ASC organises ‘relearn Ao language’ program

Mokochung: Asetkong Students’ Conference highlights preserving heritage, identity, phonetics, and cultural significance

BY | Monday, 8 July, 2024

The Asetkong Kaketshir Telungjem Mungdang (Asetkong Students’ Conference) organised a program focused on “Ao Oshi Angazükshiyim” (Relearning the Ao language) at Sungratsu Senden Salang on 8th July, 2024 with Temjen Tzüdir from Ao Riju as the Resource person.

Temjen Tzüdir, Ao Riju Resource person in his address on the relearning of the Ao language  emphasised that Ao Senden is diligently working to preserve the Ao language in every possible way. He stressed the importance of following basic procedures in learning the Ao language, and emphasised the strength inherent in language itself stating, “Language is strength”.

He urged the Ao Senso not to forget their identity through the Ao language, likening it to inscribing it deeply in their hearts as stated in the Bible. He said that those who speak highly of their own language can also speak confidently in other languages.

He posed questions: What is the current state of the Ao language among other Nagas? How many doctorates in Linguistics do we have? He asked about the number of Assistant Professors in FAC in the Ao language among the Aos’. He inquired about the number of individuals with Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching (PGT) Ao language. He prompted the learners present to reflect: How many are here to read and write in Ao language?

He called for introspection into the current state of the Ao language, our competence in teaching and learning it, and the efforts being made to facilitate its learning. He emphasised the significance of the 8th schedule in the Government of India and encouraged the gathering to research how a language’s importance increases upon entering this schedule. He pointed out that we are lacking behind in preserving our language. He asked, “What areas do we need to focus on to ensure the preservation of our language?”

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In earlier times, our forefathers successfully protected and preserved our mother tongue, the Ao language. Where do we stand today? He stressed the importance of assessing the number of schools where Ao language is taught and urged the Student bodies to monitor and enhance efforts to preserve it in these institutions.

Regarding teachers instructing in Ao language, he emphasised that those with a Post Graduate Diploma in Ao language (Arangtet) are valued in the teaching profession. He questioned how many of us prioritise this area if we truly wish to preserve the language. He emphasised the need for ambitious aims and goals to preserve the Ao language, stating that without clear objectives and vision, success would be unlikely.

He praised the Ongpangkong Students Conference for their proactive efforts in organising various educational and competitive programs aimed at preserving the Ao language. He also encouraged the Asetkong Kaketshir Telungjem Mungdang to initiate their work in this direction. He further emphasised that churches should play a significant role in this endeavour. He mentioned that the Ao language is given importance at Clark Theological College, where it is taught in the first semester currently.We talk about our mother tongue, but what efforts and importance are being given by our Watsü (womenfolk) and the general Ao people? He said, “When we mistakenly speak or write in English, we laugh at it. However, when we make mistakes while speaking or writing in our own mother tongue, we do not feel awkward or shy. Until we change this attitude, we will never be able to preserve our Ao language.” He also said, “If we Ao’s do not speak our own Ao language, then who will,” he questioned.

He stated, “Let us learn our own Ao language, practice speaking it perfectly, and preserve it. By doing so, we can pass it down to future generations and maintain our identity.” The most important foundation of learning the Ao language is to know the basic letters that form words and to understand their syllabic structure and phonetics.

He emphasised the importance of the phonetics and meanings of words in the Ao language. By understanding and correctly using the sounds and meanings of words, we can better preserve and appreciate the richness of our language, he said. He said that without understanding the meaning of each word, naming is useless. He encouraged people to choose
names with a better understanding of their meanings.

Supongsashi, Vice President of Asetkong Conference (Asetkong Mungdang), emphasised the importance of learning the Ao language in every possible manner in today’s rapidly developing world.

He lamented that despite the historical importance of language utilisation, we are allowing it to disappear today. He emphasised our responsibility to nurture its growth. He expressed concern that Ao people may not prioritise speaking their own language or giving it the importance it deserves in daily interactions.

He advised adapting to the world while preserving one’s mother tongue, as it is integral to identity. He believed that programs like this one would enlighten participants to learn more about their mother tongue, emphasise its importance, and preserve their cultural identity. He commended such initiatives and looked forward to more programs of this nature.

M.Taka Longchar, Chairman of Sungratsü Village Council, encouraged all students to actively participate in both sessions and to approach learning and relearning with enthusiasm. He encouraged the Ao people to give equal importance to both dialects of the Ao language: Mongsen dialect and Chungli dialect. He also said that we Ao’s should be highly qualified in speaking and writing our own language, but we are still here to learn and relearn, while, at this time, non-Ao’s should be speaking, reading, and understanding our language. He emphasised the ‘Ü’ letter and its sound, which is very important for the Ao language to function.

They emphasised the syllables of “Imna” and “Imti,” stating that there is no meaning attached to these names, while the actual meaning they hold and the correct spelling should be “Yimna” and “Yimti.” He said we are misleading the spelling as well as the meaning of it to others.

He said, “The Ao language is very rich,” comparing it with the English language. He added support for this by using examples of words used in our daily lives.

The program was chaired by Katilong Jamir, President of MALT. Pastor I Kilen Longchar of Sungratsü Baptist Arogo pronounced the invocation, featuring a song from the Longjang Kaketshir Telungjem. Kajenkaba Aier, President of AKTM, delivered the welcome address while Penlichang Aier, Tezülur Sobaliba Luden delivered the votes of thanks.

The second session witnessed various cultural shows led by Akummenla.

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