy years of foreign missionary service, I was obliged by a breakdown in health to retire to the homeland, the slips—now numbering tens of thousands—and a mass of notes of all kinds which I had gradually gathered followed me to London.

The final preparation, therefore, of this Dictionary has been done in England. One of the Mission’s ex-schoolmasters, Thangchhunga by name, was engaged in the Lushai Hills to answer any questions which I might wish to ask, and for five and a half years notebooks full of queries and replies thereto (amounting to nearly five thousand in all) have been passing to and fro through the post. I am very grateful to Thangchhunga for the really splendid way in which he has carried out his difficult task of throwing light upon the numerous points about which I found it necessary to consult him.

During the latter part of my life in the Lushai Hills I had as colleague the Rev. W. J. L. Wenger, who took a great interest in the compilation of this Dictionary, and often joined me when I was working at it. To him I am indebted for many of the scientific names of the trees and plants which appear herein, for he was a great lover of nature, as well as of languages, and found the Lushai Hills a veritable Botanists’ Paradise. It also happened that while I was preparing this work for the press in England, Mr. Wenger came home on furlough and, through the kindness of the Baptist Missionary Society in extending his leave, he was able to collaborate with me for eighteen months, during which time he did [page ix] the greater part of the two and a quarter years’ steady writing which the copying of the slips involved. This generous help came at a time when writers’ cramp was making me feel the burden of my self-imposed task almost too much for me, and it gave me just the impetus I was needing to carry me to the completion of the work as it now stands. For all Mr. Wenger’s helpfulness through the years, and for his added kindness in undertaking to read the proofs of this work when printed in India, I am sincerely grateful.

To the late N. E. Parry, Esq., I.C.S., for some years Superintendent of the Lushai Hills, and also to Mrs. Parry I owe a debt of gratitude for supplying me with the botanical names of many other trees and plants which appear in this Dictionary. Some of these names were given to me by them personally, others were culled from the appendix of Mr. Parry’s book ‘The Lakhers’—a fascinating work containing much interesting information concerning the Lushais as well as their neighbours the Lakhers. Amongst these latter tribesfolk—who speak a distinct language of their own—my brother, the Rev. R. A. Lorrain, and family have been living and labouring as Christian missionaries for many years, with conspicuous success.

The Latin names supplied by Mr. and Mrs. Parry and by Mr. Wenger are indicated in the Dictionary by ‘Parry’ and ‘Wenger’ respectively.

I should like to thank separately every individual who has helped me in any way with the compilation of this work, but their number is too great for that to be possible. I am debtor to multitudes of Lushai friends—men and women, youths and maidens, boys and girls—everywhere up and down the hills. Not a few of them when they use this Dictionary will be able to pick out the words which they had the privilege of helping me to record; others perhaps will never know that it was on their lips that I first heard this and that word, and captured it for all time. To one and all, however, I would herewith acknowledge the debt I owe, and say a hearty ‘Thank you’—especially to those who transferred the contents of my many notebooks to slips, and did other long and tedious jobs in connection with the work. All these and many others may justly claim to have had a share in compiling this first big Dictionary of the Lushai language.

There are three names, however, which must not be omitted from this list of those to whom this Dictionary owes its existence. First, there is my beloved wife—affectionately known among the Lushais as Pi Dari—who throughout the last thirty-five years has almost continuously been my faithful companion and helpmate, and who, by relieving me of all household cares, has made it possible for me, both in India and in England, to carry on my task unhindered. Secondly, there is the Baptist Missionary Society, in whose overseas service I collected the greater part of the contents of this Dictionary, and by the kindly interest of whose Foreign Secretary—the Rev. C. E. Wilson, B.A.—and Committee I have been encouraged to prepare it for the press, and thus make my hobby useful to others. And thirdly, but not least, there is the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, through whose interest and generosity the work is now being published in its Bibliotheca Indica series.

While expressing my heartfelt gratitude to all those who have contributed so helpfully to this work I would not omit to mention the One who throughout the years has upheld and strengthened me, and to Whose glad service I here and now dedicate my life’s last bit of work on behalf of my dear Lushai people.


