How Many Languages Are Spoken in India?

India is a homeland to so many religions, beliefs and cultures and a number of languages. Languages in India belong to a wide range of language families. Some of the widely used ancient Indian languages include Indo-Aryan languages spoken by around 74% of Indians and Dravidian languages spoken by around 23% of people in India. Some other languages belong to Tibeto-Burman, Austro-Asiatic and some isolates ones. The linguistic of India and its popularity is too much across the globe.

The official language of India is Hindi and the second official language is English. As per the Indian constitution, the official language (Hindi) is in Devanagari script. There are hundreds of mother tongues in the country and in 1961 the number of these was figured as 1,652.

South Asian language families
Image source: Wikipedia

In the above picture of Indian subcontinent map, South Asian language families are depicted in different colors.

Here is the list of South Asian language families:

  • Indo-Aryan languages
  • Iranian languages
  • Nuristani languages
  • Dravidian languages
  • Austro-Asiatic languages
  • Tibeto-Burman languages
  • Unclassified / languages isolate

As per ethnologies, there are 398 languages in India from which eleven are extinct. However, still many languages are spoken across the country by billions of people. Hindi is mainly spoken in North India but not in South India. In the same way South Indian languages like Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil are not understood by the North Indians.

Indian Constitution has declared 22 languages as standard and official languages. These are the major and schedules languages of India.

Here is the list of scheduled languages:

  • Assamese/Axomiya – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam
  • Konkani – Goa, Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka
  • Dogri – Jammu and Kashmir
  • Kannada – Karnataka
  • Marathi – Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Daman and Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli
  • Bodo – Karnataka
  • Bengali – West Bengal, Nicobar Islands, Andaman, Tripura
  • Manipuri – Manipur
  • Hindi – Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand
  • Urdu – Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi
  • Malayalam – Puducherry, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  • Oriya – Orissa
  • Kashmiri – Jammu and Kashmir
  • Santhali – Santhal tribals of Chota Nagpur Plateau and some of the areas of Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh
  • Telugu – Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands
  • Gujarati – Gujarat
  • Sanskrit – non-regional
  • Tamil – Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Andaman & Nicobar Islands
  • Maithili – Bihar
  • Nepali – Assam, West Bengal, Sikkim
  • Punjabi – Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana, Delhi
  • Sindhi – non-regional

Praveen Gosain

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