Pune (Maharashtra): In an attempt to preserve ‘Wancho language’ spoken in several northeastern states, linguist student Banwang Losu has developed an independent Wancho script.
Wancho, one of the tribes in Arunachal Pradesh, lacked a script.
Losu has also got it enlisted in the US-based Unicode Consortium for online use.
“It took me almost 12 years to script the Wancho language. It is not only confined to Arunachal Pradesh but is also spoken in Nagaland, Assam and other countries like Myanmar and Bhutan,” Losu said.
The language now also has a place in the Unicode, which means it can be used on the internet across the world.
“We are responsible to preserve our culture and languages ourselves or it will disappear from this world. There is no superior or inferior language; every language is equally important,” he said.
Losu, who is pursuing his Masters in linguistics at Deccan College Post Graduation and Research Institute in Pune, faced several problems developing the script.
“I found out that it was not possible to translate the language as it did not capture all of its sounds. So I started researching on phonetics of the language,” Losu said.
In 2013, a book titled ‘Wancho script’ was also published carrying basic application of letters into words and sentences. It is now being used as a textbook in around 20 government-run schools to teach the language.
Losu now wants to document all the script as it is among the endangered languages of the world.
“Other tribes are also welcome to use the script of our script. I can also help them document the script of their own language if they want,” he added.
The United Nations had declared 2019 as the year of Indigenous Languages to draw attention to languages around the world that are in danger of disappearing.
Out of 197 Indian languages on the verge of extinction, 89 languages are reported to be from Northeast India, with 34 belonging to Arunachal Pradesh alone.