The 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 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 // 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.