In news-Microsoft’s Project ELLORA is helping small languages like Gondi, Mundari become eloquent for the digital world.
About the Project ELLORA (Enabling Low Resource Languages) in India-
- To bring ‘rare’ Indian languages online, Microsoft launched project ELLORA or Enabling Low Resource Languages in 2015.
- Under the project, researchers are building digital resources of the languages.
- They say that their purpose is to preserve a language for posterity so that users of these languages “can participate and interact in the digital world.”
- The main goal of ELLORA is to impact underserved communities through enabling language technology by creating economic opportunities, building technological skills, enhancing education and preserving local language and cultures for future generations. ELLORA aims to do this by:
- Data: New/Innovative methodologies for data design and collection, e.g., gamification of data collection, crowdsourcing.
- Language Technology Systems: Designing new techniques and framework/architecture for technology for low resource languages, building Speech and NLP systems for low resource languages.
- Applications: At scale deployments of language technology applications that impact the community.
- Microsoft Research (MSR) has chosen to focus on three of these for now.
- It is a South-Central Dravidian language, spoken by about three million Gondi people, chiefly in the Indian states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and by small minorities in neighbouring states.
- Gondi is a unique script, which is perhaps the only script in the country besides Urdu which is written right to left, also has three or four versions.
- Although it is the language of the Gond people, it is highly endangered, with only one fifth of Gonds speaking the language.
- Another unique quality of the script is that in the northern and central parts of India, it is the only language, barring Gujarati, which has a script of its own.
- All other north and central Indian languages use the Devnagri script.
- Gondi has a rich folk literature, examples of which are marriage songs and narrations. Gondi people are ethnically related to the Telugus.
- Mundari is a Munda language of the Austroasiatic language family spoken by the Munda tribes in eastern Indian states of Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal.
- It is closely related to Santali. Mundari Bani, a script specifically to write Mundari, was invented by Rohidas Singh Nag.
- It has also been written in the Devanagari, Odia, Bengali, and Latin writing systems.
Idu Mishmi language-
- It is a small language spoken by the Mishmi people in Dibang Valley district, Lower Dibang Valley district, Lohit district, East Siang district, Upper Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh and in Zayü County of the Tibet Autonomous Region, China.
- It is considered an endangered language.
- The Idu Mishmi people did not usually have a script of their own. When needed Idu Mishmis tended to use the Tibetan script.
- Currently the Idu Mishmi have developed a script known as “Idu Azobra”.