TODAY -

Word Order in Manipuri Language

James Oinam *



In this article we will look into what I think is the basic word order in Manipuri language. I will classify sentences into:
(1) one-word sentences (command and question sentences),
(2) simple statement sentences,
(3) simple statements with additional information, and
(4) question sentences.

For one-word command sentences, we need to deal with the dragons of all words, the verbs. In English, the base verbs can stressed to form command sentences: Drink! Eat! etc. In Manipuri, the verbs need suffixes to form command sentences. To order to begin to do something, the suffixes 'ro/lo' and 'biro/piro' (request/polite command) are used.

Examples: Paro. (Read.); Pabiro. (Please read.)
Chatlo. (Go.); Chatpiro. (Please go.)

To form one-word question sentences, suffix 'no/dano' is added to root question words:
Kana (who) - Kanano? (Who [is it]?)
Kadai (where) - Kadaidano? (Where to?)
Kamaina (how) - Kamainano? (How?)
Karamkanda (when) - Karamkandano? (When [is it]?)

In the middle of conversations, some root words may be used as question words. But without the suffix, some might be confusing. For example, if a stranger calls you and you ask 'kana?', depending on the context, you may be asking 'Who are you?' or 'Who do you want to speak to?' The word 'kadai' is also used to as ask someone to show or give you something. Therefore, using 'kadaidano' needs to be used to ask 'where to' question.

The command version can be used for children and juniors. The request command version may be used for seniors and in formal context addressed to a group.

In simple statement sentences, the order of words is Subject + Object + Verb.

Consider the following sentences:
Ei chak chari. (I, rice/food, eating)
Ma lairik pari. (He/she, book, reading)
As you can guess, in English the sequence is Subject + Verb + Object:
I am eating food.

In complicated sentences with additional information describing the action, the information is given before the action (verb). The usual format is:
Subject + When + Where + How + Action/Verb.

Example: Ei hayeng Bengaluru planeda chattoini. (I, tomorrow, Bengaluru, by plane, will go)
In English, the additional information is given after the verb.
I will go to Bengaluru tomorrow by plane.

Putting a word at the beginning of a sentence usually emphasizes the word. If one wants to highlight when an action is going to take place, then the words may be interchanged.

Hayeng ei Bengaluru chattoini. (Tomorrow, I, Bengaluru, will go)

Questions asking for additional information regarding the action do not break the order of the sentences. The question words are put where additional information is expected in the answer sentences. So we have word order as:
Subject + Question Word + Action/Verb?

Example: Nung Bengaluru karamkanda chattoino? (You, Bengaluru, when, going)
Answer for the above will be: Ei Bengaluru hayeng chattoini. (I, Bengaluru, tomorrow, will go) (Notice the answer word hayeng replaces question word karamkanda without breaking the order of the words.) The word 'Bengaluru' (or such similar additional information in question sentences) would often be dropped in the answer sentence because the person asking the question already knows this.


* James Oinam wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at jamesoinam(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on August 22, 2017.


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