Mokokchung, January 27 (MExN): Joining in the debate about the purported plan of the Government of India to promote the pidgin – Nagamese – as the official language of Nagaland, three apex organizations of the Ao community today strongly censured the GoI’s move and hoped that the Government of India would respect the sentiments of the Naga people, and refrain from such a move, which would have long-term effect on Naga society.
The three apex organizations – Ao Senden, Watsu Mungdang and Ao Students’ Conference (AKM) – in a press release today, while expressing surprise and bafflement, declared support towards the Naga Students’ Federation’s stand and the supporting views expressed by different intellectuals on this issue.
While acknowledging the ongoing discussion and debate, the three apex Ao organizations asserted that Nagamese is a pidgin which has no proper grammar or vocabulary, and evolved out of necessity to facilitate trade and commerce between the plains people and the Nagas.
“…plans to promote the pidgin (Nagamese) which has no clear cut grammar or vocabulary as the official language of Nagaland is totally unbelievable, if not insulting to the Naga people as a whole,” it stated.
Highlighting the development of the Ao language, the release stated that the Ao Senden Literature Board (ASLB), under the aegis of the Ao Senden and also the active support and cooperation of the Watsu Mungdang and the AKM, had been working to promote the Ao language among native Ao speakers. It stated that Ao Senden has made notable achievement through annual regular Ao subject examination, and awarding of degrees to Ao language scholars.
It also pointed out that vernacular Naga languages figures in the list of endangered languages around the world. In this regard, the release pointed out that Ao Senden has directed all the schools under Mokokchung district jurisdiction to incorporate Ao language as a subject in the school academic curriculum.
“As such, the Government of India’s move to promote Nagamese is nothing short of curtailing the noble initiative of the Ao Senden in promoting the vernacular language,” the release stated.
Moreover, the release claimed that “so long as the school textbooks are written in English, and so long as the Roman script is used for writing the different languages, English should be the official language of the state of Nagaland.”
“Promoting another language, especially a pidgin language like Nagamese, would not only be against the intellectual interests of the Naga people, the intellectuals and the students; but also against the rich cultural heritage of the Naga people especially with regard to vernacular language,” it maintained.
Nonetheless, the three organizations acknowledged the importance or the usage of Nagamese in the everyday life of the Naga society and added that the pidgin – Nagamese – cannot be ignored in Naga society as an effective means of communication among the people.
However, they said that promoting Nagamese as the official language would be “the nemesis of the vernacular languages which are struggling to make a foothold in Naga society after many years through relentless efforts and contributions by Naga writers and intellectuals”.
The three Ao organizations asked “all likeminded apex tribal organizations, the intellectuals and also the Government of Nagaland to strongly appeal the Government of India against the purported move to replace English as the official language”.
Expressing hope that the Government of India would respect the sentiments of the people, the release indicated that such a move to promote Nagamese as the official language would have adverse long-term effect on the intellectual, the Naga culture and tradition, and the development of vernacular languages in the society”.