Official languages of Puducherry

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French was the official language of Puducherry under the Treaty of Cession 1956. The Pondicherry Official Language Act, 1965 without mentioning French added the Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu as the official languages along with English.

1956 Treaty of Cession[edit]

French was the official language of the Établissements français dans l'Inde (French India) and it remained as de jure official language of Pondicherry U.T by the Article XXVIII of Traité de Cession which states that,

  • Le français restera langue officielle des Établissements aussi longtemps que les répresentants élus de la population n'auront pas pris une decision différente (French version)
  • The French language shall remain the official language of the Establishments so long as the elected representatives of the people shall not decide otherwise (English version)

As of today, still the official gazette of Puducherry is published with French; albeit, with a marginal use [1].

1965 Pondicherry Official Language Act[edit]

After independence, the new official languages got recognized by The Pondicherry Official Language Act, 1965 (Act No. 3 of 1965) which makes no mention of French (but also not officially denying it [2]) establishes that "the Tamil language shall [...] be the language to be used for all or any of the official purposes of the Union Territory. It states that Provided that the Administrator may by like Notification, direct that in the case of Mahe area, the Malayalam language, and in the case of Yanam area, the Telugu language may be used for such official purposes and subject to such conditions as may be specified in such notification". Finally, it states that "Notwithstanding anything contained in section 3, and from the commencement of this Act, the English language may be used for all or any of the official purposes of the Union Territory".[3]

During the early twentieth century, Tamil has got equal status along with the existing French language. After the merger with India, Telugu and Malayalam also obtained the same status although with some restrictions. Though the status of each languages varies with respect to each district, when communicating in between districts of different languages, generally English is used for convenience.[4][5] The three official languages are:[6]

  1. Tamil: Language used by the union territory government, especially used when communicating within and between the Tamil majority districts of (Pondicherry and Karaikal) along with issuing official decrees.
  2. Telugu: Used when communicating within Telugu district Yanam.
  3. Malayalam: Used when communicating within Malayalam district Mahé.

Language spoken in numbers[edit]

As of 2001, number of people speaking in each official languages are,

  • Tamil: 220,749 (In Pondicherry and Karikal Districts)
  • Telugu: 31,362 (In Yanam District only)
  • Malayalam: 36,823 (In Mahe District only)
  • French: Above 10,000


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ [2][dead link]
  3. ^ [3][dead link]
  4. ^ [4][dead link]
  5. ^ "History (Pondicherry)". District Courts of Pondicherry. Retrieved 12 June 2015. 
  6. ^ "English to continue as link language in Puducherry: Court". The Times of India. 14 September 2014. Retrieved June 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)

External links[edit]