List of languages by number of native speakers in India

India is home to several hundred languages. Most Indians speak a language belonging to the families of the Indo-Aryan branch of Indo-European (c. 77%), the Dravidian (c. 20.61%), the Austroasiatic (Munda) (c. 1.2%), or the Sino-Tibetan (c. 0.8%), with some languages of the Himalayas still unclassified. The SIL Ethnologue lists 415 living languages for India.

Overview

India has 23 constitutionally recognized official languages. Hindi and English are typically used as an official language by the Central Government. State governments use respective official languages.

Hindi is the most widely spoken language in northern parts of India. The Indian census takes the widest possible definition of "Hindi" as a broad variety of "Hindi languages".[2] According to 2001 Census, 53.6% of Indian population declared that they speak Hindi either as first or second language, in which 41% of them have declared it as their native language or mother tongue.[3][4][5] 12% Indians declared that they can speak English as a second language.[6]

Thirteen languages account for more than 1% of Indian population each, and between themselves for over 95%; all of them are "scheduled languages of the constitution". Scheduled languages spoken by fewer than 1% of Indians are Santali (0.63%), Kashmiri (0.54%), Nepali (0.28%), Sindhi (0.25%), Konkani (0.24%), Dogri (0.22%), Meitei (0.14%), Bodo (0.13%) and Sanskrit (In the 2001 census of India, only 14,135 people reported Sanskrit as their native language).[7] The largest language that is not "scheduled" is Bhili (0.95%), followed by Gondi (0.27%), Khandeshi (0.21%), Tulu (0.17%) and Kurukh (0.10%).

Of the Indian population in 1991, 19.4% exhibited bilingualism and 7.2% exhibited trilingualism.

India has a Greenberg's diversity index of 0.914, i.e. two people selected at random from the country will have different native languages in 91.4% of cases.[8]

As per 2011 Census of India languages by highest number of speakers are as follows : Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati, Urdu, Kannada, Odia, Malayalam[9][10]

List of languages by number of native speakers

Ordered by number of speakers as first language.

More than one million speakers

The 2001 census recorded 29 individual languages as having more than 1 million native speakers (0.1% of total population). The languages in bold are scheduled languages (the only scheduled language with less than 1 million native speakers is Sanskrit). The first table is restricted to only speaking populations for scheduled languages.

First, Second, and Third languages by number of speakers in India (2001 Census)
Language First language
speakers
[11][12]
First language
speakers
as a percentage

of total population[13]

Second language
speakers
[12]
Third language
speakers
[12]
Total speakers[14][12] Total speakers as a

percentage of total

population[13]

Hindi[lower-alpha 2] 422,048,642 41.03% 98,207,180 31,160,696 551,416,518 53.60
English 226,449 0.02% 86,125,221 38,993,066 125,344,736 12.18
Bengali 83,369,769 8.10% 6,637,222 1,108,088 91,115,079 8.86
Telugu 74,002,856 7.19% 9,723,626 1,266,019 84,992,501 8.26
Marathi 71,936,894 6.99% 9,546,414 2,701,498 84,184,806 8.18
Tamil 60,793,814 5.91% 4,992,253 956,335 66,742,402 6.49
Urdu 51,536,111 5.01% 6,535,489 1,007,912 59,079,512 5.74
Kannada 37,924,011 3.69% 11,455,287 1,396,428 50,775,726 4.94
Gujarati 46,091,617 4.48% 3,476,355 703,989 50,271,961 4.89
Odia 33,017,446 3.21% 3,272,151 319,525 36,609,122 3.56
Malayalam 33,066,392 3.21% 499,188 195,885 33,761,465 3.28
Sanskrit 14,135 <0.01% 1,234,931 3,742,223 4,991,289 0.49
Table: Ordered by number of native speakers
RankLanguage 2001 census[15]
(total population 1,028,610,328 )
1991 census[16]
(total population 838,583,988)
Encarta 2007 estimate[17]
(worldwide speakers)

