Endangered Languages in North East India
The Institute is currently engaged in a project on the issue of language endangerment as an index of wider trends of globalisation, environmental pressures and cultural homogenisation. We are working in particular with partner organisation the North Eastern Institute of Language and Culture, a centre for research, documentation and revitalisation of endangered languages of North East India.
Why is this research project needed?
In recent decades, the issue of endangered of tribal and indigenous languages has become urgent.
The most recent estimate – likely to be a conservative one – is that just under half the world’s languages (46%) are currently endangered. Some linguists estimated that up to 90% of current spoken language systems will be severely endangered or dead by the year 2100.
This is a unique situation: never before in human history has such a proportion of languages been at risk of disappearing so quickly. Moreover, the predicament is by no means static or predictable: languages that are stable today can become endangered tomorrow. We are truly in a crisis.
Research is urgently required to describe and critically evaluate the reasons for this process and to work with partners on the ground to integrate these research findings into practical solutions.
Who are we partnering with?
We are working with a partner organisation, the North Eastern Institute of Language and Culture, based in Guwahati, Assam. NEILAC is a centre for research, documentation and revitalisation of endangered languages of North East India. It also provides services for endangered language advocacy, support and training.
Together with NEILAC , the LSRI is evaluating insights from the Ako Hrusso people and others in the region to understand how language endangerment provides an index for wider questions of cultural, political and economic marginalization of some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.
What research outputs will be produced?
Our research explores the social and environmental justice context that frames the issue of language endangerment in North East India.
- Through a series of dialogical seminars in Autumn 2022, we explored these issues in relation to the meta-impacts of globalization, urbanization, neoliberal economic development, environmental destruction, and the forces of cultural homogenization.
- By Spring 2023, we will produce a series of additional resources for further public engagement, including graphical reports and video compilations.
- This will culminate in a series of practical resources in 2024, many of which will be applied directly to the situation in North East India.