Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Apatani Dictionary - A Review

Apatani Dictionary: Let's write in Apatani by Habung Donyi is a milestone in preservation and development of Apatani language.
-G. Tallo

Apatani Dictionary Cover PageThe declining trend of using Apatani by young Apatanis in their day to day conversation has been a cause of concern since long. There has been an urgent need to develop, popularize and preserve the language. In response, some pioneering works on Apatani language have been done by the likes of I.M Simon, Tasso Sai, Takhe Kani, Mihin Kaning and others. Habung Donyi’s "Apatani Dictionary: Let’s write in Apatani" stood out among the best of the related works done so far. It has immense bearing on the development and preservation of the language.

This formidable work of Habung Donyi runs into second revised edition and was released on the occasion of Dree festival, 2008. It is an Apatani to English dictionary; contains around 11,000 words, has 266 pages plus 23 additional pages of explanatory notes on letters, pronounciation and word formation involving verb roots. The dictionary is priced at Rs. 150 and available at all leading bookstalls in Ziro and Itanagar. A must reference book every Apatani household should adorn their bookshelves.

The second revised edition saw some welcome improvement over the first edition. The looking for words made easier by entering the words formed from similar verb roots as sub-entry of the verb root. That is, the words aba, abo, ado, ama, ane, ato etc., are found under the verb root ‘a’ (to come). The letter ñ has been omitted and the letter n or ng are being used in its place depending upon the stress on the letter n. This author feels that the letter e (e underlined) too need to be omitted to avoid inconvenience in writing and typing. The letter e can be directly used for two different phonetic sound in Apatani i.e., e as in pet, set etc., and e /e/ as in tader /tad…r/ (1. n. intestinal worm, 2 adj. audible). Besides, this author feels that some compound words are entered in the dictionary wrongly as single words which at times can confuse the reader e.g, akhiingamii means confused (should be written as akhiin-amii or akhiing-amii), abhinanii means swing (should be written as abhi nanii or abhi-nanii), adhunarun means idiot, foolish (should be written as adhun-arun).

The dictionary being first of the kind- Apatani to English dictionary, compiling more than ten thousand words with precise meanings would have been daunting task for the author. However, he has done it commendably well. With this commendable work of Habung Donyi a milestone is reached in development and preservation of Apatani language. Nevertheless, we have miles to go before the mission is accomplished.

The another work of Habung Donyi, the Anglo-Apatani Dictionary (English to Apatani dictionary), which is already in the market, is worth a see.


  • PB

    As you said it is an outstanding work, and no doubt a milestone in the development and preservation of the language.

  • wiian

    Last time, there were objections raised by a section of the community on inclusion (meaning) of a certain word. I think it was with the same dictionary, 1st edition.

    how did the author deal with it this time? or, was that issue resolved long back? No, i am not trying to scratch open an old wound. It's just i am not aware of the outcome of the big debate.

    Language evolves over time and dictionaries take that into account by dropping/ adding words accordingly. It's best to bury things we don't want to carry with us to the future.

  • vivian

    It’s a commendable work. It is very necessary to preserve the language especially in this globalised world where the youngster gets fascinated in using more dominant language.

  • tdtara

    ya, really we need to preserve and promote our language before its too late,hope this will keep us alive in this huge world.

  • Daachan

    Please post something on present arunachal's current hot issue 'CoSAAP and our State Governonet'.
    Whats your view ?
    Lets discuss !

  • Bhagwat

    nice blog..keep it up..

  • taj

    A pdf or a electronic version would be of great help

  • AG

    Thx for dropping by.

    Guess, for that we have to ask author Mr. Habung Donyi to release the pdf or electronic version :)

  • mobin

    by hook or by crook ...i really appriciate the writer ....

  • Anonymous

    Of late some educated young have started using web as a sort of medium for promoting Apatani (Tanii) language. Their enterprise is laudable. But what is disturbing is the use of different combination of letters for coining words from what is being widely accepted. Popi Sarmin Society has already published primers in line with the Apatani Dictionary which are being studied in schools. Let us not confuse ourselves with too many varied words for a particular thing. The talent of youngsters should be used to bring about improvement in the Apatani Dictionary which is our common property.

