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Newsletter. Issue 2009-07. March 28, 2009

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Konkani on the List of Endangered Languages
By: Tomazinho Cardozo | From: www.goanet.org | Sun Mar 22 06:59:35 PDT 2009
First published on Navhind Times dated 15th March, 12009

There are over 6,900 languages spoken in the world including those spoken in India. According to the United Nation's cultural agency UNESCO which has released its latest Atlas of World Languages in Danger, some 2,500 of these languages are endangered. In fact in the Atlas of World Languages in Danger released in the 2001, they had listed 900 languages which are threatened with extinction. Within a span of seven years only this number has jumped to an unbelievable 2500 languages.

Most significant aspect of UNESCO's report is that India tops the list of countries with the greatest number of endangered languages. As per the report, there are 196 languages in India which face extinction. United States of America will lose 192 languages while there are 147 languages in peril in Indonesia. The report further states that there are 199 languages in the world spoken by fewer than a dozen people, including Karaim which has six speakers in Ukraine and Wichita, spoken by 10 people in the US state of Oklahoma. UNESCO's online Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger categorises 2,500 languages in five levels of endangerment: unsafe, definitely endangered, severely endangered, critically endangered and extinct.

Elaborating further about the endangered languages in India, the report states that of the 196 languages, 84 fall in the unsafe category where children speak the language but it is restricted to certain domains only. Some of these languages include Tulu, Konkani, Gharwali and Kumaoni. 103 languages are endangered because they are only spoken by grandparents and the older generations while 9 languages are already extinct where no speakers are left. From these statistics it appears that 103 languages in India are in the 'definitely', 'severely' or 'critically' endangered category of languages. Children from the respective communities do not speak their languages - mother tongue - and hence they are on the verge of extinction. As far as our language - Konkani - is concerned, it fall in the unsafe category which means that till date the children speak Konkani but the influence of this language is restricted to certain pockets only.

Analyzing the influence of Konkani in the state of Goa - the Mull Pitth of Konkani - where the State's Official language is also Konkani, one finds that the children in Goa do speak Konkani language but the number of children as well as adults speaking Konkani in Goa is on the decline. The influence of English on Goans, particularly the younger generation, is on the rise. There are good reasons for this state of affairs. The language of earning our daily bread is English. Except primary education in Konkani in a few schools, the whole education in the state is imparted through English. It is not only English education that matters, the fluency in the language also equally maters in order to get jobs. Thus the students are compelled to speak in English so that they can effectively compete for jobs of their choice during interviews. The parents too, some of them semi-literate, realizing the importance of English in shaping the future of their children, start to converse in 'broken' English with their children. Voluntarily or involuntarily an attempt is being made to convert English language into a mother tongue in many families in Goa in the recent times.

Why is Konkani language included in the list of languages facing the threat of extinction? There are three main criteria to reach such a conclusion. (a) What is the number of speakers of that language currently living. (b) The average age of natives who are fluent speakers of that language. (c) The percentage of the youngest generation acquiring fluency with the language in question. All the above factors are gone against the interest of Konkani language. Although Konkani people is spread in four states of the country namely Goa, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerela yet the total population is only a few lakhs. The average age of the speakers of Konkani language goes on increasing year after year because it is being used by parents and grand-parents to a large extent and not by the younger generation. And finally the percentage of younger generation acquiring fluency in Konkani is dwindling day by day as English has become the most important language for all purposes in India as well as abroad.

To add insult to injury, the Official language policy followed in the state of Goa is divisive in nature. Making Devnagori script for Konkani mandatory in the Goa Official Language Act and the use of a particular dialect in the education in Konkani has compelled many people to desert Konkani and to move towards English. The latest UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger lists Konkani language in the unsafe category. It has not yet gone in the endangered category. In the report published by the same Atlas in 2001, Konkani language was not listed in any category but today yes! This is the outcome of divisive policies followed in the Konkan region as far as Konkani and its varied scripts and dialects are concerned. If we wish to prevent Konkani language from being an endangered language, we will have to amend our ways, respect all scripts and dialects of Konkani and do away with the destructive formula of "One language, One script, One society" once and for all. We should not forget that the success of Konkani language lies only in the policy of "Unity in Diversity of all scripts and dialects of Konkani".

