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Know Our India: Indian Languages
India’s rich and diverse culture and geography has given birth to a plethora of languages. There are approximately 800 different languages spoken countrywide with more than 2000 dialects. Out of these languages some are accepted nationally, while others are accepted as dialects of particular regions. As per the Indian constitution there are 22 nationally recognized languages including Hindi and English.
Hindi and English enjoy the status of the official Indian languages. Hindi language is used by the Central Government for communicating with the states of Hindi Belt particularly in Northern India whereas English is the Associate official language which is used for communicating with other states. India is the largest English speaking nation in the world.

The major nationally recognized languages are Assamese, Bengali, Dogri, Kashmiri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri or Meithei, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu.

All the Indian languages are in some form or the other related to any of these four language families namely Indo-European, Dravidian, Austroasiatic or Austric and Sino-Tibetan. Most of the population in India uses Indo-European and Dravidian languages. Nearly 80% of the Indian population speaks Indo-European group of languages which are mainly in northern and central part of India, whereas 18% of Indian population which resides in southern India speaks Dravidian language. Tamil is the oldest documented Dravidian Indian language with a substantial work of literature.

There are few ethnic groups, mostly tribal people, who use Sino-Tibetan and Austroasiatic languages. Sino-Tibetan speakers live in the northern Himalayan region and near the Burmese border. They constitute about 1.3 percent of India's population. The Austroasiatic languages, composed of the Munda tongues and others thought to be related to them, are spoken by groups of tribal peoples from West Bengal through Bihar and Orissa and into Madhya Pradesh. These groups make up approximately 0.7 percent of the India’s population.

Most of the written forms of Indian language or scripts are derived from an ancient Indian script called Brahmi. Sanskrit which is also derived from Brahmi is the classical language of India and represents the greatest achievement of the Indo-European Languages. The foundation of Sanskrit literature may be traced back to Vedic period. Sanskrit, the oldest language of India is more than 5,000 years old and is the basis of many modern Indian languages including Hindi and Urdu. The earliest dialect form of Sanskrit - Vedic was spoken by the Aryans. Sanskrit also forms the basis the Indian classical literature and the Indian epics.

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