Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Demography of santhals

The santhal population is mainly concentrated in the four states namely Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal and Assam. A significant number of santhali speaking population also lives in Bangladesh and Nepal( jhappa, morang and sunsari districts).  After looking onto a number of sites I finally found this on the most obvious one the wikipedia and the 2001 population census. 

 I BIHAR                     total population     santhals    percentage

  DEOGARH            9,33,113   NA                      

  DHANBAD            26,74,651  2,40,718   9

  DUMKA              14,95,709  5,68,370  38

  GIRIDIH            22,25,480  3,56,077  16

  GODDA               8,61,182  1,20,565  14

  HAZARIBAGH         16,01,576    64,063   4

  KATIHAR            18,25,380  1,09,522   6

  KODARMA             6,29,264    37,755   6

  PASCHIM SINGHBHUM  17,87,955  1,78,795  10

  PURBI SINGHBHUM    16,13,088    NA  

  PURNIA             18,78,885    93,944   5

  SAHIBGANJ           7,36,835  3,09,471  42



 BALASORE            16,96,583  1,69,658  10

 BHADRAK             11,05,834    33,175   3 

 CUTTACK                  NA  

 DHENKANAL                NA  

 KEONJHAR            13,37,026     NA  

 KHURDA                   NA  

 MAYURBHANJ          18,84,580  5,67,282  28

 SUNDARGARH               NA  



 TRIPURA                           2,200 


 BANKURA             28,05,065  3,36,607  12

 BARDHAMAN           60,50,605  3,63,036   6

 BIRBHUM              25,55,66  1,53,340   6

 WEST(N&S)DINAJPUR   12,00,924  1,80,138  15

 JALPAIGURI          28,00,543     NA  

 MALDAH              26,37,032  1,84,592   7

 MEDINIPUR           83,31,919  13,33,107 16

 PURULIA             22,24,577  3,33,686  15


 ASSAM                 NA       2,00,000

It shows that the total population of santhals is 60,50,000.
The total population of santhal in west Bengal in percentage with respect to the total ST population is 51.6%(2001 census). Total literacy rate is 42.2% while the male and female is 57% and 27%.

Living tongue

Started by a few Americans this NGO's prime focus is to document, revitalize and maintain the endangered languages.  There website sates the current situation of languages today.

"Minority languages are being increasingly replaced by various politically, economically, or socio-culturally dominant ones. Every two weeks the last fluent speaker of a language passes on and with him/her goes literally hundreds of generations of traditional knowledge encoded in these ancestral tongues. Nearly half of the world’s languages are likely to vanish in the next 100 years"

The organisation is involved in documenting  Munda languages also. According to them the Munda languages of India are among the most poorly known of the world’s languages. Spoken by so-called ‘tribals’ primarily in the eastern and central India states of Jharkhand and Orissa, with enclaves in adjacent states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. Despite representing the oldest known layer of population in India, predating the Dravidian and Indo-Aryan peoples that dominate the area today, the linguistic relatives of the Munda in the large Austroasiatic language family are to be found in remote mountainous regions scattered across southeast Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, southern China, in addition to the far eastern Indian regions of Meghalaya and the Nicobar Islands), as well as the national languages of Cambodia and Vietnam.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


My project on type design has begun,  today my job was to look into how the Hebrew language and script was revived in the last century. Revival of Hebrew language took place in Europe and Israel in the end of the 19th and in the 20th century. 

If we speak chronologically the entire Hebrew language timeline can be divided into four categories, 
  1. Biblical Hebrew: Hebrew was used in the synagogues. Aramaic was commonly used.
  2. Mishnaic Hebrew: Rabbinic Hebrew, Talmud and Midrosh around 2nd century AD.
  3. Medieval Hebrew: used to translate Arabic works into Hebrew.
  4. Modern Hebrew: rebirth of Hebrew as a spoken language under Eliezar-Ben-Yehuda.
Here I will mostly write about the Modern Hebrew and Eliezar-Ben-Yehuda

Eliezar-Ben-Yehuda was is the man who is credited to for single handedly reviving the modern hebrew language. Born in 1858 in a small village in Lithuania. He began learning Hebrew at a very tender age. As he excelled in his studies, He was sent to Talmudi Academy  in a hope of becoming a Rabbi... More on him can be read from
 The reason why he is famous, is because He formulated several theories to popularize the hebrew Language out of all those Three are important:
  • Hebrew in Home
Ben-Yehuda after immigration to Palestine decided to only speak in Hebrew. When his first son was born he made sure to that the child only learned the Hebrew language and nothing else hence making the child as the first of all-hebrew speaking child in modern history.
  • Hebrew in school
He also proposed that rabbis and teachers should use hebrew as the language of instruction in the jewish schools in palestine. Revival could succeed especially and perhaps only if the younger generation could speak hebrew fluently. Apart from imparting education to children he also made sure to increase hebrew literacy  among adults by publishing low cost hebrew newspapers.
  • words,words,words 
As the spoken form hebrew was lost for 16 centuries till it was revived again, a lot new words had to be formulated. Initially to increase the vocabulary in hebrew he coined a few word on his own and let others also do so. In 1890 he formed the Hebrew Language Council to channelize the the process.

To draw a parallel with the Ol Chikki script and it's language Santhali. The population of Santhali people is about 50 million out of which only 10-30% of population knows how to write in Santhali. Due to it's similarity with bengali many writers are comfortable in writing it in bengali, also during the british rule the language was romanized and was thus also written in latin script. There are similar ways through which the written form of the language can be popularized only this time the context is different. right now for propagation of the script a few things that I could come up with are:-
  • doing a small publication on the folk tales of the santhals (from suresh).
  • adding Ol Chikki subtitles to the ever popular films.( from Ranjan)
  • Local channels can start Ol Chikki language programs or at least news. 
  • santhali newspapers.