Endangered Languages

  • IASbaba
  • February 25, 2021
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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  • GS-1: Diversity of India and challenges to it

Endangered Languages

  • There are 7,000 living languages in the world and around 3,000 are considered as ‘endangered’. This means that almost half of the planet’s current linguistic diversity is under threat.
  • The situation in India is alarming. Some 197 languages are in various stages of endangerment in our country, more than any other country in the world.
  • India may have lost 220 languages since 1961. There were 1,100 languages since 1961, based on the Census number of 1,652 mother tongues. Another 150 languages could vanish in the next 50 years.

What happens when a language dies?

  • When a language declines, that knowledge system is completely gone. With the loss of language comes the loss of everything in culture and loss of solidarity.
  • When a language dies, its speakers decide to migrate. First, they migrate to another language and then they physically start migrating to another region. 
  • The second thing that happens is that their traditional livelihood patterns go down. They may have some special skills and that disappears. 
  • Thirdly, a unique way of looking at the world disappears. Every language is a unique worldview.

Mother Tongue Based Multi-Lingual Education (MTBMLE) 

  • It could play a key role in preserving tribal languages, claim linguistic experts. 
  • Ignoring mother tongue- based intervention in early childhood for tribal children could potentially impede the early childhood learning process.

Way Ahead

  • Tribal languages should be endorsed through innovative, cultural and entertainment programmes, suggest linguistic experts.
  • There is a need to promote tribal languages as a medium of communication and education in tribal-dominated districts. It can significantly reduce the communication gap and school dropout rate.
  • It is important to integrate indigenous knowledge systems alongside modern sciences in the curriculum of schools. 
  • Tribal languages are fundamental to understand the world we live in, our origin, the roots that we all came from and what humans are capable of.
  • We need to create livelihood support for the speakers of the language. If they have livelihood available within their language, nobody would want to switch from their language to any other language.

Connecting the dots:

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