We need to save indigenous languages of Karnataka, says UoM VC Prof Umesh

Mysuru, August 29:- “Linguists and other researchers working on indigenous languages need to take the necessary steps to safeguard and maintain the existing indigenous languages before their extinction,” said Prof T K Umesh, In-charge Vice-Chancellor of University of Mysore.

He was addressing the gathering at the inaugural session of five-day Workshop-cum-Intensive Training Programme on ‘Tribal and endangered languages of Karnataka’ at the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), Manasagangothri, here.

He that there is a threat for the endangerment of major Indian languages including Kannada – Semantic distortions seem to occur in day-to-day speech due to wrong usage of linguistic forms.

Prof Umesh urged the CIIL to facilitate the documentation of these languages along with other universities of Karnataka and thereby help the communities preserve their languages and cultures.

Prof N M Talawar, Director, Kuvempu Institute of Kannada Studies, University of Mysore, the guest of honour, opined that linguists and other stakeholders interested in the language and culture should work together to prevent language loss.

Prof K S Nagaraja, former professor of Linguistics, Deccan College, Pune, also a guest of honour, pointed out that there are 31 endangered languages in Karnataka that deserve to be documented urgently before they become extinct.

He further stated that losing a language is losing one’s own identity and therefore it is important to conserve the language.

In his presidential remarks, Prof D G Rao, Director, CIIL said that “Once a language is lost, humanity loses a part of our rich heritage.”

He added that each of the indigenous languages of Karnataka can unlock local knowledge about medicinal practices, ecological wisdom, mythological histories and many other invaluable knowledge. “Therefore, they must be preserved if not we will lose a significant part of the heritage of Karnataka.”

Prof Rao said that the SPPEL of CIIL is already documenting three languages, namely, Siddi, Hakkipikki and Soliga spoken in Karnataka.

Prof Umarani Pappuswamy, Deputy Director, CIIL and Head, Centre for Language Documentation, introduced the theme, goals and objectives of the workshop.

There are about 60 participants including eminent professors of linguistics, folklore and anthropology and doctoral research scholars from various parts of Karnataka working on a variety of languages spoken by the indigenous communities and some community members belonging to Soliga, Hakkipikki, Siddi, Yerava, Betta Kuruba, Pardhi, Paniyan, Koraga and Rajgond  tribes.

The programme is jointly organised by the Scheme for Protection and Preservation of Endangered Languages (SPPEL) of the CIIL and the Department of Studies in Linguistics, Kuvempu Institute of Kannada Studies (KIKS), University of Mysore.  -(KK)

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