|Occupation||Scholar and linguist|
Rashtriya Lok Bhasha Sammaan
All India Institute of Advanced Study Fellowship
Gold Medal - Delhi University
SOAS Leverhume Professor
Max Planck Institute Visiting Scientist/> Kenneth Hale Award - Linguistic Society of America (2015)
Professor Anvita Abbi (born 9 January 1949) is an Indian linguist and scholar of minority languages, known for her studies on tribal languages and other minority languages of South Asia. The Government of India honoured her, in 2013, by awarding her the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award, for her contributions to the field of linguistics.
Anvita Abbi was born on 9 January 1949, in Agra to family that had produced a number of Hindi writers. After schooling at local institutions, she graduated in economics (BA Hons) from the University of Delhi in 1968. Subsequently, she secured a master's degree (MA) in linguistics from the same university with first division and first rank in 1970 and continued her studies to obtain a PhD from Cornell University, Ithaca, USA, in 1975, with a major in General Linguistics and minor in South Asian Linguistics. She worked as professor of linguistics at Centre for Linguistics, School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies. She currently lives in New Delhi.
Anvita Abbi is credited with extensive research on the six language families in India and the languages and culture of the Great Andamanese which she did as a part of the Endangered Languages Documentation Project (ELDP) project on Vanishing Voices of the Great Andamanese (VOGA), SOAS, University of London. Her studies of 2003-2004 have helped in identifying the distinct characteristics of two Great Andamanese languages, Jarawa and Onge which promoted the concept of a sixth language family of India. Later researches on Andamanese people by other scholars have reported to have confirmed Abbi's findings by discovering two distinct haplogroups of the region, viz. M31 and M32.
She resumed her research on the topic in 2006, concentrating on the morpho-syntax and lexicon of three dying languages of Andaman Islands and unearthed evidence proving that Great Andamanese belongs to a linguistically different language family. She has also compiled an English-Great Andamanese-Hindi Dictionary. Her current project covers the grammar and the evolution of Great Andamanese languages and its people.
A teacher at the JNU, Abbi has assisted 20 PhD and 29 MPhil students in their researches.
Abbi has held many positions of importance, both at administrative and academic levels. Current position: Director, Center of Oral and Tribal Literature Sahtiya Akademi, New Delhi India. Adjunct Professor, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada and the President of the Linguistic society of India. She has served as an advisor to institutions such as UNESCO (since 2002) and Sahitya Akademi. She is also a life member of the Linguistic Society of India at their Dravidian Linguistics Association wing and has also sat on the editorial board of two journals, Indian Linguistics (1991–95) and the International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics (1992–96).
The list of academic and organizational responsibilities Professor Anvita Abbi has carried out may be listed as:
Abbi has been invited by several universities around the world as visiting professor. She has taught at the following universities:
Anvita Abbi, an honorary life member of the Linguistic Society of America and the Dravidian Linguistics Association, sits on the Advisory Board of Terralingua and the UNESCO. She has also served as a Director Board member of Terralingua during 1998-2008.
Anvita Abbi has presented papers and delivered keynote addresses at various platforms and at many institutions of repute. A selection of her lectures are:
|Cairns Institute, James Cook University||8 November 2010||The endangered languages of the Andaman Islands: Reconstructing the knowledge-base of the Pre Neolithic tribes of India||Australia|
|Cairns Institute, James Cook University||11 January 2011||Semantics of inalienability and grammaticalization of body part terms in Great Andamanese||Australia|
|Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology||18 September 2010||In search of language contact between Jarawa and Aka-Bea: the languages of South Andaman||Germany|
|University of Würzburg||1 July 2010||Contact language in Northeast India||Germany|
|University of Oslo||23 September 2010||Hindi as a contact language of India||Norway|
Anvita Abbi is credited with 19 books, authored, coauthored and edited. Her writings cover the typology, structures and ethnolinguistic aspects of languages and their documentation. Her work has spanned the entire Indian subcontinent and the most known among her works is her project, Vanishing Voices of the Great Andamanese.
Her Hindi short story anthology, Mutthhi Bhar Pahcaan, was published in 1969.
Anvita Abbi has also published over 80 articles in national and international peer reviewed journals. Some of her notable articles are:
Anvita Abbi has been honoured by several institutions and establishments. She has held the position of the Visiting Scientist at the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany for three years, 200, 2003 and 2010. She was a Leverhume Professor at the SOAS, University of London in 2011 and a fellow of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Cornell University, New York, USA in 1990 and a visiting fellow of the La Trobe University, Melbourne in 2003. Abbi was a visiting professor at the Cairns Institute, James Cook University, Australia during 2010-2011. Some of the other honours she has received are:
In 2013, the Government of India honoured Anvita Abbi by awarding her the civilian award of Padma Shri.