ITANAGAR- A three-day workshop on Linguistic and Cultural Documentation of the Ashing Community (Adi) started today at Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU). The program is organized by the Center for Endangered Languages (CFEL), Arunachal Institute of Tribal Studies (AITS), RGU as part of the project “Documentation of endangered languages, oral histories and cultures of lesser-known tribal communities in Arunachal Pradesh ” supported by the Northeast Council (NEC), Govt. From India.
Ashing (Adi) is one of the lesser known and undocumented languages within the larger framework of the Adi ethnic identity of Arunachal Pradesh. This variety of speech is spoken only by about ten speakers who live in the village of Ngereng, the village of Kuging, and a few families of the commune of Tuting under the administrative circle of Tuting of the district of Haut Siang, Arunachal Pradesh. Based on the UNESCO Language Vitality and Endangerment Framework (2003), ash can be classified as a dying language. It is on the verge of extinction as the intergenerational transmission of the language has ceased and current speakers are also already elderly.
During the inaugural program of the workshop, Professor Saket Kushwaha, Vice-Chancellor of Rajiv Gandhi University, while welcoming and congratulating the Ashing speakers, thanked them for their hospitality to the research team during their stay on field. He urged native speakers to keep speaking their language for the intergenerational transmission of the language and to document it before it disappears from this world. Professor Kushwaha also urged the center to document the language in textual and digital formats in addition to developing a video documentary on this speaking community.
While citing examples of third language subjects in school education in Arunachal Pradesh, Dr NT Rikam, Registrar of RGU urged CFEL, in collaboration with native speakers, to develop the language in book form in order to that it can be learned in and out of school by future generations. He stressed the need to examine the future implications of the lost language and urged Ashing speakers to adopt strategies to preserve their language before it is lost forever.
The resource person for the Ashing community includes Ms. Gommang Tamut, Chitut Dawa Danggen, Nuni Siboh and Dongkong Siboh.
While thanking the university, Dawa said they are considering a way to preserve the Ashing language so that it can help future generations learn the language. He assured to provide all possible help to the RGU research team in the preservation and documentation of their language and culture.
Ms. Gommang Tamut, who is the only competent Ashing speaker, says she will continue to speak the Ashing language until the Sun and Moon continue to rise. She urged the university fraternity to help in the best possible way to preserve their language and culture.
Dugbang Lipir, who belongs to the Tangam (Adi) community, also participates in the program as a language consultant and interpreter. During the interaction program, Lipir, from Kuging village, mentioned that preserving any language is a two-way process in which the efforts of native speakers and collaborative agencies like RGU and governments are essential. He thanked the RGU fraternity for providing this type of platform and urged them to continue documenting the language and culture of the community like Ashing.
Prof. S. Simon John, Coordinator of the Center for Endangered Languages (CFEL) and Principal Investigator (PI) of the research project, presented the background and purpose of the workshop. He says the main purpose of the workshop is to bridge the gap between the University and the communities.
Kaling Dabi, workshop coordinator and research associate, Center for Endangered Languages (CFEL) introduces native Ashing speakers to the university fraternity. It also recounts the one-month field experiences of the research team in the Ashing villages.
The inaugural program ended with a vote of thanks from Kombong Darang, Associate Researcher, Center for Endangered Languages (CFEL). In his thanksgiving message, he deeply appreciates the academic fellowship led by Professor SaketKushwaha, the Honorable Vice-Chancellor, for organizing an interaction program for speakers of Ashing, the dying linguistic variety.
The members of the RGU fraternity namely, Prof. Amitava Mitra (Pro-Vice-Chancellor), Prof. Otem Padung (Finance Officer), Prof. RC Parida (Director, IQAC), Prof. Sarit Kumar Chaudhuri (HoD, Anthropology), Professor Jumyir Basar (Director, AITS) and Mr. Moji Riba (HoD, Mass Communication) were also present during the program.