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
List of Languages of India
Abor -- A tribal language spoken in north-eastern parts of India, especially
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
Asuri -- Language
found in Bihar, Gumla and Lohardaga districts of Chotanagpur plateau.
-- An ancient Indo-Aryan language with considerable literature.
-- 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.