Modern South Asian Languages and Literatures
The Department of Modern South Asian Languages and Literatures, formerly called "Modern Indology", is devoted to the study of South Asia. "South Asia" denotes the Indian subcontinent, i.e. the area that was historically known as "India", and is today home to over 1.5 billion people, i.e. one fifth of the world's population. India is by far the largest country in South Asia, followed by Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldive Islands. Afghanistan is also at times counted as a part of South Asia and has recently acknowledged its belonging to this region. South Asia comprises a great variety of different cultures, ethnic groups and religions, and one of its most remarkable characteristics is its diversity of languages.
The several hundreds of spoken languages in South Asia are divided into four major groups: New Indoarian, Dravidian, Austroasian and Sinotibetic languages. Idioms that did not originate in South Asia (i.e. Persian, Portuguese, and of course, down to the present, English) are of great importance, too, be it as written languages, contact languages or supra-regional communication media. Several South Asian languages have brought forth a remarkable treasure of literature, and some of them are nowadays official state languages.