KARNATAKA

International meet on endangered, lesser known languages begins

Peter Austin, SOAS, University of London, U.K.; Anvita Abbi, B. Ramakrishna Reddy and D.G. Rao, director, CIIL at the 6th International Conference on Endangered And Lesser Known Languages in Mysuru on Wednesday.M.A. SRIRAM

Peter Austin, SOAS, University of London, U.K.; Anvita Abbi, B. Ramakrishna Reddy and D.G. Rao, director, CIIL at the 6th International Conference on Endangered And Lesser Known Languages in Mysuru on Wednesday.M.A. SRIRAM  

A three-day international conference on ‘Endangered and Lesser Known Languages’ began at Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL) here on Wednesday.

Peter Austin from School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, U.K., who was the chief guest, said endangered languages cannot be preserved just through seminars and conferences. Instead, efforts should be made to politically, socially and economically ensure that these languages are brought to the mainstream of communication.

Communities involved in speaking lesser known languages should be encouraged.

Though the country had thousands of languages, Prof. Austin felt that undue importance had been extended to English and Hindi, which had led to other regional languages suffering. He said people should be encouraged to speak in their mother tongue.

Anvita Abbi, formerly with Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, who was a guest of honour on the occasion, urged people to respect their mother tongue and added that the medium of instruction in schools and colleges should be in the mother tongue.

Meanwhile, Krishna Bhattacharya from Kolkata University, said there were hundreds of lesser known languages struggling for existence under the pressure of dominant regional languages of the majority of people.

According to an abstract of his lecture on ‘Linguistic Human Rights and Lesser Known Languages’, Mr. Bhattacharya said the Census Report of 2001 identifies the number of mother tongues in India to be 1,635. But, 234 mother tongues, which are spoken by 10,000 or more speakers, had been grouped under 122 languages. However, only 22 languages out of the 122 had been recognised as scheduled languages, leaving out the remaining 100. In fact, these languages and many other similar ones are no less important.

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