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Languages Of India

The languages of India primarily belong to two major linguistic families, Indo-European (whose branch Indo-Aryan is spoken by about 74% of the population) and Dravidian (spoken by about 24%). Other languages spoken in India come from the Austro- Asiatic and Tibeto-Burmese linguistic families.
Dec 10, 2010 15:47 IST
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The languages of India primarily belong to two major linguistic families, Indo-European (whose branch Indo-Aryan is spoken by about 74% of the population) and Dravidian (spoken by about 24%). Other languages spoken in India come from the Austro- Asiatic and Tibeto-Burmese linguistic families. The Andamanese languages, spoken on the Andaman Islands, are apparently not related to any other language family. The number of mother tongues in India is as high as 1,652. There are 24 languages which are spoken by a million or more people, in addition to thousands of smaller languages. Three millennia of language contact situation have led to a lot of mutual influence among the four language families in India and South Asia. Three contact languages have played an important role in the history of India: Sanskrit, Persian and English. Two classical languages native to the landare Sanskrit and Tamil.

Article 343 of the Indian Constitution recognises Hindi in Devanagari script as the official language of the union; the Constitution also allows for the continuation of use of the English language for official purposes. Article 345 provides constitutional recognition to “regional languages” of the union to include any language adopted by a State Legislature
as the official language of that state. The Eighth Schedule and the Seventy-First Amendment provided for the inclusion of Sindhi, Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali, thereby increasing the number of official regional languages of India to 18. Individual states, whose borders are mostly drawn on sociolinguistic lines, are free to decide their own language for internal administration and education. The Constitution of India recognises 22 “national languages”, spoken throughout the country, namely Assamese,Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. English is the co-official language of the Indian Union.

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