‘Before very recent times the Lushais had no written language. When, for instance, they desired to commemorate the prowess of the dead they resorted to symbols: on the memorial pillar of a man who had killed an enemy in battle, they carved a human figure; if he had killed a tiger they cut out a representation [page x] of that animal. From symbols such as these, as in the ancient civilizations, an alphabet might have developed, but in the meantime the language was reduced to writing by Europeans and the system adopted was so simple that thousands of Lushais have already learnt to read and write.’ Thus wrote the late Rev. F. J. Sandy of the Welsh Mission in the Introduction of his ‘Elements of Lushai Grammar’ in 1920, referring to the work of Mr. Savidge and myself in our early pioneering days at Fort Aijal in 1894-98.

In reducing the Lushai language to writing we followed, as I have already mentioned, the phonetic Hunterian system of orthography as closely as possible. The one particular in which we found it necessary to deviate from it to any extent was in the use of ‘aw’ for the long vowel sound as in the English words awl, fall, law, etc. For the short vowel sound as in the English words pot, on, long, etc., however, we adhered to the Hunterian system and used ‘o’ which at first seemed to be quite satisfactory.

But later on, when we had gone to the Abors and Miris, and the Welsh missionaries, the Revs. D. E. Jones and Edwin Rowlands, were continuing our work in the North Lushai Hills and teaching many of the tribesfolk to read and write, they discovered that it was a mistake to use two different symbols for those two sounds because in Lushai speech the one was constantly changing to the other. As soon therefore as we were transferred to South Lushai we had a conference with the Welsh missionaries in the North about the matter. They had already adopted ‘aw’ to represent both the above long and short sounds—placing a circumflex accent on the long one when necessary to distinguish it from the short one. Our own experience in reducing the Abor-Miri language to writing had convinced us also that vowels closely allied to one another, and which are liable to change from one to the other, should (diacritical marks excepted) be represented by the same symbol. We could therefore see the necessity of making an alteration in our original Lushai system, and, as we could discover no better solution than that suggested by the Welsh missionaries, we agreed to their proposal.

The following alphabet (incorporating the above-mentioned amendment) adequately expresses every sound in the Lushai language:—

a, â, aw, âw, b, ch, d, e, ê, f, g, h, i, î, k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, ṭ, u, û, v, z.


A a Like u in English words sun and undone, but often rather longer when at the end of a syllable.
 â Like a in English word father. The accent is often omitted when â comes at the end of a syllable.
AW aw Like o in English words pot, on, ox, etc.
ÂW âw Like aw in the English words awl, bawl, etc; or like the a in tall.
E e Like e in the English words tell, ell.
Ê ê Like the first e in the English word there.
I i Like i in the English words sit, it, but often rather longer when at the end of a syllable.
Î î Like i in English words police and machine. The accent is often omitted when i comes at the end of a syllable, or is used alone.
O o Like o in English words lo, no, so.
U u Like u in the English word full; or like oo in took.
Û û Like u in the English word rule; or like oo in fool. The accent is often omitted when u comes at the end of a syllable, or is used alone.

[page xi]


B b As in English.
CH ch As in English chop. (C is never used in Lushai without h.)
D d As in English.
F f As in English.
G g Used as initial letter only in foreign words. It is then pronounced like g in the English words gun, goal, etc. In Lushai words g is always preceded by n, and the combined ng is pronounced like the ng in the English word sing. Ng is also often used at the beginning of a word in Lushai, as in ngai, ngei, etc. The initial ng when aspirated is written ngh as in nghâk, nghîng, etc. In this Dictionary words commencing with ng will be found in their proper alphabetical order under n.
H h 1. An aspirate preceding a vowel, like h in the English word home.
    2. An aspirate used with a consonant. (See Aspirated Consonants below.)
    3. Not an aspirate, but used at the end of a word or syllable to denote that the preceding vowel sound is abruptly cut off or shortened, as in mah, feh, etc.
    4. When h comes between t and l as in thli, thlei, thlâwp, etc. it is not an aspirate but represents the peculiar hissing sound which accompanies the pronunciation of such words.
K k As in English.
L l As in English.
M m As in English.
N n As in English. (See note under G above re ng.)
P p As in English.
R r As in the English word rock. (In Lushai r is always rolled—never mute.)
S s Like s in the English word sip, and also like sh in the English word ship. (The Lushais do not differentiate between these two sounds. Some use one, some use the other, without detecting any difference between them. Cf. Sibboleth and Shibboleth. Judges 12 : 6.)
T t Pronounced with the tip of the tongue touching the teeth.
Pronounced with the tongue against the bars of the roof of the mouth.
V v As in English.
Z z As in English, but occasionally more like s in the English word pleasure.


