Professor Panchanan Mohanty, Professor of Linguistics and former Dean, School of Humanities at University of Hyderabad (UoH) has discovered two languages which were lying hidden from Linguists.

India has been termed a ‘sociolinguistic giant’ and a ‘linguists’ paradise’ by various scholars of the world. Though an effort is being made by the Government of India to document the endangered tribal and minor languages, there are many languages which are unknown to the world and are waiting to be discovered and documented. As a part of the activity of the Centre for Endangered Languages and Mother Tongue Studies, University of Hyderabad, Prof. Panchanan Mohanty has discovered two languages recently which were lying hidden from linguists. One of them is called Walmiki and is spoken in the district of Koraput of Odisha and on the bordering districts of Andhra Pradesh. He collected some data and did a preliminary analysis and published a paper in the proceedings of the XX Annual Conference of the Foundation for Endangered Languages, U.K. of this language which shows that it is an isolate, i.e. it does not belong to a particular family of languages. The name of the language, i.e. Walmiki is also very interesting and indicative because the speech community claims descent from the great Indian saint-poet Valmiki.

A person who speaks Malhar language

A person who speaks Malhar language

The second language named Malhar is spoken in a remote and isolated hamlet which is almost 165 kilometers away from Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha. The community consists of about 75 speakers including children. Fortunately, most of them are very fluent in this language because they live in a place isolated from the Odia speaking neighbours and survive on daily labour and collections from the nearby forest. The preliminary data collected clearly show that it belongs to the North Dravidian subgroup of the Dravidian family of languages and has close affinities with the other North Dravidian languages like Malto and Kurux spoken in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar. The team is trying to find out if there are other speakers of Malhar in any of the nearby places besides documenting both these languages before they get extinct due to various reasons which are typical in the globalized world.

Professor Panchanan Mohanty is Professor of Linguistics and former Dean, School of Humanities at University of Hyderabad. He is also the President of Linguistic Society of India (2018-20). Prof. Mohanty has done his Ph.D. from Berhampur University and is Coordinator of the Centre for Endangered Languages and Mother Tongue Studies. His specializations are: Language Teaching & Testing, Psycholinguistics, Phonology, Morphology, Sociolinguistics, Computational Linguistics, Quantitative Linguistics, Translation Studies, and Language Endangerment Studies.

Prof. Mohanty has guided more than 35 MPhil and more than 25 PhD candidates successfully so far. He has published more than 160 research papers and 28 books in India and abroad to his credit.

Information given by Prof. Panchanan Mohanty