Language History of India: The concept of verbal communication in India started late back in Indo-Aryan time from 1500 BCE to 600 BCE. It was a period of Indus Valley civilization. In this era, a Dravidian Language is supposed to exist for speaking and communicating. Soon after, Devanagari script was introduced for writing Sanskrit and later Hindi languages. Subsequently, many native and regional languages emerged with the widespread of Indian Civilization. Most of them were dialects and variants grouped under the Hindi Language. Centuries later, Persian language or Parsi was introduced into India by the Mahmud of Ghazni and by other Turkish & Afghanis Dynasties as the court language. In an early 18th century, the British started the invasion in India and for administrative purpose brought their major Language – English. It’s a latest known language in India.

Official languages of India:

India has the world’s second highest 780 number of languages, after Papua New Guinea which has 839 languages. According to the most recent census of 2001, there are 1635 restructured mother tongues, 234 identifiable mother tongues, and 22 major languages. Many assume that Hindi is the National Language of India, but it’s a misconception. Hindi is not the national language of India but official. The Constitution of India designates the official language of the Government of India both as Standard Hindi written in the Devanagari script, as well as English. The Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution lists 22 languages, which have been referred to as scheduled languages and given status, recognition and even official encouragement. Here, we have not including English as a part of Indian Nationalized Languages. Let us below identify with the most Spoken, Popular and 22 Official Languages of India (in alphabetic order).

  1. Assamese – is an Eastern Indo-Aryan language spoken mainly in the Indian state of Assam, where it is an official language. It is spoken by over 15 million native speakers. It is also spoken in parts of Arunachal Pradesh and other northeast Indian states.
  2. Bengali – is an Indo-Aryan language spoken both in the Republic of Bangladesh and north-eastern states of the Republic of India including West Bengal, Tripura, Assam (Barak Valley) and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The language is spoken by 83 million people across India. After Hindi and Punjabi, Bengali is 3rd most spoken language in India.
  3. Bodo– is the Sino-Tibetan language spoken primarily by the Bodo people of North East India, Nepal and Bengal.  The population of Boro speakers according to 2001 census report was 2 million.
  4. Dogri– is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by roughly five million people in India and Pakistan, chiefly in the region of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and northern Punjab in India.
  5. Gujarati – is an Indo-Aryan language native to the state of Gujarat. Gujarati emerged from time 1100–1500 AD in India. It is the official language in the state of Gujarat, in the union territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Gujarati is the language of the Gujjars, who had ruled Rajputana and Punjab. According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), 4.5% of the Indian population speaks Gujarati, which amounts to 46 million speakers in India.
  6. Hindi– is the most spoken and standardized Hindustani language. There are more than 300 Million people who use Hindi as their mother tongue. Moreover, it is the fourth most-spoken first language in the world. It is considered to be one of the oldest languages in the world. As it is descended from Sanskrit language and is considered part of the New Indo-Aryan subgroup. Hindi written in the Devanagari script is the official language of the Government of India. Modern Standard Hindi is believed to be influenced by Dravidian languages, Turkic languages, Persian, Arabic, Portuguese and English.
  7. Kannada – is a Dravidian language spoken primarily by Kannada people in south India, mainly in the state of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The language has roughly 45 million native speakers who are called Kannadigas.
  8. Kashmiri – is a language from the Dardic sub-group of the Indo-Aryan languages and it is spoken primarily in the state of north India of Jammu and Kashmir mainly in the Kashmir and Chenab Valley. There are approximately 5 Million speakers throughout India. Most Kashmiri also speaks and use Urdu or English as a second language.
  9. Konkani – is an Indo-Aryan language belonging to the Indo-European family of languages and is spoken along the South western coast of India, mainly in Goa and Maharashtra. Native speakers are almost 8 million. The first Konkani inscription is dated 1187 A.D.
  10. Maithili – is an Indo-Aryan language spoken in the northern and eastern Bihar of India and a few districts of the Nepal Terai. It is one of the largest languages in India and the second largest language in Nepal. It is almost spoken by 34 million people in India. Less commonly, it was written with a mix of other neighboring languages such as Bhojpuri, Magahi, and Awadhi.
  11. Malayalam – is a Dravidian language spoken mainly in south India, principally in the state of Kerala. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and was designated as a Classical Language in India in 2013. Malayalam is also spoken in the neighboring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Approximately 34 million native people speak Malayalam.
  12. Manipuri – or known as Meitei is the main language in the southeastern Himalayan state of Manipur, in northeastern India. It is the State official language in government offices. Manipuri is also spoken in the Indian states of Assam and Tripura, and in some part of Bangladesh and Myanmar. It is currently classified as a vulnerable language by UNESCO. Just about 1.5 Million People speak this language in India.
  13. Marathi – is an Indian language spoken predominantly by the Marathi people of Maharashtra. It is the official language and co-official language in the Maharashtra and Goa states of Western India, respectively. Roughly, 75 Million people in India Speaks Marathi as their native language. There is no much difference in Marathi and Konkani Language while speaking.
  14. Nepali – is an Indo-Aryan language derived from Sanskrit. It is the official language of Nepal. But In India, (due to Devanagari script) the Nepali language is listed in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India as an Indian language having an official status in the Indian state of Sikkim and in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district. It is spoken essentially by Pahari people in Nepal and by a significant number of Bhutanese and some Burmese people.
  15. Odia – or Oriya is an Indo-Aryan language that is spoken mostly in eastern India from the state of Odisha. Just around 44 million native speakers are from Orissa (and above 55 million if we include adjoining regions of its neighboring states largely migrated from Orissa to other parts of India), making it spoken by 4.2% of India’s population.
  16. Punjabi – is an Indo-Aryan language, which is very popular in northern India and in large Pakistan province. It is second most spoken language in India. Punjabi is spoken by over 120 million native speakers worldwide (making it the 11th most widely spoken language in the world). Basically, it’s the native language of the Punjabi people who inhabit the historical Punjab region of India and Pakistan before independence.
  17. Sanskrit – is a standardized dialect of Old Indo-Aryan and is a primary liturgical language of Hinduism. It is marked as the philosophical language of Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and even considered lingua franca of ancient India and Nepal. As a result of transmission of Hindu and Buddhist culture to Southeast Asia and parts of Central Asia, it was also a language of high culture in some of these regions during the early-medieval era. Even today, in many secondary schools across India, the Sanskrit language is regarded as one of the main subjects from other class lessons.
  18. Santali – is a language in the Munda sub-family of Austro-Asiatic languages, related to Ho and Mundari. It is spoken by around 6.4 million people in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. Most of its speakers live in India, in the states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Tripura, Mizoram, Assam and West Bengal.
  19. Sindhi -is an Indo-Aryan language of the historical Sindh region (spoken by the Sindhi people) from Pakistani province of Sindh. But, In India, due to its chronological history, Sindhi is considered one of the scheduled languages officially recognized by the Indian federal government. There are roughly 25 million people across India and Pakistan who speaks in Sindhi.
  20. Tamil – is a Dravidian language predominantly spoken by 70 million people from India and Sri Lanka. In India, it is spoken widely in South Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Chennai, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Tamil is also an official language of two countries – Sri Lanka and Singapore.
  21. Telugu – is another Dravidian language native to India. Telugu is the prime language in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Yanam, Puducherry, Chennai and Karnataka. It is one of six languages designated a classical language of India by the Government of India. Telugu ranks fourth by the number of native speakers in India which turns out to be somewhere 74 million in numbering.
  22. Urdu – is a Persian standardized index language of the Hindustani language. Urdu came in India with Islamic Mughal Empire late back in 1100 AD. Urdu is an official language of six states of India – Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Telangana, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal as well as Delhi. It is the official national language of Pakistan also. Urdu is recognized in the Constitution of India as one of the official languages.

