5 Indian tribal languages staring at extinction


“When a language dies, it is not just the language that disappears, but the whole culture, history and knowledge archives of the speakers.”

Currently, around 8.2 percent of the Indian population speaks in tribal languages. However, these tribal languages are staring at a bleak future due to the cultural invasion from the West.

It is concerning that 197 Indian languages in India are reported to be endangered. A UNESCO report revealed that while 81 languages are vulnerable, 63 are endangered.

At least 6 tribal languages are severely endangered,  42 are critically endangered, and five languages have already become extinct.

Here is a sneak peek at five tribal languages which are limping towards an untimely death.

MAJHI in Sikkim

MajhiThe most threatened language of India, Majhi, is on the verge of extinction.

Extensive research by the People’s Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI) revealed that just four spoke Majhi in India.

Interestingly, all the four belong to the same family. Living in Jorethang, south of the Sikkimese capital, Gangtok, the extended family no longer even recites the Majhi language rituals for births or weddings.

They use it only during a 16-day death ritual, during which time the community speaks to the departed person, explaining to them that they have died

MAHALI in Eastern India

mahaliPrimarily spoken by the ‘Sun God’ community in eastern India, Mahali is also under serious threat of going extinct. With more and more people migrating to other places and learning other languages, the Mahali speaking population is fading away.  While the community who spoke in Mahali dwelled in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, British colonialism uprooted them from their culture when they invaded the region.

These ‘Sun God’ worshipping people are in grave need of revitalizing their language which is on the path to extinction.

KORO in Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal-Pradesh21Koro is considered as a “hidden” language which can be traced among an isolated hill tribe in a northeastern Indian region.

However, the influence of Koro can be found in languages in the Sino-Tibetan region. Notably, 800 to 1,200 people in the East Kameng district of western Arunachal Pradesh are known to use Koro.

The clandestine language is also used by terror outfits in the regions.

SIDI in Gujarat

Sidi, also known as Habsi (Abyssinian), is a Bantu language of India, descended from Swahili. Although announced as extinct, Sidi was reported to still be spoken in the mid-20th century in Kathiawar, Gujarat.



Dimasa in Assam

DimasaMigration of people to urban areas dealt a ghastly blow to the Dimasa language which was commonly used the states of Assam and Nagaland.

It might be mentioned that the language is one of the oldest languages in India.

Extensive research is needed to find out the lost scriptures of the language.

(Picture Courtesy: outlookindia.com)

(Inputs by Varnika Mahajan)