Wednesday, January 12, 2011

[MLE] Professor Prasanna Sree has designed the script for 10 tribal languages (2)

Dear MLE friends,

Last July the list forwarded a news item from The Hindu on new tribal scripts. I just learned that last October also Outlook wrote an article on this. See: http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?267220. A quote:
“A script serves to legalise their language and protect their vast oral riches. But, more importantly, there is now a growing realisation that an indigenous, independent script also helps boost cultural identity,” says Sree. She uses easily identifiable symbols in her alphabets to strike a chord with the tribals. For example, an abstract bow and arrow is a motif in her script for the Kupias, who are renowned as skilled archers. New scripts are not for assertion of identity alone: they are also being created for accurately representing the unique sounds of tribal languages instead of letting them be drowned out, over time and through usage, by the superposition of an alien alphabet.
An other interesting comment:
"The Maoists, too, have begun work in this field. They are developing a script for Gondi, spoken widely in Maoist-dominated regions, to do away with the Devanagari script. They are also backing the Ol Chiki script for Santhali, seeing it as appealing to the sense of tribal identity."

Does anybody know how this has been received by he communities themselves? What in general are your thoughts on this? I have uploaded this post to a new website (still under development) where you can post your comments in a way that everybody can read it: http://mle-india.blogspot.com/. Try it out!
Thanks to Omana Soundaraj for the tip.
Regards,

Karsten

Karsten van Riezen
Education Consultant, SIL Int.

SIL, South Asia Group
LinkedIn Profile
www.sil.org
Recommended website: http://www.nmrc-jnu.org/

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____________________ Full text of Outlook Article _____________________________________
A professor of English at Andhra University in Vishakhapatnam is the sole author of what may be called a scriptural revolution. Prof S. Prasanna Sree, a member of the Kurru tribe, has since November last year released scripts for 10 tribal languages that have not so far had a writing tradition, beginning with the Kupia language of the Valmiki tribe of Andhra Pradesh. In July, she released a script for Gondi, spoken by over two million people in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and West Bengal. Taken together, the ten scripts could benefit several million tribespeople. They have also become emblematic of an assertion of tribal identities since they avoid looking like impositions—which happens if one merely adapts scripts of major languages like English or Hindi to serve as approximations of the sounds of tribal languages.
“A script serves to legalise their language and protect their vast oral riches. But, more importantly, there is now a growing realisation that an indigenous, independent script also helps boost cultural identity,” says Sree. She uses easily identifiable symbols in her alphabets to strike a chord with the tribals. For example, an abstract bow and arrow is a motif in her script for the Kupias, who are renowned as skilled archers. New scripts are not for assertion of identity alone: they are also being created for accurately representing the unique sounds of tribal languages instead of letting them be drowned out, over time and through usage, by the superposition of an alien alphabet.
The yearning for script is also evident in Santhali, the major tribal language of eastern India. While Bangla and English scripts have been used for Santhali, a growing number of Santhals use and promote Ol Chiki script, developed in the 1930s by Raghunath Murmu and now recognised by the state. “There is a definite sense of pride among Ol Chiki supporters. They see it as their script, a counter to the stereotype of tribals being illiterate, and their languages being no more than a few mutterings and signs,” says Nishaant Choksi, a doctoral scholar at the University of Michigan who is researching Santhali. Ol Chiki hasn’t stopped Santhals from developing newer scripts; there are over 14, the last some five years back.
Other tribal languages of eastern India, like Ho and Kurukh, are also going for scripts of their own, says Vandana Tete, general secretary of the Jharkhandi Bhasha Sahitya Sanskriti Akhra. Last year, textbooks were printed in Kurukh  for the first time, in the Tolong Siki script, developed for it in 2006. Voluntary groups are also helping Ho speakers promote its Warang Chiti script. And in the central and eastern tribal belt of Gujarat too, people are toying with the idea of creating new scripts. The scripts developed by Sree are being propagated by supporters at public events—even at birthday parties and weddings, where printed charts are distributed.
The Maoists, too, have begun work in this field. They are developing a script for Gondi, spoken widely in Maoist-dominated regions, to do away with the Devanagari script. They are also backing the Ol Chiki script for Santhali, seeing it as appealing to the sense of tribal identity.
While the new scripts are likely to run into obstacles—one of which is the widespread illiteracy among tribals—they are one more sign that tribals no longer want to make do with handouts.
Write Code
Languages in which new scripts have been developed and the areas they are spoken in:
  • Gondi: Chhattisgarh, AP, MP and Maharashtra
  • Santhali: WB, Jharkhand, Orissa
  • Koya: AP, Orissa
  • Kolam: Maharashtra, AP, MP
  • Konda-Dora: AP and Orissa
  • Koya, Porja, Bagatha: AP



----- Original Message -----

[MLE] Professor Prasanna Sree has designed the script for 10 tribal languages24-07-2010 15:39:01
Karsten van Riezen [karsten_van_riezen@sil.org]
To: Karsten Van Riezen [karsten_van_riezen@sil.org]


Dear MLE friends,

Ten more scripts in India! All designed by ProfessorPrasannaSree, senior professor, Department of English, AndhraUniversity. See newspaper item copied below or click this link: http://www.hindu.com/2010/07/24/stories/2010072456772000.htm

I am not sure it will be of real help and meeting a need,but it is for sure an interesting initiative. Unlike as in e.g. Europein India script and language are strongly related. Many do not perceivetheir language as a proper "language" if it does not have a distinctscript. However from a pedagogical viewpoint a separate script is aheadage as for the learning children.  The transition from the locallanguage to the language of wider communication will be hampered.

