Gta’ language

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Ethnicity7,400 (2001 census)[1]
Native speakers
(3,100 cited 1991 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3gaq

The Gta’ language (also Gataʔ, Gtaʔ, Gata; also known as Gta Asa, Didei or Didayi IPA: [ɖiɖaːj(i)], Dire) is a language spoken by the Didayi people of India. It is notable for its sesquisyllabic phonology[3] and vigesimal numeral system.


Gta’ is spoken by 3,000 people primarily in Malkangiri district, Odisha as well as adjoining areas of Koraput district.[3]

Ethnologue reports the following locations.

Classification and Dialects[edit]

The Gta’ language belongs to the South Munda subgroup of the Munda branch of the Austroasiatic language family.[1] Within South Munda, Gta’ is generally considered to be the first branch off a node that also subsumes the Remo and Gutob languages; this subgroup of South Munda is known as Gutob–Remo–Gataq. It is phonologically and morphologically divergent within that branch.[4]

Gta’ has two main varieties, namely Plains Gta’ and Hill Gta’.



Nouns in Gtaʔ ordinarily have two forms, one a free full form, the other a bound short form. These latter occur only when the noun is compounded with some other stem for derivational 9 purposes, and are hence labeled "combining forms". Combining forms occurring with verb stems can be echoed independently of the verb stems; those occur? ring with noun stems either remain intact or change at par with the main stems.
Type 1: sur-cu to fry in oil > sur-ca, sur-ci, sar-ca, s?r-cf, sar-cu.
gag-bo? to tie onto the head
gag-ba?, gig-bT?, gag-bT?, gTg-ba?, gig-bo?.
"tur-t?a to graze cattle >
tar-ti, t?r-ti, tar-t?a, t?r-t?a.

Type 2: kula-re kinsman >
ka I a-re, k?I i-re.
sari-ja paddy flower >
sara-ja, s?ri-j?, si ri-ja.
ra-ko peacock feather >
bara-ka, bir?-k?, bir?-ko.
ult-so mango wood >
ala-sa, ?l?-sf, ala-so, Mi-so.
huQ-be baby bear >
har?-ba, h?tj-b?, harj-be, h?n-be.[5]

Echo Formation[edit]

Rules of Formation
Rule# 1. Echo-words are formed by changing only the vowels of the base word.

Rule# 2. The echo-word must differ from the base word. The vowel of univocalic base words is reflected as either /a/ or /}/ in the echo-word. For base-word /u, e, o/ the vowel /a/ is preferred, while for base word /e/ the vowel /I/ is preferred.

Rule# 3. The vowels of disyllabic base words are reflected in the echo-word as follows:

  • a. Both vowels are reflected as either /a/ or /?/; or
  • b. Only one of the base-word vowels is reflected as /a/ or /]/ while the other is reflected unchanged; or
  • c. The first vowel (Vl) changes to /u/ while the second (V^) changes to /a/.

Rule# 4. In the case of trisyllabic base words, one, two or all three of the vowels (in adjacent syllables) are reflected as either /a/ or /}/.

Rule# 5. The echo-forms of compound words, irrespective of their vocalic structure, are derived as follows:

  • a. In the case of compound verbs consisting of two verb stems, one or both stems undergo change, depending on their relationship with each other;
  • b. Nominal combining forms occurring with verb stems change independently; those attached to noun stems change only at par with the main stem.
  • c. In verbal constructions incorporating a prefix, both the prefix and the stem change as a unit.[6]

Categories of Echo Forms[edit]

  1. A-forms, indicating gross variety;
  2. I-forms, indicating diminutive or tender variety ;
  3. U/a-forms, indicating variety different from a related category
  4. Partially changed forms, indicating inferior variety : a-forms, indicating grossness and ?-forms, indicating tenderness.[7]

Numeral System[edit]

Gta' numeral system is vigesimal.[8]

