Languages of India | Wikipedia audio article
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Languages of India | Wikipedia audio article

Languages spoken in India belong to several
language families, the major ones being the Indo-Aryan languages spoken by 78.05% of Indians
and the Dravidian languages spoken by 19.64% of Indians. Languages spoken by the remaining 2.31% of
the population belong to the Austroasiatic, Sino-Tibetan, Tai-Kadai, and a few other minor
language families and isolates. India (780) has the world’s second highest
number of languages, after Papua New Guinea (839).Article 343 of the Indian constitution
stated that the official language of the Union should become Hindi in Devanagari script instead
of the extant English. But this was thought to be a violation of
the constitution’s guarantee of federalism. Later, a constitutional amendment, The Official
Languages Act, 1963, allowed for the continuation of English in the Indian government indefinitely
until legislation decides to change it. The form of numerals to be used for the official
purposes of the Union were supposed to be the international form of Indian numerals,
distinct from the numerals used in most English-speaking countries. Despite the misconceptions, Hindi is not the
national language of India. The Constitution of India does not give any
language the status of national language.The Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution
lists 22 languages, which have been referred to as scheduled languages and given recognition,
status and official encouragement. In addition, the Government of India has awarded
the distinction of classical language to Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu. Classical language status is given to languages
which have a rich heritage and independent nature. According to the Census of India of 2001,
India has 122 major languages and 1599 other languages. However, figures from other sources vary,
primarily due to differences in definition of the terms “language” and “dialect”. The 2001 Census recorded 30 languages which
were spoken by more than a million native speakers and 122 which were spoken by more
than 10,000 people. Two contact languages have played an important
role in the history of India: Persian and English. Persian was the court language during the
Mughal period in India. It reigned as an administrative language for
several centuries until the era of British colonisation. English continues to be an important language
in India. It is used in higher education and in some
areas of the Indian government. Hindi, the most commonly spoken language in
India today, serves as the lingua franca across much of North and Central India. However, there have been anti-Hindi agitations
in South India, most notably in the state of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Maharashtra, West Bengal, Assam, Punjab and
other non-Hindi regions have also started to voice concerns about Hindi.==History==The southern Indian languages are from the
Dravidian family. The Dravidian languages are indigenous to
the Indian subcontinent. Proto-Dravidian languages were spoken in India
in the 4th millennium BCE and started disintegrating into various branches around 3rd millennium
BCE. The Dravidian languages are classified in
four groups: North, Central (Kolami–Parji), South-Central (Telugu–Kui) and South Dravidian
(Tamil-Kannada).The northern Indian languages from the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European
family evolved from Old Indic by way of the Middle Indic Prakrit languages and Apabhraṃśa
of the Middle Ages. The Indo-Aryan languages developed and emerged
in three stages — Old Indo-Aryan (1500 BCE to 600 BCE), Middle Indo-Aryan stage (600
BCE and 1000 CE) and New Indo-Aryan (between 1000 CE and 1300 CE). The modern north Indian Indo-Aryan languages
all evolved into distinct, recognisable languages in the New Indo-Aryan Age.Persian or Farsi
was brought into India by the Ghaznavids and other Turko-Afghan dynasties as the court
language. Culturally Persianized, they, in combination
with the later Mughal dynasty (of Turco-Mongol origin), influenced the art, history and literature
of the region for more than 500 years, resulting in the Persianisation of many Indian tongues,
mainly lexically. In 1837, the British replaced Persian with
English and Hindustani in Perso-Arabic script for administrative purposes, and the Hindi
movement of the 19th Century replaced Persianised vocabulary with Sanskrit derivations and replaced
or supplemented the use of Perso-Arabic script for administrative purposes with Devanagari.Each
of the northern Indian languages had different influences. For example, Hindustani was strongly influenced
by Sanskrit, Persian, and Arabic, leading to the emergence of Modern Standard Hindi
