Exclusive

Need to promote tribal languages

IFP Editorial: Time for the Manipur Education Directorate to go public with its work on development and promotion of various tribal languages and dialects of the state and what it plans to do in the future.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 1 Dec 2021, 9:17 pm

Meitei Mayek or Manipuri script (PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons)
Meitei Mayek or Manipuri script (PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons)

 

Advertisement

It is said, every two weeks a language disappears taking with it an entire cultural and intellectual heritage. At least 43 per cent of the estimated 6,000 languages spoken in the world are endangered. Only a few hundred languages have genuinely been given a place in education systems and the public domain, and less than a hundred are used in the digital world. International Mother Language Day recognises that languages and multilingualism can advance inclusion, and the Sustainable Development Goals’ focus on leaving no one behind. UNESCO believes education, based on the first language or mother tongue, must begin from the early years as early childhood care and education is the foundation of learning. Languages, with their complex implications for identity, communication, social integration, education and development, are of strategic importance for people and the planet. Yet, due to globalisation processes, they are increasingly under threat, or disappearing altogether. When languages fade, so does the world's rich tapestry of cultural diversity. Multilingual and multicultural societies exist through their languages which transmit and preserve traditional knowledge and cultures in a sustainable way.

The other day, Manipur Education Minister S Rajen Singh was emphasising on promotion of Meitei Mayek or Manipuri script while neglecting the issue of dying languages or dialects of lesser tribes today. He said the central government had released Rs 18 crore as the first instalment for promotion of the state language Manipuri and Manipuri script. As to the demand for inclusion of Manipuri script in currency notes, the Reserve Bank of India had constituted a design committee, according to the Centre. Yet one must also understand that the present Manipuri script recognised by the state government and introduced up to the level of graduation is a sort of working script, developed on the basis of the various styles used in the ancients texts by an expert committee to suit modern usage of the Manipuri language. And the recognised script is slightly different from the script used in the majority of the ancient Puyas. As per international standards, even Manipuri Language which is included in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution has been listed as one of the dying languages of the world. We must also understand that the number of speakers of a language is very important in consideration of the status of a language. The basic question is how many people speak Manipuri or Meiteilon, which is heralded as the lingua-franca of the state.

A common refrain among the revivalists has been that Manipuri language is corrupted with so many foreign words and terms and a concerted effort of weeding out foreign words or ‘lonyan’ from Manipuri language is gaining momentum in recent times. What the revivalists do not understand is that Manipuri language is a dynamic language and it has the strength to absorb foreign words into its fold and also adapt to change and modern realities. One has to believe in the resilience of the language and its adaptability to modern linguistic changes. It is one of the oldest languages in Southeast Asia, which has its own script and written literature. After the inclusion of Manipuri Language in the 8th Schedule, a Language Cell was opened in the state Education Directorate which was ultimately upgraded as the Directorate of Language Planning and Implementation in 2013 and the basic idea was not only promotion of the state language but also of the various tribal languages and dialects. It is time for the directorate to go public with its work on development and promotion of various tribal languages and dialects of the state and what it plans to do in the future. Many of the tribal languages and dialects have so many similarities with Manipuri in the use of words and terms. In many instances, one will also find that Manipuri language itself has two or more words with the same meaning which shows its dynamic nature. So, an experiment in incorporating terms from the tribal languages and dialects in the Manipuri language bank should be considered by the Directorate.  

Advertisement

 

 

Advertisement

First published:1 Dec 2021, 8:57 pm

Tags:

mother tongueMeitei MayekInternational Mother Language DayManipuri scriptdying languagetribal languages

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

Advertisement

Top Stories

Loading data...
Advertisement

IFP Exclusive

Loading data...
Advertisement

Feedback

Have a complaint, a suggestion or just some feedback about our content? Please write to onlineifp@gmail.com and we’ll do our best to address it.