StoryWeaver helps preserve rare dialects

Anvita Srivastava
Sunday, 24 February 2019

Unnati Director Hemangi Joshi said, “Korku is a tribal language spoken by two lakh people in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, but there is no literary work done in this language.”

Pune: To preserve local dialects and tribal languages, several national and international organisations like Unnati, Azad India Foundation (AIF), SNS Foundation, African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA) have collaborated with Pratham Books. StoryWeaver is the project under which digital library has been created in 100 languages is entering into yet another phase on International Mother Tongue Day (February 21) on Thursday. 

In the next phase, StoryWeaver will collaborate with more organisations. StoryWeaver, a open source digital platform of multilingual children’s stories of Pratham Books launched the Freedom To Read campaign. 

Speaking about this initiative, Amna Singh, Associate Language Editor, StoryWeaver said, “We launched our first Freedom To Read Campaign in the year 2017, on the occasion of International Mother Tongue Day and this year we want to take this campaign to greater heights.” 
She added, “We invited entries from individuals and organisations to translate our books into  different mother tongues. We selected 10 organisations. Similarly eight individuals too are part of this project.”

The library is in several languages including tribal Indian languages like Korku and Pawari; relatively rare languages like Bundelkhandi and Surjapuri; and underserved international languages like Chinyanja.

Unnati Director Hemangi Joshi said, “Korku is a tribal language spoken by two lakh people in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, but there is no literary work done in this language.”

“Korku children from Melghat  near Amravati were unable to study in the schools as the medium of instruction is Marathi which is a foreign language for them. They faced a lot of problems because of that. A language is identity for people and if your language is not recognised it damages your self-confidence,” she added.

“For a language to attain recognition, it is important to have literature in that language and with this platform of StoryWeaver, this language will have a digital presence and can be reached to everyone with Korku language living in any part of the world,” she added.

Since the Korku language does not have a script, the organisation is developing resources using the Devanagari script to ensure that the children learn to read and write Korku. These resources include storybooks, songs, curriculum-related resources and reading material.

Similarly, SNS Foundation in collaboration with StoryWeaver is translating books in Marwari language spoken by several community members in Rajasthan and Gurugram, Haryana. SNS Foundation Manager Vijay Tanwar said, “We are fortunate to work with StoryWeaver for giving a platform to promote the mother tongue. We are supposed to translate 100 stories into Marwari, out of which we have finished 60. We showed it to teachers in schools in Rajasthan and they were pleasantly surprised.”

“Any content in mother tongue attracts the interest of people, especially kids, as they feel a bond with their mother tongue. This digital platform will help Marwari language reach a wider population,” he added.

Yuman Hussain, Executive Director Azad India Foundation (AIF) said, “Surjapuri is spoken by 1.2 million people in Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and Bangladesh but there is absence of literary works and this platform of StoryWeaver gave us the idea to revive the regional dialect and preserve it.” 

“Reading and understanding in mother tongue is better and with this platform we are also explaining the concepts of science and maths in Surjapuri language and that will enable them to understand better,” she added. “Our language reflects our culture and thus it is very important to preserve it for generations to come. If we do not act immediately, our regional dialects will become extinct.”

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