Blog bonda gutob NGS Research & Evaluation

Series: 1. OpenSpeaks got wings with a National Geographic Society grant!
A Bonda woman drinking rice alcohol. Image: Inde bondo8941a.jpg by Yves Picq (CC-BY-SA-3.0,2.5,2.0,1.0)

Earlier this year, we were lucky to be awarded an Early Career Grant by the National Geographic Society (NGS). When most of our work expenses were borne from out of pocket so far, this grant is going to shape some of our on-ground digital documentation activities. The larger focus of the documentation will be to document the storytelling and other such narratives of these communities.

As the time frame of this grant is short we are planning to focus on 2–3 native languages that need immediate attention for preservation. So far, we have identified two languages—Bonda, and Bodo Gadaba (or Gutob) language—both spoken in primarily in the Indian state of Odisha, and partly in Andhra Pradesh. The low population of the languages (roughly 8000 speakers) in addition to geopolitical situation place very unique challenges in front of these languages. Most people in these communities do not even have access to basic amenities, let alone be digital documentation of their enchanting stories.

We are very thankful to our partner Council of Analytical Tribal Studies (COATS), a research and academic institution, which has kindly agreed to join us for our research and documentation work. Most of our work will be done in collaboration with COATS.

This project would not have been started without the kind advice of three individuals—Sunil Abraham, Executive Director of the Centre for Internet and Society; Eddie Avila, Director of Rising Voices, Global Voices; and Daniel Bogre Udell, Director and Co-founder of Wikitongues—thank you so much Sunil, Eddie, and Daniel.

The timeline looks like this:

  • October–December 2017: Collaboration with local stakeholders and planning for the field work
  • December ’17–March 2018: Field work (Interview of native language speakers; transcription, annotation, and translation of the content)
  • February–April ’18: Production (produce meaningful content from recorded work); Creation of educational content based on the field work
  • April ’18: Submission of the archive to NGS
  • July ’18: Public release of the archive

We cannot wait to share more about this project when we start our on-ground documentation work soon.

This is a part of a blog series updating about our ongoing work supported by NGS.

Subhashish Panigrahi
Subhashish Panigrahi is the founder of OpenSpeaks. He is an educator; language, technology and community catalyst; author and public speaker. As a community manager over the last six years, he led Mozilla's Community Development for Asia, and played various roles at Wikimedia Foundation and the Centre for Internet and Society. He shaped Mozilla's global communications for the Campus Clubs program, launched a research to measure the state of Open Source across India's top 20 tech, law and design universities; Built and implemented the Wikimedia strategic plans for India; increased Wikipedia’s reach (readers) by more than 60% (3x global readership) in and participation (editors) by 50% [as compared to ~10% global growth] in 6 Indian languages. Winner of the 2015 People’s Choice Award for covering open source-related highlights, and awarded as "Wikimedia Advocate and Expert" by for extensively showcasing the Wikimedia community and projects. Speaker at TEDx and many international Open Source/knowledge conferences across 11 countries. Author of "Rising Voices: Digital Language Activism" “Digital Activism in Asia Reader”, and a few hundred posts on major global blogs.

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