The following consonants (as well as all the vowels) are aspirated in Lushai—the h preceding the liquids l, m, n, and r but following ng and the others, thus:—

ch aspirated = chh as in chhûng, chhîp, etc.
k       “ = kh  “  “ khâl, khûp, etc.
l       “ = hl  “  “ hla, hlîng, etc.
m       “ = hm  “  “ hmasa, hming, etc.
n       “ = hn  “  “ hnêna, hnûn, etc.
ng       “ = ngh  “  “ nghâk, nghîng, etc.
p       “ = ph  “  “ pho, phawng, etc.
r       “ = hr  “  “ hria, hrilh, etc.
t       “ = th  “  “ tha, thun, etc.
      “ = ṭh  “  “ ṭha, thingthi, etc.

[page xii]


1. The signs ' and ".

These signs (as in hnâr ' tâwng = to be snubnosed, etc. and hna " thawk = to work, to do work, etc) will often be found in this Dictionary dividing up a verb into two parts. Both of them show the place where, in speaking or writing Lushai, a pronoun has to be inserted. The first sign ' signifies that the pronoun a (= it, etc.) referring to the first part of the verb (which is frequently a noun) should be inserted there, thus: I hnâr a tâwng = You are snubnosed (lit. Your nose, it is blunt-pointed). The second sign " signifies that a pronoun (not referring to the first part of the verb, but to some other thing or person) should be inserted there, thus: Hna ka thawk = I am working or I am doing work (lit. Work I am working). Note.—Wherever these signs are found they refer to the verbal use of the word only.

2. Hyphens.

Throughout this Dictionary, as a help to those not familiar with the Lushai language, hyphens are used to divide one syllable from another. Such hyphens, however, are not used in ordinary Lushai writing and printing.

3. Dashes.

In this Dictionary when a word or syllable has to be repeated, each repetition is often represented by a dash in order to economize space and labour. Thus: bi-bo, (bîk—); râl ṭi, (—ṭit); rual awh nachâng hre lo, (—hriat loh). In the above (bîk—) = (bîk-bo); (—ṭit) = (râl ṭit); (—hriat loh) = (rual awh nachâng hriat loh).

4. Italics.

(I) When a final syllable is printed in italics it signifies that that syllable is subject to change under certain conditions. Thus apiangin may become apianga or apiang chuan; lovin may become lova; chabia . . . kalh may become chabiin . . . kalh; bîlbîla . . . phâk may become bîlbîlin . . . phâk. (II) When a final h is printed in italics it signifies that under certain conditions that letter may be omitted altogether. Thus biak châkah becomes biak châka. (III) Occasionally both a and h will be found in italics at the end of a word, the h being enclosed in brackets, thus: a(h). This signifies that sometimes the final syllable of the word is ah, and sometimes the h is dropped leaving a as the final syllable, and sometimes again the final syllable a is changed to in.

5. Reference Figures.

In references a small figure is sometimes placed after the word referred to in order to indicate whether the first, second or third word of that spelling in the alphabetical vocabulary is intended. Sometimes, however, words of the same spelling but of different parts of speech are excluded in this reckoning.

6. (F).

A capital F in brackets signifies that the word preceding it is either partly or wholly a corruption or adaptation of some foreign word.

7. (N.L.)

These capital letters signify that the word indicated is better known in the North Lushai Hills than in the South.

[page xiii]

8. (S.L.)

These capital letters signify that the word indicated is better known in the South Lushai Hills than in the North.

IV. MODIFICATIONS (With Reference Table)

1. Verbs with bracketted modifications.

Certain verbs appear with another form of the same verb immediately following them in brackets, thus: â, (ât); awt, (awh); bâl, (balh); chang, (chan), etc. Other verbs appear with two different forms immediately following them in brackets, thus: hria, (hre, hriat); hua, (haw, huat); pua, (paw, puak); vua, (vaw, vuak), etc. The unbracketted words are root verbs, and the bracketted ones are modifications of the same.

The following Reference Table is prepared to indicate how the different forms of such verbs should be used.

Rule—When a root verb has only one modification that root form is used under all ‘A’ and ‘B’ conditions given in the Table, and the modification is used under ‘C’ conditions. When, however, a root verb has two modifications that root form is used under ‘A’ conditions only, the first modification is used under ‘B’ conditions, and the second modification under ‘C’ conditions.

