A two-day seminar on “Emerging Issues on Language Endangerment in North-East India”, was organized by The Asiatic Society, Kolkata, in collaboration with the Centre for Naga Tribal Language Studies (CNTLS) at Nagaland University, Ladies Common Room, Merima Campus on Thursday.
Chancellor of Nagaland University, Dr. Samudra Gupta Kashyap, in his inaugural speech emphasized on the critical need to preserve endangered languages, which are integral to a community’s identity and pointed out the severe perils associated with language endangerment and extinction while highlighting that the loss of a language signifies the loss of a part of humanity’s cultural wisdom.
Dr. Kashyap cited statistics from UNESCO, which indicated that only 4% of the world’s languages are spoken by 97% of the population, with the majority of the world’s languages spoken by only about 3% of the population and expressed concern that without significant intervention, many languages, particularly in the Northeast, are at risk of being replaced by dominant languages.
He discussed both external and internal factors contributing to language endangerment, including economic, religious, cultural, and educational subjugation, as well as negative community attitudes toward their own languages.
Dr. Kashyap also mentioned the government’s initiative to protect and preserve endangered languages through the “Scheme of Protection and Preservation of Endangered Languages of India.”
Pro-vice chancellor of Nagaland University, Prof. Glenn T. Thong, highlighted the underrepresentation of North-Eastern languages despite the region’s rich socio-cultural and linguistic diversity and stressed the importance of preserving marginalized languages for the region’s development.
Philological secretary of The Asiatic Society, Prof. Shyam Sundar Bhattacharya, in his welcome note, highlighted on the organization’s contributions to learning and the importance of the seminar.
Seminar convenor, Dr. Satarupa Dattamajumdar emphasized on the need to study North Eastern languages and called for the implementation of language policies, re-evaluation of the language situation, and regional welfare programmes at the regional level and also stressed the significance of such collaborations in the future.
The seminar included academic sessions aimed at evaluating the language environment in the North-East and recommending measures to mitigate language loss, where event featured papers from various experts across the North-East in four academic sessions.