Languages in India: losses and gains in 50 years
On September 5, 2013, a new survey of Indian languages, entitled The People’s Linguistic Survey of India (one of the largest in the world) was released. The enormous exercise was conducted under the supervision of the author and lead coordinator, Professor Ganesh Devy, who also heads the Bhasha Research and Publication Centre, an NGO based in Vadodara. Started in 2011, the survey had over 85 participating institutions besides independent linguists and anthropologists. Over 3,000 volunteers were given the training to record information and evolution of a language, its adages, songs, and forms of expression. The result: 50 volumes, over 35,000 pages, covering 780 languages!
According to Prof. Devy, ‘We have found 780 languages and must have missed about 100 or so. That makes it close to 880 languages. The rest have disappeared.’
The country had 1,100 languages in 1961, so nearly 220 languages have disappeared from India.