Carolina Po Elected Panjim?s First Woman Mayor
Herald Reporter | Panjim, March 20

Buoyed by their unopposed wins, the first woman Mayor Carolina Po and her Deputy Yatin Parekh on Friday made a commitment to the people of Panjim they would restore the Municipal Garden, near the Church Square, to its original glory by December 7 this year.

The municipal garden has been lying in a stage of neglect for nearly five years and if Po and Parekh?s commitments are anywhere near true then the people of Panjim would see the coming to life of one of the city?s major green lungs. The first Mayoress and her deputy today reinforced that they meant business and restoring the garden was their promise to nature lovers and other residents of the capital city. On the question of the garbage waste of hotels in the city, Parekh sounded promising again, ?Henceforth the city will never face any garbage problem.?

When asked how he would achieve the impossible without any site for treatment of the waste, he answered, ?The problem is of just 48 hotels out of the 350. We are sitting tomorrow in a meeting to discuss the matter and solve it once and for all.?

On the court order to lift hotel waste three times a week, Parekh said the ruling was binding on the Corporation of the City of Panjim and they would take full charge of the situation. Apart from handling the garbage mess, Parekh said parking and cleaning the nullah running through the city would be top priority areas. ?We will rehabilitate people residing on the periphery of the nullah and freeze the area of three metres,? he described. He said in the next two to three months the CCP would execute systematic parking plans for the city.

Po said the most important thing on her mind were the pre-monsoon works which included clearing of the various outlets for water. Earlier in the day the Mayoress and her deputy were given a floral congratulation by their friends and well-wishers. Taleigao MLA Babush Monserrate and outgoing Mayor Tony Rodrigues also wished the two a happy tenure.

For Sale: An Indo-Portuguese Ebony And Walnut Inlaid Cabinet On Stand - Probably Goa, 17th Century

Estimated Price 30,000 - 50,000 ($43,770 - $72,950)

Sale Information

Sale 7715
Art of the Islamic and Indian worlds
31 March 2009
London, King Street Buy Catalog

Lot Description

The rectangular chest with small top and side panels each with finely scrolling ebony leafy vine issuing from a central roundel and set in a similar border, fixed with ivory headed pins, the face with graduated drawers, each with similar decoration divided by ebony bands with raised ivory beading, an original stand with human figures carved on the four legs flanking doors of similar floral inlay, the sides similarly inlaid, original pierced brass mounts throughout, slight loss and rising of veneer, drawers re-filled and re-arranged, back panel replaced 46 x 35.5 x 18.5in. (116.8 x 90.2 x 47cm.)

Carolina Po Poised to Thrash Trash
PANJIM: Newly elected Corporation of City of Panjim mayor Carolina Po, on March 20, said that her priorities would be to solve garbage menace and parking problems concerning the capital city and to beautify the municipal garden situated near the Church Square. Speaking to reporters after being declared elected unopposed, Carolina thanked Education Minister Babush Monseratte for reposing faith in her. [GT]

Legal framework has to change'
Saying that his conscience wouldn't permit him to remain silent, former state governor Mohammed Fazal berated the state government on the Land Acquisition (Goa Amendment) Ordinance 2009. "Even dictators in history have not come up with such orders. There is no justification for the ordinance because there is no public interest being served," Fazal said to a packed meeting convened by the Goa Bachao Abhiyan (GBA) on Monday evening. The GBA observed March 23 as Black Day' even as the government introduced the bill in the assembly. Former GBA convenor Oscar Rebello, Motes Antao, activist Jason Keith Fernandes, Vinita Coelho, Claude Alvares, Francisco Colaco, Fr Maverick Fernandes, Seby Rodrigues, Satish Sonak and Sabina Martins also spoke. [TOI]

