Celebrating the indigenous languages!

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Languages play a crucial role in our lives; they are not just a tool for communication, they are much more! They are a tool for education, integration, development, besides being a repository for each person’s unique identity, cultural history, traditions and memory. Then why are indigenous languages disappearing? The United Nations has declared 2019 is the Year of Indigenous Languages (IY2019) in order to create awareness among people about the importance of languages and their contribution to our world’s rich cultural diversity.

A lot is happening in India on Indian languages. According to a study by KPMG in India and Google in April 2017, “Indian language internet user base grew at a CAGR of 41% between 2011 and 2016 to reach 234 million users at the end of 2016. This growth momentum is likely to continue with the Indian language internet user base growing at a CAGR of 18% to reach 536 million by 2021 compared to English internet user base growing at 3% to reach 199 million. Local language digital content will witness greater acceptance from Indian language users as they find it more reliable than English content.”

Little wonder that StoryWeaver, part of India’s Pratham Books, now has 15,713 titles across 205 languages, that have been read more than 2.6 million times. It is a digital gateway, offering richly illustrated, open-licensed children’s stories in mother tongue languages. That’s such a remarkable feat!

Sahitya Akademi supports work in English, Hindi, and Urdu along with languages, which are present in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution. These are Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil and Telugu. More recently, they are focusing on tribal languages.

While, Matrubharti is a vernacular platform to read books and stories for free and writers can publish their books and stories to reach to millions of readers. They feature 18000+ writers publishing on MatruBharti from over 12 countries in primarily four languages – Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi and English.

Pratilipi , another online self publishing portal, features content in twelve Indian languages: Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Urdu, Punjabi, Odia, Telugu and English. They have more than 72 lakh+ readers, 8 lakh+ stories & 1 lakh+ writers.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Publishers are also eyeing this growing potential and many have started publishing in local languages as well. India is a country of more than 1600 languages belonging to seven different language families spoken in the country. Let’s celebrate and protect this rich legacy!

Shweta
shweta@allaboutbookpublishing.com

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