This data was extracted from the Ethnologue database.

Now linked by India WWW Virtual Library.

Created on Jul 16, 1995. Last updated on Jul 04, 2000.

Major Indian Languages

Here is a list of those Indian languages spoken by more than a million people. English is spoken as a second language by more than ten million Indians. The highlighted links lead to documents on this server. These documents list resources available on the net on the language. Some of these resources are common to all Indian languages; they are also listed seperately.

14,604,000 in India (1994 IMA); a few in Bangladesh (1991 D. Barrett SB). Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh. Also in Bhutan. State language of Assam. Bengali script.
20,000,000 in India (1951 census); 540,000 in Nepal (1993 Johnstone); 20,316,950 in all countries. Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Kanpur, Delhi. Awadhi is the standard for literature. There is considerable epic literature. "Kosali" is a name used for the Eastern Hindi group. Caribbean Hindi is related to Awadhi.
1,721,000 in India (1994 IMA); 200,000 in Pakistan (1993); 1,921,000 in all countries. Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh. Nomadic between Pakistan and India.
67,200,000 in India (1994 IMA); 100,000,000 in Bangladesh (1994 UBS); 70,000 in United Arab Emirates (1986); 600 in Singapore; 189,000,000 in all countries (1995 WA). West Bengal and neighboring states. State language of West Bengal. Bengali script.
1,600,000 (1986 MARC); 5,624,000 including languages in the Bhil group (1994 IMA). Kotvali 12,688 (1994 IMA). Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Jammu, Kashmir, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tripura; mountainous areas. Connecting link between Gujarati and Rajasthani. 'Bhil' is an ethnic designation.
23,375,000 in India (1994 IMA); 1,370,000 in Nepal (1993); 25,000,000 in all countries. Bihar Purnea area, Assam, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal. The cover term "Bihari" is used for Bhojpuri, Maithili, and Magahi. Kaithi script.
10,985,000 including 10,910,000 Chattisgarhi (1994 IMA), 75,156 Laria (1994 IMA). Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, and possibly in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Tripura. Devanagari script. Used in newspapers, radio, TV. Speakers use Hindi or Oriya as second languages.
10,709,800 (1990). Central Maharashtra, Deccan Plateau. Distinct from Deccan (Dakhini, Mirgan) dialect of Urdu.
2,095,280, including 2,005,000 Dogri (1994 IMA), 90,279 Kangri (1994 IMA). The home area is in the outer hills and strip of plain in Jammu and Kashmir between the Ravi and Chenab Rivers. Central states from north to south; West Bengal, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh (Kangra and Hamirpur districts). Urdu (middle aged and older), Hindi (school, shops, cities), and Punjabi (shops) are spoken as additional languages for certain purposes. Radio programs.
2,081,756 (1994 IMA). Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh.
43,312,000 in India (1994 IMA); 140,000 in United Kingdom (1979 Wagner and Dayton); 6,203 in Fiji; 9,600 in Zimbabwe (1973); 12,000 in Zambia (1985); 147,000 in Uganda (1986); 5,000 in Malawi (1993); 50,000 in Kenya (1995); 800 in Singapore (1985); 44,000,000 in all countries. Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh. Also in Bangladesh, South Africa, Pakistan, Reunion. State language of Gujarat. Gujarati script.
13,000,000 or 85% of Haryan population of 16,000,000 (1992 SIL), including 102,348 Haryanvi proper (1994 IMA); 154,340 Mewati (1994 IMA). Haryana, Punjab, Karnataka, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh. "Bangru" now used for speakers in Jind area. "Khadar" is used by speakers in Jind to refer to the speech of Rohtak and Sonepat. "Bagdi" is the variety used around Fatehabad and Sirsa, and south of Bhiwani (distinct from the Wagdi language in southern Rajasthan). Intelligibility among dialects is good, but not intelligible with Hindi, the closest language. Speakers of all ages. Hindi is used as second language; some bilingual ability in all social groups for education and contact with non-Haryanvi speakers.
