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Itanagar: Workshop on documenting language and culture of Ashing (Adi) community begins at RGU

Ashing (Adi) is one of the least known and undocumented languages under the larger ambit of the Adi ethnic identity of Arunachal Pradesh.

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ITANAGAR- Three days workshop on the language and culture documentation of the Ashing (Adi) community has begun today at Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU). The program is being organised by the Centre for Endangered Languages (CFEL), Arunachal Institute of Tribal Studies (AITS), RGU under the project “Documentation of Endangered Languages, Oral Narratives and Cultures of the Lesser-Known Tribal Communities of Arunachal Pradesh” supported by the North Eastern Council (NEC), Govt. Of India.

Ashing (Adi) is one of the least known and undocumented languages under the larger ambit of the Adi ethnic identity of Arunachal Pradesh. This speech variety is spoken only by around ten (10) speakers who live in Ngereng village, Kuging village, and a few families in the Tuting township under the Tuting administrative Circle of the Upper Siang District, Arunachal Pradesh. Based on the UNESCO’s Language Vitality and Endangerment Framework (2003), Ashing can be classified as a moribund language. It is on the verge of extinction since the intergenerational transmission of the language has discontinued and the present speakers are also already old-aged.

During the inaugural program of the workshop, Professor Saket Kushwaha, Vice-Chancellor of Rajiv Gandhi University while welcoming and felicitating the Ashing speakers thanked them for their hospitality towards the research team during their stay in the field. He urged the native speakers to continue speaking their language for intergenerational transmission of the language and document it before it vanishes from this world. Prof. Kushwaha also urged the centre to document the language in both textual and digital formats besides developing a video documentary on this speech community.

While citing examples of the third language subjects in school education of Arunachal Pradesh, Dr. N. T. Rikam, Registrar of RGU urged the CFEL in collaboration with the native speakers to develop the language in a book form so that it can be learned in and out of school by future generations. He stressed the need for looking at the future implications of the language lost and urged the Ashing speakers to adopt strategies to preserve their language before it is lost forever.

The resource person from Ashing Community includes Mrs. Gommang Tamut, Chitut Dawa Danggen, Nuni Siboh and Dongkong Siboh.

While thanking the university, Dawa stated that they have been thinking of a way to preserve the Ashing language so that it can help the future generations to learn the language. He assured to extend every possible help to the RGU research team in the preservation and documentation of their language and culture.

Mrs. Gommang Tamut, who is the only competent Ashing speaker, says that she will continue to speak the Ashing language till the Sun and Moon keep rising. She urged the university fraternity to extend help in the best possible way to preserve their language and culture.

Dugbang Lipir who belongs from Tangam (Adi) community is also attending the program as a language consultant and interpreter. During the interaction program, Lipir who is from Kuging village mentioned that the preservation of any language is a two-way process wherein the efforts of both the native speakers and collaboration agencies like RGU and Governments are essential. He thanked the RGU fraternity for providing this sort of platform and urged them to continue documenting the language and culture of the community like Ashing.

Professor S. Simon John, the Coordinator of the Centre for Endangered Languages (CFEL) and the Principal Investigator (PI) of the research project , introduces the background and the purpose of the workshop. He says that the main purpose of the workshop is to bridge the gap between the University and the communities.

Kaling Dabi, the workshop Coordinator and the Research Associate, Centre for Endangered Languages (CFEL) introduces the Ashing native speakers to the university fraternity. He also narrates the month-long fieldwork experiences of the research team in the Ashing villages.

The inaugural programme ended with a vote of thanks by Kombong Darang, Research Associate, Centre for Endangered Languages (CFEL). In his thanksgiving message, he profoundly appreciates the university fraternity led by Professor SaketKushwaha, the Honourable Vice-Chancellor for arranging an interaction programme for speakers of Ashing, the moribund language variety.

The members of the RGU fraternity namely, Prof .Amitava Mitra (Pro-Vice-Chancellor), Prof. Otem Padung (Finance Officer), Prof. R. C. Parida (Director, IQAC), Prof. Sarit Kumar Chaudhuri (HoD, Anthropology), Prof. Jumyir Basar (Director, AITS), and Mr. Moji Riba (HoD, Mass Communication) were also present during the program.

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