“Mee kanglup ama na pukning gi waakhal bu phongdoknaba amasung lousinnaba gi pambei bu Lon kouwe.” That’s the definition of “Lon” I learnt in school in Manipuri class.
Very often we use words like “Neire”, “Mei Taare”, etc. These days these are words used by the younger generation, but hardly by the elders.
The word “Neire” is presently used by many to express something extremely good or excellent. It means to say something like ‘You did great!’ or ‘You rocked’.
Sentence like “Yaam phajana touwe” can mean to say the same as “Neire”. But many of us use the single word “Neire”.
The older generation used the word ‘Neiba’ to mean torture, for example, “Awa na Manipur da chahi taret neiba.” We still say, ”Pukhri gi eesing se neikhaire”, “Pukhri gi eesing se neire”. In these cases, ”Neiba” and ”Neire” carry a negative connotation.
“Mei Taare” expresses something in a positive note, and it is used more as an adjective. I think, it has its roots in the phrase ”First taare”, which means coming first in the class or a race or a competition. But ”Mei” means fire, and ”Mei Taare” gives more intensity, more power to the expression.
The above points are what I believe from a layman’s point of view. Linguists and other experts must be knowing better.
“Hatlo-netlo! Hatlo-netlo!” from Tapta’s ‘Round kick’ and “Otlari neirari hatlari..” from Eastern Dark’s ‘Lamta Thangja’ are the kind of expressions we get to hear from their songs, and we love their lyrics.
I don’t know when and how they originated, but when we speak amongst friends or write comments on Facebook, ”Neire” and ”Mei taare”... are words that just come out so naturally.
A friend told me that in a workshop for language a few years ago, some senior scholars said that elders used ”Neire” in the earlier generations too to mean ”mathou fajanna toure”. Maybe the elders of the past generations used it as well, but presently it is massively used by the youth.
A few days ago, on 21st June on the International Yoga Day, I shared with some of my friends, a few pictures of a respected teacher of mine doing Yoga, and there was a huge reaction with words of praise for my teacher, and many used the word “Neire”, by Meitei and Tangkhul friends alike.
We grew up reading hard copies of dictionaries when there were no internet and Google search engine. One of them was the English to Manipuri dictionary by RK Shitaljit. These days, at times, we hear news of non-English words getting included in Oxford English Dictionary. Indian words like ‘Jungle’ and ‘Bazar’ are a few examples that got incorporated in the past.
I wondered how nice it would be if someday, many years from now, words like ”Neire” find a place in Oxford English Dictionary (OED). I shared my wild imagination of the word ”Neire” getting included by OED to some friends in WhatsApp. But it seemed to have gone viral (which wasn’t my intention at all) on WhatsApp. I suspect that it must have struck a chord with them as many seemed to have liked my imagination.
I am not a linguist; I know nothing of words and languages. I am just a layman who sees what goes on in the way we speak, and hopes that someday words like ”Neire” finds a place in the Manipuri dictionary.
A teacher of mine tells me that the emergence of new languages goes hand in hand with the changes in the society, and the usage of the words is the reflection of our thought process.
I don’t know if words like ”Neire” and ”Mei Taare” sounds flowery to people or not. I don’t know if poets and writers use them while composing their poems and literary works, or if they are used in theatre and plays, or if they are reflected in local newspapers, media (print and audio/ visual) or journals; I kind of doubt that they are used.
They may be categorised as “colloquial” or “slang”, not on a formal level or literary. How and when they will become acceptable, I can’t predict. But the youth, the younger generation, use them in their everyday lives, because they find them express well what they feel. This is just a reflection of my thoughts and instances which I have come across of the use of the word ‘Neire’ and “Mei Taare”.
(The writer can be reached at: [email protected]