Lesser-Known Languages of South Asia
The increasing globalization and centralization in the world is threatening the existence of a large number of smaller languages. In South Asia some locally dominant languages (e.g., Hindi, Urdu, Nepali) are gaining ground beside English at the expense of the lesser-known languages. Despite a long history of stable multilingualism, language death is not uncommon in the South Asian context. We do not know how the language situation in South Asia will be affected by modern information and communication technologies: Will cultural and linguistic diversity be strengthened or weakened as they become increasingly prevalent in all walks of life? This volume brings together areas of research that so far do not interact to any significant extent: traditional South Asian descriptive linguistics and sociolinguistics, documentary linguistics, issues of intellectual and cultural property and fieldwork ethics, and language technology. Researchers working in the areas of documentary linguistics and language technology have become aware of each other in the last few years, and of how work in the other area could be potentially useful in furthering their own aims. Similarly, the insights of documentary linguistics are making their way into descriptive linguistics and sociolinguistics. However, the potential for synergy among these areas of research is almost limitless. This volume provides the reader, not so much with a do-it-yourself recipe for applying modern technology to the problem of language shift in South Asia today, but rather with some basic knowledge about the problems involved and some directions from which solutions could be forthcoming, a toolbox rather than a blueprint, for helping to shape the linguistic future of South Asia.