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New linguistic survey in India from April 2007

India, 1 January 2007 – The Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL) will begin a ‘National Linguistic Survey’ from April this year to know the exact number of languages spoken and written by millions in India. “The survey will be the first of its kind in post-independence India,” said Udaya Narayana Singh, Director of the institute.

George Abraham Grierson, a British government official, conducted the first Linguistic Survey of India (LSI) in 1898-1927. It was then mainly conducted in southern India including Mysore, Hyderabad and Madras regions. “No survey of Indian languages was conducted since 1947,” Singh said. CIIL would complete the survey in 10 years. Grierson took 17 years.

In the 11th five-year plan (2007-12), Rs.2.8 billion was sanctioned for the project. It has been classified into two sections – New Linguistic Survey of India and Survey of Minor and Endangered Languages. “Over 2,000 people from various fields will be involved in the survey and over 100 training workshops will be held,” Singh said.

The 1991 census had revealed the existence of 1,576 ‘mother tongues’ with separate grammatical structures and 1,796 languages classified as ‘other mother tongues’.