Monday, 4 December 2017
Bharatavani portal offers digital dictionaries of vanishing Indian languages
The word for sunlight or sunshine in Angami — a language spoken by around 130,000 people in the North East — is niakikezie. In the Ao-language of Nagaland, it is anüpu oranüsangwa. And this reporter in far away Bengaluru could look up these words and many more from several Indian languages, thanks to digital dictionaries available on the Bharatavani website.
Most cities in India have infrastructure to teach many foreign languages . But how many look inwards to tap the domestic cultural motherlode of more than 1,500 Indian languages? It is this question that spurred Bharatavani, an online Indian Languages platform hosted by the Central Institute for Indian Languages (CIIL), Mysuru, to not only publish content in 121 Indian languages, but work towards starting online classes.
What is particularly causing ripples of excitement among linguists and researchers is the compilation of digitised searchable dictionaries. In a little over a year since its inception, the portal offers 262 unilingual and multilingual dictionaries in 50 Indian languages — all of them in a searchable format on android platforms — which can be accessed on Bharatavani’s free Android app.
The number of languages covered will soon cross a hundred, said Beluru Sudarshana, consultant with CIIL. “Bharatavani is not publishing new works, but we are for the first time digitising available dictionaries in smaller languages, to bring it to a wider audience,” he said. Malto-English-Hindi, Odia-Ho, English-Ao and Lepcha-English are some of the dictionaries on offer — most of them available in a searchable format and not as cumbersome PDF files.
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