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'Kannada will surpass German, French in 30 yrs'

Bangalore, August 1, 2013, dhns: 2:37 IST
In the next 30 years, Kannada will emerge as one of the Indian languages that are among the 20 most popular ones in the world, and even surpass German, French and Russian in terms of the number of people speaking it, a study has revealed.

“There are mainly two reasons for this rapid growth of Kannada. One is that it has a long supply of feeder languages in the coastal and tribal belts. If we cut out the feeder languages, it will collapse. The other reason may be attributed to the fact that Kannada literature has received the highest number of Jnanapeeth awards, not only in fiction and poetry, but also in philosophy,” said Prof G N Devy, well-known scholar and chairperson of the People’s Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI).

Devy was in the City on Thursday to promote the findings of the historic linguistic survey. Compiled over 17 years, the PLSI has documented 780 languages and 66 scripts across the country.

Dying languages

On the flip side, there has been a gradual demise of some languages in Karnataka. There are as many as eight languages spoken in the State – Koraga, Badaga, Yerava, Irula, Soliga, Gouli, Betta Kuruba and Jenu Kuruba – classified as “potentially endangered,” Devy said.

“Besides, there are the Hakki Pikki and Siddhi languages that fall in the ‘critically endangered’ bracket. The usage of certain words by the older generation can no longer be understood by the younger generation. This indicates the beginning of the death of a language,” said Devy.

A language spoken by less than 10,000 people is classified as a potentially endangered language, he said. Although the Unesco has listed around 191 such endangered languages in the country, there are certain flaws in the list, according to Devy, a consultant to the world organisation.

“For example, languages such as Khasi and Garo in Meghalaya and Meitei in Manipur have been listed as endangered, but they are not,” he said.

Release in September

Prof Maheshwari from the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, one of the members who led the PSLI team in the State, said that while the Kannada version of the survey would be published by Akshara Prakashana, the English version would be brought out by Orient Blackswan.

A total of 50 volumes of the survey, grossing over 35,000 pages, will be released on September 5 in New Delhi, coinciding with Teachers’ Day, which is also the 125th birth anniversary of former president of India and philosopher, Dr S Radhakrishnan.

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