The origins of the Manipuri alphabet, or Meetei Mayek as it is know in Manipuri, are shrouded in mystery as many historical documents were destroyed at the beginning of the 18th century during the reign of King Pamheiba. Some believe the alphabet has been used for almost 4,000 years, while others think it developed from the Bengali alphabet during the 17th century.
Between 1709 and the middle of the 20th century, the Manipuri language was written with the Bengali alphabet. During the 1940s and 50s, Manipuri scholars began campaigning to bring back the old Manipuri alphabet. In 1976 at a writers conference all the scholars finally agreed on a new version of the alphabet containing a number of additional letters to represent sounds not present in the language when the script was first developed. The current Manipuri script is a reconstruction of the ancient Manipuri script.
Since the early 1980s the Manipuri alphabet as been taught in schools in Manipur.
Manipuri, or Meeteilon/Meitei, one of the official languages of the Indian state of Manipur in north-east India and has about 1.6 million speakers. It is a member of the Tibeto-Burman branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family and is also spoken in Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Information about the Manipuri scripts and pronunciation compiled or corrected by Wolfram Siegel
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