400 Indian Languages Face the Threat of Extinction: Study

Almost 10 percent of the world’s 4,000 languages that face the threat of extinction are spoken in India.

Linguist Ganesh N Devy says that while English posed no real threat to major Indian languages, the most threatened languages are the ones spoken in the coastal areas of the country.

Devy, chairman, People’s Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI) told PTI: “Many languages are on the verge of disappearance and most of them are the coastal languages. The reason is that livelihood in coastal areas is no longer safe. The corporate world is doing deep sea fishing. Traditional fishing communities, on the other hand, have moved inwards… away from the coast, thus giving up their languages.”

Some tribal languages have also shown growth in recent years, said Devy, who was in New Delhi for the release of 11 volumes of the People’s Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI), claimed to be the world’s largest linguistic survey.

For the study, all 780 Indian languages were surveyed by a team of 3,000 people in 27 states.

Devy, also the founder-director of the Bhasha Research and Publication Center, Vadodara and Adivasi Academy at Tejgadh, Gujarat, said the study will cover the remaining states of Sikkim, Goa and Andaman and Nicobar islands by December.

“I conceived the idea of the survey in 2003 and began the fieldwork in 2010 with a team of 3,000 people. The data collection was completed in 2013 and since then, the publication process was started,” he said.

The literary expert said while the danger of extinction looms large over some languages, many other languages have been thriving.

Read more: The Quint

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