From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Important for prelims
Mains level : Nothing much
The Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea has the highest number of ‘living’ indigenous languages in the world (840), while India stands fourth with 453.
- 2019 is the United Nations’ International Year of Indigenous Languages
- In 2016, the UN’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues pointed out that 40% of the estimated 6,700 languages spoken around the world were in danger of disappearing
- Several languages are now “endangered”
- For languages like Tiniguan (Colombian origin), there is just a single native speaker left
- Chinese, Spanish, English, Hindi and Arabic are the most widely spoken languages worldwide when only first-languages are considered
- U.S. and Australia are among the countries where the highest number of languages are spoken
- Asia and Africa account for the highest number of indigenous languages
- ‘Greenberg’s diversity index’ – the probability that any two people selected at random would have different mother tongues. It ranges from 0 to 1, where 0 indicates no diversity and 1 indicates total diversity. A higher diversity index would mean more languages spread across the country.
- Most Indian languages are derivatives of languages that are spoken in other parts of Asia as well.
- Sino-Tibetan languages are spoken across Northeast India, China, Bhutan, Nepal and other South East Asian countries.
- But, Andamanese language family is confined to India alone.
- According to UNESCO’s ‘Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger’, in India, five languages have become extinct since 1950, while 42 are critically endangered.
- The International Year of Indigenous Languages aims to promote native tongues in five key areas like creation of favourable conditions for knowledge-sharing and dissemination of good practices on indigenous languages