By,Samarjit KachariAsst. ProfessorDept. of Mass CommunicationPondicherry University
Language not just a medium of interaction It plays a role in identity formation Channel by which we abstract reality It affects the way in which we think or perceive reality Linked to our emotions
According to Ethonologue: Languages of the World (2009), Published by SIL there are 6909 languages Harrison (2007): Almost 80 % of the world’s population speaks just 83 languages, 3000 languages are spoken by 20%, 3586 languages are spoken by only .2% population. Krauss (1992): 50% of languages are likely to become extinct by next century, another 40-75% may no longer be spoken by children during this century, only 5-10 % (300-600) are safe. International Conference of language (UNESCO), concern began in late 1980’s and resulted in the outcome of the book Endangered languages (Robins & Ulenbeck 1991)
Physical loss of speakers (due to genocide, natural disasters etc) Disintegration of the language community (displacement, assimilation, economic concerns) Homogenizing effect (in the form of dominant language media) Forced abandonment of the language (through overt suppression)
Stephen Wurm (1992) Potentially endangered, Endangered, Seriously endangered, Moribund UNESCO (expert group on endangered languages) Vulnerable: most children speak the language, but it may be restricted to certain domains (e.g., home) Definitely endangered: Children no longer learn the language as mother tongue at home Severely endangered: language is spoken by grandparents and older generations; while the parent generation may understand it, they do not speak it to children or among themselves Critically endangered: the youngest speakers are grandparents and older, and they speak the language partially and infrequently Extinct: there are no speakers left
Spoken by Bodo tribal spread across Assam and parts of North Bengal Introduced as medium of instruction in primary schools in Bodo dominated areas in 1963 Got the status of co-official language of Assam in 1984 Recognized under the 8th schedule of the Indian constitution in 2003 UGC introduced Bodo as a subject in NET in 2011
Bodo one of the 84 Indian languages placed as vulnerable in UNESCO’s list of languages in danger of extinction. Demography of the places inhabited by Bodos not conducive for the growth of the language Literacy rate low Attitude of the elite Bodos Political factors Government policies Media at a nascent stage, visibility very low
Internet enabled participatory communication Best reflected in Social Networking sites like Orkut and Facebook Comments on Orkut community and Facebook group in native language Images & videos depicting the culture of the tribe uploaded
5 FB groups observed for periods ranging from one year-one month Comments both in Bodo and English Members include politicians, student leaders, activists, diaspora, students & litterateurs Number of members 20 -1500 Uploads include article, poetry, images, videos Except one group, activity not daily Comments and uploads on a single day range from 0-80
Threads on politics, language, culture, literature, education One group completely based on literature Other group on sharing jokes Two on bodoland demand One group for connecting people of different Bodo groups Materials (texts, videos, images) posted and commented upon
Articles and poems uploaded on the site. Some poems and articles published in magazines Poets and writers sharing their thoughts Participants not knowing the language seeking help to learn the language Exchanging the similarities in different Bodo language
Literature is being created apart from giving Bodos the space to use their language frequently and ensuring in its visibility Filling the void in mainstream media Facilitating regular use of the language Linkage with new generation
Internet access is only increasing with time and as it increases, it will only boost the scope for further use of the technology to strengthen the use of the language and change the media habits of the people (right now only english/assamese newspapers/news channels with use of Bodo media just being limited to video films and music videos)
Whatever the Bodo language has attained over the years has all been due to the efforts by the Bodo people in the real world (through protests, agitations, awareness campaigns on the importance of learning Bodo language) Internet can just be one of the many tools to enhance the scope of the use of the language and help it in staying alive and thriving. Bodos will have to take advantage of the constitutional safeguards and use it for purposes other than dealing with members of the family.
Online platform gives a scope for filling up the void due to the lack of mass media (newspapers, tv, radio) Harnesses the literary talent of Bodos living around the country and keeping in touch with the roots Without increase in access, benefits doubtful. Social organizations will have to promote these forums Political and economic status will play a role, apart from media, in the survival of the language and literature.