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REMARKS ON THE MAP
THE Monosyllabic languages are spoken exclusively in the south-eastern angle of the continent of Asia: their area is little inferior in point of extent to the whole of Europe. The various nations by whom these languages are employed all belong to one stock or family, and are distinguished, in a more or less modified degree, by the Mongolic type of physical conformation. The religion which has obtained the widest acceptance among this race is Buddhism, but other forms of belief are also received. The religion of Confucius, and the Taouism of Lao-tsze, for instance, prevail to a considerable extent in China; and a rude species of idolatry, said in some instances to resemble that practised by the Esquimaux, is predominant among the wild untutored tribes of the mountains, who still preserve their independence in the very midst of the civilised nations of this race.
The Monosyllabic languages are referable, geographically and philologically, to three grand divisions, namely, the languages of China, the languages of the Indo-Chinese or Transgangetic peninsula, and the languages of Tibet and the Himalayas.
I. LANGUAGES OF CHINA.
CHINESE is the language of China, an extensive country, of which the entire surface forms a kind of natural declivity from the high steppe-land of Central Asia to the shores of the North Pacific. The mountain chains which traverse this region are not generally remarkable for extent or altitude, the chief physical characteristic being the broad water-sheds, with their corresponding fertile, alluvial valleys, whereby this large portion of the earth's surface is rendered a peculiarly fit abode for an industrial, agricultural people. Various dialects (according to Leyden, about sixteen in number) prevail in the different provinces of China, but they are merely local varieties of Chinese. Distinct languages are spoken among the mountain and forest districts by uncivilised tribes, who are supposed by some to have been the original possessors of the country.
II. LANGUAGES OF THE TRANS-
ANAMITE is predominant in a line of country border-
CIAMPA, or TSHAMPA, is still spoken in the very south of Cochin China by a people who, before their annexation to the empire of Anam, formed a separate and independent nation.
CAMBOJAN is the language of Cambodia, a country in the south of the peninsula, lying between two parallel ridges of mountains, and divided into two nearly equal parts by the river May-kuang or Mekon. The Cambojans, who are akin to, if not identical with, the Kho men, are supposed to derive their origin from a warlike mountain race named Kho, the Gueos of early Portuguese historians.
SIAMESE is more widely diffused than any other Indo-Chinese language; its various dialects prevail over more than half the peninsula, and are spoken, with little interruption, in a northerly direction, from Cambodia on the south to the borders of Tibet on the north. This wide diffusion may in part be accounted for by the early conquest of Assam by Siamese tribes. The dialect of the ancient Siamese or T'hay tongue, which is now conventionally designated the Siamese, is spoken in Siam, an extensive kingdom south-west of Burmah.
LAOS, or LAW, is a Siamese dialect pervading the very interior of the peninsula; it is conterminous with the Cambojan, Anamite, Siamese, Burmese, Chinese and Shyan languages. The Laos people boast of an ancient civilisation; and their country, noted for the vestiges it contains of the founders of Buddhism, is the famed resort of Buddhistic devotees. SHYAN is another Siamese dialect, and is spoken to the north of Burmah, between China and Munipoor.
AHOM, an ancient Siamese dialect, is not marked on the Map, because extinct, or only preserved in the books of the Assamese priesthood. It is remarkable that not a single trace of Hindoo influence, either Buddhistic or Brahministic, can be found in Ahom literature.
KHAMTI, though the most northern of Siamese dialects, varies but little from the dialect of Bankok, the capital of Siam. It is spoken by a small mountainous tribe in the north-east corner of Assam, on the border of Tibet.
SINGPHO is the language of the most powerful of the mountain tribes, and prevails in the north of the Burmese empire, almost on the confines of China. It is conterminous with the Khamti and Shyan on the north and south, and with the Chinese and Munipoora languages on the east and west.
PEGUESE prevails in the Delta of the Irawady, within the province of Pegu, formerly a part of the Burmese dominion, but transferred to British rule in 1852. BURMESE is the language of the dominant people of the empire of Burmah. Including its cognate dialect, the Arakanese, it extends from the Laos country to the Bay of Bengal, and from Munipoor to Pegu: it is also predominant throughout the maritime province of Tenasserim, in the south-west of the peninsula, which is now British territory.
ARAKANESE, as we have before observed, is an elder dialect of Burmese: it prevails through a narrow strip of country along the Bay of Bengal, from Chittagong to Cape Negrais.
SALONG, or SILONG, is the name of an assemblage of small islands in the Mergui archipelago, between the Andaman Isles and the south-west coast of the peninsula. These islands are about one thousand in number: the predominant language is a peculiar one, and little is at present known concerning it; yet it is generally referred to the Monosyllabic class. KAREN is spoken in three diversities of dialect, by uncivilised tribes irregularly distributed over the regions lying between the eleventh and twenty-third degrees of north latitude, but chiefly to be found among the jungles and mountains on the frontiers of Burmah, Siam, and Pegu. Some of these tribes are designated red Karens, from the light colour of their complexion, a circumstance supposed to result from the great elevation of their mountainous abodes. KHYEN, or KIAYN, perhaps more generally called Kolun, is spoken by some wild tribes dwelling in North Arakan, and on various mountain heights west of the Irawady. These tribes are of more importance in an ethnographical than in a political or historical point of view. According to their own tradition, they are the aborigines of Ava and Pegu. It was the opinion of Ritter, that the Khyen and Karen
tribes are descended from the mountainous races of the chains of Yun-nan, dispersed, probably since the Mongolic conquest of China, in a southerly direction.
KOONKIE is a wild unwritten dialect, said to resemble the Arakanese. It is spoken by the Kukis, a people who have been identified with the Nagas and Khoomeas. They dwell to the north of Arakan, on the frontiers of Munipoor and Cachar.
MUNIPOORA is predominant in Munipoor, a small kingdom forming part of the northern boundary of Burmah.
CACHARESE is spoken by a numerous tribe in a district of considerable extent, lying east of the Bengal district of Sylhet. This language is conterminous with the Munipoora on the east, and the Khassee on the west.
KHASSEE is spoken on a range of hills forming part of the southern border of Lower Assam. The people to whom it is vernacular are called Cossyahs or Khasias.
The interposition of Assamese (which is a Sanscrit language nearly allied to Bengalee) in the area otherwise exclusively occupied by Monosyllabic languages, has given rise to much conjecture; but it is now generally believed that the natives of Lower Assam originally employed a Monosyllabic dialect, but were led by their contiguity to Hindustan, and by political and other circumstances, to adopt a language of that country. Upper Assam is still peopled by various tribes speaking Monosyllabic languages.
III. LANGUAGES OF TIBET AND
LEPCHA is spoken by a tribe apparently of Tibetan
TIBETAN is spoken by the widely-diffused race of Bhot in Tibet, Bootan, Ladakh, and Bultistan or Little Tibet. This extensive range of country lies among the Himalayas, in the south-eastern angle of the plateau of Central Asia. The geographical position of the Bhotiya, and likewise some of their moral and physical characteristics, would appear to connect them with the nomadic nations of that vast plateau, if their peculiar language, which approximates in some respects to that of China, did not indicate their relationship to the Chinese: and this affinity, on the one side with the Chinese, and on the other with the Turkish, Mongolian, and Tungusian tribes of Central Asia, has caused this remarkable race to be regarded as the connecting link between these two great divisions of the human family.