and Modern Standard Urdu as registers of the Hindustani language. Hindi and Urdu are two of India’s official
languages.==Inventories==The first official survey of language diversity
in the Indian subcontinent was carried out by Sir George Abraham Grierson from 1898 to
1928. Titled the Linguistic Survey of India, it
reported a total of 179 languages and 544 dialects. However, the results were skewed due to ambiguities
in distinguishing between “dialect” and “language”, use of untrained personnel and under-reporting
of data from South India, as the former provinces of Burma and Madras, as well as the princely
states of Cochin, Hyderabad, Mysore and Travancore were not included in the survey.Different
sources give widely differing figures, primarily based on how the terms “language” and “dialect”
are defined and grouped. Ethnologue, produced by the Christian evangelist
organisation SIL International, lists 461 tongues for India (out of 6,912 worldwide),
447 of which are living, while 14 are extinct. The 447 living languages are further subclassified
in Ethnologue as follows:- Institutional – 63
Developing – 130 Vigorous – 187
In trouble – 54 Dying – 13The People’s Linguistic Survey
of India, a privately owned research institution in India, has recorded over 66 different scripts
and more than 780 languages in India during its nationwide survey, which the organisation
claims to be the biggest linguistic survey in India.The People of India (POI) project
of Anthropological Survey of India reported 325 languages which are used for in-group
communication by 5,633 Indian communities.===Census of India figures===
The Census of India records and publishes data with respect to the number of speakers
for languages and dialects, but uses its own unique terminology, distinguishing between
language and mother tongue. The mother tongues are grouped within each
language. Many of the mother tongues so defined could
be considered a language rather than a dialect by linguistic standards. This is especially so for many mother tongues
with tens of millions of speakers that are officially grouped under the language Hindi. 1951 CensusSeparate figures for Hindi, Urdu,
and Punjabi were not issued, due to the fact the returns were intentionally recorded incorrectly
in states such as East Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, PEPSU, and Bilaspur. 1961 CensusThe 1961 census recognised 1,652
mother tongues spoken by 438,936,918 people, counting all declarations made by any individual
at the time when the census was conducted. However, the declaring individuals often mixed
names of languages with those of dialects, subdialects and dialect clusters or even castes,
professions, religions, localities, regions, countries and nationalities. The list therefore includes languages with
barely a few individual speakers as well as 530 unclassified mother tongues and more than
100 idioms that are non-native to India, including linguistically unspecific demonyms such as
“African”, “Canadian” or “Belgian”. 1991 CensusThe 1991 census recognises 1,576
classified mother tongues. According to the 1991 census, 22 languages
had more than a million native speakers, 50 had more than 100,000 and 114 had more than
10,000 native speakers. The remaining accounted for a total of 566,000
native speakers (out of a total of 838 million Indians in 1991). 2001 CensusAccording to the most recent census
of 2001, there are 1635 rationalised mother tongues, 234 identifiable mother tongues and
22 major languages. Of these, 29 languages have more than a million
native speakers, 60 have more than 100,000 and 122 have more than 10,000 native speakers. There are a few languages like Kodava that
do not have a script but have a group of native speakers in Coorg (Kodagu). 2011 CensusThe language-related data results
of the 2011 Census have not yet been released by the Government of India.==Multilingualism====
Language families==Ethnolinguistically, the languages of South
Asia, echoing the complex history and geography of the region, form a complex patchwork of
language families, language phyla and isolates. The languages of India belong to several language
families, the most important of which are :
Indo-Aryan language family Dravidian language family
Austroasiatic language family Sino-Tibetan language family
Tai–Kadai language family Great Andamanese languages===Indo-Aryan language family===The largest of the language families represented
in India, in terms of speakers, is the Indo-Aryan language family, a branch of the Indo-Iranian
family, itself the easternmost, extant subfamily of the Indo-European language family. This language family predominates, accounting
for some 1035 million speakers, or over 76.5 of the population, as per 2018 estimate. The most widely spoken languages of this group
