Itanagar: A three-day workshop on “Language and Culture Documentation of the Ashing (Adi) Community” began at Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU) here on Monday.

The workshop is being organised by the Centre for Endangered Languages (CFEL) of RGU’s Arunachal Institute of Tribal Studies (AITS) under the project “Documentation of Endangered Languages, Oral Narratives and Cultures of the Lesser-Known Tribal Communities of Arunachal Pradesh” supported by the North Eastern Council (NEC).

Ashing is one of the least-known and undocumented languages (dialect) under the larger ambit of the Adi ethnic identity of Arunachal Pradesh. This speech variety is spoken only by around 10 people who live in Ngereng and Kuging villages, and a few families in Tuting under the Tuting Circle of Upper Siang district.

Based on UNESCO’s Language Vitality and Endangerment Framework (2003), Ashing can be classified as a moribund language. It is on the verge of extinction since the intergenerational transmission of the language has discontinued and the present speakers are also already old-aged.

RGU Vice-Chancellor Saket Kushwaha welcomed the Ashing speakers and thanked them for their hospitality towards the research team during their fieldwork. He urged the native speakers to continue speaking their language and document it before it vanishes from this world. He also urged the centre to document the language in both textual and digital formats besides developing a video documentary on this speech community.

Citing examples of the third language subjects in the state’s school education, RGU Registrar N T Rikam urged the CFEL to develop Ashing in a book form in collaboration with the speakers for learning in schools. He stressed the need for looking at the future implications of a language lost.

The resource persons from the Ashing community included Gommang Tamut, Chitut Dawa Danggen, Nuni Siboh and Dongkong Siboh.

Thanking the university, Dawa assured help to the RGU research team in the preservation and documentation of their language and culture. Tamut, the only competent Ashing speaker, made a similar plea.

Dugbang Lipir, a resident of Kuging and from the Tangam (Adi) community, is also attending the programme as a language consultant and interpreter. He said the preservation of any language is a two-way process wherein the efforts of both the native speakers and collaboration agencies like the RGU and the government are essential.

S Simon John, the coordinator of CFEL and principal investigator of the research project, said the main purpose of the workshop is to bridge the gap between the university and the communities.

Kaling Dabi, the workshop coordinator and research associate at CFEL, narrated the month-long fieldwork experiences of the research team in the Ashing villages.

Among others, RGU pro-vice-chancellor Amitava Mitra, finance officer Otem Padung, IQAC director R C Parida, anthropology head Sarit Kumar Chaudhuri, AITS director Jumyir Basar and mass communication HoD Moji Riba and CFEL’s research associate Kombong Darang were present.

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