What Language do Indians Speak
By: Ricky vela
India is an enormous country. Around 1.3 billion people live in this country, making it the world’s third-largest economy. India is a developing country and it is struggling with its poverty. It has a very diverse democracy with lots of linguistic diversity.
To your surprise, the people of India speak approximately 19500 mother tongues and dialects across the country. This shows the height of linguistic diversity. It is a famous saying about India that language in India changes every few kilometers just like water.
Some people think that states in India are segregated based on linguistic lines. This means that regions are defined by the language that people of that region speak but this is not a valid notion because people in the region don’t speak a single language.
For example, only in Gujrat, do people speak different languages like Gujrati which is the state language, and other dialects like Bhili, Kathiyawadi, Marathi, Sindhi, and many more.
This shows that people even speak state languages with different dialects. The other important thing to keep in mind is that people from other regions of India also move to different states for seeking good jobs and to improve their quality of life.
They bring them their culture and language diversity. Different languages like Marathi, Sindhi, and Gujrati show the linguistic landscape of India.
22 Separate Official Languages of India
The Indian constitution has legally recognized 22 languages as the official languages of India. These languages are:
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According to academics, Tamil and Sanskrit are given the status of two official classical languages. Hindi and English is the official language announced by the central government of India. In addition to it, the regional states can adopt any regional language as their official language.
Indian children grew up in a bilingual atmosphere. This is because their parents speak different languages; the second reason is that they came from other parts of the country. The school system in the country motivates the children to learn foreign languages starting from primary school.
As English is a universal language, therefore people in India learn the English language with zeal. You can hardly find anyone who cannot speak English, especially in metropolitan cities.
Hindi is from the group of Indo-Aryan languages that lies within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European Language family. Business in India is done in the English language but Hindi is still the preferred official language in India.
Approximately 366 million people in India speak this language which is 40% of Indian Papulation. People living in Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Rajasthan speak the Hindi language widely.
Do you know that 8% of the Indian population speaks Bengali? It is the second most spoken language in India. This language originated from Aryan Eastern civilization.
As Bengali is not an official language of India but still it is the official language of some of the states of India. To your surprise, the national anthem of India is also written in the Bengali language, later it is translated into Hindi.
The Nepali people that are of Nepali origin are called Indian Gorkhas. They came to India in the state of Sikkim to settle down. These people speak Nepalese and they are spread all around the country. Approximately 2.9 million people in India speak this language.
Maithili is an Indo-Aryan language. Around 15 million people living in India speak this language. These people live in the regions of Bihar and Jharkhand. In India, people use this language in magazines, newspapers, radio, TV, films, education, and in literature also.
To your surprise, Tamil is one of the twenty-six Dravidian languages which is native to the Indian subcontinent. It is one of the world’s oldest classical languages.
Approximately 61 million people in India speak this language. Most of the Tamil-speaking people are residing in areas like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andaman, Puducherry, and the Nicobar Islands.
The other name in Sanskrit is Dev Bhasha. It means the language of Gods. At present only 1% of Indians speak this language and this 1% includes Hindu priests only.
It is the official language of Uttarakhand which is famous for historical Hindu temples. Sanskrit was once the lingua Franca of old India.
Dogri is the language from the group of Indo-Aryan languages that is also a part of the Indo-European languages. Approximately, 5 million people in India speak this language.
Dogri-speaking people are concentrated in the areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Northern Punjab, and Western Himachal Pradesh.
Assamese is the official language of the state of Assam in India. This language is derived from the Easternmost group of Indo-Aryan languages.
People living in different parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Northern Eastern Indian states speak this language. Moreover, people living along the Brahmaputra also speak this language.
Approximately 5.07 crore people in India speak the Urdu language. It is the official language in the states of Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Telangana, Delhi, Jammu, and Kashmir.
Urdu originated from Indo-Aryan central civilization and Urdu-speaking people are spread across the country.
The other name of Bodo is Boro. This language is a Sino-Tibetan language. 85 million people in India speak this language.
These people are usually from the West Indian state of Assam and the Bodoland territorial region. This language is written using the Devanagari script.
Gujarati is an Indo-Aryan language. People living in the state of Gujrat in India speak this language. According to a rough estimate, it is the 6th most widely spoken language in India with a whopping 55.5 million speakers.
People living in Nagar Haveli, Daman, Dadra, and Diu also speak the Gujrati language widely.
Kannada is also one of the Dravidian languages. Approximately, 4.37 crore people in India speak this language. Indian people speak the Kannada language with its 20 different dialects.
Kannada speakers are an important part of the Indian Diaspora. People living in Indian states like Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh speak this language.
The other name of the Manipur language is Meitei. People living in the Southeastern Himalayan state of Manipur in India speak this language. This is one of the scheduled languages from the Indian Union, and it is taught at the Ph.D. level in Indian universities.
Approximately, 3.48 crore people in India speak Malayalam language and 33 million Indian people speak it as their native language. It is the official language of the union territory of Lakshadweep and the state of Kerala.
People residing in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu also speak this language and the Malayalam language root is also from Dravidian.
Sindhi is an Indo-Aryan language. People in the Indian subcontinent speak this language. It is the scheduled language of India. However, it is not recognized at the state level. Sindhi is a prominent minority language in the Indian state of Rajasthan.
Punjab is the central province of India and people living in this major province speak the Punjabi language. Punjabi is native to 33 million Indian speakers.
This makes it a country’s 11 most spoken languages. It is from the group of Indo-European languages. Punjabi is a prominent language because of its lexical tone.
Do you know that 81 million people in India speak the Telugu language as their mother tongue? The people residing in the areas of Telangana, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands widely speak this language.
Telugu is the fourth native language that the people of India speak and it is the only language that is officially used in two states.
Santali is from the subfamily of the Austroasiatic languages. This language is related to Mundari and Ho languages. People living in the areas of Jharkhand, Mizoram, Odisha, Tripura, West Bengal, Assam, and Bihar speak this language. It is one of the recognized languages of the Indian Eight constitution.
Around 72 million people in India speak the Marathi language on daily basis. Thus, making it the third most spoken language in India. It is an Indo-Aryan language and people living in Goa, Daman, Diu, Dadra, Nagar Haveli, and the states of Maharashtra speak this language widely.
One important thing to note about the Marathi language is that it contains some ancient words that people still use in Indian languages today.
The other name of Oriya is Odia. It is an Indo-Aryan language. People living in the Indian state of Odisha speak this language. It is one of the official languages of Odisha and the second official language of Jharkhand. Around 3.75 million people in the country speak this language.
Konkani is the Indo-Aryan language. Thus, the people that live along the Western coastal region of India speak this language. It is the official language of the Indian state of Goa.
Konkani is a minority language in Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat, Nagar Haveli, Daman, Diu, Dadra and Gujrat, and Maharashtra.
Use of English in India
In India, people speak English in business dealings. According to Indian merchants, you can earn more money if you are proficient in English. English is prevalent in the upper class.
Indian people don’t consider English a foreign language. Do you want to know why? This is because of 100 years of British colonization over the sub-continent. Indian English is different from standard English because of cultural and regional nuances.
Companies that are outsourcing their services in India also preferred the English language. These companies are related to customer services and technology.
The different languages that people of India speak show the beauty of diverse Indian culture. Different languages show different cultures that are living under the umbrella of a single country known as India. To understand distinct languages and to get an insight into diverse cultures, you can take the assistance of a professional translation agency.