I’m not against Nagamese developing as a common or Naga official language. But I’m also for balancing that with bilingualism – the language of your family and culture to speak at home, and Nagamese to get along in the neighbour outside of that. And then beyond that, as many additional languages as you have the time and resources to learn because multilingual people tend to have a broader view of the world and be more accepting of people who aren’t just like them. That’s another extremely valuable human trait.
One practical reality we the present Naga generation should question ourselves and be well aware of is the standard of our present cultural life. How do we view our quality cultural life today? How do we evaluate ourselves in line with cultural identity? Do we virtualize our future well with this present trend of cultural life? Which organization will we opt for, present convenient or safeguard traditional heritage? Whom will we let our children blame for the lost of our Naga cultural life? Have we ever given a thought of cultural declension and damage, caused by so called unofficial dialect (Nagamese)? I think no one could ever imagine of a greater cultural damage than ever if Nagamese is made official language.
Nagas have deviated from the core reality of Culture. On analyzing such degradation of Naga cultural values and its pessimistic cause on life, I feel we need to revitalize and strengthen Naga cultural life. The present trend of Naga cultural life is shown below in the table for public awareness.
This language declension
has caused us:
Loss of cultural information – There may be a lot of interesting and useful cultural information captured by a language’s lexicon that is lost when the language dies. For example, a language might make a lexical distinction between two different types of plants that may ultimately have medical benefit. Ultimately, Language has been called “the DNA of culture.”
Loss of cultural identity – Language is an important way of establishing and maintaining cultural identity. This may not seem important to you, but to a lot of cultures and peoples, it makes them happy to not assimilate 100% to the dominant culture.
If culture is important to a tribe, then their language must be kept alive. Whether they are endangered or not, all languages carry a people’s identity and are part of their culture. The threat that faces almost all Naga tribes is that their languages do not have written scripts, hence the likelihood of them becoming extinct with less usage is greater than that of other languages (like the alien languages) where a lot of material on the languages are captured in written form. Knowledge is also trapped in a language – specific knowledge about a people’s environment and their histories. Some of the puzzles of this modern era could possibly be solved with knowledge gleaned from endangered languages’ knowledge that is not present in most of the alien languages.
We recognize that language is an essential means of transmitting cultural identity and educating future generations about indigenous knowledge and traditions. Yet, a global history of colonialism, racism, and discrimination has led to the extinction of approximately 600 languages in the last century. With 7,000 different speech systems in the world, many nearly killed off with their native speakers, preservation is a beyond-enormous goal. It’s also time sensitive. Experts estimate that 3,054 to 3,176 languages are endangered: That’s 43 to 46 percent of all known languages on earth, in addition to the hundreds that are already extinct. According to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, 90 percent of the world’s languages are at risk of disappearing in the next 100 years. With most indigenous knowledge being passed down orally through the generations, and fewer and fewer young people learning linguistic traditions from their elders, the vast archive of traditional knowledge is at risk of being lost forever.
Knowing the fact that no language is greater or lesser than the other we tend to evaluate language irrationally from literary perspective, undermining some and heartening the other as we inclined towards modernization. Cherishing the one that is dominant and convenient in usage while restrain which is not commonly spoken. Such trend of ignorance in failing to understand distinctiveness of language damages the values and ethos of language especially among the communities of third world countries. Resulted in the extinction or lost of indigenous dialogue.
Let’s revitalize, standardize and promote our Naga local dialects by strengthening them and take advantage of English international language which is our official language as well, by empowering at the maximum scale through different ways and means. So as to enable us to discourage recognition of Nagamese as official language, a conglomerated language that was fashioned by non Nagas to serve timely purpose of communication with other cultural communities.
Therefore, identifying all the languages and literary problems of the past from particular contextual confrontation, people of present generation should rationally analyze and come up with inclusive and constrictive ideas to preserve and promote diminishing oral literature for the generation to come.
Director, ICS Nagaland.