Back in 2007 I posted about the start of the New Linguistic Survey of India, “a 10-year, US$100M project to survey 400+ Indian languages”; now they’re about to release a report on their work, and Chitra Padmanabhan has an interview in The Hindu with the project’s founder, Ganesh Devy:
What was the aim of the People’s Linguistic Survey of India?
[...] Primarily we wanted to find out how many living languages India has. We also wanted to see if language could be made into a fulcrum of micro-planning for development in diverse ecological and cultural contexts, especially among fragile coastal, island, forest and hill communities.
Working with tribals on their languages at Bhasha since 1996 helped me realise that there was no need to unduly privilege scripts — even English does not have a unique script of its own. Hence the thought that most other languages are derivative forms of Scheduled languages disappeared from my mind. I started according smaller languages greater respect. [...]
In four years we have documented 780 languages. There are 22 Scheduled languages, 480 tribal and nomadic languages, 80 coastal languages, major regional languages not yet in the 8th Schedule (Tulu, Kutchhi, Mewati), and international languages spoken in India. The survey will be published in 50 volumes by Orient Blackswan in over a year’s time.
There’s lots of interesting stuff in there; good for Devy and his Bhasha Research and Publication Centre for sponsoring such an effort. (Thanks, Dinesh!)