The Ho Language :: Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages

A Ho speaker holds a piece of paper containing the letters of the Warang Chiti alphabet.
A Ho speaker, K. C. Naik Bruli, showing the letters of the Warang Chiti alphabet.

Ho is an Munda language spoken by over one million people in Eastern India. Although its use is not considered to be in serious decline, the language is under-documented and therefore little known to the outside world. Few native Ho speakers read or write their language, and the absence of the alphabet in which Ho is written, known as Warang Chiti, from computer fonts has effectively excluded Ho speakers from the digital age.

The Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages is conducting extensive research in the Ho language as part of a project to document small languages in language hotspots such as Eastern India. To help integrate the Ho community into the world of computing and the Internet, the Institute is working with the Script Encoding Initiative to ensure the inclusion of Warang Chiti in the next version of the Unicode Standard, a widely used character encoding system that aims to provide a way of displaying and representing all scripts on computer screens. With grant support from the Genographic Legacy Fund, we are developing an online "talking dictionary" for Ho, which will make information about the sounds and meanings of Ho words more widely available to scholars and to the Ho community.

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