Monday, April 15, 2024

Vernacular needs identity


Share post:


By Abha Anindita

SHILLONG, Feb 20: Emotions, anger, and all feelings naturally find expression in the language one grows up listening to and speaking. Anything beyond that becomes a second or third language, not necessarily needing perfection, as it always comes after the mother tongue. Celebrating the mother tongue often leaves one tongue-tied with pride.
International Mother Language Day (February 21) commemorates precisely this — the significance of one’s linguistic heritage. And what better occasion to advocate for the inclusion of indigenous languages — Khasi and Garo— in the Eighth Schedule; a topic that is back in the spotlight during the Budget session of the Meghalaya Assembly.
The Eighth Schedule of the Constitution enumerates the official languages of India, thereby recognising them as official languages of the country. Presently, there are 22 languages in the Eighth Schedule, with only Assamese, Bodo, and Manipuri representing the Northeastern states.
However, the state government, in a step that can be assumed to be in the right direction, has introduced the languages in the school curriculum.
An exercise that began in the current academic session, Khasi and Garo languages are being taught in vernacular schools, including Khasi and Garo medium schools from Class I to IV. From Class V onwards, Khasi and Garo are offered as one of the Modern Indian Language (MIL) subjects. For non-Khasi and Garo speakers, Khasi and Garo are offered as third languages from Class V to Class VIII.
Sylvanus Lamare, a member of the Sahitya Akademi and former principal of St. Edmunds College, speaking about this year’s UNESCO motto for International Mother Language Day, said: “Multilingual education is a pillar of intergenerational learning,” emphasizing how this approach aligns with India’s cultural diversity, rich in a variety of languages and dialects. Learning in one’s native language, particularly for young minds, enhances cognitive abilities and fosters pride in language and cultural heritage.
Books used in English language schools have been translated into Khasi and Garo, though this process took some time. Books by several authors are prescribed by the Meghalaya Board of School Education (MBoSE). The process is being facilitated by the continuation of the Professional Development Programme for Teachers, along with the provision of resource books containing Teaching-Learning Materials, as informed by MA Razi, Commissioner and Secretary, Department of Education, Government of Meghalaya.
Furthermore, the standardisation of the Khasi and Garo languages in Meghalaya’s educational curriculum has been a topic of considerable discussion. While some argue for the formation of a committee to initiate the standardisation process, others contend that such measures are unnecessary. This stance is supported by a detailed examination of the linguistic development and acceptance of these languages within the region.
Standardization (American English) or standardisation (British English) is the process of implementing and developing technical standards based on the consensus of different parties that include firms, users, interest groups, standards organisations, and governments.
In the case of the Khasi language, its standardisation is rooted in historical precedent and practical usage. The ‘Sohra dialect’ emerged as a common language for communication long before the arrival of missionaries.
Notably, figures like William Carey and Rev. Thomas Jones played significant roles in formalising the language, with translations of religious texts and the development of alphabets tailored to Khasi. Over time, Khasi became entrenched in various facets of society, including education, legislative proceedings, mass media, and public discourse. Its acceptance as a lingua franca among diverse communities further solidifies its status as a standardised language.
Similarly, the Garo language has undergone a process of standardisation based on comparable criteria. The selection of the ‘A•we dialect’ as a common form of communication was influenced by the presence of American missionaries and the establishment of educational institutions. Literary figures like Ramke Momin and Samson K Sangma (Contd on P-9)
Vernacular needs identity…
(Contd from P-3) contributed significantly to the codification of the language. Garo, like Khasi, has been integrated into education, legislative processes, media, and public speeches, earning widespread acceptance across the Garo Hills region.
In both cases, the standard varieties of Khasi and Garo have met the necessary criteria for language standardisation.
While debates surrounding the inclusion of these languages in the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution persist, the implementation of multilingual education underscores the importance of nurturing and celebrating cultural heritage.
Moreover, the standardisation of Khasi and Garo languages, rooted in their historical significance and practical usage, reaffirms their status as vital components of the state’s identity.
Moving forward, it is imperative for stakeholders to continue supporting initiatives aimed at the preservation and propagation of indigenous languages, until the languages are finally officially in the Eighth Schedule.


Related articles

KKR’s Salt, Starc prove too hot for Lucknow Super Giants

Kolkata, April 14: Opening batter Phil Salt’s magnificent 89 not out complemented pacer Mitchell Starc’s brilliant bowling show...

Reservation Policy-na VPP-ni jingjengatanichi maming namgniko man·ja: NPP

SHILLONG: 1972 bilsini State Reservation Policy-ko Voice of the People’s Party (VPP)-ni jegale jingjengatanichi maming namgnirangkon ra·bana man·jaha...

National Nuggets

VHP leader shot dead in Nangal RUPNAGAR, April 14: A local Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader was shot dead...

Army successfully conducts field trials of anti-tank guided missile system

NEW DELHI, April 14: The Indian Army has successfully carried out field trials of indigenously-developed man-portable anti-tank guided...