Verbs without bracketted modifications remain unchanged throughout all the conditions given under ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’.

REFERENCE TABLE for verbs and their modifications.

(The Rule for the use of this Table is printed above.)

‘A.’ 1. In indicative mood.
  2. Before em, maw, elo and other interrogative endings.
  3. Before imperative ending ang che.
‘B.’ 1. In indicative mood with ta and tawh.
  2. In imperative mood with rawh, ta che, teh, suh.
  3. Before adverbs.
  4. Before tûrin.
  5. Before dâwn.
  6. Before thei.
  7. Before mah.
  8. Before zâwk.
  9. Before ber.
  10. Before lo.
  11. Before duh and thiam, as in Ka la duh e, Ka la thiam e. (Cf. ‘C’ 16 below.)
‘C.’ 1. In infinitive mood.
  2. In subjunctive mood (before chuan, -in, etc).
  3. In passive voice.
  4. As verbal noun (including also verbs ending in -zia, -na, etc).
  5. After tih (causative prefix). Tih-len = to cause to be large, to enlarge.
  6. After interrogative engnge, khawiahnge, engatinge, tunge, or other words ending in nge (except when they are in nom. case before trans. verb, then the root verb is used instead of the modification thus: Tu-in-nge vêl che?)
  7. Before words expressing ‘purpose’, such as natûr, natûrin, nân, atân, etc.
  8. Before words expressing ‘cause’, such as avângin.

[page xiv]

  9. Before words expressing ‘time’, such as lai, hun, veleh, -in, hma, hnu, hmaloh zawng, hmaloh chuan, chhûng zawng, zawha, etc.
  10. Before -tîr, (causative affix).
  11. Before ai, aia, aiin, ahnêkin, ahnuin.
  12. Before san (=leave).
  13. Before tûr (=to). In sak tûr a awm lo.
  14. Before theihna.
  15. Before chu, hi, kha, khu, khi, etc. (There are exceptions to this rule.)
  16. Before tûrin when it has the force of atân. Thah tûrin an man = They caught him in order to kill him. (If that were used here instead of thah the meaning would be ambiguous, for it might signify either ‘They caught him in order to kill him’, or ‘They caught him for the purpose of getting him to kill some one else, etc.’)
  17. Before duh and thiam when a pronoun comes between the other verb and duh or thiam, as in Lâk ka duh; Lâk ka thiam. (Cf. ‘B.’ 11 above.)
  18. Before sak (= for, on behalf of, etc), che (= for you), mi or min (= for me or for us). Frequently the change in the verb to its modified form is all that there is to indicate that sak or some such word indicating ‘for’, ‘on behalf of’, etc., is understood; thus: In sak rawh = Build a house (for me). Hâwn rawh = Take it home (for them).

2. Adverbs with bracketted modifications.

Certain adverbs have modifications exactly the same as verbs. When such adverbs have no corresponding verb they are entered separately, with the modification in brackets, thus: lo, (loh), adv. If, however, there is a corresponding verb the adverb will be found entered with that verb, and the modification in brackets will belong to both the verb and the adverb. In such cases the adjectival meaning may occasionally be found entered before the verbal and adverbial meanings, but the bracketted modification belongs only to the verb and adverb. See beng-tla, (—tlâk).

The verbal and adverbial modifications will generally be found in their alphabetical places in the Dictionary as well as in brackets with their root verbs and adverbs.

It should be noted that the above Reference Table for verbs and their modifications is equally applicable to adverbs and their modifications.

3. Nouns with bracketted modifications.

Certain nouns appear followed by a modified or contracted form of the same in brackets, thus: hmeichhia, (hmeichhe); khua, (khaw); etc. The bracketted words in such cases are generally used adjectivally, and also before an adjective, thus: Hmeichhe puan = A woman’s cloth. Hmeichhe ṭha = A good woman.


I do not claim for this Dictionary that it contains anything like a complete vocabulary of the words in use amongst the Lushai tribesfolk.

It is quite possible that a few very familiar words may be found missing, as well as very many less familiar ones. I myself towards the end of my long task of compilation discovered, to my surprise, one or two omissions of the former kind—words which I had known and used from the earliest days of my life amongst the Lushais, and which all along I had thought to be recorded on my slips. How they came to be left out I never discovered.