are Hindi (or more correctly, Hindustani, which includes Hindi and Urdu), Bengali, Konkani,
Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Rajasthani, Sindhi, Assamese (Asamiya), Maithili and Odia. Aside from the Indo-Aryan languages, other
Indo-European languages are also spoken in India, the most prominent of which is English,
as a lingua franca.===Dravidian language family===
The second largest language family is the Dravidian language family, accounting for
some 277 million speakers, or approximately 20.5% as per 2018 estimate The Dravidian languages
are spoken mainly in southern India and parts of eastern and central India as well as in
parts of northeastern Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. The Dravidian languages with the most speakers
are Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam. Besides the mainstream population, Dravidian
languages are also spoken by small scheduled tribe communities, such as the Oraon and Gond
tribes. Only two Dravidian languages are exclusively
spoken outside India, Brahui in Pakistan and Dhangar, a dialect of Kurukh, in Nepal.===Austroasiatic language family===
Families with smaller numbers of speakers are Austroasiatic and numerous small Sino-Tibetan
languages, with some 10 and 6 million speakers, respectively, together 3% of the population.The
Austroasiatic language family (austro meaning South) is the autochthonous language in South
Asia and Southeast Asia, other language families having arrived by migration. Austroasiatic languages of mainland India
are the Khasi and Munda languages, including Santhali. The languages of the Nicobar islands also
form part of this language family. With the exceptions of Khasi and Santhali,
all Austroasiatic languages on Indian territory are endangered.===Sino-Tibetan language family===
The Sino-Tibetan language family are well represented in India. However, their interrelationships are not
discernible, and the family has been described as “a patch of leaves on the forest floor”
rather than with the conventional metaphor of a “family tree”.Sino-Tibetan languages
are spoken across the Himalayas in the regions of Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Nepal, Sikkim,
Bhutan, Arunachal Pradesh, and also in the Indian states of West Bengal, Assam (hills
and autonomous councils), Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram. Sino-Tibetan languages spoken in India include
the scheduled languages Meitei and Bodo, the non-scheduled languages of Karbi, Lepcha,
and many varieties of several related Tibetic, West Himalayish, Tani, Brahmaputran, Angami–Pochuri,
Tangkhul, Zeme, Kukish language groups, amongst many others.===Tai-Kadai language family===
Ahom language, a Southwestern Tai language, had been once the dominant language of the
Ahom Kingdom in modern-day Assam, but was later replaced by the Assamese language (known
as Kamrupi in ancient era which is the pre-form of the Kamrupi dialect of today). Nowadays, small Tai communities and their
languages remain in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh together with Sino-Tibetans, e.g. Tai Phake,
Tai Aiton and Tai Khamti, which are similar to the Shan language of Shan State, Myanmar;
the Dai language of Yunnan, China; the Lao language of Laos; the Thai language of Thailand;
and the Zhuang language in Guangxi, China.===Great Andamanese language family===
The extinct and endangered languages of the Andaman Islands form a fifth Andamanese- , comprising
two families, namely: the Great Andamanese, comprising a number
of extinct languages apart from one highly endangered language with a dwindling number
of speakers. the Ongan family of the southern Andaman Islands,
comprising two extant languages, Önge and Jarawa, and one extinct language, Jangil.In
addition, Sentinelese, an unattested language of the Andaman Islands, is generally considered
to be related and part of the aerial group.===Language isolates===
The only language found in the Indian mainland that is considered a language isolate is Nihali. The status of Nihali is ambiguous, having
been considered as a distinct Austroasiatic language, as a dialect of Korku and also as
being a “thieves’ argot” rather than a legitimate language.The other language isolates found
in the rest of South Asia include Burushaski, a language spoken in Gilgit–Baltistan (administered
by Pakistan), Kusunda (in western Nepal) and Vedda (in Sri Lanka). The validity of the Great Andamanese language
group as a language family has been questioned and it has been considered a language isolate
by some authorities.In addition, a Bantu language, Sidi, was spoken until the mid-20th century
in Gujarat.===Influences===
The language families in India are not necessarily related to the various ethnic groups in India,