180,000,000 in India (1991 UBS); 346,513,000 or nearly 50% including second language users in India (1994 IMA); 346,000 in Bangladesh (1993); 26,253 in USA (1970 census); 685,170 in Mauritius; 890,292 in South Africa; 232,760 in Yemen; 147,000 in Uganda; 5,000 in Singapore; 2,900 in Nepal; 11,200 in New Zealand (1987); 24,500 in Germany (1984 Time); 182,000,000 in all countries or more. 418,000,000 including second language users (1995 WA). Throughout northern India. Also in Kenya, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom. Hindi, Hindustani, Urdu could be considered co-dialects, but have important sociolinguistic differences. Hindi uses the Devanagari writing system, and formal vocabulary is borrowed from Sanskrit, de-Persianized, de-Arabicized. Literary Hindi, or Hindi-Urdu, has four varieties: Hindi (High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, Literary Hindi, Standard Hindi); Urdu; Dakhini; Rekhta. State language of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh. Languages and dialects in the Western Hindi group are Hindustani, Bangaru, Braj Bhasha, Kanauji, Bundeli.
1,026,000 in India (1994 IMA); 444,000 in Singhbhum, Devanagari script area; 203,000 in Orissa, Oriya script area (1990 UBS). Mainly in Singhbhum District of Bihar, and Mayurbhanj and Koenjhar districts of Orissa. Also in West Bengal and Bangladesh. Language use is vigorous in home and community in most areas. Oriya, Santali, and Hindi are used in limited domains. Grammar, dictionary. "Kherwari" (Khanwar, Kharar, Kharoali, Kharwari) is a group name for Ho, Mundari, and Santhali, which are closely related languages, and some other smaller languages or dialects. Distinct from Ho (Hani) of Myanmar, China, Vietnam, Laos.
6,000,000 (1977 Voegelin and Voegelin). Uttar Pradesh.
33,663,000 (1994 IMA); 44,000,000 including second language users (1995 WA). Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra. State language of Karnataka. Kannada script; similar to Telugu script.
4,161,000 in India (1994 IMA); 105,000 in Pakistan (1993); 115,000 in United Kingdom (1991); 4,381,000 in all countries. Jammu and Kashmir (52.29% of the population), Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Kashmir Valley. Literature can be traced to the 1400's, and poetry is important. Persian-based script. Not used in primary education. Urdu and English are used as second languages.
2,246,105 including 742,111 Ahirani (1994 IMA), 1,503,994 Khandesi (1994 IMA). Maharashtra, Gujarat.
2,056,841 in all countries (1994 IMA). North and central coastal strip of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Kerala.
2,000,000 in all countries (1977 Voegelin and Voegelin); 3,900 in Kenya (1987). Southern coastal strip of Maharashtra, primarily in the districts of Ratnagari and Goa; also Karnataka and Kerala. Also in United Arab Emirates. Daldi and Chitapavani are transitional dialects between Goanese and Standard Konkani.
2,013,000 in India (1994 IMA). Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Kumaon; Maharashtra, Nagaland. Also in Nepal.
1,747,000 in India (1994 IMA); 2,000,000 in all countries (1995 WA). Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Tripura, West Bengal, Orissa. Also in Bangladesh. Related to Malto. Distinct from Nepali Kurux.
1,961,000 (1994 IMA), plus 769,120 Banjari. Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Orissa, West Bengal. "Gormati" is self name. Each of the three dialects needs a different script: Maharashtra uses Devanagari script, Karnatak uses Kannada script, Andhra Pradesh uses Telugu script.
10,821,000 (1994 IMA). Southern districts of Bihar, eastern Patna district, northern Chotanagpur district, and Malda district of West Bengal. Also used as a religious language.
22,000,000 in India including Dahati (1981); 2,260,000 in Nepal (1993); 24,260,000 in all countries. Bihar, Delhi, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal. There is a Maithili Academy. Dictionary.
33,667,000 in India (1994 IMA); 300,000 in United Arab Emirates (1986); 37,000 in Malaysia; 10,000 in Singapore (1987); 313 in Fiji; 34,014,000 in all countries. Kerala, Laccadive Islands, and neighboring states. Also in United Kingdom, Bahrain, Qatar. State language of Kerala. Malayalam script.
1,050,000 (1994 IMA). Northwest Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat. Considered the standard dialect of south-eastern Rajasthani.