Other local languages and dialects:

Below we have also tried to identify places and those small regions where some other native and least popular languages are spoken by more than 1 million people (10 Lakh) in India. Most of them are dialects/variants grouped under the Hindi Language. They are;

  • Bhojpuri – language is from the Bihar State of India with a number of native speakers of 33 million.
  • Rajasthani – is a language from Rajasthan State with 19 Million no of native speakers.
  • Magadhi – language is from East Bihar State with approximately 18 million speakers.
  • Chhattisgarhi – is a language from Chhattisgarh State with number of native speakers = 13 Million
  • Haryanvi – language is from Haryana with number of native speakers reaching to 10 Million
  • Marwari – is a language from Gujarat and Rajasthan State with number of native speakers are roughly about 8 Million
  • Malvi – language is from Madhya Pradesh State with number of native speakers = 6 Million
  • Mewari – language is from Rajasthan State with a number of native speakers of 5 Million.
  • Khorth – language is from Jharkhand with the number of native speakers = 4 Million.
  • Bundeli – language is from Bundelkhand region (comprises regions of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh) with the number of native speakers somewhere about 3 Million.
  • Bagheli – Language is from Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh with 2 million people speaking across these regions.
  • Pahari – Language is often spoken in the State of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and some part of Jammu & Kashmir with the number of native speakers 2 Million.
  • Laman – language is from Maharashtra and Karnataka State with a number of native speakers = 2.5 Million.
  • Awadhi – language is from Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh and Terai belt of Nepal with the number of people speaking is more than 2 Million in numbering.
  • Harauti – is a Rajasthani language, spoken by some 4 million people in the Hadoti region of southwestern Rajasthan and neighboring areas in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Garhwali – language is from Garhwal Division of the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand in the Indian Himalayas with the number of native speakers somewhere about 2.5 Million.
  • Nimadi – is from Nimar region of west-central India (lies within the state of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra). 2 million people speak this language.
  • Sadri – language is spoken in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and the north of West Bengal, and in Bangladesh with number of native speakers of 2.4 Million
  • Kumauni – language is spoken by over 3.2 Million people who reside in the State of Uttarakhand.
  • Dhundhari – is from northern Rajasthan. People speaking this language is somewhere about 2 million in counting.
  • Tulu – is a Dravidian Languages spoken by around 2 million native speakers mainly from the Indian state of Karnataka and Kerala.
  • Surgujia – is primarily spoken in Surguja, Jashpur, and Koriya districts of Chhattisgarh with a number of native speakers = 1.5 Million.
  • Bagri – is a dialect of Rajasthani language mixed with Punjabi language, spoken mainly in the Bagar region of north-western India and parts of Pakistan with 2 Million native speakers.
  • Banjari – is a language of once nomadic Banjara people live across India with the number of native speakers of 1 Million.
  • Surajpuri – is a Bengali dialect mainly spoken in the Seemanchal region of Bihar, West Bengal (Uttar Dinajpur and Dakshin Dinajpur districts, and in Siliguri city of Darjeeling district with a number of native speakers of 1.5 Million.
  • Kangri – language is predominantly spoken in the Kangra, Hamirpur, Bilaspur, Una districts and some parts of Mandi and Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh with number of native speakers = 1.2 Million
  • Varhadi – is a dialect of Marathi spoken in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra with a number of native speakers = 1.5 Million.


1 Comment

  1. Dear sir what i want is names of 22 constitutional languages along with their scripts.Sorry, i could not get this little information.As soon as you get this information ,please intimate me on my e mail address I shall be highly obliged for the same.

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