Published December 19, 2018
This video was recorded by Abantika Ghosh and features Ao speaker Imtimeren Pongener. The Ao languages were spoken by 261,000 native speakers as of a 2001 census. Ao is typically classified as a Central Naga language and a member of the Kuki-Chin-Naga language cluster within the Tibeto-Burman group of the Sino-Tibetan language family, although Ao has not been clearly connected to other Naga languages and this has been a classification of convenience pending further investigation. The Ao languages are spoken by the Ao people of north-central Nagaland in northeast India. The recognized members of Ao languages include Chungli Ao, Mongsen Ao, Sangtam, Yimchungrü, and Lotha, but there are several undescribed potential dialects such as Yacham and Tengsa that may turn out to be separate languages. Several linguistic accounts of Ao and Naga classification still differ and research is unsettled. Chungli Ao represents a prestige variety. The Ao alphabet is largely based on a version of the Latin alphabet developed by a Christian missionary in the 1880s that neither reflects tone nor the accurate phonological distinctions within Ao, and therefore other versions have been suggested in the intervening years. The Ao languages are tritonal with high, mid, and low tones.