Banwang Losu

Guwahati, August 15:

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Hailing from Longding district of Arunachal Pradesh, Banwang Losu’s efforts of reviving the Wancho language has finally paid off. Wancho, a Tibeto-Burman language, spoken in the border areas of Arunachal and Assam, has made it to the Unicode. “I have been working hard to preserve this language and give it an identity. It took me a long time to give it a digital face,” says Banwang, a research scholar who has been working on preserving the endangered language since the past 19 years.

While speaking to InsideNE, he said, “Wancho is the mother tongue of around 56,000 people in my district alone. It was a spoken language. We used the Roman script to write it but I sensed that it did not fit well. There are Upper, mid and lower Wancho speakers. It is a challenge in itself to learn the slight tonal differences among these.”

Losu wanted to start the script from scratch and give it a facelift and therefore he took this initiative to introduce new letters and alphabets. Currently, the script has 44 letters, 15 vowels and 29 consonants. “With proper research and study on Phonetics, I, along with the help and support of my well-wishers, started the new script and then trained 4 teachers to take it further. Now, 20 teachers have been trained in this language and they teach the school students here”, said Losu.

Extending his gratitude to the Wancho Cultural Society, an NGO and the Students’ Union, he said that without their support his vision would not have been successful. Banwang has featured in several workshops in Arunachal Pradesh to train the language. “We have made a short tutorial for teachers’ training. It becomes easy to watch and learn,” he said.

Banwang Losu hopes that the state government will provide him with financial aid to preserve the language. “I had been trying to draw government’s attention since 2013. I had written many letters but none had been responded till date. I hope now that Wancho has made it to the Unicode, the government will help me,” he said. He also hopes that the government takes measures to preserve endangered languages.

Losu has recently joined the Deccan College Post Graduation and Research Institute in Pune for his Masters in Linguistics. “It has always been my dream and finally, I am here.”

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