A Grammar of Atong by Seino van Breugel

By Seino van Breugel

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Extra resources for A Grammar of Atong

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This choice was made because the Roman letter y is used to represent //, like in Welsh. g. 6. Because literate Atong alive today have already learned how to spell in Garo, I preserved the tradition of the Garo writing system by representing the phoneme /c/ with the digraph ch and // with the digraph . It is not necessary to write /c/ as a digraph, since the letter is not used anywhere else in the language, but this is the 1 THE ATONG LANGUAGE AND ITS SPEAKERS 22 Table 2 The relationship between the phonemes of Atong and the way they are written in the orthography developed for the language.

3 Living environment: the compound Most Atongs live in houses made of wood and bamboo, called nok, with roofs of corrugated iron, as reed, which is used for thatch, has become very scarce and therefore very expensive. Only very rich people can afford to build a cement house, called bilding (from English ‘building’). All houses are built on a piece of land that has been made completely level, called nok+hap (house+place). Every traditional Atong household lives in a compound consisting of at least two, but often more structures.

First of all, the Atong do not speak their language to strangers. If a stranger visits the village, they will first speak Garo until another suitable language of communication is found. The Atong also do not speak their language when they are in the company of Garo speakers. In market places like Jadi and Nangwalbibra (see Map 3), when an Atong speaker addresses an unknown sales person, they will always speak Garo, even if the sales person reveals herself or himself to be Atong. The Atongs have a rather negative image of their own language and are not comfortable speaking it in front of strangers and non-Atong speakers, especially Garos and especially in Tura, since Atong speakers there are often ridiculed by some Garo speakers who say that the Atong are backward savages.

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