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article imageOp-Ed: The Lepcha — A way of life under threat

By Alexander Baron     Jan 22, 2014 in Environment
The Lepcha people are natives of the Himalayas; the British Library is preserving their language and culture, but is anyone else?
This year, the British Library has made available to the world, Lepcha manuscripts through its Endangered Archives Programme. Here is an example from this magnificent work.
According to the EAP: "The survival of the native culture and language of the Lepcha people is endangered...Many Lepchas today never mastered the Lepcha language at all and give preference to Nepali and English, and the great majority of young Lepchas have lost interest in Lepcha religious and cultural traditions."
English is the lingua franca of the known universe, and has been mastered so readily and willingly as a second or even a first language that there are few places an English or American tourist will not be understood by at least one of the natives should he lose his way while exploring off the beaten track.
While we should welcome this, the downside of globalisation is that the way things are going, within a few generations we will all look, dress and sound the same. There are organisations like Survival International whose supporters lobby on behalf of tribal peoples, but who is doing anything for the Lepcha?
This dedicated Lepcha website was set up by Heleen Plaisier, who is currently working at the University of St. Andrews.
Apart from that, if you read anything in the news about the Lepcha, it will probably be a story about corrupt, conniving politicians, which means for them it may already be too late.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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