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Now Yerukalas have a script of their own

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Momentous effort: G. Ramakoteswara Rao (seated) along with his mother, wife and children.
Momentous effort: G. Ramakoteswara Rao (seated) along with his mother, wife and children.

M.V. Subramanyam

G. Ramakoteswara Rao, an unemployed graduate, designed 36 alphabets and grammar in Yerukala script

KADAPA: Undaunted by poverty, he pursued his interest in linguistics and went on to prepare a script for Yerukala language.

An unemployed Arts graduate residing in Bahujan Nagar here, Gunna Ramakoteswara Rao is proficient in ten languages – Telugu, Hindi, English, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali, Gujarati, Urdu and Arabic.

Moving in proximity with Yerukalas, a nomadic tribe, he learnt to speak their language but was astounded to know that they had no script to write.

He took up the task and prepared the script for the dialect.

“Taking Telugu, Hindi and English alphabets as the base, I designed 36 alphabets in Yerukala script and grammar while taking care that they did not appear to be a replica of existing ones in any of the south and north Indian languages,” Ramakoteswara Rao said.

He got the script patented in 2005 and prepared textbooks up to fifth standard in the script.

A teacher-friend Chandrasekhar helped him by drawing illustrations in the textbooks for Sarva Siksha Abhiyan.

Son of a cobbler hailing from Challagirigala in Nellore district, Mr. Ramakoteswara Rao wrote Vandemataram, national anthem, some slokas and mantras and a few short stories in the script.

A broomstick vendor Rayagiri Sultana, a Yerukala, whom he describes as his best friend, helped him in preparing the script by correcting any errors in the process.

Odd jobs

“I was the only graduate in my native village of Challagirigala in Nellore district but moved out of it in search of odd jobs and worked in several States. I often struggled to have a square meal for my family of wife, five sons and three daughters and mother,” says he.

He lives in a hut in Bahujan Nagar, that is bereft of power supply and other facilities. He drove an autorickshaw and worked as a mason in Kadapa.

Mr. Ramakoteswara Rao not only taught his Tamilian wife and children but also some Yerukalas residing near his hut to write in Yerukala script.

His untiring efforts drew the attention of Vice-Chancellor of Yogi Vemana University A. Ramachandra Reddy, who appointed him as a teaching assistant to teach the written language to about 100 post-graduate students belonging to Yerukala caste and some old students. Rao hopes to get assistance from the Government or Yogi Vemana University to do research in Yerukala script for further simplifying the alphabets.


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