We all know the importance of language in easing communication and correspondence among individuals. This comes as no surprise, therefore, that the language of any country is the medium that makes communication possible among its people.
India is also no different. It’s a country that occupies the greater part of South Asia and is also one of the rapidly-developing nations. In the world, India is the seventh-largest country by area as well. With a population of more than 1.4 billion, it consists of a diverse population belonging to different nationalities and religions.
These different nationalities and religions speak different languages in India. According to some statistics, there are approximately 122 major languages spoken in India. Moreover, there are more than 1500 other languages or dialects that also exist in India as the mother tongue of various populations.
The question arises–how does this rich tapestry of languages exist in India? Well, it’s due to many cultural, geographical, and historical factors. If we just look at the historical influences India had, we will come to know that there have been so many waves of conquests, migrations, and interactions with different societies and communities in this country over the centuries. These historical events have their own linguistic influences giving rise to Indo-Aryan languages, Tibeto-Burman languages, and more. Similarly, there are many other reasons for the vast linguistic diversity in India. These include geographical diversity, cultural and ethnic diversity, language preservation efforts, regional identities, and more.
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How many Languages in India?
India is a linguistically very diverse country with a rich collection of languages and dialects. According to the 2001 Census of India, there are 122 major languages and 1599 other languages spoken in the country, given the size of the population and the size of the region this comes as no surprise. However, it’s important to note that languages in India are often categorized into different language families and groups. One of the main reasons for this is the age old and now racist conformity of classing citizens based on birth rights. This class system of exclusion from society for certain individuals created more dialects and languages.
The Constitution of India recognizes 22 languages as their most important languages, which are given official status at the national level. These languages include:
Beside’s these 22 languages, there are various other languages spoken across different regions of India. Some of these languages are recognized and have official status at the state or regional level. The linguistic diversity in India is a reflection of its multicultural and multilingual society. Moreover, there are many languages spoken within jungle and desert based tribes. These tribes are often hostile and violent to outsiders.
12 Most Spoken Languages in India
Here’s a look at some of the major languages spoken in India. So if you are planning to target India for your business, these are the languages to translate your content into!
The most spoken language in India is Hindi. It is one of the official languages of the country, with about 52.83 crore people speaking it. According to the census 2011, the number of people whose mother tongue is Hindi has increased as compared to 2001.
In 2001, only 41.03% of people spoke Hindi as their mother tongue, which increased to 43.6% in 2011. In addition, Hindi is also the fourth most spoken language in the world after Mandarin, Spanish, and English. This just goes to show how many people speak Hindi in India.
The Hindi language has been derived from the Sanskrit language. Many languages like Arabic, Dravidian, English, Persian, and Turkish have influenced it. Currently, all major states of the country, including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, and Himachal Pradesh speak the Hindi language.
The types of Hindi spoken in India include Braj, Awadi, and Khadi Bhasha. If you need Hindi translation services, we have got you covered!
Not many people are aware of this, but the language in which India’s national anthem was written is Bengali. The second most-spoken language in India, Bengali has a population of 9.72 crore speakers—a huge 8% of the total population. Bengali is the most popular language in most of the Indian states, including the Nicobar Islands situated in the far northeast of India.
A descendant of the secular language of the old Indio-Aryan branch of languages, Bengali has a strong influence on Persian and Arabic. However, Bengali has variations in different states, with differing usage, words, phonetic forms, and vocabulary.
The locations in India where it is most spoken are the eastern states of West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, and Tripura. Other than that, people in the Middle East, Australia, America, Japan, Canada, and the UK also speak Bengali.
When it comes to recognizing the languages commonly spoken in India, Telugu ranks as one of the major ones. Telugu has a huge number of 8.11 crore speakers in India. Many states of the country speak this language. It originated from the Dravidian branch of languages.
Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Yanam states speak Telugu. The common dialects of Bengali are Beraad, Domara, Salvari, Nellore, Comtao, and Kamathi. Moreover, the language is not just limited to India, people in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, United America, South Africa, and the Gulf states also speak Telugu.
One other major language spoken that people speak in India is the Marathi language, around 8.30 crore people—roughly 6.8% of the total population use it. Originating from the Indo-Aryan branch of languages, Marathi is an official language in the western part of India, such as in Goa and Maharashtra. Other than that, there are approximately 42 different dialects of Marathi.
Just like Telugu, the roots of the Tamil language belong to the Dravidian language. It is the official language in both Singapore and Sri Lanka. Besides, people in India also speak it, a population of 6.9 crore people use the Tamil language.Moreover, Tamil is one of the most ancient languages of the world which is currently surviving. Besides, some states in southern India, near the coast of Sri Lanka, speak Tamil.
This might be a surprise to many, but a large population in India—about 5 crore people speak the Urdu language. The Urdu language is the official language in some states of Bihar, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, and Telangana. The language is not just limited to Pakistan, it is also commonly spoken in India as well.
Originating from the family of Indo-Aryan languages, Gujarati is also an Indo-Aryan language and a huge 5.5 crore of people in India speak it. The language is the official language in the state of Gujarat, situated in north-western India. Moreover, the Gujarati language is one of the oldest ones in India as it has evolved from Sanskrit.
Spoken by almost 4.37 crore speakers in India, the percentage of people speaking it is increasing. Kannada is one of the Dravidian languages and is the oldest surviving one in the Indian subcontinent. Moreover, people outside India also use this language. For instance, people living in places like Australia, Canada, and the United States speak Kannada. Other than that, there are approximately 4.37 crore speakers of the Kannada language, which has more than 20 different dialects in Kannada.
One of the official languages of India, Odia is mostly spoken in the far Odisha state. More than 3.75 crore speakers use this language across the country and is definitely not a new language that cannot be learned.
Malayalam is a language that has 3.48 crore speakers in India. Most people in the states of Puducherry, Kerala, and Lakshadweep speak this language. The roots of the language are the same as that of Telugu and Tamil, which is Dravidian.
When it comes down to discussing the languages most commonly spoken in India, English is one of them. With a population of 2,59,678 speakers, the English language is also one of the official languages of India’s federal government. It is the official language in some Indian states such as Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
Punjabi is the official language of Punjab as well as Chandigarh in India. The total number of people speaking this language exceeds 3 crores. Written in Gurmukhi script, Punjabi is generally linked with Sikhs. If we step outside India, it could be surprising fact for you to know that Punjabi is also the third most spoken language in countries like Canada and UK.
The Last Word
India is a huge country in Asia and occupies a strong position, owing mainly to its population and geographical area. It is no surprise that such a huge country will have so many languages spoken in it. Due to the wide variety of languages spoken, there is no hindrance in the medium of communication between speakers in the country.
Moreover, most people in India speak Hindi, English, and one mother tongue. English is no more a foreign language as a large population in the South and North of India speak it.
The importance of translation is undeniable. Whatever the language, it is important to understand that a good translation agency is always available to make sure that your content is translated smoothly and effectively.
You need to have a thorough knowledge of the languages spoken in India as that would pave the way for a professional and efficient translation service like CCJK. We have around 2 decades of experience in the industry offering a whole range of language solutions. Get in touch to know more!