Two endangered languages find their voice

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on April 06, 2018 Published on April 06, 2018

A person who speaks Malhar language

Hyderabad University linguist discovers Walmiki and Malhar, spoken by small communities in Odisha.


A linguist from the University of Hyderabad (UoH) has stumbled on two languages called Walmiki and Malhar both predominantly in the remote region’s of Odisha.

The languages are categorised `endangered’ as the number of people speaking is small. For instance Malhar is spoken by just 75 including children from a particular community. These people live in a remote and isolated hamlet about 165 kms from Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha.

Endangered languages

The discovery has been made and announced by Panchanan Mohanty of the Centre for Endangered Languages and Mother Tongue Studies at the UoH. He has collected data, did preliminary analysis and published a paper in the proceedings of the XX Annual Conference of the Foundation for Endangered Languages, UK.

Walmiki is spoken in the district of Koraput and in the bordering districts of Andhra Pradesh. The etymology of the name is also interesting. It indicates that the community speaking the language have descent from the Indian saint-poet Valmiki, who is credited to have written one version of the epic Ramayana.

The Union Government has been making efforts to document the endangered tribal and minor languages. There are several languages unknown to the world and waiting to be discovered and documented. India is also considered a linguists Paradise and termed a sociolinguistic giant, the University said in a press release.


Panchanan Mohanty



Though less than 100 speak the language Malhar, they are very fluent as they live completely detached from the Odia speaking neighbours. They survive on daily labour and collections from the nearby forest, sayd Mohanty. Analyis indicated that the tongue belongs to the North Dravidian subgroup of the Dravidian family of languages.

North Dravidian languages

Malhar has close affinities with other North Dravidian languages like Malto and Kurux spoken in Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal. Mohanty, the President of Linguistic Society of India and team are trying to explore if there are other speakers of the language in the neighbourhood or states.

Published on April 06, 2018

A letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.