22 Languages in India Incredible !

July 29, 2020 By Poonam Kushwaha

India is the world’s 2nd most crowded country and is also very culturally, religiously, and lingually diverse. With over 22 languages that are recognized by the government and hundreds of other languages that are spoken within the country, it can be difficult to know what language the local people will speak when you visit India and which language (if any) you should learn before you travel.

22 Languages listed below:

  1. Assamese
  2. Bengali (Bangla)
  3. Bodo
  4. Dogri
  5. Gujarati
  6. Hindi
  7. Kannada
  8. Kashmiri
  9. Konkani
  10. Maithili
  11. Malayalam
  12. Meitei
  13. Marathi
  14. Nepali
  15. Odia
  16. Punjabi
  17. Sanskrit
  18. Santali
  19. Sindhi
  20. Tamil
  21. Telugu
  22. Urdu

There are 22 languages recognized by the Indian Constitution.

Until the Twenty-first Amendment of the Constitution of India in 1967, the country recognized 14 official regional languages. The Eighth Schedule and the Seventy-First Amendment provided for the inclusion of Sindhi, Konkani, Meitei and Nepali, thereby increasing the number of official regional languages of India to 18. The Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India, as of 1 December 2007, lists 22 languages, which are given in the table above.

Sanskrit “Considered to be the Mother of all Languages, it belongs to the Indic group of language family of Indo-European and its descendant’s, which are Indo-Iranian and Indo-Aryan. The meaning of Sanskrit is refined, decorated or produced in perfect form. The language is also known for its clarity and beauty.

Each language in India uses a slightly different script although from an outside perspective it may be difficult to tell the difference between them. Unlike Mandarin, Indian scripts operate off of an alphabet with many different letters each of which makes a different sound.

Hindi and other Indo-Aryan languages use the Devanagari script which was taken from ancient Sanskrit and has 47 primary letters including 14 vowels and 33 consonants.

Hindi is the official and main link language of India. Its homeland is mainly in the north of India, but it is spoken and widely understood in all urban centers of India. It is written in the Devanagri script, which is phonetic and, unlike English, is pronounced as it is written. Hindi is a direct descendant of Sanskrit through Prakrit and Apabhramsha. It has been influenced and enriched by Dravidian, Turkish, Farsi, Arabic, Portugese and English. It is a very expressive language. In poetry and songs, it can convey emotions using simple and gentle words. It can also be used for exact and rational reasoning.

Celebrate India!!
Unity in Diversity!!

In addition, several states in India have their own official languages, which are usually only spoken particular areas. Among them are Bengali (83 million speakers), Telugu (spoken by 74 million people) and Marathi (72 million speakers). However, standard Hindi, which is based on a colloquial dialect around Delhi, is taught at all schools in India.

Among the other language speakers of India, the decision to choose Hindi as the official language was seen as an attempt to erase their cultures. After different struggles – political, violent and passive – the central government decided to allow the state governments to pick their official languages and recognized constitutionally other languages of India. The different states of India have different official languages, some of them not recognized by the central government. Some states have more than one official language. Bihar in east India has three official languages - Hindi, Urdu and Bengali – which are all recognized by the central government. But Sikkim, also in east India, has four official languages of which only Nepali is recognized by the central government. Besides the languages officially recognized by central or state governments, there are other languages which don’t have this recognition and their speakers are running political struggles to get this recognition. Anyway as stated earlier the central government decided that Hindi is the official language of India and therefore it has also the status of official language in the states. Another language that has a official status in all states is English. 

Alongside Hindi, the English language is one of the official languages of the federal government of India. In some states of India, such as Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, English is an official language. English has been taught in schools in India since the days of the East India Company in the 1800s. Although English used to solely be associated with colonialism, the language has slowly lost that connotation over recent years as English has become a more prominent global language.

The many languages in India do not hinder communication between different language speakers as most of the Indians are multilingual. The majority of the Indians can speak English, Hindi, and one mother tongue. English is no longer considered a foreign language since it is popular and the most common mode of communication between the people in the south and north of India. Nonverbal communications such as gestures are also popular forms of communication among different language group in the country.

Language is the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of acoustic as well as kinesics signals to express thoughts and feelings, and language is used for the exchange of knowledge and experiences. The problem on this planet is the language systems vary greatly from region to region.

Hope the above information on language’s was useful to you.

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