ELDP Project Highlight: Documentation of the Oral Literature of the Tai Khamyang Community in Upper Assam, India

By ELAR Archive|January 17, 2019|ELDP Project Highlight|0 comments

Today on the ELAR blog, we are featuring ELDP grantee Palash Kumar Nath’s project, ‘Documentation of the oral literature of the Tai Khamyang community in Upper Assam, India’. Palash deposited a collection with ELAR of the Tai-Khamyang language (ISO 639-3:ksu); a highly endangered language of the Tai-kadai family spoken in the Upper Assam area of Northeast India.

On language revitalization:

One of the significant highlights of this project is the generation of awareness among the community members for preserving and revitalizing their language. In the face of massive aggression of the dominant languages, the Khamyang language has considerably lost its speakers. Most of the young members of the community have already lost the language. At the time of the start of the project there was not much enthusiasm among the community members. During my conversation with the older members of the community they expressed their helplessness in making the young members to take some interest in their own language. Hence I planned to conduct a workshop which was aimed at mobilising the young and old members of the community towards using their language and at least to make them think about the present status and the value of their language.

Both the young and the old members of the community were invited to participate in the workshop. As the event progressed, all the members got involved in the production of the story books for their children to read.

Bhogeswar Thoumung and Chowsaseng Pangyok, who are unarguably the most knowledgeable speakers of the language, are busy writing their stories. Photo: Pranjana Kalita Nath

On the documentation process:

Documentation of the Khamyang language being one of the primary objectives of the project, speech events in different forms have been recorded. But since the number of the speakers of the language is considerably low, it was often difficult to get the best speakers available for recording all the time. Yet, the documentation process itself has generated some curiosity and interest in the language.

“This is one of my favourite photographs. Chowsa Seng Pangyok writing a story in the workshop. He is one of the most knowledgeable members of the community and also one of the last fluent speakers of the language.” Photo: Pranjana Kalita Nath

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