Steven Bird has a Language Log post about an exciting new project:
Later this month, linguists from across India will convene to begin work on a 10-year, US$100M project to survey 400+ Indian languages. The New Linguistic Survey of India will involve 44 academic institutions and some 10,000 linguists and language experts, making it the largest national language documentation effort to date. The project will describe each language and speech variety, compiling lexicons, grammar sketches, audiovisual documentation, and language maps, and will disseminate these materials over the web…
You can read a story by Sharath S. Srivatsa in The Hindu that discusses the survey’s century-old precursor:
The first and only LSI so far was that initiated by Sir George Abraham Grierson, which began in 1898 and was completed in 1927…
Though Grierson’s survey inspired a large number of studies on language, it also had some drawbacks.
Data was collected by untrained field workers and, further, the survey excluded the former province of Madras and the then princely States of Hyderabad and Mysore from its purview.
No reasons were assigned for this omission and the result was that South India was under-represented in the LSI.
And here is an enthusiastic story (originally from OutlookIndia.com, March 11, 2007) by Sugata Srinivasaraju that ends by discussing the place of English:
What happens to English in the NLSI? How will it deal with a foreign tongue that has had such a pervasive influence in the last couple of decades? That’s where tracking bilingualism becomes important. “In the West, bilingualism is the exception; in India it is the rule… Recognising convergence in India’s history is not so much an ironing out of differences of identity as the emergence of a fresh all-India linguistic identity,” says the report.