The INTACH organized workshop on Scientific Preservation of Indigenous Language  

Shillong, Nov 22: The Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in association with the Department of Cultural and Creative Studies, North Eastern Hill University is organising a Workshop on Scientific Preservation of Indigenous Language on Friday, the 22nd November, 2019 at the New Guest House, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong.

The workshop was graced by Mr F R Kharkongor, IAS, Commissioner and Secretary, Arts and Culture in the presence of Dr Madeline Y Tham, Convener, INTACH, Professor Desmond L Kharmawphlang, Head Cultural and Creative Studies, NEHU, Proffessor Andrew May, University of Melbourne and Dr Kailash Bhattacharya, Guwahati Medical College.

The Chief Guest in his inaugural address stated, “The indigenous language needs to be preserved, protected and promoted in order to sustain vernacular literature, the new generation should refrain from using casual abbreviation text that may cause harm to their mother tongue”, Kharkongor lauded the effort of INTACH in this regard and urged upon the members to initiate such noble endeavour for the benefit of the future generation. Initially, the keynote address was delivered by Dr Madeline Y Tham, Convener INTACH and the workshop sessions was chaired by Dr Moushumi Dey, Co-convener, INTACH.

During the session, Professor Desmond L Kharmawphlang deliberated on the significance of the oral chants of the shaman, which contains valuable knowledge for posterity. He displayed the footage of ritual chants performed by Dising Mariñ of Pahambir, where he narrated the folklore about the creation of the earth and humanity relating to various aspects of cultural heritage.

Kharmawphlang lamented that the practice is declining and asserted that there is a need for further scientific research and studies termed as ethno palaeography. In the subsequent session, Professor Andrew May narrated about the prospects and challenges of the indigenous languages in the encounter with the digital age. He deplored the colonial control of many indigenous languages across the world through the system of linguistic imperialism.

Andrew May asserted that the primary exponent of Khasi literature must be an indigenous litterateur, instead of any missionary, in spite of whatever contribution they have made toward the Khasi written literature.  He stressed on the necessity of digitisation of every indigenous language for the long term preservation and insisted on people’s participation  in the process through proper institutional mechanism.

While narrating about the history of indigenous languages in Australia, May stated that in 1788 there are about seven hundred indigenous languages of the aborigines, and within a span of few hundred years, in 2016 the number of indigenous languages has declined to a mere one hundred and sixty languages spoken by just few thousand people for each language. He alerted the gathering that in commemoration of the International Year of Indigenous Languages, the Khasi society should embark upon rejuvenating the vernacular language.

The final deliberation was given by Dr Kailash Bhattacharjee on the role of poetry in the preservation of indigenous languages. He spoke at length on the poetry of a Khasi bard, U Soso Tham with emphasis on the parable and philosophy of Khasi culture. The concluding remarks was delivered by Dr Moushumi Dey with certain feedback from the gathering about the negligence of the government authority towards the vernacular languages and the apathy of certain section of the society.

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