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Disregard of traditions pose threat to mother tongues — Dr. Liezietsu

By Menuse-O Max Khieya Updated: Feb 20, 2022 8:22 pm
File photo of Shürhozelie Liezietsu. (EM Images)

Our Correspondent
Kohima, Feb. 20 (EMN):
President of Ura Academy, Dr. Shürhozelie Liezietsu on Sunday said that with the adoption of modern lifestyles and new cultures, negligence and disregard of one’s traditions pose a threat to mother tongues and local languages.

On the eve of International Mother Language Day, Liezietsu told Eastern Mirror that Nagas talk frequently about identity, ‘and language is one such identity which would never erode; people cannot change their language no matter how much they adopt modern lifestyles’.

While many languages in the world are heading for extinction, Liezietsu asserted that the modern way of living has confused many young people from respecting their distinguished characters and personalities.

‘You may change your hairstyle or put on a different dress, but you cannot change your language,’ he said, reminding that the mother tongue represents a person’s root and identity.

“The language is your root and unless a person respects his language, he doesn’t respect his own identity and if he goes that way he will get lost over the course of time”.

‘While Nagas talk about their identity because of their unique history, the development of a common language in their land is of paramount importance,’ Liezietsu opined.

Despite the fact that people may have their respective home languages, he underscored the need for a common language to emerge in due course of time.

He also expressed apprehension that Nagas would create barriers amongst themselves and “become far from each other” if a common language is not developed, though it may take many years.

 “I think we have to be very careful,” he said, mentioning that educationists who frame the school curriculum should examine the practical problems lying ahead.

He said they were unmindful of the education policy matters while recalling his involvement in the education front, where they demanded opening of schools in all the villages and their district years back. However, he placed on record that it was high time people focus on the refinement of culture.

Liezietsu, who has authored over 40 books, expressed dissatisfaction that despite language being important, many disregard it. However, he was optimistic that Naga elites were turning their attention towards the issue, which according to him was a “good sign”.

While appreciating the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT), Nagaland for introducing a subject called ‘Naga Heritage Studies,’ he reminded not to forget the “Bible languages.”

Though heritage studies may discontinue on passing class-8, he said one can pursue further studies in one’s mother tongue through Modern India Language (MIL).

He apprised that even a small tribe in Nagaland has about two-three distinct languages being introduced in the school for the students.  However, young people within such a tribe cannot communicate with one another as they speak their own languages.

While everybody cannot speak English, ‘Nagamese which is a handy sort of lingua franca become more and more popular’ because of such reasons’, he said.

However, he reiterated the need to focus on the growth of one’s own languages first.

 ‘Even if we have our own languages, the common language should not be forgotten and that it has to be developed side by side lest we divide ourselves. If we become too strict on the heritage studies, we will not remember how to come together,’ he opined.

He also suggested reaching out to the elderly while they are alive and collecting valuable information from them. The inputs can be transformed into books or writings with modern technologies to promote and preserve mother tongues, which in turn is vital for developing a common language, he said.

Through the linguistic studies that are being imparted in the colleges, people can improve their local languages.  However, he reiterated the need to develop a common language by maintaining the Bible languages.

He cited an example of how Tenyidie was developed by their parents, who translated the Bible into the common language of the Angamis.  He maintained that Tenyiedie does not belong to any particular village or area, adding that it derived from old sources which were put into a language form and used for the translation of the Bible.

 It may be mentioned that Ura Academy is a literary society committed to working for preservation and perpetuation of Tenyimia culture.

By Menuse-O Max Khieya Updated: Feb 20, 2022 8:22:52 pm