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Monday, February 21, 2005

Santhali, Free Software, language ... and death

These guys, young friends from West Bengal, are trying to get the tribal Santhali language working with Free Software. Incidentally, L2C2 is the idea of Low Cost Localised Computing which in itself an interesting concept. Being interestingly executed too.

Below is a self-explanatory entry from the Randomink Blogs site . It is from "Weekend Aantel". Sayamindu from Kolkata was mentioning the Santhali project recently.

Wikipedia has this to say about Santhali

Santali is a language in the Munda subfamily of Austro-Asiatic, related to Ho and Mundari. It is spoken by about six million people in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan. Most of its speakers live in India, in the states of Jharkhand, Assam, Bihar, Orissa, Tripura, and West Bengal. It has its own alphabet, known as Ol Cemet', but literacy is very low, between 10 and 30%. Santali is spoken by the Santhals.


And here is a reproduction of the announcement:

Adieu Mandal Hembrom!

Weekend Aantel wrote on Feb 21: Mandal Hembrom passed away at TMC, Mumbai, today in the early morning. He was under-going treatment at TMC. I don't yet have the details of the exact cause of death, but so far it is known that his condition detoriarated after he underwent Chemotheraphy and lapsed into a severe cardiac arrest.

Mandal-da was the lead linguist (as also being a native speaker) in our Santhali CASTLE Project. His death is not just a great loss to our project, but a loss to all the Santhals struggling to establish their identity in a globalised world that dictates a lop-sided homogeneity at the cost of losing unique cultural traits, language and social structures.

Mandal-da's illness was detected at an advanced stage. He wanted to use the time he had to complete the work on the translation of the strings. Unfortunately, he was taken away from us before that could happen! Perhaps, its a strange co-incidence that today happens to be the International Mother Language Day (21st Feb) that Mandal-da breathed his last.

We need to reaffirm our commitment to the work on bridging the ICT divide. As I wrote in my "A walk across the Digital Divide" experience, its not as un-bridgable as it often sounds. Its only by ensuring the continuance of the Santhali L10N project that we can truly pay our respect to the dreams and efforts of Mandal Hembrom.


END OF QUOTE

On behalf of BytesForAll , let me dip our flag to all these guys trying to make computing work for for forgotten people and the poor... whose languages otherwise barely make for a 'viable market'. FN

26 Comments:

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