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More than Half of India's Languages May Disappear

Indians cheer during a program to unite India ahead of Independence Day in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. A recent report found that more than half of the estimated 780 languages spoken in India may disappear in the next 50 years. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
More than Half of India's Languages May Disappear in Next 50 Years
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More than half of the languages spoken by India’s 1.3 billion people may disappear over the next 50 years.

The People’s Linguistic Survey of India, or PSLI, recently made the comment during the launch of the latest volume in its planned 50-volume study of the country’s languages.

There are as many as 780 languages spoken in India, the PSLI said. The scholars called for increased efforts to preserve the languages spoken by India’s tribal communities.

G.N. Devy, the chair of PSLI said, “At least 400 Indian languages are at the risk of dying in [the] coming 50 years.”

India has already lost 250 languages in the last 50 years.

Devy added that, when a language is lost, so is a culture.

The scholars and teachers at PSLI document Indian languages in order to save cultural heritage and diversity.

Most of the at-risk languages are spoken by tribal communities. Children from these communities sometimes receive no education. If they do go to school, they are taught in one of India’s 22 officially recognized languages.

Ashis Nandy is a political psychologist. He said India has many old languages, some spoken for the last 1,000 years. He said such languages are “surviving somehow in India, but we are hardly passing them on.”

Devy said the PSLI will soon start work on a project to document about 6,000 living languages in the world. Their report is expected to come out by 2025.

I’m Ashley Thompson.

Reuters reported this story. Ashley Thompson adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.


Words in This Story

volume - n. a book that is part of a series or set of books

preserve - v. to keep (something) safe from harm or loss