Report by OD bureau, Pune: When people move out of their home state for work or studies the biggest barrier for them is language. In a new place they have to cope of with a new language and still manage to have a grip on their own language. Many of the Odias who have migrated from Odisha must have had this hard time to keep their Odia connection alive. Majority of migrant Odia families speak Odia at home but never use it for writing. Eventually their future generation lose grip from the language. But this is not the same case for every family who has moved our of Odisha.
There are many Odia families who have been staying out of Odisha for a long time and yet have their ties with Odia and Odisha intact. To measure this bonding with Odia language recently there was a workshop organized in Pai International Learning Center, Pune on 27 October 2012. Surprisingly 10 people turned up in this Odia Wikipedia workshop on the day of Bakrid when most of the roads near the institute were jammed because of the festival celebration. This event was organized by Suratha Parhi and supported by Access To Knowledge program of Centre for Internet and Society, a grantee of Wikimedia Foundation in India and Wikipedia Club Pune.
This workshop was intended to understand the level of attachment of Odia language among the participants of this workshop and how they can be educated about contributing to Odia Wikipedia. Odia wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia which could be edited by anyone who can read and write in Odia. Just like English Wikipedia, the 5th popular website on internet there exists the Wikipedia in Odia language. It could be accessed at http://or.wikipedia.org. This is the largest content and most visited website in Odia language. Every month more than 4.5 lakh people visit Odia Wikipedia. There are over 3050 articles written and to the utter surprise all of them are written by voluntary contributors residing in Odisha and outside.
To begin with this workshop Subhashish Panigrahi, Programme Officer of Access To Knowledge interacted with the participants about their understanding of Wikipedia. All of the participants were really passionate about their language but never thought what they can do for it. Suratha took the participants through a presentation (http://tiny.cc/odia) explaining about Odia language, its history, why and how Odia Wikipedia was started and its current status.
Then he demonstrated typing in Odia using Wikipedia. Most of them did not know how to type in Unicode Odia using their computer. So the initial challenge for Suratha and Subhashish was to explain how simple is typing in Odia by using the inbuilt typing tool of Wikipedia. Anyone who can sms in Odia using English script can actually type using this tool. There is a help guide which explains what they need to type to get the Odia characters.
Sudhir Patel, a technologist and user interface coordinator and creator of many Odia fonts were also invited to explain Odia typing. One of the participants was invited to create a new account on Odia Wikipedia. Suratha demonstrated how to search articles and improve existing articles. At the end of the workshop the participants were showed Chatasabha, a help desk on Odia Wikipedia to stay connected and ask queries online.