Puroik language

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Region Arunachal Pradesh
Ethnicity Puroik people
Native speakers
20,000 (2011)[1]
possibly Kho-Bwa, Austroasiatic, or a language isolate
  • Puroik
Language codes
ISO 639-3 suv
Glottolog sulu1241[2]

The Puroik language, also called Sulung, is a language spoken by the Puroik people of Arunachal Pradesh in India and of Lhünzê County, Tibet, in China. It is of uncertain affiliation.

Geographical distribution

Remsangpuia (2008:17) lists the following Puroik villages. The Puroik also live in Nyishi, Aka, and Miji areas.

According to the Ethnologue, Puroik is spoken in 53 villages along the Par River in Arunachal Pradesh.


The Puroik language is traditionally assumed to be a Sino-Tibetan language of the Kho-Bwa group. However, the conventional classification of Kho-Bwa languages as Sino-Tibetan is being questioned, quite independently of the additional issue whether Puroik belongs to Kho-Bwa in the first place. In the context of Sino-Tibetan, Puroik is highly divergent, and it is not entirely certain it should be classified as such at all. There is a possibility that it is an Austroasiatic language that changed because of Sino-Tibetan cultural influence. Blench (2011) considers Puroik a language isolate.[3] There is some mutual intelligibility with Bugun, and Burling (2003) grouped it with Bugun and Sherdukpen, and possibly with Lish and Sartang. Besides their own language, the Puroik also use Nishi, Hindi or Assamese. Literacy is very low, at about 2%. Those who are literate use either the Bengali script, Devanagari or the Latin alphabet to write Puroik.




Number is not considered a grammatical feature in Sulung. Plurality is expressed, when required to be stated clearly by the huangda meaning all, many, etc.


There is no grammatical gender in Sulung. However the two sexes are distinguished when necessary. To indicate other relatives and persons the suffix -aphu is added for the male and -amua for the female. Demonstrative, and Interrogative.


Seven cases may be distinguished: Subject (Nominative), Object (Accusative), Instrumental, Dative (Purposive), Ablative, Possessive (Genitive), and Locative.


The Personal Pronoun distinguished three persons (the first person, second person, and third person) and two numbers (singular and plural). The same form is used for both genders.


There are four types of adjectives: adjective of quality, adjective of quantity, demonstrative adjective, interrogative adjective.


Sulung verbs do not indicate number and person. The same for serves all the three persons and both the numbers.


The three principal tenses (present, past, and future), including the indefinite and the continuous are indicated by means of particles used as suffixes.


There are four moods: Imperative, potential, conditional, and subjunctive. Imperative uses the suffix -bo, -da, and -ge for commands. Potential uses the suffix -pa to express the ability to perform. Conditional uses -re/-hangra to express obligation.


Adverbs may be distinguished into four classes: Time, place, manner, and interrogative.


A list of consonants, vowels, and vocabulary can be found on the Endangered Languages page under the *Resources* tab.[5] It includes over 100 Puroik words and phrases. This resource also includes grammar rules and the explanation of gender/number/degree use.


  1. Puroik at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Sulung". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Blench, Roger. 2011. (De)classifying Arunachal languages: Reconsidering the evidence
  4. Tayeng, Aduk. 1990. Sulung language guide. Shillong: The Director of Information and Public Relations, Arunachal Pradesh
  5. Puroik Resources tab
  • Deuri, R.K. 1982. The Sulungs. Shillong: Government of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Remsangphuia. 2008. Puroik phonology. Shillong: Don Bosco Technical School.

Further reading

  • Pertin, David. 2005. "The Puroiks (Sulungs) of Arunachal Pradesh." In Primitive Tribes in Contemporary India: Concept, Ethnography and Demography 1, edited by Sarit Kumar Chaudhuri and Sucheta Sen Chaudhuri, 367-378. New Delhi: Mittal.
  • Dutta, Sristidhar, and Tana Showren. 2008. "A Case Study of the Sulungs (Puroiks)." In: Blisters on their feet: tales of internally displaced persons in India's North East, edited by Samir Kumar Das, 59-68. Los Angeles and New Delhi: Sage.
  • Stonor, C. R. (1952). The Sulung Tribe of the Assam Himalayas. Anthropos, (5/6), 947. doi:10.2307/41104369
  • Tayeng, Aduk. 1990. Sulung language guide. Shillong: The Director of Information and Public Relations, Arunachal Pradesh.

External links