India, with its population exceeding one billion people, boasts a rich heritage of languages, dialects, and cultures. The linguistic composition becomes even more diverse when we consider the entire Indian subcontinent, encompassing countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.
Each nation within this subcontinent possesses its own unique cultural, religious, governmental, and geographical qualities, along with a unique blend of languages. For instance, Pakistan has Urdu as its official language but Punjabi as its national language, while Sri Lanka recognises Sinhalese and Tamil as its official languages. Amidst this linguistic diversity, let’s focus on understanding the predominant language spoken in India, the largest nation in the Indian subcontinent.
What Language Do They Speak in India?
Undoubtedly, India boasts the highest linguistic diversity within the subcontinent. There is not just one official language of India. The country officially recognises 22 languages, including Hindi, under its constitution. However, we can consider Hindi and English as the official languages of the central government.
To engage in trade, official communication, or cultural interactions, a Hindi-Italian translation service, and vice versa, can effectively bridge the language gap and reach a broader audience. The most widely spoken language in India is Hindi, written in Devanagari script. English, on the other hand, is often employed for official and commercial purposes. Additionally, there are several regional languages spoken in different parts of the country.
Hindi, the mother tongue of approximately 41% of Indians, holds the distinction of being the most widely spoken language in India. Originating from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi, Hindi not only serves as one of the 22 official languages of the country but is also recognised as an official language by the United Nations.
With a history spanning centuries, Hindi has its roots in Sanskrit, the ancient language of India. Over time, it evolved from Prakrit, an ancient Sanskrit derivative, to the Apabhramsha dialect, and eventually gave rise to various modern languages, including Hindi.
Under the influence of Persian and Islamic culture during the Middle Ages, Hindi absorbed numerous words from Persian and Arabic, resulting in the creation of Urdu. Although Hindi and Urdu share similarities in spoken language, they differ in their scripts.
With the onset of British colonialism in the 19th century, Hindi based on the Khariboli dialect became the official language. After India gained independence in 1947, other official languages were introduced alongside Hindi. Nevertheless, Hindi continues to play a significant role in Indian society and politics.
Geographically, it is predominantly spoken in the northern regions of India, and millions of people across the globe, particularly within Indian diaspora communities, use it as a means of communication.
The Most Spoken Languages in India
In addition to Hindi, India is home to numerous other languages. Some notable examples include:
- Bengali: the second most spoken language in India and the official language of West Bengal.
- Telugu: the third most widely spoken language in India, primarily used in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
- Marathi: the official language of Maharashtra and the fourth most spoken language in India.
- Tamil: one of the oldest classical languages in the world, spoken in various regions of India.
- Urdu: another official language of India, extensively spoken in states such as Jammu and Kashmir, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, and West Bengal.
Thus, Hindi acts as a unifying force among the diverse linguistic landscape of this multilingual country, reflecting the cultural richness that permeates the entire Indian subcontinent.