Tip | Learn more about India’s endangered languages: Information and reports from a variety of sources

Find all posts with information relating to this issue under the Category “Endangered language”; or click here >>

To read the full article, click here >>

Kolami, Koya, Gondi, Kuvi, Kui, Yerukala, Savara, Parji, Kupia. Do these names ring a bell? No, right? They are all native tribal tongues that have immensely contributed to enrich the language and culture of Telugu people. But these languages are dying due to a plethora of reasons — lack of practice, absence of education, poverty-stricken state of the speakers. The UNESCO lists 191 languages of India as endangered. And as Eduardo Hughes Galeano, the literary giant of the Latin America puts it, “Every two weeks, a language dies. The world is diminished when it loses its human sayings, just as when it loses its diversity of plants and beasts.” Numbers can be deceptive, India is a graveyard of more languages than one can imagine […]

Panchanan Mohanty, the coordinator of Centre for Endangered Languages and Mother Tongue Studies in University of Hyderabad says, “According to 2001 census, we have only 122 languages in this country. But the same report says that India has 1635 mother-tongues. In 1971 the Government of India decided not to list those languages with less than 10000 speakers. In India, 96.56 per cent of people speak in the 22 languages scheduled in Indian constitution. Just 3.44 per cent of our countrymen speak all the remaining 1613 mother tongues. It effectively implies that any language that does not find a mention in the census list should be considered as endangered. It is a very sad situation indeed. If these languages are not conserved, our linguistic diversity will vanish.” […]

There are many languages yet to be discovered.” […]

Literary scholar and the founder director of the Bhasha Research and Publication Center, Ganesh N Devy, says that the tribal languages of India are staring at a bleak future. “These tribal tongues are spoken by minority communities and have always been dominated by languages that enjoy state patronage, like Sanskrit or Tamil initially, later by languages of foreign invaders like Arabic, Persian and English, and now by those declared as primary languages of states. Moreover, only some languages got exposure to printing technology. The ones that never saw the light of print technology were branded as oral languages. Now with the evolution of digital technology, it has become even tougher for these languages to survive. If these languages are not put in digital culture, then they have no future. And we will be the cause of their death.” […]

Source: “Endangered languages of Telangana and Andhra: The dying tongues of Telangana and Andhra” by Papri Paul, Times of India, 21 February 2017
Address: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/the-dying-tongues-of-telangana-and-andhra/articleshow/57253816.cms
Date Visited: 8 March 2023

The emergence of a pan-Indian nationalism in the course of the anti-colonial struggle was accompanied at the same time by the emergence of specific regional-linguistic nationalisms, such as Bengali, Tamil, Gujarati, Telugu or Oriya nationalisms; indeed, pan-Indian nationalism was propagated in regional languages whose flowering had come with the rise of regional-linguistic nationalisms. Such a “dual national consciousness” (to use Amalendu Guha’s phrase) was possible only under the umbrella of anti-colonialism. The post-Independence administrative arrangement corresponding to this duality was a federal structure with a division of powers and responsibilities between the Centre and the states, the latter seen as the custodian of regional-linguistic national consciousness. […]

Source: “On nationalism: Fusing the leader with the nation” by Prabhat Patnaik (Professor Emeritus, Centre for Economic Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi), The Telegraph (Opinion), 8 March 2023
URL: https://www.telegraphindia.com/opinion/on-nationalism-fusing-the-leader-with-the-nation/cid/1921023
Date Visited: 8 March 2023

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

Reports in the Indian press | List of periodicals included in this search >>

Search tips

Combine the name of any particular state, language or region with that of any tribal (Adivasi) community.

Add keywords of special interest (health, nutrition endangered language, illegal mining, sacred grove); learn about the rights of Scheduled Tribes such as the “Forest Rights Act” (FRA); and the United Nations “Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, “women’s rights”, or “children’s right to education”.

Specify any other issue or news item you want to learn more about (biodiversity, bonded labour and human trafficking, climate change, ecology, economic development, ethnobotany, ethnomedicine, global warming, Himalayan tribe, hunter-gatherers in a particular region or state, prevention of rural poverty, water access).

For official figures include “scheduled tribe ST” along with a union state or region: e.g. “Chhattisgarh ST community”, “Scheduled tribe Tamil Nadu census”, “ST Kerala census”, “Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group Jharkhand”, “PVTG Rajasthan”, “Adivasi ST Kerala”, “Adibasi ST West Bengal” etc.

In case the Google Custom Search window is not displayed here try the following: (1) toggle between “Reader” and regular viewing; (2) in your browser’s Security settings select “Enable JavaScript” | More tips >>

Tip: For more information, type “People’s Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI)”, “endangered language”, “tribal mother tongue”, “Indian tribal language“ or similar search terms into the search window below:


Search for an item in libraries near you:
WorldCat.org >>

Tip: click on any red marker for details on endangered languages in a particular region of India.
Please note: the facts and figures cited (via hyperlinks) links call for updates and fact checking >>
Cultural invisibility – India’s 600 potentially endangered languages | Linguistic Survey of India (official website) >>