specifically the Indo-Aryan and Dravidian people. The languages within each family have been
influenced to a large extent by both families. Urdu has also had a significant influence
on many of today’s Indian languages. Many North Indian languages have lost much
of their Sanskritised base (50% current vocabulary) to a more Urdu-based form. In terms of the written script, most Indian
languages, except the Tamil script, nearly perfectly accommodate the Sanskrit language. South Indian languages have adopted new letters
to write various Indo-Aryan based words as well, and have added new letters to their
native alphabets as the languages began to mix and influence each other. Though various Indo-Aryan and Dravidian languages
may seem mutually exclusive when first heard, there is a much deeper underlying influence
that both language families have had on each other down to a linguistic science. There is proof of the intermixing of Dravidian
and Indo-Aryan languages through the pockets of Dravidian-based languages on remote areas
of Pakistan, and interspersed areas of North India. In addition, there is a whole science regarding
the tonal and cultural expression within the languages that are quite standard across India. Languages may have different vocabulary, but
various hand and tonal gestures within two unrelated languages can still be common due
to cultural amalgamations between invading people and the natives over time; in this
case, the Indo-Aryan peoples and the native Dravidian people.==Official languages=====
Federal level===Prior to Independence, in British India, English
was the sole language used for administrative purposes as well as for higher education purposes.In
1946, the issue of national language was a bitterly contested subject in the proceedings
of the Constituent Assembly of India, specifically what should be the language in which the Constitution
of India is written and the language spoken during the proceedings of Parliament and thus
deserving of the epithet “national”. Members belonging to the northern parts of
India insisted that the Constitution be drafted in Hindi with the unofficial translation in
English. This was not agreed to by the drafting Committee
on the grounds that English was much better to craft the nuanced prose on constitutional
subjects. The efforts to make Hindi the pre-eminent
language were bitterly resisted by the members from those parts of India where Hindi was
not spoken natively. Eventually, a compromise was reached with
Hindi in Devanagari script to be the official language of the union but for “fifteen years
from the commencement of the Constitution, the English Language shall continue to be
used for all the official purposes of the Union for which it was being used immediately
before such commencement”.Article 343 (1) of the Constitution of India states “The Official
Language of the Union government shall be Hindi in Devanagari script.” Unless Parliament decided otherwise, the use
of English for official purposes was to cease 15 years after the constitution came into
effect, i.e. on 26 January 1965. As the date for changeover approached, however,
there was much alarm in the non Hindi-speaking areas of India, especially in Kerala, Gujarat,
Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, West Bengal, Karnataka, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh. Accordingly, Jawaharlal Nehru ensured the
enactment of the Official Languages Act, 1963, which provided that English “may” still be
used with Hindi for official purposes, even after 1965. The wording of the text proved unfortunate
in that while Nehru understood that “may” meant shall, politicians championing the cause
of Hindi thought it implied exactly the opposite.In the event, as 1965 approached, India’s new
Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri prepared to make Hindi paramount with effect from 26
January 1965. This led to widespread agitation, riots, self-immolations
and suicides in Tamil Nadu. The split of Congress politicians from the
South from their party stance, the resignation of two Union ministers from the South and
the increasing threat to the country’s unity forced Shastri to concede.As a result, the
proposal was dropped, and the Act itself was amended in 1967 to provide that the use of
English would not be ended until a resolution to that effect was passed by the legislature
of every state that had not adopted Hindi as its official language, and by each house
of the Indian Parliament.The Constitution of India does not give any language the status
of national language.====Hindi====Hindi, written in Devanagari script, is the
most prominent language spoken in the country. In the 2001 census, 422 million (422,048,642)
people in India reported Hindi to be their native language. This figure not only included Hindi speakers
