In India, we speak a plethora of languages unlike the common belief that all Indians speak Hindi. As a matter of fact, Hindi is spoken by approximately about 26% of the total population. So what are the languages that we speak? Here’s a little sneak-peak into the language families of India. As per the Census of India 2001, India has 122 major languages and 1599 other languages. Out of these, 22 languages have been termed as scheduled or official languages that are spoken in the different regions of the country. Most Indian languages can be categorized into 5 major language families. They’re as follows:
1. Indo-Aryan Languages:
Spoken by about 78.05% of Indians, the Indo-Aryan or also known as the Indic language family is a part of the Indo-European Language family tree and is native to the Northern part of India and is also used in many South-Asian countries. The Modern Indic languages have been known to sprout from ancient languages like Sanskrit and Prakrit. As we go into a deep study of languages in our next articles, we would take a detailed look through the corridors of the evolution of these languages into the Modern day Indic languages like Hindi, Punjabi, Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati, Bhojpuri etc.
2. Dravidian Languages:
Spoken by over 215 million people, this language family is used across the Southern India and Northern Sri Lanka. Since the colonial period, there have been small pockets of communities consistently migrating to other countries apart from the South Asian countries like Mauritius, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and other countries like Britain, Australia and also the United States. The derivation of these languages go back to 2nd century BCE Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions found on cave walls in Madurai and Tirunelveli districts of Tamil Nadu. The major spoken languages in the Dravidian family are Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam. Some minor languages are Tulu, Kodava, Kurukh and Gondi. As we explore more about Dravidian languages, we’ll dive into their long and detailed history in my forthcoming articles.
3. Austroasiatic Lnaguages:
This language family, also popularly known as Mon-Khmer is a major language family which has presence in Mainland Southeast Asia and is also spoken in some parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Southern China. There are about 117 million people who speak some of the major languages in this language family like Vietnamese, Khmer and Mon which have a long recorded history. Out of these, Vietnamese and Khmer are the official languages of Vietnam and Cambodia and Mon language has indigenous status in Myanmar and Thailand. Apart from this, we have languages like Wa which is the official language of Wa State and Santhali which is one of the scheduled languages in India. There are other languages that are spoken by minority groups. We’ll have a detailed look at the history of these languages in my future articles.
4. Sino-Tibetan Languages:
Sino-Tibetan languages, also known by some as Trans-Himalayan languages, consists of over 400 languages and is considered to be the second largest language family in the world after the Indo-European Language family in terms of native speakers. The largest of subgroups of this language family consist of Mandarin with over 900 million native speakers, Burmese with over 30 million native speakers and Tibetan languages with over 6 million native speakers. There are other well established subgroups like Karenic, Bodo-Garo, Kuki-Chin, Meitei, Tamangic, Bai and Jingpho-Luish which are spoken in the North-Eastern regions and some Eastern regions of India and parts of Burma and Bangladesh. There are also languages like Kra-Dai and Hmong-Mien which most linguists do not consider to be a part of this language family but Chinese linguists would have a different opinion. We’ll do a detailed study of the history and subgroups of this language family in some of my next articles.
Also popularly known as Tai-Kadai, Daic and Kadai, this language family consists of mostly tonal languages spoken majorly in the Northeast India, Southern China and Mainland Southeast Asia. There are over 93 million native speakers in this language family and Thai and Lao are two of the major languages. We’ll do a brief study of this language family that has about 95 major languages in one of my next articles.
Now that we have a brief perspective of the major language families in India, you might be a little confused about whom to approach for your Translation, Transcription and Subtitling projects if you have a requirement for these languages. Look no further. At Enuncia Global Media Solutions we provide Translation, Transcription, Subtitling and Captioning services for all of the above languages at very reasonable rates and unlike many other vendors, we only work with native speakers and writers across India and other countries. Please contact us for a quote on your Translation, Transcription, Subtitling or Captioning project.