Languages of South Asia

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Language families of South Asia

The languages of South Asia include a few major groups:

South Asia includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, the Maldives, and sometimes Afghanistan.

Indo-Aryan languages[change | change source]

Most Indo-Aryan languages grew from Sanskrit, an ancient language. It is hard to decide to define what is a language, and what is just a dialect (language variant). For example, Hindi and Urdu are similar when spoken, but Hindi is written in the Devanagari script and Urdu is written in the Persian-Arabic script. Hindi uses more words from Sanskrit, while Urdu uses more words from Persian and Arabic.[2]

Language Number of people who speak this language[3] Places where people speak this language
Hindi 615,500,000 North India (Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand)
Bengali 265,000,000 Bangladesh, West Bengal, Tripura
Urdu 170,200,000 Pakistan, parts of India (Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh)
Marathi 95,300,000 Maharashtra
Western Punjabi 92,700,000 Pakistani Punjab, Kashmir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Gujarati 60,600,000 Gujarat
Bhojpuri 52,400,000 western Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh, Nepal
Odia 38,000,000 Odisha
Maithili 34,000,000 eastern Bihar, eastern Jharkhand, Nepal
Eastern Punjabi 32,600,000 Punjab, India
Sindhi 24,600,000 Sindh, northern Gujarat
Nepali 24,500,000 Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan
Magahi 20,700,000 southern Bihar, eastern Jharkhand, northern West Bengal
Saraiki 20,000,000 southwest Pakistani Punjab
Sinhala 17,300,000 Sri Lanka
Chhatisgarhi 16,300,000 Chhattisgarh
Assamese 15,300,000 Assam
Chhitagonian 13,000,000 eastern Bangladesh
Deccan 12,800,000 northern Karnataka
Sadri 12,100,000 Jharkhand, eastern Chhattisgarh, northern Odisha, southern Bihar
Sylheti 11,800,000 eastern Bangladesh, southern Assam

Iranic languages[change | change source]

Only some of the Iranic languages are from South Asia. Others are from West Asia or Central Asia.[1][4] This table shows the total number of people who speak each language.

Language Number of people who speak this language Places where people speak this language
Pashto 40,000,000 Afghanistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Dari Persian 20,500,000[5] Afghanistan
Balochi 10,000,000[6] Balochistan

Nuristani languages[change | change source]

About 130,000 people speak the five Nuristani languages.[2]

Dravidian languages[change | change source]

Language Number of people who speak this language[3] Places where people speak this language
Telugu 93,000,000 Andhra Pradesh, Telangana
Tamil 81,000,000 Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka
Kannada 56,400,000 Karnataka
Malayalam 37,800,000 Kerala
Brahui 3,300,000[7] central Balochistan
Gondi 3,000,000[8] Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra[9]
Kurukh 2,300,000[10] Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal, northern Bangladesh
Tulu 1,900,000[8] western Karnataka, northern Kerala
Beary 1,700,000[8] western Karnataka, northern Kerala

Tibeto-Burman languages[change | change source]

A number of Tibeto-Burman languages are spoken in Nepal, Bhutan, Northeast India, Bangladesh, North India, and North Pakistan.

Austroasiatic languages[change | change source]

Most Austroasiatic languages are spoken in Southeast Asia, rather than South Asia. The Austronesian languages spoken in South Asia are part of the Munda and Khasic branches.[2]

Kra-Dai languages[change | change source]

Most Kra-Dai languages are spoken in East Asia and Southeast Asia. About 10,000 people speak these languages in South Asia, in Assam and the surrounding area.[2]

Language isolates[change | change source]

A language isolate is a language that is not known to be related to any other languages.

There are several native languages to the Andaman Islands. Originally they were grouped into Great Andamanese, Ongan, Jangil, and Sentinelese. Today, people have stopped speaking some of these languages, making them extinct.

The Burushaki language is spoken by about 100,000 people in North Pakistan. The Kusunda language is spoken by less than 100 people in Nepal. The Nihali language is spoken by 2,000 or so people in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. All of these are considered language isolates.[2]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Linguistic landscaping of South Asia using digital language resources: Genetic vs. areal linguistics" (PDF). 2014. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 The languages and linguistics of South Asia : a comprehensive guide. Hans Henrich Hock, Elena L. Bashir. Berlin. 2016. ISBN 978-3-11-042330-3. OCLC 951075713.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ghosh, Iman (2020-02-15). "Ranked: The 100 Most Spoken Languages Around the World". Visual Capitalist. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  4. "Home Page | Iranian Languages". iranian-languages.arizona.edu. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  5. "Dari". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  6. Jahani, Carina. "The Balochi Language Project - Institutionen för lingvistik och filologi - Uppsala universitet". www.lingfil.uu.se (in Swedish). Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  7. "Brahui". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Data on Language and Mother Tongue". Census of India. 2011. Retrieved 2020-09-11.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. Beine, David Karl (2013). A Sociolinguistic Survey of the Gondi-speaking Communities of Central India (PDF). SIL International.
  10. "Kurux". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2020-09-11.