India has lost more than 250 languages in the last 50 years!
According to the census more than 19,500 languages and dialects are spoken in India. According to The People’s Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI), carried out between 2010 and 2013, there are 780 languages and there could be another 100. The shocking part is that over the last seven decades of independence, India has lost over 250 languages.
According to UNESCO Atlas of the World’s languages, 2600 languages in the world are endangered. India, at 197 languages, has the highest number of endangered languages in the world; 42 are critically endangered which means the youngest speakers of those languages are grandparents or older, and they are not completely fluent either.
A question may arise as to why it is important to save a language. If an indigenous tribe wants to give up its lingo or doesn’t want to learn the native language, why is this such a big issue? Each language and the way it is spoken, its grammar, its script is a unique way of looking at the world. A particular culture has a special identity because of its own language and customs.
It is not as if cultures don’t exist without their languages as many a language has become extinct over time but when people share the same language, they have a stronger bond and are a much tighter community. These languages which have developed over hundreds of years are a way of life for the speakers. When a language dies, the culture’s teachings, traditions and customs are no longer transmitted among native speakers.
When we consider the impact of colonisation on other continents, it nearly wiped out the native languages. India’s languages survived colonisation! If enough efforts are made, they can be preserved; they deserve to survive after India’s freedom.
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The CSR Journal Team