At about 450 living languages, India’s rich linguistic heritage is one to be proud of and be conserved. On Friday, as the world celebrates International Day of Indigenous Languages (IYIL) though it is worrisome that at least 5 Indian languages are extinct, and 10 have less than 100 speakers all over the country.
As per the online chapter of Unesco Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, 197 languages in India are either vulnerable, endangered or extinct.
The extinct languages are Ahom, Andro, Rangkas, Sengmai, Tolcha — all spoken in the Himalayan belt.
It’s not all gloom and doom for 81 Indian languages — including Manipuri, Bodo, Garhwali, Ladakhi, Mizo, Sherpa and Spiti — but they are still in the “vulnerable” category and need organised effort to undergo revival.
Globally, there are around 7,000 languages in the world today.
“About 97 per cent of the world’s population speaks only 4 per cent of these languages, while only 3 per cent of the world speak 96 per cent of all remaining languages,” as per Unesco.
A great majority of those languages, spoken mainly by indigenous people, continue to disappear at an alarming rate.
Of thousands of indigenous languages spoken today, four in 10 are in danger of disappearing, rights experts had said ahead of the IYIL, in a call for a decade of action to reverse the “historic destruction” of age-old dialects.