People have to react to regional plan
Villagers of St Cruz demanded that the government freeze all development activity till the RP 2021 is finalized. They also asked that gazetted notifications pertaining to land conversions and outline development plans (ODP) be scrapped. "Though the RP 2021 is being formulated, some development based on the old RP 2001 is still being allowed," Reggie Gomes, secretary, St Cruz Education and Action Movement (SCREAM) said. The NGO had organised a meeting at St Cruz on Friday. [TOI]

Art as therapy
Though Rosalia F Silveira, born in Siolim and married in Santo Estevam, loved to paint since the age of 12, she discovered art?s therapeutic value in the last decade of her 95-year-old life. ?Art from the Heart?, an exquisite exhibition comprising around 100 paintings of Rosalia F Silveira, was inaugurated by Nirmala Sawant of Mhadei Bachao Abhiyan at Old Goa, on 19th March, 1909. She was inspired by nature?s beauty and loved to draw beautiful flowers. When she suffered a stroke, following the dead of her son Agnelo in 1994, Rosalia renewed her passion for painting in response to the Art Therapy practiced by her daughter ? artist and writer in Mozambique Silvia Braganza.

Chandor gram sabha resolves to protect village heritage
The Gram Sabha of Chandor, Cavorim, while approving the Draft Regional Plan 2021 for the village, on March 23, took steps to protect the environs of the village while stoutly rejecting the proposed Archaeological Park in the village. The Gram sabha resolved to protect the Oilem Tollem. Among other issues pertaining to the Regional Plan, the Gram Sabha resolved that all interior village roads would be six-meters wide including the drains, and that all Comunidade land be marked on the map. Two houses in the village ?the Braganza Mansion and Fernandes heritage house ? which attract quite a number of tourists, were declared to be heritage houses in the village. [GT]

The exotic Goan spirit, ?Feni? has finally got its Geographical Indication (GI) status. The GI certificate, duly signed by Mr P H Kurian, the Controller General of Patents, Designs, Trademarks and Geographical Indications at the Trademark Registry, Mumbai, was received by the department of science, technology and environment on March 23 morning. It is a proud moment for the state as ?Feni? becomes the first alcoholic spirit in the country to get the GI status and the first ever product from Goan soil for the same. [Christina Viegas, NT]

Rare Basilica cabinets get noticed with London auction
While a 17th century Indo-Portuguese cabinet from Goa has drawn attention at the Christie?s auction in London slated for March 31, similar cabinets at the Basilica of Bom Jesus Church in Old Goa have faithfully served the Catholic church for over three centuries. The 17th century ebony and walnut inlaid cabinet on a stand is estimated to sell at between L30,000 and L50,000 at the Christie?s. [H]

Ben Antao?s market
In 2008, the Velim-born Ben Antao, came out with his fourth novel, Living on the Market. He has written five novels, several short stories, a play, as well as a movie script, based on his novel, The Tailor?s Daughter, besides a memoir and a travelogue of his visit to Sicily in Italy. As the writer himself says, ?My novels are plot driven, as they explore the universal themes of sex and love, caste, religion and money. My characters serve as vehicles for these themes.? Antao?s latest offering ? Living on the Market - takes as his subject, the worlds of the school system and of small-time stock market speculators in Canada, which is the backdrop of a family break-up. [Augusto Pinto, GT]

Goans Love their Crabs
Did you know that the crabs? Teeth are in their stomachs and if a crab loses its claw, it grows back? You are more interested in biting into the succulent flesh of a crab than listening to crab facts. ?Yes,? says a Goan homemaker, Ms Sylvia da Costa, from Nuvem. ?Although we eat our fish curry and rice on a daily basis, we consume crabs too, quite often.? It was an enlightening revelation to see a fussy young lady, Ms Joylin Fernandes chew on the dangerously spiky claws of a crab. This, from a lady who shrieks when she looks at chicken drumsticks or prawns. [Christina Viegas, NT]

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