The latest post at Ben Slade’s Stæfcræft & Vyākaraṇa begins:

George Grierson pioneered the vast Linguistic Survey of India in 1894, an immensely useful resource for anyone working on languages of the Indian subcontinent. A set of recordings were also made as part of the survey, which were recently uncovered in the British Library. These recordings are now freely available from the University of Chicago’s Digital South Asian Library at

Obviously, this is a treasure trove for anyone interested in Indian languages. I’ll end my post with the same striking excerpt from Sohini Chattopadhyay’s Open magazine article about the find that Ben used:

Many of the speakers chose to sing or recite poems or limericks. Particularly lingering is the voice of Hassaina of Delhi who has clips in the Ahirwati and Mewati languages. Who was this girl who sang with such sang-froid of love and waiting on 26 April 1920? Nothing is known of her. She survives only as a voice.


  1. No Panjabi? How disappointing! It’s listed on the map of the “Indo-Aryan central group”, but there’s nor recording sample. This omission reminded me of looking for information on diabetes in Panjabi on the Indian Minsitry of Health’s website a few years ago – trandslations in 24 or more languages, but not Panjabi, the only Panjabi literature available was from the UK. Now this suggests that such a dismissive attitude has a longer history than I realised.

  2. @Stuart Sohini Chattopadhyay’s linked article explains why:

    A total of 97 languages and dialects were recorded. This though is not a complete representation-the governments of Kashmir, undivided Punjab and the erstwhile North West Frontier Province refused to participate in the project.

  3. Huh. I wonder why?

  4. Thanks Ian – I missed that link. That will teach me to mouth off without researching first.

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