West Bengal grants official language status to Kurukh

Mar 6, 2017 11:07 IST

The West Bengal Government granted official language status to endangered tribal language Kurukh.

The official language status was given to the endangered language by the state government in February 2017. However, the announcement was recently made by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.  

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In west Bengal, the language is spoken by Oraon tribal community, who live in Dooars. The Dooars are the alluvial floodplains in north-eastern India that lie south of outer foothills of Himalayas and north of Brahmaputra River basin.

Most of the tribal languages in the West Bengal have their origins in the Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Barman families; however, Kurukh is an exception. The origin of the endangered language lies in the Malto, which hails from Dravidian family. Malto is not spoken in West Bengal, but in the Rajmahal hills area in Jharkhand.

Jharkhand has already recognised Kurukh as a language, and students can write their school final examination in its script.

According to the 2001 census report, the language is spoken by about 17 lakh persons.

About Kurukh language

Kurukh is a Dravidian language.

The language belongs to the Northern Dravidian group of the Dravidian family of languages, and is closely related to Sauria Paharia and Kumarbhag Paharia, which are often together referred to as Malto.

It is spoken by nearly two million Oraon and Kisan tribal peoples of Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. It is also spoken in Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.

In the UNESCO's list of endangered languages, Kurukh is marked as being in a "vulnerable" state.

The language is written in Devanagari.

Narayan Oraon had invented the Tolong Siki script specifically for Kurukh.

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