Saving the Kusunda language and culture - Nepal

This video about Kusunda, recorded in 2012 by Gayatri Parameswaran and Felix Gaedtke, is shared here with kind permission of the producers. Please take a moment to visit their site:

The Kusunda people are a small ethnic group living dispersed across Central and Western Nepal, numbering only 150 people. But out of these 150 people, only two people speak their Kusunda language fluently, and four other people speak their language a little.

Kusunda is considered a language isolate, like Basque in Europe: there has been no established connection with any of the language families of the world. Thus, Kusunda is a highly significant language. The Kusunda people also led a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle till recently, which makes them important from an anthropological and ethnological point of view as well.

Given the advanced age of one of the fluent speakers - 83 years old - the Kusunda language will soon become extinct if no concerted action is taken to properly document, describe,  promote and revitalise it, soon! It is the explicit wish of the Kusunda people that such efforts be undertaken, but they can not do it alone. They need our help, they need your help!

This pilot project will record stories and conversations by the last two fluent Kusunda speakers, Gyani Maya Sen Kusunda (83) and Kamala Sen Kusunda (47) and the semi-fluent speaker Prem Bahadur Shahi Kusunda (85). The outcomes will be video- and audio recordings that will be stored in open-access online, so any interested person can access and use them. There will be one hour of transcribed and translated natural speech, which can form the basis of linguistic analysis, and there will be an illustrated book with Kusunda stories, which can be used to revitalise the language among the speakers.

The principal investigator is Uday Raj Aaley, a local teacher and researcher, who has build up an intimate connection to the Kusunda people. Uday Raj Aaley has been conducting research and made a publication on the Kusunda language and culture. He has also been appointed by the Language Commission of the Government of Nepal to teach the Kusunda language to the Kusunda people. Scientific and administrative guidance will be provided by Dr. Tim Bodt, a linguist currently doing postdoctoral research at the School for Oriental and African Studies in London.

Please be sure to check our Updates on this site. There, you can find more information about who we are, what we are planning to achieve, how we are planning to achieve it, when we are planning to do it, where we are planning to work, and why and how much funds we need specifically. There are also links to more information about the Kusunda people and their language.

35433802_15451553820_r.jpegKusunda speaker Gyani Maya Sen Kusunda and principal investigator Uday Raj Aaley

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