The Languages of India

First Online: September 21, 2003
Page Last Updated: April 04, 2014

Introduction to the Linguistic Diversity of India

Depending on whom you ask, the number of languages in India vary from fifteen to two thousand. In other words, there is no definitive count of the languages in practice. The problem of counting and classifying the languages is compounded by the myriad of dialects, and mixed languages.

For what it is worth, I am compiling below a list of Indian languages that I have culled from several sources (references are at the bottom of the page). Where available, I have tried to provide a brief description, the parts of India they are spoken from, and links to potential content elsewhere on Kamat's Potpourri about the community speaking the language. 

The official languages (meaning those on Indian currency, or sanctioned as an official language by the Indian Government) is shown in bold letters. Please bear in mind that some languages are are only spoken languages, and some are extinct today.

If I have missed a language, please suggest addition by writing to me at Contact Kamats

-Vikas Kamat

 

List of Languages of India

  • Abor -- A tribal language spoken in north-eastern parts of India, especially in Assam
  • Abujmaria -- A tribal language spoken in Bastar district and neighboring areas. See: Village of Abujamara -- Kamat ventures into a deep tribal village of Abujamara and documents the experience.
  • Agaria -- Language spoken by a central Indian tribe by the same name. The Agaria are skilled  blacksmiths and artisans. See related topic The Tribes of Madhya Pradesh
  • Ahirani -- An Indo-Aryan language spoken in parts of Maharashtra and Gujarat states.
  • Aimol -- An Indo-Tibetan language found in Indias' north-eastern parts.
  • Aiton
  • Anal
  • Andamanese
  • Angani
  • Angika
  • Apatani -- Language spoken by a North-Eastern tribe with the same name.
  • Arabic -- Remnants of Arabic can be seen among descendants of Arabs who've settled in India.
  • Ashing
  • Assamese -- Language spoken in the state of Assam
  • Asuri -- Language found in Bihar, Gumla and Lohardaga districts of Chotanagpur plateau.
  • Awadhi -- An ancient Indo-Aryan language with considerable literature.
  • Badaga
  • Baghelkhandi
  • Bagri
  • Baigani
  • Bajania
  • Balti
  • Bangni
  • Banjari
  • Basturia
  • Bauria
  • Bawm
  • Bazigar Boli
  • Bengali -- An important language belonging to the Shouraseni Prakrit family of Indian languages, spoken in West Bengal, and neighboring Orissa, and Bangladesh. Bengali literature is very rich, Bengali being the mother tongue of many great thinkers and writers who were responsible for Indian renaissance in the late 19th century.
  • Bhanja

See Also:

 

References for Further Study

  • Ethnologue Report on India  -- Page lists the languages and their geographic location, the number of speaking the language, based on prior census.
  • Languages of India -- Monthly online journal devoted to the study of the languages spoken in the Indian sub-continent.

 

 

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