of Hindustani, but also people who identify as native speakers of related languages who
consider their speech to be a dialect of Hindi, the Hindi belt. Hindi (or Hindustani) is the native language
of most people living in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh,
Chandigarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, and Rajasthan.”Modern Standard Hindi”,
a standardised language is the official language of the Union of India. In addition, it is one of only two languages
used for business in Parliament however the Rajya Sabha now allows all 22 official languages
on the Eighth Schedule to be spoken.Hindustani, evolved from khari boli (खड़ी बोली),
a prominent tongue of Mughal times, which itself evolved from Apabhraṃśa, an intermediary
transition stage from Prakrit, from which the major North Indian Indo-Aryan languages
have evolved.Varieties of Hindi spoken in India include Rajasthani, Braj Bhasha, Haryanvi,
Bundeli, Kannauji, Hindustani, Awadhi, Bagheli, Bhojpuri, Magahi, Nagpuri and Chhattisgarhi. By virtue of its being a lingua franca, Hindi
has also developed regional dialects such as Bambaiya Hindi in Mumbai. In addition, a trade language, Andaman Creole
Hindi has also developed in the Andaman Islands.In addition, by use in popular culture such as
songs and films, Hindi also serves as a lingua franca across both North and Central IndiaHindi
is widely taught both as a primary language and language of instruction, and as a second
tongue in most states.====English====British colonial legacy has resulted in English
being a language for government, business and education. English, along with Hindi, is one of the two
languages permitted in the Constitution of India for business in Parliament. Despite the fact that Hindi has official Government
patronage and serves as a lingua franca over large parts of India, there was considerable
opposition to the use of Hindi in the southern states of India, and English has emerged as
a de facto lingua franca over much of India.===Scheduled languages===
Until the Twenty-first Amendment of the Constitution of India in 1967, the country recognised 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 below together
with the speaking population and the regions where they are used.The individual states,
the borders of most of which are or were drawn on socio-linguistic lines, can legislate their
own official languages, depending on their linguistic demographics. The official languages chosen reflect the
predominant as well as politically significant languages spoken in that state. Certain states having a linguistically defined
territory may have only the predominant language in that state as its official language, examples
being Karnataka and Gujarat, which have Kannada and Gujarati as their sole official language
respectively. Telangana, with a sizeable Urdu-speaking Muslim
population, has two languages, Telugu and Urdu, as its official languages. Some states buck the trend by using minority
languages as official languages. Jammu and Kashmir uses Urdu, which is spoken
by fewer than 1% of the population. Meghalaya uses English spoken by 0.01% of
the population. This phenomenon has turned majority languages
into “minority languages” in a functional sense. Lists of Official Languages of States and
Union Territories of India In addition to states and union territories,
India has autonomous administrative regions which may be permitted to select their own
official language – a case in point being the Bodoland Territorial Council in Assam
which has declared the Bodo language as official for the region, in addition to Assamese and
English already in use. and Bengali in the Barak Valley, as its official languages.==Prominent languages of India=====Bengali===Native to the Bengal region, comprising the
nation of Bangladesh and the states of West Bengal, Tripura and Barak Valley region of
Assam. Bengali (also spelt as Bangla: বাংলা)
is the fifth most spoken language in the world. After the partition of India (1947), refugees
from East Pakistan were settled in Tripura, and Jharkhand and the union territory of Andaman
and Nicobar Islands. There is also a large number of Bengali-speaking
people in Maharashtra and Gujarat where they work as artisans in jewellery industries. Bengali developed from Abahatta, a derivative
of Apabhramsha, itself derived from Magadhi Prakrit. The modern Bengali vocabulary contains the
vocabulary base from Magadhi Prakrit and Pali, also borrowings & reborrowings from Sanskrit
and other major borrowings from Persian, Arabic, Austroasiatic languages and other languages
in contact with. Like most Indian languages, Bengali has a
number of dialects. It exhibits diglossia, with the literary and
standard form differing greatly from the colloquial speech of the regions that identify with the
