Language Snapshots

Tai Aiton (Assam, India) – Language Snapshot

  • Deepmoni Kakoty


The Tai Aiton are one of six Tai communities of North-East India, along with Ahom, Turung, Khamti, Khamyang, and Phake. They are Buddhists by religion, and are commonly called ‘Shyams’, or the people from Siam, i.e. Thailand, by their Assamese neighbours. According to Morey (2005), this term comes from written Burmese hyam, which is the source of the word pronounced ‘Shan’ in English. The Tai Aton live in small villages in the state of Assam and the names of their villages are directly translatable into modern Thai, as both sound and meaning correspond. The language belongs to the Southwestern branch of Tai, within the Tai-Kadai language family. The Aiton are multilingual, and can speak Tai, Assamese, English, and Hindi. They speak Aiton within the family and among community members, and generally use Assamese with others. Hakasam (2009) discusses the life style and the language system of Aiton.

The Aiton people are very conscious about their language, culture and traditions. They are very small in number compared to the larger, dominating communities of the state. They try to pass on their culture and tradition to their younger generations. Tai Aiton can be considered a endangered language, according to the endangerment ...

Keywords: Tai Aiton, North-East India, Shyams, Tai communities, Thailand

How to Cite:

Kakoty, D., (2020) “Tai Aiton (Assam, India) – Language Snapshot”, Language Documentation and Description 17, 76-81. doi:

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Published on
31 Jul 2020
Peer Reviewed