Do you know what language is spoken in India?

Do you know what language is spoken in India?

Content what language is spoken in india

What language is spoken in India throughout the country?

Asia is not only the largest, but also the most populous continent in the world. It is very difficult to tell what language is spoken in India because there is a lot of them. Just imagine how many languages would more than 1.3 billion people speak considering large territory, various socio-historical as well as political processes? It is unlikely that such a population could have ever spoken just one lingo, so that there are 447 various native tongues and not one national main language in India. Even the best translation services online would not be able to cover this many options alone, but translation specialists could master the most widespread official lingos with ease.
India has only two official languages which include Hindi and English. The former belongs to 22 lingos that possess state-level importance as well as constitutional recognition. What language do people from India speak depends on the region. Some of them represent so many native speakers that a good translation specialist with relevant specialization will always find enough work and grateful clients.


Striking Reality: How Many Languages Are Spoken in India?

Impressive number of available languages is justified by the fact that more than 270 of them have more than 10 thousand native speakers. Though usually people who need to complete translations based on languages in India or find the best Chinese translation services are not interested in considering small communities with their specific dialects that exist in both countries as target audience. Speaking about India, 22 scheduled languages usually become target or source dialects for translations. You should not forget about English, which belongs to official languages but cannot be treated as a regional. Though, visitors may have noticed that in many places signs and notifications may be delivered in three languages: English and Hindi in addition to the state lingo. 
Thinking about primary and most spoken languages in India that can reflect potential target audiences, you may consider percentage of people who treat certain dialects as their mother tongues. Hindi will be the absolute leader with more than 43% of the total population. Though, other percentages are worth paying attention to as well, especially given the total number of residents. While approximately 7% of the total population who speak Bengali may not appear to be impressive, it still means more than 97 million people. That’s the opportunity for effective translation services.


What Are The Official Languages Of India?

This list does not include English as it cannot be treated as native language of India and even though it has the official status along with Hindi, it is more a business as well as administrative communication language that more and more people acquire as a second lingo. Currently, approximately 125 million Indians can speak English which will make the use of the best medical translation services much easier.



It can easily be treated as India's main language as there are more than 528 million speakers around the entire country, and it is officially recognized as either main or additional state-level official lingo in 15 states and union territories. There is also such a notion as the Hindi Belt that unites all parts of India from a linguistic perspective.



With approximately 97 million native speakers in India alone, this language can easily be treated as the second option while answering question of what is the main language in India. It is spoken by people in many Indian states and neighboring countries such as Bangladesh or Pakistan, not to mention diaspora communities abroad in the United States and the United Kingdom.


Currently, more than 83 million officially registered native speakers in three Indian states where Marathi has official status constitute a large part of more than 120 million native speakers of this ancient language that also represents the oldest literature. According to the 2011 census data, it can be treated as a potentially very likely option while hiring the best legal translation services since it is the third most-spoken lingo after Hindi and Bengali.



It’s included in number of languages in India that have status of “classical” language along with “official” lingo in many states. Similar to previously presented options, it has a striking 83 million native speakers which makes Telugu the most widely spoken lingo in entire world.


Being represented by nearly 69 million native speakers in India along with people from Singapore and Sri Lanka, Tamil deserves its status as the first classical language with long continuous literary tradition. It is much more than just language spoken in India given multiple diasporas across the world and communities in Indian states where it does not have official status.


If you think that 4.5% of population is small percentage then you need to consider total number which equals more than 55 million native speakers in India alone. Gujarati is very often heard in London and you can find communities in many states around the world from China to African countries.



When person needs to know what language to speak in India and Pakistan both, Urdu will be the most sensible option with approximately 50.7 million native speakers across India and 230 million speakers in general, considering other countries. The Hindi–Urdu controversy existed for a reason and this phenomenon proves high Urdu’s importance from both linguistic and social perspectives, and the importance to choose the best Urdu translation services for your business or personal needs



This Dravidian language also has status of “classical” lingo of India even though it is official in Karnataka state only. Its literary history can be traced back to thousand years and more than 44 million native speakers enjoy it till nowadays as there are small communities across Indian states other than Karnataka.



This Indo-Aryan language is famous for the lack of borrowings and influence from other lingos which is the major factor while assigning status of “classical.” There are nearly 37.5 million native speakers in the Odisha region apart from considerable communities in other Indian states. Significant number of speakers results in multiple dialects spoken in different state districts.



Not so many scheduled languages have official status in more than one state and Malayalam is approved in three states along with union territories: Kerala, Lakshadweep, and Puducherry. Many communities in other states result in more than 35 million speakers in total. Rich literary tradition is worth scholars’ attention even though its origin is not yet defined.



