Lotha language

From Bharatpedia, an open encyclopedia

Native toIndia
RegionWokha district, Nagaland
EthnicityLotha Naga
Native speakers
179,467 (2001 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3njh

The Lotha language is a Sino-Tibetan language spoken by approximately 180,000 people in Wokha district of west-central Nagaland, India. It is centered in the small district of Wokha (capital Wokha). This district has more than 114 villages such as Pangti, Maraju (Merapani), Englan, Baghty (Pakti) and others, where the language is widely spoken and studied.


Alternate names include Chizima, Choimi, Hlota, Kyong, Lhota, Lotha, Lutha, Miklai, Tsindir, and Tsontsii (Ethnologue).


Ethnologue lists the following dialects of Lotha.

  • Live
  • Tsontsu
  • Ndreng
  • Kyong
  • Kyo
  • Kyon
  • Kyou

In the Linguistic Survey of India, linguist George Abraham Grierson analyzed various branches of languages in India and categorized various Naga languages into three groups: Western Naga, Eastern Naga, and Central Naga.[2] Lotha falls into the Central Naga group, which also includes the languages Ao, Sangtam, and Yimchungru.[2]



Labial Dental/
Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive voiceless p t k ʔ
Affricate voiceless p͡f t͡s t͡ʃ
vd./aspirated p͡v t͡sʰ t͡ʃʰ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ h
voiced v z ʒ
Nasal voiced m n ɲ ŋ
aspirated ɲʰ ŋʰ
Lateral voiced l
Trill voiced r
Approximant voiced w j
  • /v/ when followed by /o/ can also be heard as [w] in free variation.
  • The pronunciation of the trills /r, rʰ/ may vary as approximants [ɹ, ɹʰ] or a retroflex fricative [ʐ] among speakers.
  • /j/ only occurs as phonemically aspirated as /jʰ/ among other dialects.
  • Plosives /p, k/ can be heard as unreleased [p̚, k̚] in word-final position.


Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e ə o
Open a
  • When /u/ follows a labial consonant or /k, kʰ/, the consonant is then affricated and /u/ is realized as unrounded [ɯ]. The result is then from /ku, kʰu, pu, pʰu/ to [kvɯ, kfɯ, pvɯ, pfɯ].
  • /i/ may also tend to centralize and lower as [ɨ, ə] in open syllables when following sibilant sounds (/ʃi/ ~ [ʃɨ~ʃə]).
  • /ə/ may also range in pronunciation to a back sound [ɯ].[3]
  • /i, u/ can also be heard shortened as [ɪ, ʊ] within the first syllable.[4]

Orthography and literature[edit]

Lotha is written in the Latin script, introduced by the British and American missionaries in the late 19th century. It is a medium of education up to the post-graduate level in the state of Nagaland. It is also the language in which the church sermons are preached. The Bible has been translated into the Lotha language, adding significantly to its vocabulary, which had an influence of Assamese and Hindi.


  1. "Statement 1: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues - 2011". www.censusindia.gov.in. Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Kumar, Braj Bihari (1 January 2005). Naga Identity. Concept Publishing Company. p. 75. ISBN 978-81-8069-192-8.
  3. Bruhn, Daniel W. (2014). Proto-Central Naga; Lotha. A Phonological Reconstruction of Proto-Central Naga: University of California, Berkeley. pp. 151–154.
  4. Acharya, K. P. (1983). Lotha grammar. Mysore: Central Institute of Indian Languages.

External links[edit]

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