language. Bengali language has developed a rich cultural
base spanning art, music, literature and religion. There have been many movements in defence
of this language and in 1999 UNESCO declared 21 Feb as the International Mother Language
Day in commemoration of the Bengali Language Movement in 1952.===Marathi===Marathi is an Indo-Aryan language.It is the
official language and co-official language in Maharashtra and Goa states of Western India
respectively, and is one of the official languages of India. There were 83 million speakers in 2011 and
72 million speakers in 2001. Marathi has the third largest number of native
speakers in India. Marathi has some of the oldest literature
of all modern Indo-Aryan languages, dating from about 1200 AD (Mukundraj’s Vivek Sindhu
from the close of the 12th century). The major dialects of Marathi are Standard
Marathi and the Varhadi dialect. There are other related languages such as
Khandeshi, Dangi, Vadvali and Samavedi. Malvani Konkani has been heavily influenced
by Marathi varieties.Marathi is one of several languages that descend from Maharashtri Prakrit. Further change led to the Apabhraṃśa languages
like Old Marathi. Marathi is the official language of Maharashtra
and co-official language in the union territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. In Goa, Konkani is the sole official language;
however, Marathi may also be used for all official purposes. Over a period of many centuries the Marathi
language and people came into contact with many other languages and dialects. The primary influence of Prakrit, Maharashtri,
Dravidian languages, Apabhraṃśa and Sanskrit is understandable. At least 50% of the words in Marathi are either
taken or derived from Sanskrit. Many scholars claim that Sanskrit has derived
many words from Marathi. Marathi has also shared directions, vocabulary
and grammar with languages such as Indian Dravidian languages, and foreign languages
such as Persian, Arabic, English and a little from Portuguese.===Telugu===Telugu is the most widely spoken Dravidian
language in India. Telugu is an official language in Andhra Pradesh
and Telangana, making it one of the few languages (along with Hindi, Bengali, and Urdu) with
official status in more than one state. It is also spoken by a significant number
of people in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha,
Tamil Nadu,Gujarat and by the Sri Lankan Gypsy people. It is one of six languages with classical
status in India. Telugu ranks fourth by the number of native
speakers in India (81 million in the 2011 Census), fifteenth in the Ethnologue list
of most-spoken languages worldwide and is the most widely spoken Dravidian language.===Tamil===Tamil (also spelt as Thamizh: தமிழ்)
is a Dravidian language predominantly spoken in Tamil Nadu, Puduchery and many parts of
Sri Lanka. It is also spoken by large minorities in the
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius
and throughout the world. Tamil ranks fifth by the number of native
speakers in India (61 million in the 2001 Census) and ranks 20th in the list of most
spoken languages. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of
India and was the first Indian language to be declared a classical language by the Government
of India in 2004. Tamil is one of the longest surviving classical
languages in the world. It has been described as “the only language
of contemporary India which is recognisably continuous with a classical past.” The two earliest manuscripts from India, acknowledged
and registered by UNESCO Memory of the World register in 1997 and 2005, are in Tamil. Tamil is an official language of Tamil Nadu,
Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Sri Lanka and Singapore. It is also recognized as minority language
in Canada, Malaysia, Mauritius and South Africa.===Urdu===After independence, Modern Standard Urdu,
the Persianised register of Hindustani became the national language of Pakistan. During British colonial times, a knowledge
of Hindustani or Urdu was a must for officials. Hindustani was made the second language of
British Indian Empire after English and considered as the language of administration. The British introduced the use of Roman script
for Hindustani as well as other languages. Urdu had 70 million speakers in India (as
per the Census of 2001), and, along with Hindi, is one of the 22 officially recognised regional
languages of India and also an official language in the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir,
Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Telangana that have significant Muslim populations.===Gujarati===Gujarati is an Indo-Aryan language. It is native to the west Indian region of
Gujarat. Gujarati is part of the greater Indo-European
language family. Gujarati is descended from Old Gujarati (c.
