Linguist who led path-breaking survey of living languages in India explains importance of diversity
New Delhi: India is celebrated for its rich linguistic diversity, but has never had an exhaustive record of its languages—till now. The ambitious People’s Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI), a project that began in 2010 with the aim of documenting every living language in the country, has been completed. Led by Ganesh Devy, a 63-year-old linguist and 2011 Unesco Linguapax laureate, a team of over 3,000 volunteers comprising academics, farmers, authors, school teachers, linguists, nomads and activists, have mapped the linguistic contours of India. The count is a staggering 780 distinct languages. What makes PLSI unique is that it maps those languages that may have less than 10,000 speakers, and are thus not recognized by government census surveys. The 2001 Census lists 122 languages.
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