To save and preserve Wancho language from extinction, linguist student Banwang Losu has developed an independent Wancho script. The language is spoken in many of the northeastern states. Wancho, one of the tribes in Arunachal Pradesh, lacked a script.
Banwang Losu, who took 12 years to script the language, also got "Wancho language" enlisted in the US-based Unicode Consortium for online use. This means that the language can now be used on the internet across the world.
"It took me almost 12 years to script the Wancho language. It is not only confined to Arunachal Pradesh but is also spoken in Nagaland, Assam and other countries like Myanmar and Bhutan," news agency ANI quoted Banwang Losu as saying.
He added, "We are responsible to preserve our culture and languages ourselves or it will disappear from this world. There is no superior or inferior language; every language is equally important."
Losu faced several problems while developing the Wancho script.
"I found out that it was not possible to translate the language as it did not capture all of its sounds. So I started researching on phonetics of the language," Losu, who is pursuing his Masters in Linguistics at Deccan College Post Graduation and Research Institute in Pune, told ANI.
A book titled "Wancho script", published in 2013, carried basic application of letters into words and sentences. The book is now being used as a textbook in around 20 government-run schools to teach the Wancho language.
"Other tribes are also welcome to use the script of our script. I can also help them document the script of their own language if they want," Losu told ANI.
The United Nations had declared 2019 as The Year of Indigenous Languages to draw attention to languages around the world that are in danger of getting extinct. Of the 197 Indian languages on the verge of extinction, 89 languages are reported to be from Northeast India, with 34 belonging to Arunachal Pradesh alone.