The lunch break was announced half an hour ago, but Korenga Daulat Rao, in his sixties, was busy in a discussion with his group. Even Uikae Shyamrao had to be nudged to take a break. The two were among 80 people from six states — Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha — who were in the capital last Monday for a Gondi standardisation workshop at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts.
Started in 2014 by CGNet Swara, an online news platform from the central Gondwana region, the project aims at collating a standard Gondi dictionary that can facilitate education, journalism and administrative work in the language.
“Since Gondi has not been standardised, and has been passed down by generations orally, many words from languages such as Odia, Telugu or Marathi have entered the vocabulary. So, if you want to connect Gondi people from various states, they won’t be able to understand each other,” Shubhranshu Choudhary, founder of the portal, said.
The portal has held seven similar week-long workshops in Delhi, which resulted in a thesaurus — a collection of Gondi words in all dialects from various states, in the Devanagari script. The latest workshop was to decide on one standard word for the 3,000 words in the thesaurus.
The team identified the problem when they found that people could not understand radio bulletins in different Gondi dialects. “This is probably the only case where a community has come together to standardise its language,” Choudhary said.
The next step would be to submit the dictionary to the language division of the Ministry of Human Resource Development. If approved, the Ministry of Home Affairs will decide whether to include it in the 8th schedule, Choudhary said.