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 (PSLI) has studied the country’s languages and published part of a 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.
“At least 400 Indian languages are at the risk of dying in [the] coming 50 years,” said G.N. Devy, the leader of PSLI.
India has lost 250 languages in the last 50 years. Devy said that when a language is lost, so is a culture.
The scholars and teachers at PSLI document Indian languages 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 attend 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 past 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 a project to document about 6,000 living languages in the world. Their report is expected to come out by 2025.