Anyway, if anybody knows more about this project, wewould love to learn more about it! Thanks to Dr Raju Abraham forforwarding the link.

Regards,

Karsten

Karsten van Riezen
Education Consultant, SIL Int.

SIL, South Asia Group
LinkedIn
www.sil.org
Recommended website: http://www.nmrc-jnu.org/

Disclaimer: This mailing list is an informalway to share MLE related information. The sender neither claims creditor responsibility for the reports and events shared through thismailing list. Subscribing or unsubscribe by writing "[MLE] Subscribe" or "[MLE] Unsubscribe" inthe subject-line andsend a message to: karsten_van_riezen@sil.org. Anycontributions or suggestions are welcome.

The Hindu 24July 2010
Language gets a new face
Sumit Bhattacharjee
Prasanna Sree has designed the script for10 tribal languages
— Photo: C.V.Subrahmanyam

Scripting success:Professor Prasanna Sree, seniorprofessor, Department of English, Andhra University during an interview
VISAKHAPATNAM:Champa,a teenager, is happy that her spoken language has now got ascript. A Bagatha tribal from the Araku Valley of Visakhapatnamdistrict, she said a paper chart containing the script was presented toher husband, and that she will now spend some time learning it.
19-yearproject
ChampahasPrasanna Sree, senior professor in the Department of English inAndhra University, to thank for designing it. The professor has beenworking on the project for 19 years.
Thereareabout 35 tribal groups spread over different regions in AndhraPradesh. Out of them, 16 to 19 groups inhabit the hill regions of theEastern Ghats.
ProfessorSreepicked 10 major tribes such as the Bagathas, the Gadhabas, theJathapus, the Valmikis, the Kolams, the Porjas, the Koyas, theKonda-Doras, the Kotias and the Gonds, and designed distinctive andindividual scripts for them.
Ontheprocess, she said, “ Matru Matra is my style of devising acharacter for a language. Matru means maternal; Matra means alphabet ora letter. Each script designed by me is separate and with a distinctstyle.”
Acombination
ProfessorSreehas combined elements and influences of religion, culture andlifestyle of the respective tribes, and oriented them to the soundstructures of each spoken language.
“Oneofthe main characteristics of folk speech is that it is morerestricted to oral circulation, commonly known as oral literature,which is also called ‘verbal art' or ‘expressive' literature.Considering the sound structure of this oral form, I tried to identifythem with easy identifiable symbols from their daily life. I have alsoused a few designs from Oriya, Telugu, Hindi, Devanagari, Bengali andTamil scripts, as they do have an influence over the oral languagespoken by the tribals,” she said.
Attimes,she faced hostility, both from members of the primitive tribalgroups (PTGs) and Maoists.
“ThePorjasare shy and aggressive people. It took many months for me to getacquainted with them. The sound from my tape recorder [when replayed]terrified them. Camera flash upset them,” she said. Professor Sree saidher work was only the beginning.
“Themajortask lies ahead — introducing the script to the natives. Nearly132 tribal volunteers, supervised by 10 motivators, are now shoulderingthe responsibility of teaching these alphabets in the primary schools,to women of self-help groups and at adult education centres in 167villages.”
Globalacclaim
Globally,herwork has been widely acknowledged and appreciated by Tim Brookes,creator and director of endangered alphabets project, ChamplainCollege, Vermont, and Simon Ager, director of Omniglot, a UnitedKingdom-based researcher in writing systems and languages of the world.




--  Education Consultant; SIL Intl, Mobile: 09868891282

1 comment:

  1. As someone who grew up here in India having to learn to read and write 3 different scripts, I know that children have an amazing ability to absorb new things; but I also know that for those struggling with a new script, it can become very discouraging.

    I am encouraged to see that new scripts are being developed for the tribal communities in India, as this will help give the communities an even more distinct identity. However, what we must realise is that introducing a new script is no small task - especially when everything is going digital, and online. In order for a script to be accepted by the Unicode consortium, there has to be evidence of the script being used; which is often difficult to prove if the particular script is just a recent invention.

    I know that someone has quite rightly submitted a proposal for one of the old Gondi scripts to be included in Unicode (so that it will one day be available on any computer worldwide), but there may be a long wait until we really begin to see this script revived and in common use.

    I also wonder how the script will be re-introduced into the existing education system, as you need teachers who can learn the script in order to teach it to the children. One way around this issue is to have multi-script books which use both the old script as well as the script from either the regional or national language.

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