Listen: Two Men, a Century Apart, Took Up the Task of Recording All Indian Languages

Some children holding languages textbooks. Credit: prathambooks/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Credit: prathambooks/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

It took George A. Grierson about 30 years to finish his masterpiece: the Linguistic Survey of India, a monumental publication that documented 179 languages and 544 dialects across the extensive and diverse borders of India. Though these historic archives are available at the click of a mouse today, this compilation alone – of fables, songs, stories and epic poetry – became a cornerstone of Indian language studies. Almost 100 years later, this epic work had a companion, when eminent Indian linguist Ganesh Devy’s People’s Survey of India was published. He identified 780 languages: some dead, some in the process of dying, some non-verbal and some that reflect the ones that Grierson recorded.

This is the latest episode of The Intersection, a fortnightly podcast on Audiomatic. For more such podcasts visit​.