Scheduled Languages of India

The languages of India are as diverse as its communities, religions, and people. With the presence of guests, some who stayed and some who did not, each language was influenced and each language was changed to better suit the needs of the communicators, and even new hybrid languages were born. There being more than 100 languages spoken in Indian with almost 12,000 dialects, the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India provides the National Language status to 22 languages. To recognise the multi-ethnic traditions within India, and to provide a safe bracket for these languages to grow, and to be preserved.

The languages in India are of diverse origins as well, these being:

-Indo-Aryan group of the Indo- Iranian branch of the Indo-European family; Assamese, Bengali, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, and Urdu.

-Dravidian language family comprises Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil.

-The three remaining are Manipuri and Bodo, the former spoken in Manipur and the latter in North Eastern States belong to the Tibeto-Burman branch of the Sino-Tibetan family, while Santali is classified as a Munda language.

1)Assamese- The State Language of Assam, also known as Asamiya, is spoken in most of the areas along the Brahmaputra valley, in the states of Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, and in Bangladesh and Bhutan. Originating in the 7th century C.E., developing a local culture of folk songs, pastoral ballads, and the usage by the Ahom rulers led to development of Assamese literature in the 14th century.

2) Bengali- Bengali and Assamese are considered to be sister languages, as both are considered to have originated from Magadhi Prakrit. It is spoken in West Bengal, Tripura, Assam and Bangladesh. Having its own script and the most extensive literature of any modern Indian language.

3) Gujarati- The state of Gujarat derives much of their identity from their language, forming on linguistic lines in 1960. Spoken in Daman and Diu with Dadra and Nagar Haveli, standing at the 26th position among the most spoken native languages in the world.

4) Hindi- Spoken by nearly 430 million people, and in the northern belt of India like Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar. And island countries like Fiji, have given Hindi an official language status, and it’s spoken by a considerable population in Mauritius.

5) Kannada- It is one of the most spoken languages from the Dravidian family, and the official state language of Karnataka. There are around 35 million people who are Kannadigas (those who speak Kannada). The earliest inscriptional records place Kannada in the 6th century.

6) Kashmiri- Spoken in the Kashmir valley, the origin of this language is a debated topic. A member of the Dardi sub group, (being the only Dardic language to have a literature) it has taken influence from Sanskrit, and Persian as well in the 14th century, giving it some unique vowel and consonant sounds not found in any Indian language.

7) Konkani- It is the official language of the most western state of Goa, and it is spoken widely in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala. It is the only Indian language written in five different scripts, and was given the status of a national language in 1992.

8) Malayalam- Considered the baby of the Dravidian language group, it is highly influenced by Tamil, so much so that it sounds like a dialect. But heavy influence from Sanskrit and absorbing idioms and words from English, Portuguese, and Dutch (contributing to these languages as well) make Malayalam its own language with a rich history in Kerala.

9) Manipuri- This language was also added to the 8th schedule in 1992. Spoken in Manipur, it is the state language that connects the various tribes living there as the tribes also have their own languages. It is also known as the Meitei language, having its own script called Meitei Mayek, dating back to the 11th century.

10) Marathi- It is 1300 years old, one of the oldest in the Indo-Aryan family, spoken by 90 million people worldwide. State Language of Maharashtra, co-official language in Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and can be used as an official language in Goa.

11) Nepali- Holds the official status in Sikkim and Darjeeling district of West Bengal, spoken widely in Uttarakhand, Assam, Bhutan and Myanmar. It originated from a bunch of Pahari languages and is written in the Devanagari script.

12) Odia- Till recently known as Oriya, it comes from the Eastern Magadhi Apbhramsa, along with Assamese, Bengali and Maithili. Goes back to the 10th century, descending from the Brahmi script absorbing Dravidian influences, and can claim to be the language least influenced by Persian in the east. Spoken in Odisha and parts of Bengal, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh.

13) Punjabi- The first Guru of Sikhism started the literary tradition of Punjabi. Today it is the 11th most spoken language in the world, being the official language of Punjab and its shared capital Chandigarh, second language in Haryana, provincial language of Punjab in Pakistan, and by its diasporas in United States, Canada and the U.K.

14) Sanskrit- It has the credit of being one of the earliest languages, found as early as 2000-1000 BCE. It is a language reserved mainly for religious and scientific purposes of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. Through centuries of evolution, and the birth of various dialects, it provides seminal grammar work for Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada.

15) Sindhi- It was added to the 8th Schedule in 1967 by the 21st Amendment Act. It is the third most spoken language in Pakistan, and the only other language used in Pakistani identity cards other than Urdu. It is also spoken by 3 million people in India. And Sindhi words always end with a vowel.

16) Tamil- Unlike other languages Tamil does not owe its origins to Sanskrit, having one of the oldest unbroken literary traditions going back to 200 BCE. This language which has the accolade of being declared a Classical Language by the government of India is spoken in Tamil Nadu, Union Territory of Puducherry, Official Language in Sri Lanka and Singapore, Malaysia and Mauritius.

17) Telugu- It has the fourth largest number of speakers in India, and is the 15th language spoken worldwide. There are various dialects of Telugu due to the various influences absorbed from other languages, and the region it is spoken in. It is the official Language of the state of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, with a sizable number speaking it in Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Orissa and Tamil Nadu.

18) Urdu- Due to India being invaded and host to various peoples of Turkic and Persian dynasties, this language emerged as a hybrid of Arabic, Pashto, Turkish, Persian and local dialects, to be used by the soldiers of various origins to communicate with each other. It is the official language of Pakistan, and the modern vernacular Urdu is spoken around Delhi and Lucknow.

These languages were added to the 8th Schedule by the 71st Amendment Act in 2004.

19) Bodo- Bodo is spoken in the north eastern states of Assam and Meghalaya, and parts of Bangladesh. It has several dialects and is written in the Latin, Devanagari and Bengali scripts. It belongs to the Tibeto-Burman language family of the Sino-Tibetan group. It has influences from the Dimasa, Garo and Kokborok languages from the North East.

20) Santhali- This language spoken in Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Tripura and West Bengal is of the Austro-Asiatic language family, by the largest tribe in India which is the Santhal tribe. It used to be written in the Roman script during British rule but now the devanagari script is used, and it seems quite similar to Bengali.

21) Maithili- This language is considered an Eastern-Indic language making it different from Hindi. Maithili along with Bhojpuri and Magadhi is one of the prominent languages of Bihar. The only one amongst the three to have a script of its own called Tirhuta.

22) Dogri- Spoken chiefly in the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir, in western Himachal Pradesh, and northern and eastern Punjab. The earliest mention of Dogri in a text was by Amir Khusraw. The grammar was influenced by Sanskrit, and the vocabulary was influenced by English and Persian. It used to be written in the Dogra Akkhar script, but these days it has been replaced by the devanagari script.

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