kumaoni language in UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger
Are we witnessing the last generation of Kumaoni language speaking people ? Guess so, because according to UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, Kumaoni is now officially in the unsafe category. Are we really going to let go of the language that has given us our identity? What has brought us to this? These are the questions that keep crossing my mind time and again. Do we have a solution to that? Let’s try and figure out.
WHERE IT ALL STARTED?
I am among those bunch of people who are really in love with their culture (even though they do not know much about it). I have had my childhood indulged in travelling as my dad was in the army. We never got much time to visit our hometown or experience its distinct culture. But I’ve always had that sense of belonging there.
So one day, out of curiosity, I start surfing the web and accumulate content about the culture. Where do I start? Well.. I start by finding the most famous pahari songs. That’s a good first step. Next what? Well the obvious.. I start to find resources to learn the language (Kumaoni). I have this habit of starting everything at the roots. So I start to read about the emergence and advancement of the kumaoni language itself.
And I couldn’t believe my eyes when I stumbled upon the WIKIPEDIA page of Kumaoni language. I was literally shocked to find out that according to UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, kumaoni language now lies in the unsafe category.
ABOUT THE LANGUAGE
Kumaoni language is primarily spoken in districts of Almora, Nainital, Pithoragarh, Bageshwar, Champawat, Udham Singh Nagar as well as in areas of Himachal Pradesh and Nepal. Well… It is also spoken by other people who have migrated out of these places(myself included). But according to my research (of sorts), there are very few people left who still use this native language of the hills. I myself found this very alarming.
WHY IS THIS HAPPENING
Well… What I presume is that with our over indulgence in other languages, we’ve started losing pride in our own. Now don’t get me wrong there. I am not saying that learning and experiencing new cultures is wrong in any way. Infact, on the contrary, it is quite uplifting. But I personally think what we can do on our part is keep our language alive. This is the language passed onto us by our forefathers. This is the langauage that shows the world where we come from. It provides us with a unique identity. Don’t we like that?
The time to act is Now. This is the time we decide. Either we try and of change thing for the good or we see the our identities fade away in front of our eyes. The change can start with ourselves. There are plenty of groups out there on fb. We can utilize them. Try and interact with people who have the same concerns. Figure out the possibilities of movement towards the upheaval of kumaoni and garhwali languages. Whatever it takes to keep intact these gems of languages. After all its not only our language. It’s the language if the hills.
EDITED: We have taken a small step forward in this direction with our Kumaoni Language lessons. You can see it HERE