How long has Hindi been spoken?
Languages in India - how many are there and which are there?
The languages in India are illustrated by Zemir Bermeo.
The first thing you need to know about the language landscape in India is that of one Indian language cannot be spoken of - in fact there is proud 22 official languagesinIndia. If two Indian women happen to meet on the street, there is only a 36 percent chance that they will understand each other. Of course, this 36 percent strongly depends on the ethnicity of the interlocutors and where they come from.
The classification of languages in India is a very complicated task, because experts have to differentiate between dialects and mother tongues, which linguistically have a lot in common. This is not particularly surprising considering the fact that ...
- India is the seventh largest country in the world.
- over 1.3 billion people live in India.
- the distance between North India and South India is comparable to the distance between Canada and Mexico.
A 2011 census shows that it is about 19,569 dialects and languages in India there. Of this impressive number, 1369 are recognized as dialects and only 121 as languages! Note: The acceptance criterion was that the language had more than 10,000 speakers. The languages in India mainly belong to two language families: The Indo-European and the dravidian; others come mainly from the Austro-Asian and Tibetan-Burman language families.
What are the 22 official languages in India?
The Indian Constitution recognizes 22 official languages: Bengali, Hindi, Maithili, Nepali, Sanskrit, Tamil, Urdu, Assamese, Dogri, Kannada, Gujarati, Bodo, Meitei, Oriya, Marathi, Santali, Telugu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Malayalam, Konkani and Kashmiri.
Tamil and Sanskrit (which some academics call Lingua franca considered in India) are the only two classical official languages in India.
India was organized into political states based on common languages. Although Hindi alongside English (which is in the Constitution Not one of the 22 official languages) the official one Language of the central government individual states can adopt any regional language as the official language of their state.
Many children in India grow up in a bilingual environment - either because their parents speak different languages or because they are surrounded by a community from another part of the country. The literacy rate in India is 71.2 percent. Most private schools encourage children to learn multiple languages, sometimes from elementary school age. Public schools (which are mostly attended by working class children) teach in the respective colloquial language. Efforts are being made to include more English classes.
The "Hindi Zone"
The Hindi Zone (Desh Hindi) describes the areas of India, especially in the north, where Hindi is the official language:
- Himachal Pradesh
- Uttar Pradesh
- Madhya Pradesh
The Persian-speaking Turks who invaded India in the early eleventh century called the language they found Hindi (the Persian word for "the language of the land of the Indus River"). Today, Hindi ranks fourth among the most widely spoken languages in the world.
Accurate counts are not easy and the numbers vary depending on the criteria, but roughly 425 million people speak Hindi as their mother tongue. Although only twelve percent of the Hindi speakers are multilingual, speak for example 120 million people in India use Hindi as a second language. From a linguistic point of view, Hindi belongs to the huge family of Indo-European languages, especially the Indo-Aryan branch. It comes from Sanskrit, which, like German, is written from left to right and in which the typeface and pronunciation usually coincide.
The use of English in India
Although British colonization is associated with the English language, English is still used as the official language in India - especially because of it Lingua franca is (unofficially) recognized as a business language. Apart from that, English does not have a strong presence in general social life in India except in the higher grades. For many people in India, English is no longer a foreign language because they have made it their own after almost 100 years of colonization. For cultural and linguistic reasons, Indian English is very different from standard English and is therefore alsoHinglish called.
One of the most impressive drivers of English in India is Bollywood, the mega-film industry, based in particular on Hollywood with its headquarters in Mumbai (Bombay hence the "B"). Many films mix English into movie titles or songs. As mentioned earlier, this language is also used as a business language, especially in lucrative areas like technology and customer service. Think of the infamous call centers in India.
So if you are planning to travel to India, you can probably get by in the big cities with English - but there is no guarantee of that in the rural areas! But it wouldn't be an authentic travel experience anyway if there weren't any language challenges, would it ...?
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