GUWAHATI, Sept 10 - Of the around 1,100 languages India had in 1961, around 250 have disappeared. As every word is a dictionary by itself, since it contains so much of history, it is very important for us to retain our historical memory in order to conserve our languages.
This observation was made by noted scholar Prof Ganesh N Devy. He said emphatically, �We have to conserve our languages.�
Prof Devy launched the People�s Linguistic Survey of India in 2010 to know the number and health of the Indian languages. Prof Devy was talking to his correspondent here.
The world today has around 6,000 living languages, as per the UNESCO estimation. Scholarly studies are indicating that nearly 4,000 of these languages will disappear within the next 30 years.
He said several reasons are there for such a development. For instance, in the process of evolution of the human brain, radical changes are taking place in the neurological structure, which is a major cause for this development. Again, creation of the artificial memory chips is affecting language structures, he added.
If we go on increasing artificial memories, we will be losing our languages, warned Prof Devy. The linguistic survey initiated by Prof Devy is complete now. The findings of the survey are now being published in English (50 volumes), Hindi (33 volumes) and in other regional languages (12 volumes) of the country.
The survey covered 780 Indian languages. It is assumed that there are around 850 languages in India now. Around 3,000 volunteers took part in the survey all over the country. They included the people ranging from the best of the linguists to the village farmers.
It needs mention here that after the Linguistic Survey of India, conducted between 1896 and 1924 by the late Sir George Abraham Grierson (1851�1941), the survey led by Prof Devy was the first such survey conducted in the country. Thus, there is a gap of around 100 years in this area. It needs mention here that Sir Grierson had obtained information on 364 Indian languages and dialects.
Prof Devy was a teacher of English literature in the MS University of Baroda. He also won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1994 for his work in the area of literary criticism and literary philosophy. He left MS University in 1995 to work with the tribal communities of Western India comprising the States of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. In these four States there are around 80 tribal communities and Bhils constitute the majority among them, Prof Devy said.