Bhubaneswar: In a bid to revive the indigenous KUVI language, and preserve its rich legacy and heritage, Motorola and Lenovo Foundation with the active support and cooperation of the School of Tribal Language in KISS have developed the first-ever Kuvi language writing system and keyboard.
The announcement was made on International Mother Language Day on Tuesday. KUVI is largely spoken in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
Motorola and the Lenovo Foundation worked closely with the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) under the guidance of the Founder of KIIT and KISS Dr. Achyuta Samanta, the Kuvi speakers & language experts to determine the needs of the Kuvi communities in all regions.
KISS has a rich legacy of promoting indigenous languages. In September 2022, it won the prestigious UNESCO Literacy Prize in recognition of its contributions to mother language-based literacy development.
“KISS with support from Lenovo Foundation has been integral in bringing together members of the tribal communities (Kondh, Kond and Jatapu), linguistic & technical experts and various other fraternities to collaborate with the Motorola Software Globalization team, to develop a keyboard for Kuvi Language. They have developed a writing system for Kuvi in 4 different scripts namely Kuvi-Odia, Kuvi- Devanagari, Kuvi-Telugu & Kuvi-Latin enabling 155000 speakers from these communities who are natives of Odisha and some parts of Andhra Pradesh- to communicate with each other via text.
“This initiative sets the path for the revival of many more such languages, helping to preserve the rich legacy, knowledge and heritage that rests in the depths of our country. This is a commendable use of technology to create a truly inclusive world, where communities living on the fringes, integrate into the larger world of opportunities,” Dr Samanta said in his comments.
The KISS team led by Dr. Sushree Sangita Mohanty actively partnered with Motorola and Lenovo Foundation in this initiative.
Motorola and the Lenovo Foundation have also developed a fully localized Kangri Smartphone User Interface for the devices.
When selecting the languages for this most recent phase of the project, Motorola analyzed many factors including the percentage of speakers in the communities to indicate loss of language, community access to technologies, engagement with the broader community, and availability of linguistics resources. This led the teams to find out that while the Kuvi language community accounts for about 155,000 people, primarily living in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, India, only about 9 percent of the people in the region still speak the language.
Similarly, it was discovered that while Kangri is spoken by around 1.7 million people in India, only a very small fraction are fluent speakers.
To facilitate the usage of this new Kuvi writing system, the teams created a Kuvi keyboard supporting 4 scripts – Kuvi Odia, Kuvi Telugu, Kuvi Devanagari and Kuvi Latin.
The new keyboard will be made available for download on the Google Play Store to help with the utilization of the written form in smartphones and allow for other forms of digitization.
The new logo is meant to make support of these languages more recognizable on the devices and raise awareness towards the cause.
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