‘Multi-lingualism is the buzzword across the world’

The country should realise the importance and usefulness of its vast language resources and come out with a proper “language plan” to aid the growth of languages, Panchanan Mohanty, professor from the Hyderabad Central University, said here on Wednesday.

He was addressing a gathering after inaugurating a two-day symposium on “Indian Languages and Contemporary Society: Problems and Prospects”, to mark the 45th Foundation Day of the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL) here.

“Multi-lingualism is the buzzword across the world,” he said and added that those who could speak more than one language were being looked at with awe.

Saying that language and culture evolved simultaneously in human beings, he said that the mention of spoken languages dated back to more than one lakh years. The great epic, the Mahabharata, was said to be about 5,000 years old in India. Languages could not be seen in isolation, Prof. Mohanty said, citing the examples of Dravidian words in the Rig Veda.

It established a close contact and convergence of the Indo-Aryan and Dravidian languages in the past.

Similarly, Sanskrit too was influenced by Dravidian languages, he noted.

Referring to the endangered languages in the country, Prof. Mohanty observed that problems pertaining to the linguistic history were of recent origin.

He recalled how indigenous languages had become extinct in the Americas, Europe and Australia due to various reasons. “We have to learn lessons from history and plan for solutions in the future,” he said.

Prof. Mohanty lauded the CIIL for its role in promoting Indian languages.

Awadesh Kumar Mishra, Director of CIIL, said that the institute would document 520 Indian languages soon. It had plans to digitise folklore. There were three major programmes running at CIIL now — Linguistic Data Consortium for Indian Languages, the National Translation Mission and the National Testing Service.

The languages proposed to be documented could be the one spoken by even a group of less than 10,000 people or one lakh people. Dictionaries too would be brought out concerning those languages, Prof. Mishra said.

He regretted that the goals set by CIIL could not be reached owing to shortage of staff. The institute had obtained sanction for the appointment of lecturers, professors and readers, which would happen in the next couple of months. Apart from this, there will be recruitment in other categories.

A team comprising academic staff from the Mahatma Gandhi Institute, Mauritius, is attending the symposium.

Scholar T.V. Venkatachala Shastry, professor from the Hyderabad Central University B. Ramakrishna Reddy, N.M. Talwar from the Kuvempu Institute of Kannada Studies, Manasagangotri, were present. Guests released books being published by CIIL.

More In: Karnataka | National