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When someone asks what language is spoken in India, they usually receive such a confusing answer that they will eventually have to ask again.

What language is spoken in India?

The short answer is that Hindi and English are mainly spoken in India, but that remains deeply inaccurate because of the characteristics of that nation.

To understand the languages of India, it is necessary to take a short tour through the history of the country and to understand that there are many cultures that inhabit its vast territory.

In fact, if we are rigorous in terms of numbers, we must say that 1652 languages are spoken in India, according to a census carried out in 1961.

However, the country’s constitution recognizes 22 local languages, English and a sacred language called Pali, which was used by Buddha to spread his teachings, as official languages.

What language is spoken in India? English?

English has a huge presence in India because of British colonization, which lasted from 1858 to 1947.

At that time, the United Kingdom ruled over the present territories of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Burma, and called the whole of it “British India”.

There, the British imposed English as the official language over and above the thousands of languages spoken in each region.

English in India today

When India became independent from the British Empire, its entire legal structure was still written in English. Then the authorities, in an attempt to regain national identity through the return of Hindi to the legal sphere, decided that English would remain a co-official language of the country for another 15 years.

But when those 15 years were over, in 1965, many people began to demand the permanence of English so that the country could continue on the road to industrialization and international trade could be favored. After all, English was and still is the most widely used language globally.

Today, 12% of India’s inhabitants speak English. This makes it the second most used country in the world after the United States. It should be considered that India has 1,408 million inhabitants according to 2021 estimates.

What language is officially spoken in India?

Currently, the only two languages that enjoy official status in India are Hindi and English. But the following languages are considered co-official:

  • Assamese – Language of the state of Assam.
  • Bengali – Language of Tripura and West Bengal.
  • Bodo – Another language of the state of Assam.
  • Kashmiri – Language of the Kashmir region, a region shared by India, Pakistan, and China.
  • Dogri – Language of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Gujarati – The language is spoken in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman, Diu, and Gujarati.
  • Kannada – The language is spoken in Karnataka.
  • Konkani – Official language of Goa.
  • Maijili – Official language of Tirjat.
  • Malabar – Official language of Kerala and Lakshadweep.
  • Manipuri or Meitei – Official language of Manipur.
  • Marathi – Official language of Maharashtra.
  • Nepali – Official language of Sikkim.
  • Oriya – Official language of Orissa.
  • Pali – Liturgical language. It is supposed to be the one Buddha used to impart his teachings.
  • Eastern Panjabi (the official language of Panjab).
  • Sanskrit – Classical liturgical language of Hinduism spoken by 200,000 people.
  • Santali – The language is spoken in Jharkhand, Assam, Bihar, Orissa, Tripura, and West Bengal.
  • Sindi – The language is spoken in the Pakistani province of Sind.
  • Tamil – Official language of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry.
  • Telugu – Official language of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Urdu – Official language of Jammu and Kashmir.

Want to learn English?

If you want to learn English, write to us. At Lingua Language Center, we have all the human and technological equipment to teach you the language from anywhere in the world.

We also have programs for you to come to the United States to study English and have a true immersion in the language with professional linguists as teachers, in an environment with other students from diverse cultures, and living multiple additional activities every day.