India's official government language, according to the constitution of the country, is Hindi in the Devanagari script. This does not mean that Hindi is the official language of the country as no specific dialect has been given this distinction. This dialect is from the Ind-Aryan branch of the Ind-European language family. The Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution lists another 22 scheduled languages that are also given recognition and official status. Over the past 50 years, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Tamil, Telugu, and Sanskrit have also been added as classical languages with official status.

Approximately 422.1 million people speak Hindi as a first language and a further 130 million citizens speak Hindi as a second or third language. This equates to 53% of the population and many native Hindi speakers also know other languages such as English, Tamil, Bengali, or Urdu. Hindi is mainly spoken in Northern and Central India and is the fourth most spoken language in the world. There is a very wide definition of the Hindi language and it encompasses many dialects.

Hindi is not a difficult language to pick up simple phrases in and many travellers find themselves picking up a lot of the language while in India. "Hello", and "goodbye", are both said as "na-mas-te", or "na-ma-skar". While shopping, "ye-kit-ne-ka-hai", is a way to ask "how much is this?". The phrase "ach-ha", can be used for "okay", "listen up", and "oh, well, well". "Thank-you", is pronounced "dhan-ya-vad" and "shu-khri-ya" and will be one of the most common phrases used on a trip to this amazing country.

India has the second-most languages spoken in the world after Papua New Guinea with 780. Minority languages and dialects are an integral part of everyday communication in the country as many inhabitants know three or more and can communicate with many different people and ethnicities. Figures vary, but as many as a 122 major languages (spoken by over 10,000 people) and 1599 other languages or dialects are present in India. The most prevalent languages other than Hindi are Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, English, Urdu, and Gujarati, to name just a few.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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