Sinlung /
18 July 2013

Northeast Has Highest Per Capita Language in World

Sumi women take part in traditional smoking during the Tuluni festival, which marks the completeness of seed sowing in Dimapur in Nagaland
 The People's Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI) on Wednesday said the northeast has the highest per capita language in the whole world.

Addressing a press conference here, PLSI chairperson G N Devy said a linguistic survey has been completed in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Nagaland and Manipur. "It is the first linguistic survey since George Grierson's survey conducted a century ago," said Devy.

PLSI said the survey accounts 130 languages, as well as near extinct languages of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Nagaland and Manipur. "Northeast is very rich in its culture and linguistic. We have found different languages that are still unknown to many," said PLSI. Bibha Bharali, an associate professor of Assamese in Gauhati University, said apart from Assamse, Bengali and Bodo being the scheduled languages, there are several languages in the state like Nagamese, Garo and Dimasa. "The two main scheduled languages in Assam are Assamese and Bodo," she said. PLSI said NE contains more than 210 languages. "We have published books on the survey and the volume will also depict the rich cultural and linguistic geography of all the indigenous communities of the states of the region," said PLSI.
The survey was the first of its kind since the one by George Grierson a century ago, Peoples Linguistic Survey of India chairperson G.N. Devy told reporters here on Wednesday.

The research will be published in volumes with the one for Assam in both Assamese and English, while those for rest of the four states in English, he said. The volumes would be the first of its kind in the linguistic survey of Indian languages and would depict the cultural and linguistic geography of all the indigenous commuinities of the five NE states.

The articles would be written by people from diverse fields such as academics, medicine and law and will be inaugurated on September 5 in New Delhi, he said.

"Our survey has not been on linguists' perspective or to discover new languages. There are unrecorded languageswhich have been spoken for 1500 years ... They are not new languages as linguists have found them now," Devy added.

Devy said over 55 languages in Assam, 31 in Meghalaya, 28 in Manipur, 17 including its official language Nagamese in Nagaland and 10 in Tripura were endangered.

Prof Bibha Bharali of Gauhati University, who is editing the Assamese volume, said there were 55 languages accounted in the survey in the state with three associated languages of Nagamese, Sadhani and Arunachali Assamese.

Konyak was spoken by just five persons in Assam's Sibsagar district, Bharali said adding the NE states have the highest per capita language figure in the world.


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