1100 – 1500 CE), the same source as that of Rajasthani. Gujarati is the chief language in the Indian
state of Gujarat. It is also an official language in the union
territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. According to the Central Intelligence Agency
(CIA), 4.5% of population of India (1.21 billion according to 2011 census) speaks Gujarati. This amounts to 54.6 million speakers in India.===Kannada===Kannada language is a Dravidian language which
branched off from Kannada-Tamil sub group around 500 B.C.E according to the Dravidian
scholar Zvelebil. According to the Dravidian scholars Steever
and Krishnamurthy, the study of Kannada language is usually divided into three linguistic phases:
Old (450–1200 CE), Middle (1200–1700 CE) and Modern (1700–present). The earliest written records are from the
5th century, and the earliest available literature in rich manuscript (Kavirajamarga) is from
c. 850. Kannada language has the second oldest written
tradition of all vernacular languages of India. Current estimates of the total number of epigraph
present in Karnataka range from 25,000 by the scholar Sheldon Pollock to over 30,000
by the Sahitya Akademi, making Karnataka state “one of the most densely inscribed pieces
of real estate in the world”. According to Garg and Shipely, more than a
thousand notable writers have contributed to the wealth of the language.===Malayalam===Malayalam (; മലയാളം, Malayāḷam
? [ maləjaːɭəm]) has official language status
in the state of Kerala and in the union territories of Lakshadweep and Puducherry. It belongs to the Dravidian family of languages
and is spoken by some 38 million people. Malayalam is also spoken in the neighboring
states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka; with some speakers in the Nilgiris, Kanyakumari and
Coimbatore districts of Tamil Nadu, and the Dakshina Kannada and the Kodagu district of
Karnataka. Malayalam originated from Middle Tamil (Sen-Tamil)
in the 7th century. As Malayalam began to freely borrow words
as well as the rules of grammar from Sanskrit, the Grantha alphabet was adopted for writing
and came to be known as Arya Eluttu. This developed into the modern Malayalam script.===Odia===Odia (formerly spelled Oriya) is the only
Indian classical language from Indo-Aryan group. Odia is primarily spoken in the Indian state
of Odisha and has over 40 million speakers. It was declared as a classical language of
India in 2014. Native speakers comprise 91.85% of the population
in Odisha. Odia is thought to have originated from Udra
Prakrit similar to Udra Magadhi, a language spoken in eastern India over 2,500 years ago. The history of Odia language can be divided
to Old Odia (3rd century BC –1200 century AD), Early Middle Odia (1200–1400), Middle
Odia (1400–1700), Late Middle Odia (1700–1870) and Modern Odia (1870 till present day). The National Manuscripts Mission of India
have found around 213,000 unearthed and preserved manuscripts written in Odia.===Punjabi===Punjabi, written in the Gurmukhi script in
India, is one of the prominent languages of India with about 32 million speakers. In Pakistan it is spoken by over 80 million
people and is written in the Shahmukhi alphabet. It is mainly spoken in Punjab but also in
neighboring areas. It is an official language of Delhi and Punjab.===Assamese===Asamiya or Assamese language is most popular
in the state of Assam and Brahmaputra Valley. It’s an Eastern Indo-Aryan language having
more than 10 million speakers as per world estimates by Encarta.===Maithili===Maithili (; Maithilī) is an Indo-Aryan language
spoken in the Bihar and Jharkhand states of India. In Nepal, it is spoken in the eastern Terai,
and is the second most prevalent language of Nepal. Tirhuta was formerly the primary script for
written Maithili. Less commonly, it was also written in the
local variant of Kaithi. Today it is written in the Devanagari script.In
2003, Maithili was included in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution as a recognised
regional language of India, which allows it to be used in education, government, and other
official contexts.==Classical languages of India==
In 2004, the Government of India declared that languages that met certain requirements
could be accorded the status of a “Classical Language in India”.. Over the next few years, several languages
were granted the Classical status, and demands have been made for other languages, including
Marathi.Languages thus far declared to be Classical: Tamil (in 2004),
Sanskrit (in 2005), Kannada (in 2008),
Telugu (in 2008), Malayalam (in 2013),
Odia (in 2014).In a 2006 press release, Minister of Tourism and Culture Ambika Soni told the
Rajya Sabha the following criteria were laid down to determine the eligibility of languages
