Jorhat, May 3: A three-day national-level workshop on preservation of the Tai group of languages, which concluded at Jaya Bhawan here today, mooted bringing all Tai languages together through rationalisation of the script and bridging the gap between different Tai communities.
Keshabananda Dihingia, a former president of the Purbanchal Tai Sahitya Sabha and former deputy commissioner of Haflong, said the workshop was the first of many which would put in place a mechanism in which different Tai languages — Tai Ahom, Tai Aiton, Tai Tutung, Tai Khamti, Tai Phake and Tai Khamhjang — would have the same script.
The workshop was sponsored by the Indian Council of Social Science and Research.
“The letters of the Tai Ahom language and other languages are 90 to 95 per cent similar and so are the vocabularies. We have to start a process in which all the letters of the alphabet of the Tai languages and words are included through consensus and make one Tai language,” Dihingia said.
Referring to the history of the Tai dynasty that ruled north China before they were ousted by the Chins more than 7,000 years ago, Dihingia said they had established an empire in the Yunnan province of south China from where Choulung Siu Ka Pha had come to Assam after crossing the Patkai range.
Dihingia added that the language which Siu Ka Pha had brought from Yunnan was based on the Brahmi script written by Buddhist monks.
Dihingia further said that in Thailand where Tai was spoken, the language had been highly developed with proper grammar and script.
The speakers at the valedictory function rued that the Ahoms had mostly given up speaking their own language and there is a necessity of “going back” to retrieve the language which had become mixed up with Assamese and other words.
Golap Gogoi, one of the participants pointed out that the Tai Ahom language was based on the script taught in the Siang Mei University in Thailand. Barun Borgohain, another speaker, said it was time for the Ahoms to develop the language in the way the Thais had.
A Tai food festival displayed delicacies of the Tai Ahoms.