When Ganesh Devy of Peoples Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI),set out to map all languages spoken in the country,he was in for a few surprises. He discovered that India spoke a whopping 780 languages and that 200 languages had vanished in the last 50 years. He also found languages that had never been documented. And that,sometimes,even the unspoken could constitute a language.
So PLSIs inaugural release didnt just see the release of 68 volumes of spoken Indian languages,but also an exclusive volume on Indian Sign Language (ISL) a language used by millions of hearing impaired people in India.
With 7 million people,India has the highest population of the hearing impaired in the world. About 5 million of them use ISL to communicate. Acknowledging that it exists and recognising it as a language is recognising the rights of these 5 million to express themselves, Tanmoy Bhattacharya,who compiled the volume along with Surinder Randhawa and Nisha Grover,said.