2011 Census of India[18]
(total population 1,210,854,977 )[19]
SpeakersPercentageSpeakersPercentageSpeakersSpeakersPercentage
1Hindi[lower-alpha 2]422,048,64241.1%329,518,08739.29%366 M528,347,19343.63%
2Bengali83,369,7698.11%69,595,7388.30%207 M97,237,6698.03%
3Marathi71,936,8946.99%62,481,6817.45%68.0 M83,026,6807.09%
4Telugu74,002,8567.19%66,017,6157.87%69.7 M81,127,7406.93%
5Tamil60,793,8145.91%53,006,3686.32%66.0 M69,026,8815.89%
6Gujarati46,091,6174.48%40,673,8144.85%46.1 M55,492,5544.74%
7Urdu51,536,1115.01%43,406,9325.18%60.3 M50,772,6314.34%
8Kannada37,924,0113.69%32,753,6763.91%35.3 M43,706,5123.73%
9 Odia33,017,4463.21%28,061,3133.35%32.3 M37,521,3243.20%
10Malayalam33,066,3923.21%30,377,1763.62%35.7 M34,838,8192.97%
11Punjabi29,102,4772.83%23,378,7442.79%57.1 M33,124,7262.83%
12Assamese13,168,4841.28%13,079,6961.56%15.4 M15,311,3511.31%
13Maithili12,179,1221.18%7,766,9210.926%24.2 M13,583,4641.16%
14Bhili/Bhilodi9,582,9570.93%10,413,6370.86%
15Santali6,469,6000.63%5,216,3250.622%7,368,1920.65%
16Kashmiri5,527,6980.54%6,797,5870.58%
17Gondi2,713,7900.26%2,984,4530.25%
18Nepali2,871,7490.28%2,076,6450.248%16.1 M2,926,1680.25%
19Sindhi2,535,4850.25%2,122,8480.253%19.7 M2,772,2640.24%
20Dogri2,282,5890.22%2,596,7670.22%
21Konkani2,489,0150.24%1,760,6070.210%2,256,5020.19%
22Kurukh1,751,4890.17%1,988,3500.16%
23Khandeshi2,075,2580.21%1,860,2360.15%
24Tulu1,722,7680.17%1,846,4270.15%
25Meitei (Manipuri)1,466,705*0.14%1,270,2160.151%1,761,0790.15%
26Bodo1,350,4780.13%1,221,8810.146%1,482,9290.13%
27Khasi1,128,5750.11%1,431,3440.12%
28Ho1,042,7240.101%1,421,4180.12%
29Mundari1,061,3520.103%1,128,2280.09%
30Garo889,4790.086%1,128,2280.09%
31Tripuri854,0230.083%1,011,2940.08%

* Excludes figures of Paomata, Mao-Maram and Purul sub-divisions of Senapati district of Manipur for 2001.
** The percentage of speakers of each language for 2001 has been worked out on the total population of India excluding the population of Mao-Maram, Paomata and Purul subdivisions of Senapati district of Manipur due to cancellation of census results.

100,000 to one million speakers

RankLanguage2001 census
SpeakersPercentage
32Kui916,2220.089%
33Lushai/Mizo674,7560.066%
34Halabi593,4430.058%
35Korku574,4810.056%
36Miri/Mishing551,2240.054%
37Munda469,3570.046%
38Karbi/Mikir419,5340.041%
39Koya362,0700.035%
40Ao261,3870.025%
41Savara252,5190.025%
42Konyak248,1090.024%
43Kharia239,6080.023%
44English226,4490.022%
45Malto224,9260.022%
46Nissi/Dafla211,4850.021%
47Adi198,4620.019%
48Thado190,5950.019%
49Lotha170,0010.017%
50Coorgi/Kodagu166,1870.016%
51Rabha164,7700.016%
52Tangkhul142,0350.014%
53Kisan141,0880.014%
54Angami132,2250.013%
55Phom122,5080.012%
56Kolami121,8550.012%
57Khond/Kondh[20]118,5970.012%
58Dimasa111,9610.011%
59Ladakhi104,6180.010%
60Sema103,5290.010%

List of mother tongues by number of speakers

Each of the languages of the 2001 census subsumes one or more mother tongues. Speaker numbers are available for these mother tongues and they are also included in the speaker numbers for their respective language. The following table lists those mother tongues that have more than one million speakers. Per the General Notes from the 2001 census: "Mother tongue is the language spoken in childhood by the person's mother to the person. If the mother died in infancy, the language mainly spoken in the person's home in childhood will be the mother tongue."[21]

