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Tribal Languages in India - Preserving (4/4)
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Tribal Languages in India – Preserving (4/4)

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Language is a vessel of culture and its loss can prove to be detrimental to the survival and continuation of cultural heritage.

When European traders first arrived in Hindustan, what is now India, there were thousands of indigenous languages spoken by a vast number of Indians. After ruling the nation for over two centuries, the vast majority of the native population suffered dramatically and still continues to suffer from this symbolic violence. The latter refers to the imposition of culture of the ruling class on dominated groups who are forced to recognize their ruling culture as legitimate and their own culture as illegitimate. Language loss thus compromises the sovereignty and tribal identity. Therefore, it is vital for such indigenous tribal languages to survive because it instills knowledge, pride and respect in the children (who become the transmitters of the language (culture) naturally.

Basically, to promote and preserve these languages, each one of the stakeholders has to work in unison. Below find the recommendations for elders, educators, parents and children who can help preserve these languages with the help of native community, linguists and schools.

Recommendations for Native Communities and Organizations

  1. Encourage all community members to use indigenous language on daily basis and assist anyone who is interested in learning the same.
  2. Promote storytelling gatherings so that it inculcates the young minds about the language history.
  3. Reinforce the importance of native language by incorporating traditional terminology and language protocols in the community.
  4. Create local and/or regional language commission with comprehensive responsibilities.
  5. Promote native tribal language programs on television, radio, local news and in print media.
  6. Publish posters in heritage language so that values can be promoted at a larger level.

Recommendations for Linguists

Linguists play a crucial role in gathering data relating to a particular language. They can thus, be useful by:

  1. Taking help from participating communities and improving the process of data gathering for better analysis and interpretation.
  2. Providing encouragement to all those native students who are interested in teaching their language or willing to become linguists.
  3. Preparing linguistic templates and/or materials that are of direct benefit to the community and that are directed towards saving efforts.

Recommendations for Parents

The onus here rests on parents to encourage their young minds to speak in local dialects because the majority of the time children spend is inside the house. So, parents can adopt the following measures:

  1. Adopt a proactive role in promoting the use of native language at home by creating a healthy environment for the same.
  2. Use traditional names of their child and make them understand its significance.
  3. Make your children understand the family history and tell them who they are and how their identity came into being.
  4. Provide and/or create opportunities for children to participate in meaningful conversation with others.

Recommendations for Educators

Professional educators with their efforts can really help save the language from extinction by adopting the following measures –

  1. Make effective use of local expertise whenever local language or cultural knowledge is being addressed in the curriculum.
  2. Do not forget to employ locally relevant curriculum with which the native students can identify.

Recommendations for Schools

Together with the community efforts, schools can play an influencing role in transferring knowledge of the language by:

  1. Offer incentives to students so that they participate in the native language programs often.
  2. Create an easily accessible local knowledge repository so that transmission becomes simpler.
  3. If unaware, the schools can collaborate with the teachers proficient in the language and elders and acquire a comprehensive understanding of all aspects.
  4. Make the most of the locally produced resources like rich media (videos, images, reports, tribal documents, maps, books etc.)
  5. Develop illustrated materials such as comic books with visually relevant situations.

Recommendations for Native Community

The elders in the native community can keep the language going on for centuries with the following efforts:

  1. Use as much as possible in day-to-day lives, particularly in ceremonial events. Speak as much as possible in your native language while at home.
  2. Assist and encourage younger generation to converse in their native language so that they get a grip on the vocabulary.
  3. Conduct and take an active role in regional and local councils and formulate ways to pass on language traditions to future generations.
  4. Be a role model by reinforcing traditional values and maintain spiritual traditions that convey the history of the language and the community.
  5. While making a young mind learns the new language, be patient and tolerant to any of its mistakes.
  6. Use traditional terms and practices of welcoming, respect, recognition, kinship while meeting and greeting others.
  7. Work towards ensuring that new words are culturally grounded in world view so that it continues as a working, living language.

So, instead of harping on the same old song of the ancient status of the language, the efforts should be directed towards developing children’s literature, adult’s literature and everyday usage. This way it may fill the gap and promote love and pride for the language that is missing from the hearts of the people from centuries.

With this, comes the end of #TribalTuesdays. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading it!

Tribal Languages
Akanksha Mittal

Akanksha Mittal, an avid reader, frequent traveler and a passionate blogger hails from Delhi, the capital of India. Her key areas of interest lies in politics, foreign policy, and international relations. When it comes to learning about different faiths and cultures, she is always curious. She can be reached at
2 Comments on this post.
  • Avatar
    Osman Abdalfatah
    4 July 2016 at 8:41 am
    Leave a Reply

    Preservaing a lamguage from being instinct needs colletive efforts from Indian government, the community and the local NGOs. This a very informative article.

  • Akanksha Mittal
    Akanksha mittal
    4 July 2016 at 1:19 pm
    Leave a Reply

    Thanks Osman! Glad you liked it 🙂

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