Officials of the survey, called the People's Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI) has held that the country had 1,100 languages in 1961 of which 220 have vanished. The survey has found 780 languages and might have missed another 100, which makes it around 880.
The officials said most of the languages that have been lost were spoken by nomadic communities and population groups of around five crore people generally spoke in them.
Why did these languages get lost? It is said lack of recognition, displacement of communities, absence of livelihood option and above all, the absence of a policy to conserve these languages led to their disappearance.
The 1961 census had recorded that India had 1,652 languages in all but the number was narrowed down to 1,100 later for variants of same languages were also included in the list. The 1971 census registered only 108 languages for it was decided that only those languages with over 10,000 speakers will be included. The rest were put under the 'others' section and proved disastrous for many of the vulnerable languages.
On August 17, a Marathi volume on languages in Maharashtra, prepared by the institute, will be released in Pune. More 49 such volumes will be released in New Delhi on September 5.