A local linguist, Dr. Sahiinii L. Veikho, is working to resolve community conflicts, through his research works, that arise due to language variation. Two serious language conflicts, 1970s (Split of Mao and Poumai villages into two tribes) and 1995 (Language used for Bible translation) had happened within the community members, which had led to division within the community. There are over 80 recognised villages of the Poumai Naga community.
According to him, the dialect continuum is so significant that many of the dialects are not mutually intelligible, even at the lexical level.
“Linguistically, we could call them different languages,” says Dr. Sahiinii L. Veikho.
Members of every village want their dialect to be included in the standard form of the language. Language standardization is still a big challenge for the community, due to several factors. The concept of ‘standard variety’ (or language) is often problematic in several communities in northeast India.
As mentioned above, there is language conflict in the Poumai Naga community. To solve the conflict, Dr. Sahiinii works on a dialect dictionary project for Poumai Naga (16 varieties). This project has been executed in collaboration with the Poumai Literature Society.
The primary reason for this project is to bring unity among the villages by accepting their lects in the development of the language. The project gives an avenue to every village to participate and promote their dialect in the development of Poula literature.
The output will be a foundational resource for Poula scholars and learners. Ultimately, the community hopes to develop a koine language (mixing the dialects) which will be acceptable by all.
Link of the interview – CLICK