Science and Tech
By Liyo Kikon
It’s always great to see apps which are tailored for Nagaland and the latest app by Moon Mermaids Media looks like a promising start to encourage everyone to learn the Nagamese dialect.
Available as a free trial download on the Google Play Store, Learn Nagamese is a very simple and easy to use app. Much like other language learning apps such as Duolingo, anyone can learn our local dialect in the form of a game-ish app. The user interface is simple and minimalistic, making great use of material design and subtle colours. Right off the bat, you can start with the basics where you are given a choice of words and a question such as “Which of these is a boy?” and you will have to find the right word which is simple for anyone, since each word has an image that goes along with it and in once glance, anyone who is trying to learn the language can easily figure out the answer and proceed to the next question and so on. If you get the wrong answer, you can try again and again until you find the right one and get to the next word or sentence.
The lesson plan is divided into different categories such as Basics, Food, Animals, Possessions, Clothing, Questions and Present. Each of these categories are subdivided into different “levels” and you can access the next level or category only after you finish the current one. At the start of the lessons where you will have to learn a new word, you will be presented with an image of the object and a word below it and you simply have to tap on the image and then tap on confirm to proceed. Most lessons are presented in the form of word clusters where you will have to pick different words in the right order to form a sentence. For an individual learning the language for the first time, this can be a bit confusing, but thankfully there is a hint icon on the bottom right which you can tap to find the correct answer. In Some lessons where you will be presented with a sentence and an empty slot and you simply have to tap on the right answer to get through. Once you finish all the basic lessons, you will need to purchase the full version within the app to unlock all the remaining levels and along with all the levels, you will also be granted access to the cheat sheet, which is a useful word search option and I’m sure that it will come in handy if you are looking for a particular word to be translated. The settings page has just two toggles, one for sound effects and the other is for a daily reminder which will send you a notification every day to continue learning. Each user also has their own profile page which is just a simple screen for you to check your fluency level.
The biggest issue which I have with this app would be the unavailability of voice guidance. In apps like Duolingo, there is always a voiceover which guides you through the lessons, reading each word out loud and I believe this to be a vital part of learning any language since it will help the users with pronunciations. I’m sure that anyone who learns Nagamese without any voice guidance will end up facing a tough time communicating in the first place since they will surely mispronounce most of the words and further confuse the listener. I hope that the developers will add this feature in later updates, along with more lessons since the full version is rather pricy at Rs. 100. Another issue which some users complain about is the misspelling of words, but in my personal opinion, I believe there is no “correct” way to spell most words in Nagamese since it is more of a mesh up of different languages and not exactly a scripted “language” per se.
I hope that in the future, more apps like these will pop up since it is encouraging to see developers taking interest in Nagaland and even though this app needs a few more tweaks and features, one can’t deny that it has a good potential for more. In the meantime, if you have friends or family who wishes to learn Nagamese quickly, I would recommend them to try out this app.