Note on
Orthography and Usage
I have chosen to retain the common usage ‘‘Assam’’ in prefer-
ence to recent variations such as ‘‘Asom’’ and ‘‘Axom.’’ While I use
‘‘Assamese’’ to refer to the inhabitants of Assam, I use ‘‘Asomiya’’ for
the language.
I use ‘‘tribe’’ and ‘‘tribal’’ in deference to common usage in northeast
India, where these words are not yet politically incorrect, indeed are
seen as a badge of honour as against references to ‘‘caste’’ populations.
In other regions of India ‘‘Adivasi’’ or ‘‘Adibasi’’ (original dweller) has
supplanted ‘‘tribal,’’ but the former term is used in northeast India
solely by the descendants of ‘‘coolie’’ labourers who wish to build
political and other links with their brethren elsewhere. Even among
them the term ‘‘Tea-Tribe’’ is in wider use.
Other terms such as ‘‘coolie,’’ ‘‘savage,’’ and ‘‘native,’’ which convey
opprobrium yet have historically specific meanings, are used with
quotation marks at first appearance, but those are dropped thereafter
in the interests of keeping the text readable.
Surnames such as ‘‘Barua,’’ which are transliterated di√erently by
di√erent people, are used in a single form except in quoted matter.
Given the many people with the same surname, first names and
initials are used to distinguish one from the other.
Place names such as ‘‘Guwahati’’ and ‘‘Nagaon’’ are given in their
current form. However, I have retained older, better-known spell-
ings for places such as Calcutta and institutions such as Gauhati
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