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Meitei language

Manipuri, Meithei
Meitei language.jpg
Region Northeast India, Bangladesh, Burma
Ethnicity Meetei, Meitei and Meitei-Pangal people
Native speakers
1.25 million (2010) to 1.5 million (2001 census)
  • Meitei
Eastern Nagari script
(Bengali alphabet)
Meitei alphabet (historical)
Official status
Official language in
 India (Manipur)
Language codes
ISO 639-2
ISO 639-3 Either:
mni – Manipuri
omp – Old Manipuri
Linguist list
omp Old Manipuri
Glottolog mani1292

Meitei (also Manipuri/mənˈpʊri/, Meithei (or Meetei) /ˈməɪtəɪ/,Meiteilon is the predominant language and lingua franca in the southeastern Himalayan state of Manipur, in northeastern India. It is the official language in government offices. Meitei is also spoken in the Indian states of Assam and Tripura, and in Bangladesh and Burma (now Myanmar). It is currently classified as a vulnerable language by UNESCO.

Meitei is a Sino-Tibetan language whose exact classification remains unclear. It has lexical resemblances to Kuki and Tangkhul Naga.

Meitei has proven to be an integrating factor among all ethnic groups in Manipur who use it to communicate among themselves. It has been recognised (as Manipuri) by the Indian Union and has been included in the list of scheduled languages (included in the 8th schedule by the 71st amendment of the constitution in 1992). Meitei is taught as a subject up to the post-graduate level (Ph.D.) in universities of India, apart from being a medium of instruction up to the undergraduate level in Manipur. Education in government schools is provided in Meitei through the eighth standard.

The name Meitei or its alternate spelling Meithei is preferred by many native speakers of Meitei. The term is derived from the Meitei word for the language Meitheirón (Meithei + -lon 'language').Meithei may be a compound from 'man' + they 'separate'. This term is used by most western linguistic scholarship. Meitei scholars use the term Mei(h)tei when writing in English and the term Meitheirón when writing in Meitei. Chelliah (2015: 89) notes that the Meitei spelling has replaced the earlier Meithei spelling.