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Telugu comes to aid of tribal language

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G. V. Prasada Sarma

Savara, a language spoken by tribals, is generally written in Telugu or English script

VISAKHAPATNAM: Savara is a language spoken by tribals in Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts and the adjoining pockets of Orissa. It has no script of its own and is generally written in Telugu or English script.

The Savara Bhasha Sangham has been making efforts to promote the language. As a part of this, the Sangham has brought out a translation of Savara songs earlier published by Gidugu Ramamurthy Pantulu, the legendary scholar who championed the modern Telugu movement for colloquial usage and a pioneer in Munda linguistics.

Pioneering work

He did pioneering work in Savara language by bringing out a Savara manual and Savara- Eknglish, English-Savara and Telugu-Savara dictionaries early in the 20th century. In his collection “Savara Songs” he himself wrote two of the 32 songs. It was published in 1912 by the Madras Government. The two songs have been translated into Telugu by A. Chandrasekhara Rao, convener of the Savara Bhasha Sangham at Ponduru in Srikakulam district and published a slim book early this year. One of the songs, Chetlu Rodistunnayi (Trees are weeping), in harmony with the tribal passion for the environment, is about two trees talking about being felled by a man.

Mr Chandrasekhara Rao was awarded Ph.D. by Andhra University for his thesis “A descriptive grammar of Sora language,” in 1999. At the 37th All India Conference of Dravidian Linguists at Thirvananthapuram last month in which Dr. Rao participated, Czech scholar Jeroslav Vacek evinced keen interest in the Savara language. Dr. Rao has written a 120-page book “Savara Nerchukundam” (Let Us Learn Savara) in Telugu. It is intended to bridge the gap between teachers who do not know Savara and tribal students who do not know Telugu.

Lack of funds

Prof. Vacek, Director of Institute of South and Central Asia, Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Prague, wanted it to be published in English. But Dr. Rao has no funds for even publishing it in Telugu.

Since 2000, the Savara Bhasha Sangham has been organising a short story contest in the language every year to commemorate the birth anniversary of Gidugu Ramamurthy in August. “But the response is poor. We are receiving only two, three entries,” bemoans Dr. Rao.

The State government, a few years ago, got Savara primers made for Class I and II and introduced them in schools in the tribal area. The texts for the next level are being prepared, it was learnt.


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