64,783,000 (1994 IMA). Maharashtra and adjacent states. The dialect situation throughout the greater Marathi speaking area is complex. Dialects bordering other major language areas share many features with those languages. See separate entries for dialects or closely related languages: Konkani, Goanese, Deccan, Varhadi, Nagpuri, Ikrani, Gowlan. State language of Maharashtra. Devanagari script.
12,104,000 Marwari, Rajasthani, and Mewari (1994 IMA). Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, throughout India. The standard form of Rajasthani. 23 dialects. Different from Marwari of Pakistan, and from Mewati, dialect of Haryanvi. Devanagari script.
1,252,000, including 1,181,000 Meithei in India (1994 IMA), 71,414 Bishnupuriya (1994 IMA); 92,800 in Bangladesh; 6,000 in Myanmar (1931); 1,351,000 in all countries. Assam, Manipur, Kankan; Nagaland, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal. 7 clans (Ningthonia, Luwang, Angom, Moirang, Khabanaganba, Chonglei). They had an earlier script called "Meithei Mayek".
1,467,515 in India (1994 IMA), including 973,000 Mundari, 494,515 Munda; 5,700 in Nepal (1993); 1,473,000 or more in all countries. Assam, mainly in southern and western parts of Ranchi district in Bihar. Also in Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Tripura, West Bengal, Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Also in Bangladesh. Closely related to Ho and Santali, but a separate language.
6,000,000 in India (1984 Far Eastern Economic Review); 300,000 in Bhutan (1973 Dorji); 9,900,800 in Nepal (1993); 16,200,000 in all countries. West Bengal, Darjeeling area, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh.
1,295,000 (1994 IMA). Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra.
30,158,000 in India (1994 IMA); 13,299 in Bangladesh (1961 census); 31,000,000 in all countries. Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Andhra Pradesh. Some of the larger dialects have many subdialects. State language of Orissa. Oriya script.
25,690,000 in India (1994 IMA); 43,000 in Malaysia (1993); 10,000 in Kenya (1995); 9,677 in Bangladesh (1961 census); 1,167 in Fiji; 25,700,000 in all countries. Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir. Also in United Arab Emirates, Singapore, United Kingdom. Gurmukhi script.
1,861,965 including 1,315,710 Sadani (1994 IMA), 546,255 Nagpuria (1994 IMA); 200,000 in Bangladesh (1993); 2,062,000. Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Orissa, Andaman Islands, Nagaland. Hindi, Oriya, and Bengali are used as official languages. Dictionary. Language of wider communication among tribal groups. Devanagari script.
5,675,000 in India (1994 IMA); 100,000 in Bangladesh (1983 UBS); 40,000 in Nepal (1985); 5,800,000 in all countries. Assam, Bihar, Orissa, Tripura, West Bengal. Also in Bhutan. Closely related to Ho and Mundari, but a separate language.
2,678,000 in India (1986 MARC); 16,992,000 in Pakistan (1993); 5,000 in Singapore (1993); 19,675,000 in all countries. Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh. Also in Afghanistan. Arabic and Gurumukhi scripts used.
58,597,000 in India (1994 IMA); 3,000,000 in Sri Lanka (1993); 250,000 in South Africa; 274,218 in Malaysia (1970 census); 191,200 in Singapore (1980); 35,000 in Germany; 7,000 in Netherlands; 22,000 in Mauritius (1993); 6,663 in Fiji; 62,000,000 or more in all countries first language speakers; 69,000,000 including second language users (1995 WA). Tamil Nadu and neighboring states. Also in Bahrain, Qatar, Reunion, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom. State language of Tamil Nadu. Tamil script.
66,318,000 in India (1994 IMA); 30,000 in Malaysia (1993); 2,008 in Fiji; 300 in Singapore (1970); 73,000,000 in all countries (1995 WA). Andhra Pradesh and neighboring states. Also in Bahrain, United Arab Emirates. State language of Andhra Pradesh. Telugu script.
1,856,000 (1994 IMA). Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Meghalaya.
45,773,000 in India (1994 IMA); 8,000,000 in Pakistan (1988); 3,562 in Fiji; 170,000 in South Africa; 30,000 in Oman; 20,000 in Bahrain; 19,950 in Qatar; 16,800 in Germany; 54,000,000 or more in all countries. Jammu and Kashmir and by Muslims in many parts of India. Also in Afghanistan, USA. "Dakhini" is freer of Persian and Arabic loans than Urdu. Both are written in Arabic script. "Rekhta" is a form of Urdu used in poetry. State language and medium of instruction in government schools in Jammu and Kashmir.