By Harshmeet Singh
No country comes close to matching the linguistic diversity of India. According to the 1961 census, there were 1,652 languages in the country! Since then, a number of Indian languages have died in the country while many others only have a handful of speakers left. Yet, India’s linguistic diversity has sustained, giving us one more reason to feel proud about our nation. And if you aren’t convinced enough about our rich linguistic past and present, here are ten interesting facts about the Indian languages that may change your opinion –
- India has no national language! The official languages of India are Hindi and English. In the beginning, English was only given a transitional status but opposition from the speakers of Dravidian languages has ensured that English continues to be an official language in the country.
- The states have their own official language. For instance, Kerala’s official language is Malayalam and UP’s official languages are Hindi and Urdu.
- With over 200 million speakers worldwide, Bengali is the seventh most spoken language in the world! It has more speakers than languages like French and German.
- With close to 100 million speakers, Punjabi also has more speakers than French and German and is the 10th most spoken language across the world.
- Hindi also has a significant number of speakers in countries such as Nepal, Mauritius, Guyana, Fiji, Trinidad & Tobago and Suriname.
- The Government has recognized six languages as the ‘Classical Languages in India’ due to their long history ranging from 1500 to 2000 years. These are Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Sanskrit and Odia. Some of the other criterions included originality and exclusivity.
- In 1999, 21st February was declared by UNESCO as the “International Mother Language Day” to commemorate the Bengali Language Movement in 1952.
- In 1997 and 2005, the ‘UNESCO Memory of the World register’ registered India’s 2 earliest manuscripts. Both were written in Tamil.
- Uttarakhand’s official state language is Sanskrit.
- Germany is finding it hard to meet the demands of students who want to take up courses in Sanskrit!