196 Indian languages endangered, experts to mull revivalOctober 21st, 2009 - 7:07 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Oct 21 (IANS) Some 196 Indian languages are endangered, according to a recent Unesco study, and a worried lot of linguists, scholars and policy-makers are meeting in a two-day international seminar here Thursday to discuss how to save these language.
“According to the ‘Unesco Atlas of the World’s languages in Danger, 2009′, India has around 196 endangered languages, among the highest in the world,” said Kamalini Sengupta from Intach Intangible Heritage Division, which is organising the seminar.
“Intach has decided to place endangered languages in our priority area. But to gain a proper perspective and move in a positive direction, the situation needs careful study,” Sengupta added.
For this purpose, an international seminar on endangered languages in India will be organised at the India International Centre.
Scholars like Kapila Vatsyayan as well as linguists and educators will all discuss issues threatening these languages, a large chunk of which are regional and tribal languages ignored by the growing English and Hindi speaking masses.
While announcing the event, several scholars highlighted some pertinent problems.
“Most languages which are endangered are out of the loop of the education system. And the shrinking of languages used in Indian education system is not only because of infrastructure and resource constraints but because of what the market demands,” said Udaya Narayana Singh, former director of the Central Institute for Indian Languages (CIIL).
G.D. Prasad Sastry, a research officer for the ministry of human resource development’s CIIL and Centre for Tribal Languages, said the government lacked the will to tackle the problem which could lead to loss of culture and heritage associated with the language.
“The 2002 census enlists India as having just 122 languages. Whereas in 1962 there were over 1,600 languages as per the survey. Isn’t there something wrong then that Unesco’s Atlas points at 196 endangered languages?” Sastry told IANS.
The seminar will also see many international linguists and experts discussing the models followed in their countries.
One such scholar, Nicolas Reid from the University of New England pointed out that the Australian subcontinent for decades ignored native languages and recent attempts to revive the language at the primary school level had even succeeded in improving level of participation and attendance.
At the end of the seminar, Intach will prepare and circulate a set of recommendations for discussion with authorities in the field of education and language for practical implementation.
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Tags: atlas of the world, careful study, endangered languages, heritage division, human resource development, india international centre, indian education system, indian languages, intangible heritage, international seminar, ministry of human resource, ministry of human resource development, narayana, positive direction, priority area, proper perspective, resource constraints, sengupta, tribal languages, udaya