Meitei-lon (মেইতেই লোন্), also Meitei-lol (মেইতেই লোল্) and Manipuri (মনিপুরি) (and sometimes, the 19th century British term, Meithei (মেইথেই), which is the name of the people, not of the language), 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-lon is also spoken in the Indian states of Assam and Tripura, and in Bangladesh and Burma now Myanmar.
Meitei-lon has proven to be a large integrating factor among all ethnic groups in Manipur who use it to communicate among themselves.
Meitei-lon has been recognized, 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-lon 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.
Although Meitei-lon is also called Manipuri, it should not be confused with the Indo-Aryan language known as Bishnupriya Manipuri also currently spoken in the state of Manipur.
Meitei is a tonal language.
Meitei-lon had its own script named Meitei-mayek, which was in use until the 18th century. Its earliest use is dated between the 11th and 12th centuries C.E. Subsequently, and particularly with the advent of British Rule in 1891, the Eastern Nagari script (commonly known as the Bengali script), was adopted and is being used today. However, efforts are being made to revive the Meitei Mayek script.
There are some texts from the Maring and Limbu tribes of Manipur which were also written using Meitei Mayek.
- Brara, N. Vijaylakshmi. (1998). Politics, society, and cosmology in India's North East. Delphi: Oxford University Press.
- Budha, W. (1992). Indigenous games of the Meiteis. Manipur: Wangkeimayum Publications.
- Singh, M. Kirti. (1988). Religion and culture of Manipur. Delhi: Manas Publications.
- Singh, M. Kirti. (1993). Folk culture of Manipur. Delhi: Manas Publications.
- Bhat, D. N. S.; & Ningomba, S. (1997). Manipuri grammar. Munich: Lincom Europa.
- Chelliah, Shobhana L. (1990). Experiencer subjects in Manipuri. In V. M. Manindra & K. P. Mohanan (Eds.), Experiencer subjects in South Asian languages (pp. 195-211). Stanford: The Center for the Study of Language and Information.
- Chelliah, Shobhana L. (1992). Tone in Manipuri. In K. L. Adams & T. J. Hudak (Eds.), Papers from the first annual meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society 1991 (pp. 65-85). Tempe, AZ: Arizona State University.
- Chelliah, Shobhana L. (1992). Bracketing paradoxes in Manipuri. In M. Aronoff (Ed.), Morphology now (pp. 33-47). Albany: State University of New York Press.
- Chelliah, Shobhana L. (1994). Morphological change and fast speech phenomena in the Manipuri verb. In K. L. Adams & T. J. Hudak (Eds.), Papers from the second annual meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society 1992 (pp. 121-134). Tempe, AZ: Arizona State University.
- Chelliah, Shobhana L. (1997). A grammar of Meithei. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 0-19-564331-3.
- Chelliah, Shobhana L. (2002). Early Meithei manuscripts. In C. I. Beckwith (Ed.), Medieval Tibeto-Burman languages: PIATS 2000: Tibetan studies: Proceedings of the ninth seminar of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, Leiden 2000 (pp. 59-71). Leiden, Netherlands: Brill.
- Chelliah, Shobhana L. (2002). A glossary of 39 basic words in archaic and modern Meithei. In C. I. Beckwith (Ed.), Medieval Tibeto-Burman languages: PIATS 2000: Tibetan studies: Proceedings of the ninth seminar of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, Leiden 2000 (pp. 189-190). Leiden, Netherlands: Brill.
- Chelliah, Shobhana L. (2004). Polysemy through metonymy: The case of Meithei pi 'grandmother'. Studies in Language, 28 (2), 363-386.
- Singh, Ningthoukhongjam Khelchandra. (1964). Manipuri to Manipuri & English dictionary.