Gta' Numeral system
1. muiŋ 21. mũikuɽi muiŋ /ekustɔra
2. mbar 22. mũikuɽi mbar
3. ɲji 23. mũikuɽi ɲji
4. õ 24. mũikuɽi hõ
5. malʷe 25. mũikuɽi malikliɡˀ
6. tur 26. mũikuɽi turukliɡˀ
7. ɡul 27. mũikuɽi gukliɡˀ
8. tma /aʈʈa 28. mũikuɽi tomakliɡˀ / mũikuɽi tma
9. sontiŋ /nɔʈa 29. mũikuɽi sontiŋkliɡˀ
10. ɡʷa / dɔsʈa 30. mũikuɽi ɡʷa ( 20 + 10) / tirisʈa
11. ɡʷamiŋ / eɡaʈa 40. mbarkuɽi ( 2 x 20)/ calistɔra
12. ɡombar /baroʈa 50. mbarkuɽi ɡʷa ( 20 + 10) /pɔcas
13. ɡoɲji /teroʈa 60. ɲjikuɽi ( 3 x 20) / saʈe
14. ɡohõ /coudoʈa 70. ɲjikuɽi ɡʷa / suturi
15. ɡomal / pɔndrɔʈa 80. ōkuɽi ( 4 x 20)
16. ɡotur / soloːʈa 90. ōkuɽi ɡʷa
17. ɡogu / sɔtroʈa 100. malkuɽi ( 5 x 20) /soetɔra
18. ɡotma / aʈɾa
19. ɡososiŋ / unisʈa
20. ɡosolɡa /kuɽitɔra /kuɽeta

Neighboring Languages[edit]

Gtaʔ echo-formation shows some striking similarities with echo-formation in neighboring Munda languages such as Remo and Gorum as well as in the Desia dialect of Oriya spoken in the Koraput Munda region.The most conspicuous feature they have in common with Gtaʔ is that echo-words in all three of these languages are also derived from base words by changes in the vowels alone.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Gataq at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Gata'". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b The Munda languages. Anderson, Gregory D. S. London: Routledge. 2008. p. 682. ISBN 9780415328906. OCLC 225385744.CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ Zide, Norman H. (1976). "A Note on Gta? Echo Forms". Oceanic Linguistics Special Publications (13): 1335–1343. ISSN 0078-3188. JSTOR 20019204.
  5. ^ Mahapatra, K. "Echo Formation in Gta?" (PDF).
  6. ^ Mahapatra, K. "Echo Formation in Gta?" (PDF).
  7. ^ Mahapatra, K. "Echo Formation in Gta?" (PDF).
  8. ^ Ghosh, Arun. (n.d.). Numeral Systems of the World's Languages. Archived 2014-04-21 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Mahapatra, K. "Echo Formation in Gta?" (PDF).

Further reading[edit]

  1. Anderson, G. (n.d.). Gtaʔ (Didey) Language - Munda Languages Project - Living Tongues Institute For Endangered Languages. from
  2. Anderson, Gregory D. S. 2001. A new classification of South Munda: Evidence from comparative verb morphology. Indian Linguistics 62.1: 21–36.
  3. Anderson, Gregory D.S. 2008. “Gtaʔ.” In: Gregory D.S. Anderson (ed.), The Munda Languages. London / New York. [Routledge Language Family Series]. 682-763.
  4. Bauer, C. (n.d.). Robert Parkin: A guide to Austroasiatic speakers and their languages. (Oceanic Linguistics, Special Publication, no. 23.) ix, 198, [xv] pp. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1991. $21. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 193-193.
  5. DeArmond, R. (1976). Proto-Gutob-Remo-Gtaq Stressed Monosyllabic Vowels and Initial Consonants. Austroasiatic Studies Part I, 13, 213-227. Munda. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2015, from
  6. Odden, D. (1987). Arguments against the Vowel Plane in Gtaʔ Linguistic Inquiry, 18(3), 523-529.
  7. Parkin, R. (1988). Marriage, Behaviour and Generation among the Munda of Eastern India. Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, 113(1), 69-80.
  8. Sidwell, P., & Jenny, M. (2014). The Handbook of Austroasiatic Languages (2 vols). Leiden: BRILL.
  9. Stampe, D. (1965). Recent Work in Munda Linguistics I. International Journal of American Linguistics, 31(4), 332-341.
  10. Zide, N. (1976) "A Note on Gtaʔ Echo Forms," in P. Jenner, L. Thompson, and S. Starosta, eds., Austroasiatic Stud- ies, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.

External links[edit]