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The official language of the Republic of Indiamarker is Hindi & English.The languages of India belong to several major linguistic families, the two largest being the Indo-European languagesIndo-Aryan (spoken by 70% of Indians)—and the Dravidian languages (spoken by 22% of Indians). Other languages spoken in India come mainly from the Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman linguistic families, in addition to a few language isolates.

Individual mother tongues in India number several hundred; the 1961 census recognized 1,652 (SIL Ethnologue lists 415). According to Census of India of 2001, 29 languages are spoken by more than a million native speakers, 122 by more than 10,000.Three millennia of language contact has led to significant mutual influence among the four language families in India and South Asia. Two contact language have played an important role in the history of India: Persian and English.


The northern Indian languages from the Indo-European family evolved from Old Indo-Aryan such as Sanskrit, by way of the Middle Indo-Aryan Prakrit languages and Apabhraṃśa of the Middle Ages. There is no consensus for a specific time where the modern north Indian languages such as Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Saraiki, Punjabi, Sindhi, Bengali, Oriya and Assamese emerged, but AD 1000 is commonly accepted. Each language had different influences, with Hindi/Urdu and closely related Hindustani languages being strongly influenced by Persian.

The Dravidian languages of South India had a history independent of Sanskrit. The major Dravidian languages are Telugu , Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada . The Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman languages of North-East India also have long independent histories.


Linguists generally distinguish the terms "language" and "dialects" on the basis of 'mutual comprehension'. The Indian census uses two specific classifications in its own unique way: (1)'language' and (2) 'mother tongue'. The 'mother tongues' are grouped within each 'language'. Many 'mother tongues' so defined would be considered a language rather than a dialect by linguistic standards. This is especially so for many 'mother tongues' with tens of millions of speakers that is officially grouped under the 'language' Hindi.

The Indian census of 1961 recognised 1,652 different languages in India (including languages not native to the subcontinent). The 1991 census recognizes 1,576 classified "mother tongues" SIL Ethnologue lists 415 living "Languages of India" (out of 6,912 worldwide).

According to the 1991 census, 22 'languages' had more than a million native speakers, 50 had more than 100,000 and 114 had more than 10,000 native speakers. The remaining accounted for a total of 566,000 native speakers (out of a total of 838 million Indians in 1991).

According to the most recent census of 2001, 29 'languages' have more than a million native speakers, 60 have more than 100,000 and 122 have more than 10,000 native speakers.

The government of India has given 22 "languages of the 8th Schedule" the status of official language. The number of languages given this status has increased through the political process. Some languages with a large number of speakers still do not have this status, the largest of these being Bhili/Bhiladi with some 9.6 million native speakers (ranked 14th), followed by Gondi with 2.7 million speakers (ranked 18th) and Khandeshi with 2.1 million speakers (ranked 22nd). On the other hand, 2 languages with fewer than 2 million native speakers have recently been included in the 8th Schedule for mostly political reasons: Manipuri/Maithei with 1.5 million speakers (ranked 25th) and Bodo with 1.4 million speakers (ranked 26th). For cultural/historical reasons Sanskrit is on the official schedule, though only 14 thousand people claim it to be their language, but many more study it in school as the classical language of India.i love alex e and justin biber

Language families

The languages of India may be grouped by major language families. The largest of these in terms of speakers is the Indo-European family, predominantly represented in its Indo-Aryan branch (accounting for some 700 million speakers), but also including minority languages such as Persian, Portuguese or French, and English as lingua franca. The second largest is the Dravidian family, accounting for some 200 million speakers. Minor linguistic families include the Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman families (with some 10 and 6 million speakers, respectively). Kashmiri, considered a Dardic language, has some 4.6 million speakers in India. There is also a language isolate, the Nihali language.

Official languages

The official language of the Republic of Indiamarker is Hindi. Article 343(1)states "The Official Language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script." And that English could be also used for official purposes. However, attempts would be made increase the scope of Hindi in official matters on a gradual basis. .1. Schwartzberg, Joseph E., 2007. Encyclopedia Britannica, India—Linguistic Composition. Quote: "By far the most widely spoken is Hindi, the country's official language, with more than 300 million speakers." 2. Oldenburg, Phillip. (1997-2007) Encarta Encyclopedia "India: Official Languages." Quote: "Hindi is the main language of more than 40 percent of the population. No single language other than Hindi can claim speakers among even 10 percent of the total population. Hindi was therefore made India’s official language in 1965. English, which was associated with British rule, was retained as an option for official use because some non-Hindi speakers, particularly in Tamil Nādu, opposed the sole official use of Hindi."3. United Kingdom, Foreign and Commonwealth Office: India—Country Profile. Quote: "The official language of India is Hindi written in the Devanagari script and spoken by some 30% of the population as a first language. Since 1965 English has been recognised as an 'associated language'." 4. UNESCO: Education for All—The Nine Largest Countries Quote: "Hindi is the language of 30% of the population and the official language of India."5. United States Library of Congress, Federal Research Division, Country Profile: India Quote: "Languages: Hindi is the official language and the most commonly spoken, but not all dialects are mutually comprehensible. English also has official status and is widely used in business and politics, although knowledge of English varies widely from fluency to knowledge of just a few words."6 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Country Profile: India Quote: "Hindi is constitutionally designated as the official language of India, with English as an associate official language."

