New Linguistic Survey of India to begin in April next year

Sharath S. Srivatsa

A gigantic exercise involving at least 10,000 language and linguistic experts

It will be conducted over 10 years at a cost of Rs. 280 croreThe ambitious project will involve nearly 100 universities

MYSORE: The biggest linguistic study of its kind ever conducted in the world, the Linguistic Survey of India (LSI), will be taken up from April 2007, nearly 80 years after the first survey was completed. It is expected to open up exciting new dimensions in the study of languages and on linguistic diversity in the world.

The survey is being conducted by the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), Mysore.

A gigantic exercise involving at least 10,000 language and linguistic experts, the survey the first in post-Independence India will be conducted over a period of 10 years at a cost of Rs. 280 crore. The ambitious project will involve nearly 100 universities.

The LSI is expected to examine the different speech varieties in the country, their structures, functions, scripts, history and demography as well as their spread, including diasporas, literacy and education, digitaracy, literatures and all the linguistic artefacts and media products that these speech varieties produce. "Each village in the country will be the basic unit for our study in this project," Rajesh Sachdeva, deputy director of the CIIL, told The Hindu .

The first and only LSI so far was that initiated by Sir George Abraham Grierson, which began in 1898 and was completed in 1927.

The new LSI will be conducted by trained manpower with more refinement, responsibility and will be technology oriented. It is being conducted at a time when the understanding of languages has changed along with the needs of language groups, Dr. Sachdeva said.

Though Grierson's survey inspired a large number of studies on language, it also had some drawbacks.

Data was collected by untrained field workers and, further, the survey excluded the former province of Madras and the then princely States of Hyderabad and Mysore from its purview.

No reasons were assigned for this omission and the result was that South India was under-represented in the LSI.

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