[page xv]

Years ago, however, an incident occurred which may explain both these and other possible omissions. I used to keep the slips arranged in alphabetical order, in a number of long, narrow wooden boxes, as mentioned in the Preface. These were in my office on a table of their own. One morning I found a few slips here and there protruding above their fellows, as though someone had been looking at them and had forgotten to push them back properly when finished with. But upon closer examination I found that other slips were scattered about in different parts of the room, and the nibbled edges of some of these revealed the fact that rats were the culprits. A careful search followed but no more slips were discovered, and it was hoped that those already found represented the sum total of the thieves’ booty, though why they had shown such an interest in the Lushai Dictionary we did not know. From that day forward, however, a heavy cover for the slip-boxes effectively prevented any further stealing. Years later, when the office building was being reconstructed, I happened to look across from my bungalow at the men dismantling the roof. These, at that very moment, were throwing down to a group of happy Lushai children some pieces of screwed up paper which the latter were receiving with glee. Something in the size and shape of these playthings seemed familiar to me and I ran out to investigate. To my surprise I found them to be a number of my precious Dictionary slips—some intact, others partially destroyed—which for years had evidently formed cosy nests for successive families of rats among the rafters. With what care those ‘scraps of paper’ were collected, pieced together and copied, the reader may imagine; but ever since, whenever I have discovered an omission in my Dictionary, I have blamed ‘those rats’—there being no way of discovering whether the recovered slips were the only ones stolen.

There are some omissions, however, which have been made purposely. Amongst these is a long series of what may be called ‘Double Adverbs’. Some Lushais use a great many of these, others only a few, others again may use none at all if they so desire. They are therefore not absolutely necessary in Lushai speech, but nevertheless they add a delightful ‘picturesqueness’ to it, causing the subject under consideration to take form and live and move before the eyes of the hearers’ imagination. Listening to a Lushai speak without double adverbs may be likened to looking at photographs in an album, whilst listening to one speaking with them may be likened to looking at the same pictures as exhibited in a cinema. No simple English adverb can adequately express the meaning of any of these double adverbs, for each one conveys so much more than any English adverb does. I have collected what I consider to be a complete list of them, numbering many thousands, with numerous illustrative Lushai sentences. In order to publish them, however, in anything like a useful form I feel that some years further study of them in the country of their origin would be necessary. I therefore, very reluctantly, have decided to omit them altogether from this Dictionary. The same may be said of another somewhat allied group of words which I call ‘Single Adverbs’, and also a third group which are adjectives formed by prefixing ti to double and single adverbs. For a specimen double adverb (which has crept in with its verb) see tûm bel bul, (—bel bawl, —bil bel). For single adverbs (which have also crept in with their verbs) see to lûr, (—lâr, —lêr); to vûn, (—vâwn, —vân, —vên); tûr ngûk, (—ngâwk, —ngâk, —ngêk). See also verb to2, and adverbs to, tau, teu. Note. In his ‘Elements of Lushai Grammar’, already referred to, Mr. Sandy devotes three or four pages to the above-mentioned Double Adverbs.

Another omission which has been made purposely is that of diacritical marks to indicate the tones of different words. As in Chinese and many other languages, so in Lushai, the tone of a word determines its meaning. There are three main tones—the upward, the downward, and the level. But there are also other intermediate ones. Rather than lumber this Dictionary with diacritical marks, in an attempt to indicate these different tones, I have omitted them altogether. When, [page xvi] however, a word has more than one tone I have repeated that word in the alphabetical vocabulary as often as necessary in order to prevent words of different tones from being confused one with another. The best and the only way to learn these various tones is to live amongst the Lushai people until it becomes natural to speak as they speak.

My original plan was to illustrate the use of the principal words in this Dictionary with appropriate Lushai and English sentences, of which I had collected many thousands. When, however, I began to prepare the manuscript for the press I was persuaded by the B.M.S. to leave out the bulk of them, lest they should add so greatly to the size of the book as to make the printing charges prohibitive. I regret this omission more than any of the others, for I realize how very helpful such a collection of sentences would have been in throwing light upon the correct use of the words illustrated, and in adding interest to the study of this delightful but little-known language.

(Known to the Lushais and others as PU BUANGA.)

11, Gunnersbury Crescent,
London, W.3.
April 1939.

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