Published November 25, 2018
This video was recorded by Abantika Ghosh in Kolkota, India, and features native Khasi speaker Sylvia Mario. Khasi was spoken by around 843,000 people in India as of 2001. Khasi belongs to the Northern Mon-Khmer branch of the Austro-Asiatic language family and its speakers, the Khasi people, live primarily in Meghalaya state in India although there are speaker populations in Assam and Bangladesh as well. Since 2005, Khasi has been an official language of Meghalaya. The language is written in both Latin and Bengali scripts. Khasi has an extensive gender system comprised of four genders: masculine, feminine, diminutive, and plural. The matrilineal nature of Khasi society is born out by the gender system in which primary or essential nouns generally take the feminine (e.g. 'Ka Sngi' meaning 'Sun' or 'Ka Ïing' meaning 'House') whereas secondary or dependent nouns take the masculine (e.g. 'U Bnai' meaning 'Moon' or 'U Rishot' meaning 'column). Khasi has extraordinary diversity among its dialects--some differing even in word order--to the extent that they are sometimes considered separate languages.