Introduction – advances in the study of Munda languages

South Asia is home to around 500 languages belonging to at least six different genetic stocks: Indo-Aryan, a branch of the Indo-European phylum, Dravidian, Andamanese, Tibeto-Burman, Tai, and Austro-Asiatic, as well as a number of language isolates, including Burushaski, Kusunda, and most likely also Nihali, although there is some debate on the classification of this language. The Munda languages, which are the main topic of the present issue, make up the western branch of the Austro-Asiatic phylum and stretch from the central Indian states of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh in the west through to eastern Nepal and western Bangladesh in the east, being concentrated primarily in the states of Jharkhand, Odisha (formerly known as “ Orissa ” ), and neighboring regions in the states of Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. Figure 1, from Anderson (2007: 7), presents a general overview of the regions where the various Munda languages are spoken


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