In India we speak about 122 major languages and 1599 others, among which there are 22 languages that have the scheduled or the official status in this country. But then, there are those languages which are in danger of going extinct or vulnerable or already extinct. Many clients have approached us with translation projects that have roots in some of these rare languages. Because of the limited number of speakers and writers in these languages, I thought it would be a good idea to take a peek into these languages and know a little about them so that it’s easier for all of us to understand and be prepared for all sorts of situations when it comes to these rare languages. Given below are some of the rare languages of India:
Sanskrit is an ancient language in the Indo-Aryan language family that has a recorded history which goes back about 3,500 years. It’s considered to be the liturgical or sacred language of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism and hence you would find most philosophical, theological or mythological works of these religions sprout from numerous variants and dialects of Sanskrit. It also happens to be the source language of many modern Indo-Aryan languages like Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati etc. This is why it has found its place amongst the 22 official languages in India. Sanskrit is written using Devanagari script. This language is considered to be rare because very limited number of people actually use this language for written or spoken communication nowadays.
Dogri is another language which has found official status in India but still considered to be a rare language. It’s a language in the Indo-Aryan language family, spoken by about 5 million people in mainly Jammu region of the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir, the state of Himachal Pradesh and also the Northern region of Punjab. This language was earlier written using Dogri script which is very similar to Takri script but now is written using either Devanagari or Perso-Arabic script.
Maithili, though considered by many to be a variant of Hindi language, is actually an independent and different language that is a part of the Indo-Aryan language family. It is one of the official languages of India and has native speakers in Bihar and Jharkhand states in India and the Terai region of Nepal. In earlier times Maithili was written using Tirhuta and Kaithi scripts. But now it’s written using Devanagari script. With only 13.58 million people reporting to claim Maithili as their language in 2011 Census of India, Maithili is now considered one of the rare languages.
Bodo or commonly known as Boro, is a language that is a part of the Sino-Tibetan language family. It’s the native language of the Bodo people of Northeast India, Nepal and Bengal and also the co-official language of Assam. It’s written using Devanagari script now but before 1963 it was written using Latin or Assamese script. One of the official languages in India, Bodo is also considered to be one of the rare languages with about 1.4 million speakers as per the 2011 census.
Meitei also commonly known as Manipuri is a part of the Sino-Tibetan language family and one of the official languages of India. Meitei is the Lingua Franca in the North Eastern state of Manipur and also happens to be the most spoken Sino-Tibetan language in Northeast India after Bengali and Assamese. There are about 1.8 million speakers of Meitei as per 2011 census and thus considered to be a rare language. Meitei is also spoken in some parts of Assam, Tripura and Bangladesh and Burma. UNESCO has officially classified Meitei as a vulnerable language.
So, here was a brief insight into some of the rare languages of India. We’ll look into some more language in the next part of this article. It is very difficult to find native speakers for these languages and even more difficult to find writers. If you’re looking to have your content translated from or into one of these languages, make sure you choose your vendor carefully. Anyone telling you they have ample writers at any point of time for these languages is simply misleading you. This is why any genuine vendor would need to know the exact volume and type of content you have before they take on the project. We at Enuncia Global Media Solutions only work with native speakers and writers of these languages who have previous experience. Please contact us to get a quote for your translation project and discuss the details of your content.