Growing-up larger part of his schooling days in South India’s, Tamil Nadu state, Ngashanngam Zingyo of Halang village had left home in 2005 for Tamil Nadu after the demise of his father in 2001.
Ngashanngam, the eldest of five siblings was only 8 years old when he left Halang only to return home in 2011.
Tangkhul language for him became a thing of old romancing in Tamil Nadu, where he spent most of his formative years with his peers, diametrically opposed to his native Tangkhul way of life from culture, to languages, to lifestyle, and social outlook.
His rigorous training of Tangkhul language of sort, only began when he came home as his family admitted him to Talui’s St. Joseph’s High School along with his two younger sisters from class 8 till he completed his matriculation. 24 years old now, Ngashanngam with a graduate degree from Shillong College in Bachelor of Science, currently settled in Shillong is creating something special for the Tangkhul community – he is calling it Āva̱ramtui. He has rather called it, Āva̱ramtui.
But before we delve into what he is up to, here is a little history as to what prompted him to taking up Āva̱ramtui more as a mission, less as a project. He says it’s much more than a project.
So, in 2019, before the pandemic and lockdown hit India, he said he went out to buy Tangkhul books and dictionary in Ukhrul town during Christmas after which he went back to Shillong to read and to also brush up his command over his native Tangkhul language both in spoken and written. He could find a couple of Tangkhul books and dictionary in the book store, which he promptly took possession of.
This very experience of him buying the Tangkhul books, with ideas germinating in his mind to contribute to the community already there, was the beginning of it all, he narrated. It was during the pandemic and lockdown period with delays in college semester that he acquired the time to work on the initiative, including convincing his friends.
He had taken upon himself to promote the native language, ‘Tangkhul tui’ and thought of it benefiting other members of the community who wanted to invest and learn more about the language, given that the vast majority of today’s younger Tangkhul generations have either lost interest, or have completely detached themselves from learning the language. The young Tangkhuls of today struggle to read or even write proper Tangkhul language.
To do just that, Ngashanngam Zingyo teamed up with seven teammates. Three act as the editors, one designer and three content creators.
Most of their material he says is taken from Tangkhul books and dictionary such as Tangkhul Tuiva̱ Pheisin, a general foundation of Tangkhul common language, written by Ningmi Kashak; Tuingaren written by Rev Pastor Somi Kasomwoshi; and Tangkhul Tui Dictionary (Kasak-Sak-Tuira Tuirabing) by N Luikham IAS (Retd.)
Ngashanngam while speaking to Ukhrul Times said, “Āva̱ramtui is an initiative to gather and preserve Tangkhul archaic words and Folklores and bring awareness in embracing our mother Language. UNESCO has rightly said “language is more than a means of communication; It is the very condition of our humanity. Our beliefs, values and identity are embedded in it.” There are research warranting the importance of Mother Tongue which not only helps in instilling personal, social and cultural identity but holistically helps in academia in adopting better understanding of curriculum and richer emotional expression.”
Also read: Tangkhul Language or Languages?
Under Āva̱ramtui initiative, the team of seven have already set in motion a keyboard project which will incorporate the additional Tangkhul letters in roman script, the Ā ā and A̱ a̱. The team plans to execute this as its first flagship project in a software form for smart phones, both for IOS and Android operating systems. The application will be named, Āva̱ramtui Keyboard.
A crowd funding for this project was initiated by Āva̱ramtui with a target set at Rs. 50,000 in order for the team to pay for the expenses to software developers. The crowdfund is still ongoing. Click HERE to donate.
The team of seven, he said, is discussing to incorporate the same concept in hardware for an extended keyboard. But this, Ngashanngam said is just an idea as of now.
Reading books as part of his integral hobbies, Ngashanngam is currently reading GRIT by Angela Duckworth, in which she talks about “Why passion and resilience are the secrets to success.”