When people think about what language do Indians speak they should also remember that Pakistan shares many linguistic traditions with India and Punjabi with approximately 33 million speakers in India and more than 80 million in Pakistan proves the truth of this statement. It has additional official status in three more Indian states apart from Punjab.



It can be treated as lingua franca in Northeast India with its 15 million native speakers and widespread dialects and communities across the region. Linguists define four major dialect groups that have substantial phonological and vocabulary differences.



It belongs to the Indo-Aryan language family and is widely spoken by people in Nepal and India with approximately 34 million speakers in total. Many Indians do treat Maithili as Hindi’s variant so that only 13.5 million people identify it as mother tongue though it was included in the Indian Constitution as scheduled language in 2003.



It is widespread in seven Indian states even though it has the official additional status in only two of them. Santali belongs to the Austroasiatic languages and the total number of people who know and associate themselves with it is approximately 7.6 million. Interestingly enough, unification process for its writing system began in the 20th century only as Santali functioned mainly as an oral lingo before.



It’s primarily spoken by Kashmiris who live in the united territory Jammu and Kashmir and it became state’s official language in 2020. Approximately 7 million people recognize it as their mother tongue and this number includes communities in Pakistan as well. It is notable for having three peculiar writing systems.



Even though its native speakers reside in Nepal and Bhutan mainly, it has official or additional status in two Indian states as well: Sikkim and West Bengal. Speaking about what do they speak in India will not be complete without mentioning that approximately 2.9 million Nepali native speakers developed multiple dialects that sometimes have low mutual intelligibility.



Even though it does not have official status in any Indian state, approximately 2.7 million people who live in Rajasthan consider it as their mother tongue. It has more use in Pakistan where more than 30 million people speak it every day. Sindhi is notable from a phonological perspective since there are many consonant and vowel phonemes if we compare it to other – 46 and 16 respectively.



Language belonging to Indo-Aryan family and spoken mainly in Jammu and Kashmir union territory in India by approximately 2.6 million native speakers who are called Dogras. Even though there are several dialects, all variants have great degree of intelligibility. It also has several linguistic peculiarities that people should pay attention to while completing translation or interpreting.



This Indo-Aryan lingo is shared by 2.3 million people who mostly reside in Goa, a state located on the western coast of India. People should remember that minority groups live in five neighboring states and there are a number of dialectal variants as well. In any case, Goa is worth visiting for at least tourism purposes so you will come across it sooner or later.



If you think about how many languages are there in India they should consider not only scheduled official and native languages but also dialectal forms that exist. Manipuri, also known as Meitei, is native to approximately 1.7 million people and there are nearly 15 different dialects as well. Still, UNESCO considers it as a dialect that is under danger of extinction.



As with many other Sino-Tibetan languages, Bodo can be heard spoken not only by 1.4 million people in India but by residents of Nepal and Bengal as well. It is notable by the fact that the Latin writing system is being used due to various historical and linguistic reasons along with the Devanagari script.



People know Sanskrit as sacred India's language associated with religious use, specifically in Hinduism. Classical Sanskrit was treated as language of elite previously but nowadays it cannot be treated as fully living dialect as there are approximately 24,000 native speakers only. Still, Sanskrit is immensely important from a cultural perspective.


The Main Languages Spoken in India Depending on Region

The Constitution of India specifically mentions 22 languages for a reason as what languages are spoken in India on the official and state levels depends on speakers’ number. Almost the entire nation speaks one or several lingos from this list, though an interesting fact is that there are not so many chances that people from different regions would understand each other without problems. What are these regions?


  • North India. Hindi, Punjabi, Ladakhi, and Kashmiri are among north Indian languages and this region’s inhabitants are most likely to be your target audience if you need one with biggest number of speakers. 
  • Northeast India. This territory is comparatively smaller, and it is divided between many different groups which makes it appear quite colorful on the map. They include Nepali, Bengali, Khasi, Assamese, Nissi, Ao, Mizo, and Manipuri as the state-level and smaller regional dialects.
  • South India. Considering this region as target audience will be a good idea while hiring specialized website localization services given the total number of people who speak Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, and Telugu.
  • Western India. Given how many people speak Marathi, Bhili, Konkani, and Gujarati in this region, the answer to question of what language do they speak in India would not be complete without mentioning these four options.

Was How Many Languages in India Fact Shocking for You?

Both a variety of languages and native speakers’ number are mind-blowing and this means the need for truly professional translation services that are aware of all peculiarities and can handle complex localization projects. At you may always find the most recent reviews on various translation services as it is our primary aim to provide helpful suggestions and save your time so you don’t need to research a chosen company’s background and try to determine whether they will handle your task. 

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