‘South Asia most diverse with 650 languages’

Of the 7,099 living languages, South Asia is one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world with four language families comprising more than 650 individual languages, according to organisers of the ongoing 13th International Conference of South Asian Languages and Literatures in Mysuru.

Hindi is ranked second in terms of the number of speakers worldwide, and many of the minority languages in India are spoken by a significantly large number of people compared to the better-known and more widely taught European languages.

The South Asian languages belong to four major language families — Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic, and Tibeto Burman. The diversity of languages in South Asia and the different vitality of the languages, cultures, and literatures have strong implications for individuals and societies, the organisers added.

Speaking at the conference on Monday, organised by the Central Institute of Indian Languages and Indian Institute of Language Studies, Kendriya Hindi Samiti member and former MP Yarlagadda Lakshmi Prasad observed that language is now emerging as a powerful instrument to bring people together instead of dividing them.

“This is a welcome development. The more languages we learn, more the chances of advancement of the individual and humanity at large,” he said.

Mr. Prasad said a lot of Chinese are learning English and in the same way, many Europeans and Americans and citizens of other countries are learning the Chinese language.

In this growingly interconnected world, language barriers are being crossed out of necessity and individual choice.

More than 200 participants and over 20 scholars from Russia, United States, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and other South Asian countries working on various aspects of South Asian languages, cultures and linguistics are attending the conference.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 10:12:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/south-asia-most-diverse-with-650-languages/article22399276.ece

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