List of languages by number of native speakers in India

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India is home to several hundred languages. Most Indians speak a language belonging to the families of the Indo-Aryan branch of Indo-European (ca. 74%), the Dravidian (ca. 24%), the Austroasiatic (Munda) (ca. 1.2%), or the Tibeto-Burman (ca. 0.6%), with some languages of the Himalayas still unclassified. The SIL Ethnologue lists 415 living languages for India.

Overview[edit]

Hindi and English are the official languages of the Republic of India. Hindi is the most widespread language of India. The Indian census takes the widest possible definition of "Hindi" as a broad variety of "Hindi languages". The native speakers of Hindi so defined account for about 41% of Indians according to the 2001 census. Indian English is recorded as the native language of 226,449 Indians in the 2001 census.[1]

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 (0.64%), Nepali (0.28%), Sindhi (0.25%), Manipuri (0.14%), Bodo (0.13%), Dogri (0.01%), spoken in Jammu and Kashmir). The largest language that is not "scheduled" is Bhili (0.95%), followed by Gondi (0.27%), Kumaoni (0.21%), Tulu (0.17%) and Kurukh (0.10%).

List by number of native speakers[edit]

Ordered by number of speakers as first language. Indian population in 1991 exhibited 19.4% of bilingualism and 7.2% of trilingualism, so that the total percentage of "native languages" is at about 127%.

More than one million speakers[edit]

The 2001 census recorded 29 individual languages as having more than 1 million native speakers (0.1% of total population).

Table: Ordered by number of native speakers
Rank Language 2001 census[2]
(total population 1,028,610,328 )
1991 census[3]
(total population 838,583,988)
Encarta 2007 estimate[4]
(worldwide speakers)
Speakers Percentage Speakers Percentage Speakers
1 Hindi languages[5] 422,048,642 41.03% 329,518,087 39.29% 366 M
2 Bengali 83,369,769 8.11% 69,595,738 8.30% 207 M
3 Telugu 74,002,856 7.19% 66,017,615 7.87% 69.7 M
4 Marathi 71,936,894 6.99% 62,481,681 7.45% 68.0 M
5 Tamil 60,793,814 5.91% 53,006,368 6.32% 66.0 M
6 Urdu 51,536,111 5.01% 43,406,932 5.18% 60.3 M
7 Gujarati 46,091,617 4.48% 40,673,814 4.85% 46.1 M
8 Kannada 37,924,011 3.69% 32,753,676 3.91% 35.3 M
9 Malayalam 33,066,392 3.21% 30,377,176 3.62% 35.7 M
10 Oriya 33,017,446 3.21% 28,061,313 3.35% 32.3 M
11 Punjabi 29,102,477 2.83% 23,378,744 2.79% 57.1 M
12 Assamese 13,168,484 1.28% 13,079,696 1.56% 15.4 M
13 Maithili 12,179,122 1.18% 7,766,921 0.926% 24.2 M
14 Bhili/Bhilodi 9,582,957 0.93%
15 Santali 6,469,600 0.63% 5,216,325 0.622%
16 Kashmiri 5,527,698 0.54%
17 Nepali 2,871,749 0.28% 2,076,645 0.248% 16.1 M
18 Gondi 2,713,790 0.26%
19 Sindhi 2,535,485 0.25% 2,122,848 0.253% 19.7 M
20 Konkani 2,489,015 0.24% 1,760,607 0.210%
21 Dogri 2,282,589 0.22%
22 Khandeshi 2,075,258 0.21%
23 Kurukh 1,751,489 0.17%
24 Tulu 1,722,768 0.17%
25 Meitei/Manipuri 1,466,705* 0.14% 1,270,216 0.151%
26 Bodo 1,350,478 0.13% 1,221,881 0.146%
27 Khasi 1,128,575 0.11%
28 Mundari 1,061,352 0.103%
29 Ho 1,042,724 0.101%

* 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[edit]

Rank Language 2001 census
Speakers Percentage
30 Kui 916,222
31 Garo 889,479
32 Kokborok 854,023
33 Mizo 674,756
34 Halabi 593,443
35 Korku 574,481
36 Munda 469,357
37 Mishing 390,583 0.047%
38 Karbi/Mikir 366,229 0.044%
39 Saurashtra 310,000 0.037%
40 Savara 273,168 0.033%
41 Koya 270,994 0.032%
42 English 226,449 0.027%
43 Kharia 225,556 0.027%
44 Khond/Kondh 220,783 0.026%
45 Nishi 173,791 0.021%
46 Ao 172,449 0.021%
50 Sema 166,157 0.020%
51 Kisan 162,088 0.019%
52 Adi 158,409 0.019%
53 Rabha 139,365 0.017%
54 Konyak 137,722 0.016%
55 Malto 108,148 0.013%
56 Thado 107,992 0.013%
57 Tangkhul 101,841 0.012%

10,000 to 100,000 speakers[edit]

1991 census SIL estimate
58 Kolami 98,281 (0.012%) 115,000 (1997) Northwestern: 50,000; Southeastern: 10,000
59 Angami 97,631 (0.012%) 109,000 (1997)
60 Kodava Takk 97,011 (0.012%) 122,000
61 Dogri 89,681 (0.011%) (Pakistan+India: 2.1 million)
62 Dimasa 88,543 (0.011%) 106,000
63 Lotha 85,802 (0.010%) 80,000
64 Mao 77,810 (0.009%) 81,000
65 Tibetan 69,146 (0.008%) 124,280 (1994)
66 Kabui (Rongmei) 68,925 (0.008%) 59,000 (1997)
67 Phom 65,350 (0.008%) 34,000 (1997)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In 1991, there were 90,000,000 "users" of English. (Census of India's Indian Census, 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.)
  2. ^ Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues – 2000, Census of India, 2001
  3. ^ Comparative Speaker's Strength of Scheduled Languages -1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001, Census of India, 1991
  4. ^ "Languages Spoken by More Than 10 Million People – Table – MSN Encarta". Archived from the original on 2007-12-03. 
  5. ^ includes Western Hindi apart from Urdu, Eastern Hindi, Bihari languages except for Maithili, Rajasthani languages and Pahari languages, whether or not they were reported as "Hindi".

General references[edit]

External links[edit]

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