‘Manipur language which belongs to Tibeto-Burma has touched the criteria of a classical language’

Imphal, the 21st February, 2018 (DIPR): As done in other parts of the world, Sathoulup (Sahitya Thoupang Lup) has organised the International Mother Language Day and presented Sui Generis CC Tea Mother Language Award, 2018 to Language Activist and Theatre Critic Dr. Lamabam Gojendro at a function today at Manipur Press Club, Imphal.

On the occasion, Director Information and Public Relations, Government of Manipur Shri Meghachandra Kongbam and President Manipuri Language Development Committee Shri Leihaothabam Sharatchandra graced as Chief Guest and President respectively.

As part of today’s programme, Professor Paonam Gunindro, Department of Manipuri, Manipur University delivered a lecture on ‘Manipuri Lol and Classical language.’  Shri Gunindro told that the four criteria for declaration of any language as Classical language are…High antiquity or its early texts/ recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years; a body of ancient literature / texts which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers; the literary tradition be original and not borrowed from another speech community and the classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots. Thus, Manipuri language which belongs to Tibeto-Burma has touched the criteria inspite of its less number of speakers (according to 2011 census, 0.14 Manipuris use Manipuri language). Less number of speakers is not a problem. Citing the example of how Tamil, Sanskrit, Dravida, Malayam and Odia languages were declared as Classical language, Professor Gunindro expressed desire for political will of the government.

Giving the key note address, advisor Shathoulup  Shri Sharatchand Thiyam told that in 1999 UNESCO declared February 21st as International Mother Language Day. Since then, 21st February is celebrating as International Mother Language Day. UNESCO encourages people to maintain their knowledge of their mother language while learning and using more than one language. Recalling what had happened in Bangaladesh, he said at the partition of India in 1947, the Bengal province was divided as eastern and western Pakistan. But, the western part belongs to India and the eastern part became a province of Pakistan known as East Bengal and later East Pakistan. When Jinnah announced Urdu as nation’s official language on 21st February, 1952, there were sudden protests against the announcement in Bangaladesh and six (6) people martyred and number of people injured. In memory of that incident, 21st February was declared as International Mother Language Day by the UNESCO.

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