The individual states can legislate their own official languages, depending on their linguistic demographics. For example, the state of TamilNadumarker has Tamil as its sole official language and the state of Karnatakamarker has Kannada as its sole official language, while the state of Jammu and Kashmirmarker has Kashmiri, Urdu and Dogri as its official languages.

Article 345 of the Indian constitution provides recognition to "official languages" of the union to include any one or more of the languages in use in the state or Hindi language adopted by a state legislature as the official language but, . Until the Twenty-First Amendment of the Constitution in 1967, the country recognised 14 official regional languages. The Eighth Schedule and the Seventy-First Amendment provided for the inclusion of Sindhi, Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali, thereby increasing the number of official regional languages of India to 18. Individual states, whose borders are mostly drawn on socio-linguistic lines, are free to decide their own language for internal administration and education.

The following table lists the national languages set out in the eighth schedule as of May 2008:

Hindi is an official language of the states of Uttar Pradeshmarker, Biharmarker, Jharkhandmarker, Uttarakhandmarker, Madhya Pradeshmarker, Rajasthanmarker, Chhattisgarhmarker, Himachal Pradeshmarker, Haryanamarker and the National Capital, the Territory of Delhimarker. Bengali is the official language of West Bengalmarker,Manipur Tripuramarker and certain other parts of the North-east. Marathi is the official language of Maharashtramarker. Punjabi is the official language of Punjabmarker, Himachal Pradeshmarker,Haryanamarker, and the National Capital, the Territory of Delhimarker. Gujarati is the official language of Gujaratmarker. Tamil is the official language of Tamil Nadumarker, Puducherrymarker and the Andaman and Nicobar Islandsmarker. Malayalam is the official language of Keralamarker and Lakshadweepmarker. Kannada is the official language of Karnatakamarker. Telugu is the official language of Andhra Pradeshmarker. Oriya is the official language of Orissamarker;Oriya is spoken also in parts of West Bengal, Chattishgarh and Jharakhand. Assamese is the official language of Assammarker; it is spoken widely in many of the seven northeastern states. Urdu has official status in the states of Delhimarker, Uttar Pradeshmarker, Biharmarker, Andhra Pradeshmarker and Jammu and Kashmirmarker English is the co-official language of the Indian Union, and each of the several states mentioned above may also have another co-official language.

Official classical languages

In 2004, the Government of India declared that languages that met certain requirements could be accorded the status of a "classical language" in India. Languages thus far declared to be "classical" are Tamil (in 2004), Sanskrit (in 2005), Kannada (in 2008), and Telugu (in 2008).

In 2005, Sanskrit, which already had special status in Article 351 of the Constitution of India as the primary source language for the development of the official language Hindi, was also declared to be a classical language; this was followed by similar declarations for Kannada and Telugu in 2008, based on the recommendation of a committee of linguistic experts constituted by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.

In a 2006 press release, Minister of Tourism & Culture Ambika Soni told the Rajya Sabha the following criteria were laid down to determine the eligibility of languages to be considered for classification as a "classical Language",

Language conflicts

There are some significant conflicts over linguistic rights in India.

The first major linguistic conflict took place in Tamil Nadu against the implementation of Hindi as the sole official language of India, known as Anti-Hindi agitations. Political analysts consider this as a major factor in bringing DMK to power and leading to the ousting and nearly total elimination of the Congress party in Tamil Nadu. Strong cultural pride based on language is also found in other Indian states such as Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka and to a certain extent in Kerala. To express disapproval of the imposition of an alien language Hindi on its people as a result of the central government overstepping its constitutional authority, Maharashtra and Karnataka Governments made the state languages compulsory in educational institutions.

Recently anti Hindi feelings have been expressed in Mumbaimarker by Shiv Sena & Maharashtra Navnirman Sena

The Government of India attempts to assuage these conflicts with various campaigns, coordinated by the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), Mysoremarker, a branch of the Department of Higher Education, Language Bureau, Ministry of Human Resource Development.

Writing systems

Indian languages have corresponding distinct alphabets. The two major families are those of the Dravidian languages and those of the Indo-Aryan languages, the former largely confined to the south and the latter to the north. Urdu and sometimes Kashmiri, Saraiki, Sindhi and Panjabi are written in modified versions of the Perso-Arabic script. Except for these languages, the alphabets of Indian languages are native to India. (See ISO 15919 regarding Romanization of Indian languages)

Software for typing in Indian Languages

  • Baraha
  • Indic script IMEs (keyboard layouts) and other Indic-language software by Microsoft - Windows.
  • Quillpad an online editor for different Indian Languages.

See also


  1. See: Nihali, Burushaski, Andamanese languages
  2. More than a thousand including major dialects. The 1991 census recognized "1576 rationalized mother tongues" which were further grouped into language categories ( Indian Census)
  4. Bhatia, Tej K and William C. Ritchie. (2006) Bilingualism in South Asia. In: Handbook of Bilingualism, pp. 780-807. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
  7. Shapiro, M: Hindi.
  9. Indian Census
  10. "Legislation: Legislation dealing with the use of languages". Constitution of India. Articles 29, 30, 120, 210, 343-351 as amended in the 21st and 71st Amendments.
  11. Constitution of India, page 330, EIGHTH SCHEDULE, Articles 344 (1) and 351]. Languages.
  14. Constitution of India, Part XVII.—Official Language.—Art. 351. Page 217 Quote: "It shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language, to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius, the forms, style and expressions used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the Eighth Schedule, and by drawing, wherever necessary or desirable, for its vocabulary, primarily on Sanskrit and secondarily on other languages."

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