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Inventing New Indigenous Words Is Key To Meeting The Challenges Of Globalization

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

In the last one hundred years or so, many Adivasi/ indigenous communities in India have lost their languages. There are several factors behind it–cultural dominance by non-Adivasi groups, migration to urban areas, lack of schooling in the said language etc. It is, therefore, imperative that we celebrate people and practises that keep languages alive and thriving. One key component of keeping indigenous languages alive is to invent new words for things and experiences that have been brought to us through modernity and globalization.

Indigenous groups must add more and more words to their vocabulary to keep up with a fast-changing world

In Tripura, a small state in North-East India, an indigenous writer, poet, linguist, and researcher named Alindralal Tripura (Tripura is the name of a tribe) did just that and invented many words that increased the overall treasure of the local vocabulary. It is through his efforts that later researchers and linguists built the language and made it available in schools and colleges.

One of his everlasting contributions has been inventing words for dates and things. For instance in 1972 he ascertained that the word “airplane's" Kokborok word should be Birkhung which translates to "flying machine". The word is now widely used among Tripuris. Him and other like-minded people also invented words for the 12 months of the year and the seven days of the week. The 12 months are called– 1) Talhing 2) Talrung 3) Talslang 4) Tallang 5) Taltung 6) Talkran 7) Talyung 8) Taltuk 9) Talbang 10) Talumai 11) Taluang 12) Talbung. Apart from this, Alindralal Tripura and Lampra Goria Bodol drafted names for the seven days of the week–1) Koktisal (Sunday) 2) Tangsal (Monday), 3) Kraksal (Tuesday), 4) Srangsal (Wednesday), 5) Sangrongsal (Thursday) 6) Phasal (Friday) tei (7) Chasal (Saturday).

Kokborok script invented by Alindralal Tripura

Alindralal Tripura was born in 1921 at Chottogram, Nunchari village (now in Bangladesh). His father was Nakul Chandra Roaja and mother was Utulakhi Roaja. Here it needs to be mentioned that ‘Roaja’ is a title applied to the chiefs among the Tripura clan.

Alindralal Tripura married Sambhulata Tripura and had nine children. Currently, all children are alive and live in Tripura. Alindralal started his journey to education by enrolling at Babuchar Primary School. He later took admission at the Khagrachhari English medium school. He then passed his matriculation from Rangamati Government High School and got a post as ASI in Bengal Police. After working for 11 years, in 1957, he returned to Tripura. Thereafter he started working as a social education worker in Amarpur Ompi block. Later in the year 1961 after he got the post of Head clerk in Hindi college LDC but he quit his job to focus on rejuvenating the Kokborok language.

He was the first linguist to determine how to pronounce the unique "W" sound in Kokborok. And in regards to this he wrote a book named 'Srwngma'. In 1940 itself Alindralal Tripura tried to develop a script for Kokborok called "Kokborok Rigthaima". But unfortunately at that time it was officially not authorised.

In 1991 like-minded people set up the "Tripuri Socio Cultural Development Organization” to restore the indigenous history of Tripura. The organization had the support of the members of 'Chethuwang' literature group. The collaboration developed many new words and phrases to meet the challenges of a fast-changing world.

Alindralal was a voracious writer who wrote many articles on Tripuri culture, language, history and religion and handed them over to the upcoming generations. Currently his written books and articles are being taught in schools, colleges, and universities.

Some of his significant written books are:

1) Troipur Songhita (1966, TRI). 2) Cherai Swrwngma (1958).

3) Surjo Puja Khelaimani (1966).

4) Atu bijap.

5) Kokborok Rigthaima.

6) Kokborok Kalaima.

7) Khani Rwchapmung.

8) Songotramoni Panchali.

9) Ochai Yakhwrai (T. T. A. A. D. C. 19th October 1993)

10) Tripura Songskriti

Tantrik chikitsa (TRI, 1994)

11) Dingi ( Srwngsama, 1972).

12) Somaj bai Songskriti (1979 July)

Apart from this also there are many of his written poem, articles and records which are yet to be published.

Source: Aitorma (vol 5 no 9)

About the Author: Khapang Debbarma is a student of Civil Engineering at NIT, Agartala. He's a painter and poet. He has worked with different language, culture, and environmental organisations and translated many significant drafts in Kokborok. He's also teaching Tripuri language to foreigners through Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp through a page name "Learn Tripuri".


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