Friday, July 10, 2015

Apatani Alphabet

The Apatani Alphabet or Tanw Kennanw saw the light of the day when its first chart was released simultaneously at Supuñ Dree and Hong Dree at Ziro on July 5, 2015 by Dr. Hage Lodor, President, Tanw Supuñ Dùukuñ (TSD) and Bamang Felix, Parliamentary Secretary (Education), Government of Arunachal Pradesh respectively. 

The Apatani language was written using Devanagair Script in the 1960s but later, Roman letters became more popularly used to write the language. Early writers struggled with the problem of representing some sounds which are specific to Apatani and are not available either in Roman or Devanagari script. For a long time, individual authors followed their own innovations to address this issue. As a result, however, there was no uniformity in how the words were spelt.

In view of this, the Apatani Cultural and Literary Society (ACLS) organized a symposium at Ziro to standardize the writing in Apatani. Two-days deliberations resulted in a recommendation which has been followed for more than a decade. In the meantime, the Apatani was approved by the Government of Arunachal Pradesh to be taught as the third languages in the schools of Ziro valley. The primer for teaching the middle classes were prepared by the Popi Sarmiñ Society (PSS) using the recommendations of the ACLS symposium.

With the advent of social networking sites, many youngsters attempted communication in Apatani. Sure enough, they felt the need to review the 1997 ACLS recommendation to make the writing more accurate. In 2012, NgunuZiro and the Apatani Teachers’ Welfare Forum (ATWF) collaborated to organize a workshop to explore means to improve teaching of Apatani in the schools of Ziro.  Of the many recommendations, one of them was to constitute a language development committee to review the 1997 ACLS script. The task was entrusted to the ACLS. Accordingly, the ACLS constituted the Apatani Language Development Committee (ALDC) in August 2013. The mandate of the ALDC was to review the 1997 ACLS script and submit the report in a year’s time.

After a year-long discussions and study, the ALDC submitted the report in a public workshop organized by the ALCS on November 30, 2014. The participants recommended that the ACLS accept the report, study it and give their opinion within two months. The ACLS gave technical approval to ALDC recommended script on January 12, 2015 and forwarded it to the Tanw Supuñ Dùukuñ (TSD), the apex body of the Apatanis, for administrative approval. The TSD gave the formal administrative approval and entrusted the task of promoting the script and the Apatani language to the ACLS.

The publication of the chart, accompanied by a pamphlet entitled “AN INTRODUCTION TO APATANI ALPHABET” by the ACLS is the beginning of its attempt to promote the Apatani language.