number of languages listed for India is 418. Of those, 407 are
living languages and 11 are extinct.
At present India has 18 officially recognised languages
which are mentioned in the Eight Schedule of the Constitution.
Hindi in the Devanagari script is the official language of
the Union of India while the regional languages are the official
languages of the state.
is the second official language and is also the authoritative,
legislative and judicial language.
English is also the state language of Nagaland and
languages have evolved from different stocks and are closely
associated with the different ethnic groups of India.
Broadly the Indian languages can be put into six groups: 1)
Indo-Aryan, 2) Dravidian, 3) Sino-Tibetan, 4) Negroid, 5) Austric
and 6) Others. These languages have interacted on one another through the
centuries and have produced the major linguistic divisions of
modern India. The Indo-Aryan and the Dravidian are the dominant
groups and together comprises all the major languages of India.
They have influenced each other and have, in turn, been influenced
by the Austric and Sino-Tibetan tongues.
This is the most important family of Indian languages and
comprises of all the principal languages of northern and western
India such as Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Sindhi,
Rajasthani, Assamese, Oriya, Pahari, Bihari, Kashmiri, Urdu and
Sanskrit. It is part of the Indo-European family of languages, which
came to India with the Aryans.
It is the biggest of the language groups in India and
accounts for about 74% of the total Indian population.
This is the second most important group and comprises
mainly of languages spoken in the Southern India. This group of
languages does not have any relationship with the language groups
outside the Indian sub-continent. The Dravidian language came into India centuries before the
about 25% of the Indian population. According to the Russian
linguist M.S. Andronov, Proto-Dravidian gave rise to 21 Dravidian
Languages. They can be broadly classified into three groups:
Northern group, Central group, and Southern group of Dravidian
Northern group consists of three languages i.e. Brahui,
Brahui is spoken in Baluchistan,
Malto spoken in Bengal and Orissa, while
Kurukh is spoken in Bengal, Orissa, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. The
Central group consists of eleven languages viz.,
Khond, Kui, Manda, Parji, Gadaba, Kolami, Pengo, Naiki, Kuvi
Telugu. Out of these, only
became a civilized language and the rest remained tribal
languages. The southern group consists of seven languages viz.,
Tamil, Malayalam, Tulu, Kodagu, Toda
Kota. However, the major languages of the Dravidian group are:
(i) Telugu (numerically the biggest of the Dravidian languages),
(ii) Tamil (oldest and purest language of the Dravidian family),
(iii) Kannada and (iv) Malayalam (smallest and the youngest of the
or Mongoloid speech family has a considerably vast expanse in India and
stretches all over the sub-Himalayan tracts, covering North Bihar,
North Bengal, Assam up to the north-eastern frontiers of the
languages are considered to be older than the Indo-Aryan languages
and are referred to in the oldest Sanskrit literature as
Most of these languages belong to the Tibeto-Burman sub-family,
with the exception of
(now extinct) which belonged to the Siamese-Chinese branch.
The Tibeto-Burman languages are divided into four broad
groups, viz. Tibetan, Himalayan, North-Assam and Assam-Burmese.
The important Indian languages of Tibetan group include
Bhotia, Balti, Sherpa, Lahuli and
which are all dialects of Tibetan. The important languages of the
Himalayan group are
(Northeast Frontier) Group includes a number of languages like
(Adi), Miri, Aka, Dafla and
The Assam-Burmese group is numerically and culturally the most
important of the Tibeto-Burman sub-family.
It is again sub-divided into four main sub-groups, viz.
Mikir, Bodo and Naga.
This group also includes other languages like
of Assam and
Tripura, which are offshoots of the languages spoken in Myanmar.
Meithi is the most important language of the Kuki-Chin sub-group.
The Bodo sub-group includes such dialects as
Rajbangsi, Koch, Mech, Rabha, Dimasa, Kachari, Chutiya, Garo,
Haijong and the
has strong affinities to the
and is spoken in the Mikir Hills and Parts of Sibsagar district in
languages of the Naga sub-group are Angami, Sema, Ao, Lotha, Mao, Konyak, Kabui
languages of India belong to the Austro-Asiatic sub-family, which
are represented by languages of the Munda or Kol Group, spoken in
the central, eastern and north-eastern India and languages of the
Mon-Khmer group like
are very ancient languages which have been in existence much
before the advent of Aryans and were referred in ancient Sanskrit
The most important language of the Austric group is
which is spoken by over 5 million Santhals and is the largest
spoken among the
spoken by about a million Mundas, is another important language of
There are several Dravidian
Parji which are very
distinct and cannot be classified in other groups.