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Languages of India


India is a multilingual country. There are so many languages spoken here with every area having its own dialect. We bring you the history behind some Indian languages



Assamese is the eastern most Indo-Aryan language. The script is a variant of the Eastern Nagari script, which traces its descent from the Gupta script. Though early compositions in Assamese exist from the 13th Century, the earliest relics of the language can be found in paleographic records of the Kamarupa Kingdom from the 5th Century to the 12th Century.



Bengali Or Bangla evolved from the Magadhi Prakrit and Sanskrit languages. With nearly 230 million total speakers, Bengali is one of the most spoken languages in the world. Bengali has as many as 1,00,000 separate words, of which 50,000 are considered as direct reborrowings from Sanskrit, 21,100 are  native words with Sanskrit and the rest are borrowed from foreign and Austro-Asiatic words.



Dogri is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by about two million people in India and Pakistan, chiefly in the Jammu region, but also in northern Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. Dogri speakers are called Dogras and the Dogri-speaking region is called Duggar. Dogri was originally written using the Takri script, which is closely related to the Sharada script employed by Kashmiri and the Gurmukhi script used to write Punjabi.



Gujarati is a modern Indo-Aryan language evolved from Sanskrit. Gujarati was the first language of Mohandas K Gandhi, the "Father of India", Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the "Father of Pakistan" and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the "Iron Man of India". Gujarati is one of the 22 official languages and 14 regional languages of India. It is officially recognised in the state of Gujarat. Besides being spoken by the Gujarati people, non-Gujarati residents of and migrants to the state of Gujarat also count as speakers. Among them are the Kucchis (as the literary language), the Parsis (adopted as a mother tongue) and Hindu Sindhi refugees from Pakistan.



Hindi evolved from Prakrit. Though there is no consensus on the specific time of its origin, Hindi originated as local dialects such as Braj, Awadhi and Khari Boli after the turn of the 10th Century. Hindi is one of the two official languages of communication in India, with more than 41% of Indian using the language.



Kannada is one of the major Dravidian languages of India, spoken predominantly in the state of Karnataka. Native speakers of Kannada are called Kannadigas. Contemporary Kannada literature is the most successful in India, with India's highest literary honour, the Jnanpith Awards, having been conferred seven times upon Kannada writers. This is the highest for any language in India. Pre-old Kannada was the language of the early Common Era, the Satavahana and Kadamba periods, and hence has a history of over 2,000 years.



Kashmiri belongs to the Dardic languages and is spoken primarily in the Kashmir Valley. The Kashmiri language was traditionally written in the Sharada script after the 8th Century. This script however, is not commonly used today, except for religious ceremonies of the Kashmiri Pandits.



Konkani developed primarily in Gomantak (now Goa). There are two theories regarding the origins of Konkani. One theory states that the Brahmins who resided along the banks of the Saraswati river must have migrated to Gomantak when seismic activity in the Himalayas made the river run underground around 1900 BC. They brought their own dialect of Shauraseni Prakrit which over time evolved into modern Konkani. But most language experts believe that Konkani originated from Maharashtri Prakrit, and was highly influenced by Marathi, Tulu, Kannada and later by Arabic, Persian and Portuguese.



Maithili is a language spoken in the eastern part of India, mainly in the Indian state of Bihar. The name 'Maithili' is derived from the word 'Mithila', an ancient kingdom of which King Janak was the ruler. Maithili is also one of the names of Sita, the daughter of King Janak. Maithili has a very rich literary and cultural heritage. Today a number of Maithili language blogs can be found on the Internet.



Malayalam is the language of the people of Kerala. It is written in a script that is derived from the Granth script. Its rounded form was well suited to write palm leaf manuscripts, a prefered way of writing in ancient South India. Malayalam uses a large proportion of Sanskrit vocabulary. Adoptions have also been made from Portuguese, Arabic, Syriac and in more recent times, English.



Marathi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the people of central and western India. There are 90 million fluent speakers worldwide making it the fourth most spoken language in India and the 15th most spoken language in the world. Marathi is the oldest of the regional languages in Indo-Aryan languages and evolved from Sanskrit through Prakrit and Apabhramsha. The earliest known written form is on the copperplate of Vijayaditya found in Satara, dated 739AD.



Punjabi evolved from Sauraseni Prakrit, the chief language of medieval northern India. It emerged as an independent language in the 11th Century from the Sauraseni Apabhramsa. There are several different scripts used for writing the Punjabi language, depending on the region and the dialect spoken as well as the religion of the speaker. Some follow the Shahmukhi script which is essentially the same as the Urdu script, some the Gurmukhi script and others the Devanagari script.



Sanskrit is a historical Indo-Aryan language, one of the liturgical languages of Hinduism and Buddhism and one of the 22 recognised languages of India. It has significantly influenced most modern languages of Nepal and India. The pre-classical form of Sanskrit is known as Vedic Sanskrit, with the language of the Rigveda being the oldest and most archaic stage preserved. Its oldest core dates back to as early as 1500BC, qualifying Rigvedic Sanskrit as one of the oldest attestations of any Indo-Iranian language.



Urdu is spoken in places where there are large Muslim minorities or cities which were bases for Muslim Empires in the past. In modern times Urdu vocabulary has been significantly influenced by Punjabi and even English. Urdu was mainly developed in western Uttar Pradesh, India, which is the seat of Hindi and Hindustani languages. It is one of the 22 recognised languages of India.

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