Friday, May 8, 2009

The language of India

India is a multilingual country. It has been said that India is a living Tower of Babel! There are fifteen national languages recognized by the Indian constitution and these are spoken in over 1600 dialects. Add to this a population of over 900 million today, and the remark would seem to be true.

India's official language is Hindi in the Devnagri script. However, English continues to be the official working language. For many educated Indian people, English is virtually their first language, and for a great number of Indian people who are multi-lingual, it will probably be the second.

Some Indian languages have evolved from the Indo-European group of languages. This set is known as the Indic group of languages. The other set of languages are Dravidian and are native to South India, though a distinct influence of Sanskrit and Hindi is evident in these languages. Most of the Indian languages have their own script and are spoken in the respective states along with English.

The country has a wide variety of local languages and in many cases the State boundaries have been drawn on linguistic lines. Besides Hindi and English, the other popular languages are Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Oriya, Telugu and Urdu.
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