India's aborigines study, rather than shed, their culture

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In a library deep in the western Indian countryside, in an academy surrounded by farms on all sides, five students are writing briskly in their ruled notebooks.

They are in their early 20s and newly enrolled, pimples dotting their faces and polish peeling from their nails.

But there is no discounting the gravity of their assignment: When they complete it, the world will have five more documented languages at its disposal.

One word at a time, they are making dictionaries of languages that they grew up with but that to the outside world scarcely exist. They are oral languages, whose sounds have perhaps never before appeared in ink.

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