Languages of India

Languages of India

There are 22 official languages in India: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. Additionally, there are hundreds of less prominent languages that are the main spoken languages in some regions. 

Hindi is the main working language of the Central Government and is the most common language of Indians who speak a different native tongue. 41% of the population speaks Hindi as their native language and many speak it as a second language. It is the mother tongue of the people who live in Northern India, sometimes called the “Hindi Belt”. 

English is the lingua franca amongst educated Indians and is widely spoken in tourist areas and major cities. So much so, that it’s evolving and developing its own vocabulary, rhythm and inflection. There is a strong British influence on English spoken in India accompanied by influences of the speaker’s native tongue. Indian English tends to be spoken with a pre-1950’s British style, which sounds very formal to speakers in North America and England. 

Indians also use English loan words in their native languages. As India modernizes, it has taken English words for modern objects that did not exist a few decades ago.

It’s not unusual for bilingual Indians in informal conversation to switch unpredictably between English and their native language, this is sometimes referred to as ‘Hinglish.’ When speaking to similar polyglots, communicating effectively in a hybridized language relies on the listener’s ability to speak both languages. 

While English and Hindi are each their own distinct languages, it is conceivable that in the future, English words may be officially adopted as part of the Hindi language.

Over hundreds of years they may converge into the cultural fabric of India as a new language. 

[Source: Traveldudes]