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The Aka-Miji language cluster of the Kameng region, Arunachal Pradesh, India.

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The Aka-Miji language cluster is spoken by a group of peoples in West Kameng and East Kameng Districts, in the northeasternmost Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh. They live in small villages and practice subsistence jhum cultivation, using the forest for hunting, gathering and firewood collection. Aka is also known as Hruso in some Tibeto-Burmanist literature

It has been conventionally assumed to be the case, although highly divergent phonologically from many regional languages, that once the peculiarities of the languages of the Aka-Miji cluster are stripped away, then the Tibeto-Burman core of the languages can be revealed. Most Tibeto-Burman classifications rightly side-step the issue of the place of the many languages from Arunachal Pradesh which lack adequate documentation or propose areal groupings rather than linguistic taxa for these. Thus, the languages of the Aka-Miji cluster have lurked about in an unclassified, obscure region of Tibeto-Burman since being first identified to science in the late 19th century. In this report in addition to offering new primary data on these poorly known languages, we hope to shed a little light on the issue of their classification, or at least to move this discussion forward a step.

Given that the languages offer significant challenges to the trained analyst on several levels, that earlier sources can be used only with caution seems obvious but nevertheless worth stating since that is all that has previously existed to date on the languages. The few sources that exist are either secondary (e.g. Shafer) or recorded by people lacking adequate linguistic training (e.g. Simon, J. Anderson, Singh, Grewal).

In this presentation we offer some basic phonological, morphological and syntactic data on the various languages of the Aka-Miji cluster collected on three field trips to several villages in West Kameng and East Kameng Districts, in Arunachal Pradesh, India. The questions of how many languages constitute the Aka-Miji cluster and how, if, or to what degree the languages of this cluster appear relatable to one another (i.e. is it an areal or a genetic-taxonomic unit), or to other putative Tibeto-Burman languages of the region and the Tibeto-Burman language group as a whole (and of course to selected non-Tibeto-Burman ones of the macro-region as well) are each examined and presented.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Endangered Languages and Cultures Group series.

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