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Learning Santhali now a click trick
- Portal allows users to download olchiki script

Jamshedpur, Aug. 29: Want to learn Santhali? Here’s a virtual teacher who can make it easy for you.

Click on http://wesanthals.tripod.com and you cannot just learn the language but also do your own bit of research on the community. The website allows you to download the Olchiki script in seven fonts. It also contains detailed information about the Santhali tradition and culture.

Increasing your vocabulary won’t be difficult either. The portal has both Santhali -English and English-Santhali dictionaries along with a guide that teaches first-timers how to use the script.

The website, though launched in 2004, was upgraded to a new avatar only last year. Owners of the portal said earlier there were few takers for and the website catered to the need of people already literate in the language. “It was launched in an unplanned way then, but now we have decided to upgrade it from time to time so that it draws more users and people of the community staying abroad has an easy access to the script,” said N.C. Murmu, one of the owners of the portal. Murmu is the head of the tribology department of the Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute, Durgapur (Bengal).

The portal also has a section on history and another on Santhali art. The USP of the site is that those who have already mastered the language can download newspapers and magazines in Olchiki. Some of the newspapers and magazines available are Disom Khobor, Sagen Sakam, Kapurmuli and Sandhayni.

Murmu said the help of technicians from Germany, Ireland and California had been taken to decode the Olchiki font. He, however, rued that the website is mostly used in small towns such as Bankura in Bengal and Pakur, and that it has not been so popular in the cities.

Santhali scholars in the city feel the upgraded website will play a vital role in promoting the language and help pass on tribal culture to generations to come. “Since linguistics is one of the major subjects taken up in universities today, wesanthals.tripod.com can play a major role in educating students interested in learning the language. The community is trying its best to reach out to the masses,” said scholar Digambar Hansdah.

The founders of the website have approached Microsoft to embed the Olchiki font in their software. “We have approached Microsoft bosses and hope they would look into the matter,” said Murmu.

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