The Odia language is a classical language of India. It is the sixth oldest language of the country, and has a rich literary heritage of over 5000 years. During the Bhanja Age between 1700 and 1850, family chronicles were written, and Odia became a popular and widely read language.
Odia is a syllabic language, with thirty consonants and six vowel phonemes. All consonants have an inherent vowel, and certain consonants are combined with special conjunct symbols to form other forms. Although it is a subject-object-verb language, it allows compounding.
Odia is a primarily Dravidian language, and has a strong influence from Arabic and Portuguese. It is spoken by approximately 40 million people in Odisha, as well as by the Odia diaspora throughout the world. In addition, there are many Odia communities in neighboring states. They include Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bankura, and West Bengal. There are also a few Odia populations in Middle East countries and Malaysia. However, the language is not widely used in the western world.
Odia has three true tenses, each of which is formed with a verb and an auxiliary. Some of the other tenses are formed with relative clauses. Despite the presence of relative clauses, Odia does not use copula. This is due to the absence of an elision.
A number of important writers have made contributions to the literature of Odia. Some of the most prominent of them include Kanha, Tilopa, Luipa, and Upendra Bhanja. Another writer of note is Umesa Sarakara. He is a novelist. Others include Kabibar Radhanath Ray, Chintamani Mahanti, Gangadhar Meher, and Gopabandhu Das.
A large number of manuscripts and inscriptions have been recorded in the Odia language. Some of them are available online in image form. One of the most extensive collections of online texts is the Odia Wikipedia. It is the largest repository of online textual content for the language.
A large amount of books are now being scanned and made available to readers online. Odias in the world will be able to learn more about the rich history of the language and its people. These texts will be available under free licenses. Consequently, they will be accessible to non-Odias and can be used for learning and research.
Odia has a rich oral history. For instance, many of the stories illustrated in cave drawings are still known and have been passed down to the modern Odias. Similarly, songs are performed by Odias at festivals and in birth. Many Odia singers and dancers have also adopted western dance styles.
The Wikimedia community has created a platform for the promotion and development of Odia, which is one of the few Indian languages available on the web. The Odia Wikisource project has digitized a few books and is currently working on digitizing more. By bringing the literary heritage of Odia to the public, it hopes to catalyze a Renaissance of the 21st century. To help promote and develop the project, several institutions and individuals have supported it.