Mother tongues with more than one million speakers[15]
RankMother tongue2001 censusIncluded
in language
SpeakersPercentage
1Hindi257,919,63525.071%
2Bengali82,462,4378.016%
3Telugu73,817,1487.176%
4Marathi71,701,4786.970%
5Tamil60,655,8135.896%
6Urdu51,533,9545.009%
7Gujarati45,715,6544.444%
8Kannada37,742,2323.669%
9Bhojpuri33,099,4973.217%Hindi
10Malayalam33,015,4203.209%
11Odia32,110,4823.121%
12Punjabi28,152,7942.737%
13Rajasthani18,355,6131.784%Hindi
14Magadhi/Magahi13,978,5651.359%Hindi
15Chhattisgarhi13,260,1861.289%Hindi
16Assamese12,778,7351.242%
17Maithili12,178,6731.184%
18Haryanvi7,997,1920.777%Hindi
19Marwari7,936,1830.771%Hindi
20Santali5,943,6790.578%
21Malvi5,565,1670.541%Hindi
22Kashmiri5,362,3490.521%
23Mewari5,091,6970.495%Hindi
24Khortha/Khotta4,725,9270.459%Hindi
25Bhili/Bhilodi3,313,4810.322%
26Bundeli/Bundelkhan3,072,1470.299%Hindi
27Nepali2,867,9220.279%
28Bagheli2,865,0110.278%Hindi
29Pahari[lower-alpha 3]2,832,8250.275%Hindi
30Lamani/Lambadi2,707,5620.263%Hindi
31Awadhi2,529,3080.246%Hindi
32Wagdi2,510,8110.244%Bhili
33Gondi2,505,2470.244%
34Harauti2,462,8670.239%Hindi
35Konkani2,420,1400.235%
36Dogri2,282,5470.222%
37Garhwali2,267,3140.220%Hindi
38Nimadi2,148,1460.209%Hindi
39Sadan/Sadri2,044,7760.199%Hindi
40Kumaoni2,003,7830.195%Hindi
41Dhundhari1,871,1300.182%Hindi
42Ahirani1,865,8130.181%Khandeshi
43Kurukh/Oraon1,737,0440.169%
44Tulu1,720,4220.167%
45Sindhi1,694,0610.165%
46Meitei1,466,4970.143%
47Surgujia1,458,5330.142%Hindi
48Bagri Rajasthani1,434,1230.139%Hindi
49Bodo/Boro1,330,7750.129%
50Banjari1,259,8210.122%Hindi
51Nagpuria1,242,5860.121%Hindi
52Surjapuri1,217,0190.118%Hindi
53Kangri1,122,8430.109%Hindi
54Mundari1,046,9510.102%
55Ho1,037,9870.101%

Notes

  1. Some languages may be over- or under-represented as the census data used is at the state-level. For example, while Urdu has 52 million speakers (2001), in no state is it a majority language.
  2. 1 2 includes Western Hindi apart from Urdu, Eastern Hindi, Bihari languages except for Maithili, the Rajasthani languages, and the Pahari languages apart from Nepali and (in 2001) Dogri, whether or not the included varieties were reported as "Hindi" or under their individual names.
  3. "Pahari" as ambiguous, but in the census returns the language name most commonly comes from the Western Pahari area.[22]

See also

References

Notes

  1. "Report of the Commissioner for linguistic minorities: 50th report (July 2012 to June 2013)" (PDF). Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities, Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  2. "How a Bihari lost his mother tongue to Hindi".
  3. "These four charts break down India's complex relationship with Hindi".
  4. "Nearly 60% of Indians speak a language other than Hindi".
  5. 2001 census data
  6. In 1991, there were 90,000,000 "users" of English. (Census of India Indian Census Archived 2006-12-23 at the Wayback Machine., Issue 10, 2003, pp. 8–10, (Feature: Languages of West Bengal in Census and Surveys, Bilingualism and Trilingualism) and Tropf, Herbert S. 2004. India and its Languages. Siemens AG, Munich.)
  7. "COMPARATIVE SPEAKERS' STRENGTH OF SCHEDULED LANGUAGES -1971, 1981, 1991 AND 2001". censusindia.gov. New Delhi, India: Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Archived from the original on 2007-11-30. Retrieved 2015-10-13.
  8. Paul, Lewis M.; Simons, Gary F.; Fennig, Charles D. Fennig, eds. (2015). "Summary by country". Ethnologue: Languages of the World (Eighteenth ed.). SIL International.
  9. Jain, Bharti (27 June 2018). "Hindi mother tongue of 44% in India, Bangla second most-spoken". The Economic Times. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  10. Statement 4 : Scheduled Languages in descending order of speakers' strength - 2011
  11. ORGI. "Census of India: Comparative speaker's strength of Scheduled Languages-1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001".
  12. 1 2 3 4 S, Rukmini. "Sanskrit and English: there's no competition".
  13. 1 2 http://www.censusindia.gov.in/Census_Data_2001/India_at_glance/popu1.aspx
  14. "Indiaspeak: English is our 2nd language – Times of India".
  15. 1 2 Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues – 2000, Census of India, 2001
  16. Comparative Speaker's Strength of Scheduled Languages -1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001, Census of India, 1991
  17. "Languages Spoken by More Than 10 Million People – Table – MSN Encarta". Archived from the original on 2007-12-03.
  18. Statement 1 : Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues - 2011
  19. Statement 2 : Distribution of population by Scheduled and other Languages India, States and Union Territories - 2011
  20. different from Kui language
  21. Census Data 2001 General Notes
  22. Masica, Colin P. (1991). The Indo-Aryan languages. Cambridge language surveys. Cambridge University Press. p. 439. ISBN 978-0-521-23420-7.

General references

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