09-FEB-2019: Prof Anvita Abbi delivers extension lecture, receives Life-Time-Achievement-Award during International Year of Indigenous Languages observations
Aligarh, February 9: The Department of Linguistics, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) conferred a Life-Time-Achievement-Award to Padma Shri, Professor Anvita Abbi, Indian linguist and scholar of minority languages for her contribution in preserving endangered languages to mark the year, 2019 as the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 'International Year of Indigenous Languages'. Prof Anvita also delivered a University Extension Lecture on 'What Does Indian Linguistic Diversity Tell Us' at the Conference Hall of the Faculty of Social Sciences after receiving the award from AMU Vice Chancellor, Professor Tariq Mansoor.
"India stands unique in the world with a legacy of diversity of languages," said Prof Anvita pointing out that the Country's Constitution recognises 22 official languages, but multilingualism is the way of life in India as people in different parts of the country speak more than one language from their birth and learn additional languages during their life time.
She added, "It is amazing that 1368 mother tongues are spoken in India and speakers of many languages at times keep changing their loyalty to other languages, which is evident in the case of many Marathi speakers, who have now adapted Konkani as their language."
Prof Anvita further said that it is difficult to know the exact number of languages because the distinction between a language and a dialect is not always clear.
"Indian languages come from the Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Sino-Tibetan and Afro-Asiatic linguistic families and the endangered languages of the Andaman Islands seem to fit into an additional language group of their own," said Prof Anvita adding that the since Andaman Islands is home to some of the few uncontacted peoples on earth, the indigenous languages spoken in the islands are on the verge of extinction and they need to be to documented and archived.
Speaking on her works in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, she said that I identified the Great Andamanese language, which is genealogically different from the rest of the languages of the Andamanese tribes. "After years of research, I evolved a script to suit the sounds of the language. We called it the English-Great Andamanese-Hindi dictionary, the first of its kind, to document the language on the islands," said Prof Anvita.
"Languages are important to culture and they need to be preserved," said AMU Vice Chancellor, Professor Tariq Mansoor during his presidential remarks adding that linguists have a big challenge ahead in saving these indigenous languages from extinction.
"We live in heterogeneous societies and the world is becoming a global village. It is imperative that cultures and their languages are preserved," said Prof Mansoor. He also invited Prof Anvita to become an adjunct faculty in the University's Department of Linguistics.
In the introductory remarks, Prof S Imtiaz Hasnain (Chairperson, Department of Linguistics) spoke on Dr Anvita's extensive research on the language families in India and the on languages and culture of the Great Andamanese. "Prof Anvita's studies have helped in identifying the distinct characteristics of two Great Andamanese languages, Jarawa and Onge which promoted the concept of a new language family of India," said Prof Hasnain.
Reading the citation, Mr Masood A Beg said that Prof Anvita is an adjunct professor of linguistics at the Simon Fraser University, BC Vancouver in Canada and visiting professor at the Goa University (India), University of Wuerzburg (Germany), Essex University (UK) and a visiting fellow at La Trobe University (Australia).
Prof Masud Anwar Alavi (Dean, Faculty of Arts) also spoke on the occasion.
Dr Mohammad Jahangeer Warsi proposed the vote of thanks, while Ms Iqra conducted the programme.
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Related PicturesProf Anvita Abbi delivering University Extension Lecture
Prof Anvita Abbi receiving Life TIme Achievement Award from Vice Chancellor Prof Tariq Mansoor
Prof Imtiaz Hasnain delivering welcome address