to be considered for classification as a “Classical Language”,
High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500–2000 years;
a body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations
of speakers; the literary tradition be original and not borrowed from another speech community;
the classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a
discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.===Benefits===
As per Government of India’s Resolution No. 2-16/2004-US(Akademies) dated 1 November 2004,
the benefits that will accrue to a language declared as a “Classical Language” are: Two major international awards for scholars
of eminence in Classical Indian Languages are awarded annually. A Centre of Excellence for Studies in Classical
Languages is set up. The University Grants Commission will be requested
to create, to start with at least in the Central Universities, a certain number of Professional
Chairs for Classical Languages for scholars of eminence in Classical Indian Languages.==Other local languages and dialects==
The 2001 census identified the following native languages having more than one million speakers. Most of them are dialects/variants grouped
under Hindi.===Practical problems===
India has several languages in use; choosing any single language as an official language
presents problems to all those whose “mother tongue” is different. However, all the boards of education across
India recognise the need for training people to one common language. There are complaints that in North India,
non-Hindi speakers have language trouble. Similarly, there are complaints that North
Indians have to undergo difficulties on account of language when travelling to South India. It is common to hear of incidents that result
due to friction between those who strongly believe in the chosen official language, and
those who follow the thought that the chosen language(s) do not take into account everyone’s
preferences. Local official language commissions have been
established and various steps are being taken in a direction to reduce tensions and friction.==Language conflicts==There are conflicts over linguistic rights
in India. The first major linguistic conflict, known
as the Anti-Hindi agitations of Tamil Nadu, took place in Tamil Nadu against the implementation
of Hindi as the official language of India. Political analysts consider this as a major
factor in bringing DMK to power and leading to the ousting and nearly total elimination
of the Congress party in Tamil Nadu. Strong cultural pride based on language is
also found in other Indian states such as Karnataka, Bengal, Punjab and Maharashtra. To express disapproval of the imposition of
Hindi on its states’ people as a result of the central government, the government of
Maharashtra made the state languages mandatory in educational institutions.The Government
of India attempts to assuage these conflicts with various campaigns, coordinated by the
Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, a branch of the Department of Higher Education,
Language Bureau, and the Ministry of Human Resource Development.==Writing systems==Most languages in India are written in Brahmi-derived
scripts, such as Devanagari, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada,Meitei Mayek, Odia, Eastern Nagari
– Assamese/Bengali, etc., though Urdu is written in a script derived from Arabic, and a few
minor languages such as Santali use independent scripts. Various Indian languages have their own scripts. Hindi, Marathi, Maithili and Angika are languages
written using the Devanagari script. Most major languages are written using a script
specific to them, such as Assamese (Asamiya) with Asamiya, Bengali with Bengali, Punjabi
with Gurmukhi, Meitei with Meitei Mayek, Odia with Odia script, Gujarati with Gujarati,
etc. Urdu and sometimes Kashmiri, Saraiki and Sindhi
are written in modified versions of the Perso-Arabic script. With this one exception, the scripts of Indian
languages are native to India. Languages like Kodava that didn’t have a script
whereas Tulu which had a script adopted Kannada due to its readily available printing settings;
these languages have taken up the scripts of the local official languages as their own
and are written in the Kannada script.==See also==List of endangered languages in India
List of languages by number of native speakers in India
National Translation Mission Romanization of Sindhi==References====
External links==Linguistic map of India with a detailed map
of the Seven Sister States (India) at Languages and Scripts of India
Diversity of Languages in India A comprehensive federal government site that
offers complete info on Indian Languages Technology Development for Indian Languages,
Government of India

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