“Languages cannot be preserved by making dictionaries or grammars”: Discoveries and proposals made by the People’s Linguistic Survey of India

What Is People’s Linguistic Survey of India?

The People’s Linguistic Survey of India is a right based movement for carrying out a nation wide survey to identify, document and understand the state of Indian languages, especially languages of fragile nomadic, coastal, island and forest communities.

The PLSI is carried out by scholars, writers and activists in partnership with members of different speech communities. | PeoplesLinguisticSurvey.org >>

Source: Bhasha
Address: http://www.bhasharesearch.org/Language.aspx
Date Visited: Mon Aug 31 2015 13:51:16 GMT+0200 (CEST)

By David Lalmalsawma, Reuters.com, September 7, 2013 | To read the full article, click here >>

[…] The 35,000-page survey is being released in 50 volumes, the first of which appeared on Sept. 5 [2013] to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Indian philosopher Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, who was also the country’s second president. The last one is scheduled to come out in December 2014.

Ganesh Devy, who supervised the project, said this is the first comprehensive survey of Indian languages that anyone has conducted since Irish linguistic scholar George Grierson noted the existence of 364 languages between 1894 and 1928.

No one has ever doubted that India is home to a huge variety of languages. A new study, the People’s Linguistic Survey of India, says that the official number, 122, is far lower than the 780 that it counted and another 100 that its authors suspect exist. […]

Because of change in the sea farming technology, local people have lost their livelihood. They are no longer into fishing, making of nets, ship breaking. They have migrated inward. So they have migrated out of their language zones… Wherever people move from one livelihood to another livelihood, they carry their language for a while. But in the second generation, or the third generation, a shift takes place. The third generation no longer feels related to the earlier language the same way.

Q: Where else do you find major decline?

Nomadic communities. We had a very terrible law brought in by the British called the Criminal Tribes Act, 1871 (Rescinded in 1952). Under that act, many communities were described as criminal by birth, not criminal by act. So those communities got stigmatised. … They are mostly nomadic in habit, and today in India those people are trying to move away from their cultural identity. They are trying to conceal their cultural identity. Therefore they are giving up their language. […]

Languages cannot be preserved by making dictionaries or grammars. Languages live if people who speak the languages continue to live. So we need to look after the well being of the people who use those languages, which means we need a micro-level planning of development where language is taken as one factor. […]

There is a willingness on our part to be of help to the government if the government asks for help. […]

Revival is possible only if the livelihood of those people is protected. I’m emphasizing that the language disappears when the livelihood options of the speech community disappears.

Source: India speaks 780 languages, 220 lost in last 50 years – survey
Address: http://blogs.reuters.com/india/2013/09/07/india-speaks-780-languages-220-lost-in-last-50-years-survey/
Date Visited: Mon Aug 31 2015 13:16:13 GMT+0200 (CEST)

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