How many languages are there in India? [Complete List]
Table of Contents
- How many languages are there in India? [Complete List]
- How many languages do people speak in India?
- Why are there so many languages in India?
So, you are here on Write-Online after you searched on Google to know the answer to one question that is bugging you the most “How many languages are there in India?”
I have been asked this question a hundred times by my friends who live in different countries across the world. But most often this one question has been asked by my friends who live in the western countries such as The United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and sometimes even from African countries.
Why do western people ask this question the most?
The reason why western people are so curious about the languages in India and other countries is that they live in countries with one or two languages.
If you go and talk to anyone in the United States of America you would see that they have over 350 languages but these have been added to their census only after the 2000 official census of the United States of America before that there were only 39 languages that were spoken and recognized in America.
Letters in the Hindi Alphabet
A lot of these tongues come from migrants who have moved to America. But the case of Hindustan is very different because there are hundreds of mother tongues in India that are native to India and have been developed, been spoken, and written over the centuries.
I know you might be anxious to know the number of languages spoken in India and I am going to share a lot of information about it in the next chapter.
How many languages do people speak in India?
There are more than 780 languages in India.
India has the second-largest number of languages in the world.
The country which has the most number of languages is the Papua New Guinea with over 860 languages spoken.
The last time India had a language census was in 2011 and according to the 2011 census, there are about 19,500 mother tongues.
Now you might be confused about what a mother tongue is and why are there 19,500 mother tongues but just 780 languages?
Well, the answer is that India is a huge country and the population is more than 1.34 Billion as of May 2020 and people call the languages they speak with different names.
Native tongues in India come from the same language family so there are languages that sound or look similar. Some dialects are considered languages and it is still very difficult to classify or differentiate between a language and a dialect when there are so many of them.
Let me give you an example so that you can understand it clearly.
One of the most widely spoken tongues in India is Hindi and some different languages or dialects sound similar but with an accent or pronounced differently.
- Braj Bhasha
- Khari Boli
The above list contains some names that are spoken widely, they sound like Hindi but there are still differences. People call these same languages with different names. Hence India has 19,500 mother tongues and at least 780 languages.
How do people of different languages communicate in India?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions by my western clients. If there are so many native tongues/bhasha then how do you guys communicate?
One of the simple answers to this question is that they are bilingual or multilingual. Most people here know more than one language.
There are 29 states and 7 Union Territories in India. These states have been created on the basis of native languages.
For example, the state which I live in is called Karnataka (Bangalore the tech city is the capital of Karnataka). A major population of people living in Karnataka speaks one language called Kannada. People here also speak other languages such as Tulu, Malayalam, Tamil, Marathi but most people speak Kannada.
How do Indians communicate when they go to other states?
Well, as I said we Indians are multilingual so most of us know more than one, two, or even three languages. I read, write and speak in 4 different languages and I know people who know as many as 6-7 languages.
When we travel to other states such as when I travel to the state of Maharashtra where the people talk in Marathi I can speak to them in English or Hindi.
The Government of India wanted to make Hindi the language of India but people all over the country protested especially people from South India where Hindi is not spoken widely.
But the Government made Hindi one of the compulsory languages in schools so that the kids can learn it.
In Urban India, English is also one of the most common languages so it is easy for everyone to understand and communicate with each other.
English is one of the official languages of India and a huge population knows English. Students studying in schools have the facility to study English.
English is considered as a commercial language which will help you get a job.
India uses to have and still has thousands of call centers that cater to the needs of customers living in the new world.
Almost a decade ago there was a boom in the call centers and hundreds of thousands of young professionals learned English to get well-paying jobs as customer care executives.
Why are there so many languages in India?
I am happy that you asked this question.
Why are there so many languages in India?
Russia and China are bigger than India but they do not have as many languages as India does. Why? The answer is Spices.
Yes, there might be many other reasons but the major reason is the Spices that grow in here. India has been the biggest producer of spices and it has impacted the culture, the food, the way different races blended, the way different nationalities merged to form one subcontinent that is loaded with so much diversity that you will feel as if you are living in a hundred different countries.
The Europeans came to India, the Persians, the Turks and many more came to India to trade spices. As they walked all the way from their countries they brought their own culture and added much to the local vocabulary.
You would be surprised that many words that Indians speak have their origin in Arabic, Portuguese, Turkish, Persian, English, and a hundred different languages.
Conclusion about the languages in India?
So, that’s all about the topic. I have poured everything from my own experience living here in India all my life.
Do you have any thoughts? Share them with us!