  • Apatani teacher

    @ anonymous
    I can understand your concern. but let us be practical- write five sentences in Apatani yourself and compare the spellings you used for words with that in Habung Donyi's Dictionary or for that matter with The Apatani Primer series prepared by the Popi Sarmin Society... i'm sure you will come out with differnt combination of letters atleast for some words. This sort of thing is quite natural in a language whose written form is in delopmental stage. why not you provide corrections to the young ppl who are trying to do something for their mother tongue which is losing ground rather than announcing to the world that they are disturbing. this is not helping the cause

    Apatani dictionary by habung donyi was released last year dree only and some of young ppl are active on web since last three four years- trying to do something for their mother tongue. most of them seemed to be living outside the state studying/pursuing jobs, you never know if they could get the copy of said dictionary.[you know earlier it was banned for some controversy]

    don't you think you are expecting too much? how can a lay ppl guage what was going inside the mind of ppl who write dictionary and who prepare Apatani Primer series for school students. lay ppls are needed to be educated first

    i'm teaching Apatani primer in the school of my posting since 2005. let me tell you this primer series fail to make any positive impact on the students due to some inherent flaws in the text book itself as well as the lack of organisational support to teachers in form of training and teaching aids. also, it appears again that taken for granted that the teachers and students konow the scheme of spellin things and letters used.

    it appears to me from your comments that you think everything about written form of Apatani is in proper shape. i think it is far from the truth.

    as stated above i teach Apatani as third language in schools and yet i cannot read text in the Primer with any certainty of my being correct. i'm clueless about pronuncing some words with combination of certain letters [..ho..,..oh, ..ah,, wii...etc], i cannot distinguish between words ending with letter 'n' and n-wave 'ñ'.

    besides, i found the primer series too standard for introductory level of teaching language (like Apatani which did not have standard form of written language before.}

    students appears to be bogged down by unfamiliar words and all that phonetic symbols. i also find writing those phonetic sign cumbersome while writing on blackboard.

    if i say teacher should be given training by the expert or the ppl who devised the textbook, i think i'm not asking too much, m i?

    your concern is genuine but let's not assume every lay Apatani start writing Apatani like Habung Donyi, Mihin Kanin, Takhe Kani, yourself and others who are consider expertt in this field or the ppl who were part of devising those modalities of writing Apatani...let's educate them. it may take time... hopefully some day we have standard form of written Aptani language.

  • Apatani teacher

    correction# line 21,22
    ...also, it appears again that the teachers and students are taken for granted to know the scheme of spelling things and letters used.

  • Anonymous

    I share your view sir. We can not expect the people, teacher or student or even myself to know the things without being taught or told beforehand. Your view that teacher should have been given training first is all the more genuine. As a student I also take interest in the development of our language. Actually I happen to possess both the copies of dictionaries by HD and found them very informative and useful. In them I came across such words like abba for father, etc. But in certain web page I found this same word written as aba. What I actually meant was that such simple word could have been uniformly spelled as developed already. This I said only from the point of avoiding controversies and not to blame anyone. I hope you will also agree with me that if each writer start coining differently spelled words for each particular item then we are going end up in an endless controversies.
    G. Tallo has done a good job by posting the review of the Apatani Dictionary in the net. He has brought the subject to an wider audience. I think two dictionaries of HD are the most elaborately done work in any one dialect in its field so far for which our society should be proud of. I do not, however, say that the dictionaries would be a hundred percent error-free. There will surely be one or two cases. We should point out such mistake and contribute to make them more reliable instead of having our own independent version as someone has pointed out- trying to reinvent the wheel. Also one can suggest any word that needed inclusion or any word that needed modification as G. Tallo has pointed out that certain compounded word like abihnanii, akhiingamii, etc should be written as abih-nanii, akhiing-amii respectively.
    I also hope that some day we shall have standard form of written Apatani language. I think electronic version of the dictionaries would be very helpful. That way a student studying in a far off place can also access to them and offer valuable suggestions.

  • Anonymous

    Why not some talented apatani come out to develop a script of our apatani own so that pronounciation/spelling problems encountered in writing in apatani are eliminated.

Post a Comment