*
A wide range of languages make their residence on the Indian Subcontinent. Estimates because that the variety of languages talked range native over three hundred to fine over a thousand, despite the mass of these room dialects the one language or another. Even v the many conservative estimates, these languages differ substantially in their technological aspects, however a Russian linguist, G.A. Zograf, assigns four significant language families to the Subcontinent: Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic, and also Tibeto-Burman. Many languages come under among the very first two categories which, together, account for virtually 75% that the various idioms that the Subcontinent (Ethnologue). In his book, The language of southern Asia, Zograf provides thorough descriptions of numerous of the sub-categories of languages in this part of the world. This website considers just the two broadest categories: the Indo-Aryan and also Dravidian language families. The should additionally be noted that the background of the Indus Valley and also its civilizations is right now a hotly questioned issue. In no way is this site meant to favor one concept of migration and/or conquest over another; rather, its objective is just to burned some light on some vital differences in between the significant Indo-Aryan and also Dravidian languages in the paper definition of India, specifically.

You are watching: What is the most widely spoken language in south asia

Indo-Aryan

The Indo-Aryan (IA) household of language dates ago to the an initial millennium B.C., as soon as epic Sanskrit comes onto the world stage. Classical Sanskrit adheres to this and also provides a extremely standardized language maintained in grammar works, the most well known being “Paniniís” of the 4th century BC. Zograf categorizes these, and also the Vedic language, as Old IA. Together time progressed, phonology and grammar readjusted to yield an additional linguistic dynasty, middle IA. Here, the significant languages come under the surname “Prakrits” and also survive in the early writings of Buddhism, Jainism, and the injunctions the the Emperor Ashoka. The latest phase of breakthrough gives rise to today’s languages, which loss under the group of new IA. According to Zograf, this began development at the end of the first millennium advertisement (Zograf 10-16).

Though concentrated in the northern component of India, new IA encompasses numerous of the most widely spoken languages in India, as well as their corresponding dialects. Some of these include; Hindi, Panjabi, Sindhi, Rajasthani, Gujarati, Marathi, Bihari, Bengali, and Kashmiri.

In regards come the vocabulary of this languages, Zograf notes a hefty influence the Sanskrit ~ above the vocabulary of brand-new IA languages. However, the quantity of borrowing indigenous Sanskrit varies from one language to another as walk the get loan from other forms. These other forms autumn into two significant categories, the an initial being Arab/Iranianisms. Iranian and also Turkish invaders readjusted not just the social and also political make-up of the region, yet its languages, as well. The words that arrived straight from the troops, however, do not hold the importance of literature Persian, i m sorry came into Indian language from the Muslim upper class. Finally, through Muslim entry into the region, Arabic enters the lexicon, most notably the Urdu, from the religion of the conquerors. A various breed of conquerors, those in find of economic gains, also marked the languages of India. Minor enhancements come native the Portuguese, Dutch, and French, but, as one can expect, the bulk of Europeanisms come from the British. Despite half a century the independence and also numerous efforts to to escape the nation of them, Anglicisms tho pervade India’s lexicons (Zograf 17-20). Take out loan from either Arabic and Persian resources — such as Hindi/Urdu (H/U) “kitab” because that “book” — or European sources can happen for many reasons, amongst them, filling a space in the vocabulary once the Indian language had no equivalent term or noting the call of the speaker.

The Dravidian Language Family

In the efforts to replace English words and phrases with Indian ones, reversal looked mainly to Sanskrit, though India is house to another ancient language family, the Dravidian, which exists virtually exclusively in southern India, despite pockets the Dravidian languages endure in the north parts of India and western Pakistan. Small research exists on the origins of Dravidian speech, though researchers recognize with some degree of certainty the few, if any type of connections exist between Dravidian and also other language families in India or diverted languages outside the nation. Luckily, main and northern India have actually isolated locations of Dravidian speech that maintain the properties of the ancient language that today’s significant Dravidian languages–Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam, and also Kanada–do not (Zograf 129-130).

Interestingly, today’s Dravidian languages do bear some resemblance to brand-new IA ones. Zograf mentions this briefly, but University the Stanford professor Murray Emeneau discusses the subject of similarities between the two family members in his book, Language and also Linguistic Area. Zograf, but concentrates ~ above the differences in between the 2 families and brings to light a variety of interesting points. In direct comparison with brand-new IA, Dravidian decided contrasts long and also short vowels. Words in this family frequently end in a vowel and stress the an initial syllable. In enhancement to these observations, Zograf notes two particularly Dravidian sounds, a retro-flex frame “l,” and also an alveolar-rolled “r” (131). In various other words, Dravidian language differ considerably from IA ones even at the level that the actual sounds in the language, come say naught of just how words or sentences are formed.

These to exclude, traits match a vocabulary saturated with unmodified Dravidian words. This does not typical to indicate that these languages space immune to etymological mingling. Top top the contrary, Sanskrit and also the Prakrits present themselves in each of the significant Dravidian tongues, despite Tamil remains largely immune to the addition of IA words. Telegu and also Malayalam room the two languages most influenced by IA, though substantial differences in joint — as the Dravidian sound system makes the borrowed words conform come its rules — do these loan words somewhat invisible. In enhancement to these brand-new words, Europeanisms can be heard in the major Dravidian languages. Similarly, the Dravidian speech pockets in north and central India attract from the bordering sea of IA conversation.

The differences between IA and also Dravidian idioms include innovative linguistic analyses that, despite ignored ~ above this site, are presented in an excellent detail in various other works, such as those cited herein.

Orthography/Writing Systems

Although there is archaeological evidence of composed language in India native the third millennium B.C.E., Brahmi, the population ancestor that most contemporary Indian scripts, shows up in the third century B.C.E. As one of the vehicles because that the edicts the Ashoka. (The various other — Kharoshthi — appears to have passed away out by the 5th century C.E.). Brahmi emerged into the Devanagari personality system and spread with Sanskrit throughout India to affect or kind the basis of most of the significant languages’ orthographies, IA or Dravidian. (see a diagram of their relations; additionally see Comrie, et al.).

Along through Islam came the Qu’ran and Arabic manuscript that Urdu speakers have actually adopted. Although carefully related sufficient to Hindi to think about the two languages “ethnolects” (i.e. Dialects talked by different spiritual communities) the a broader Hindustani, countless speakers will stand up to that classification. At really least, literacy in Urdu’s Arabic script and also Hindi’s modern-day Devanagari mean very different things.

Finally, europe mercantilism and also imperialism lugged the roman script to India, and, in enhancement to european languages — especially English– that use it, part presses or publications will transliterate Indian languages into roman manuscript for valuable reasons.

Language, Literature, and Culture

As a part of a site devoted to postcolonial issues, that is necessary to note right here that linguistic distinctions have social, cultural, and political after-effects too numerous to summary easily. The sub-continent’s diversity makes specifying a national language or literary works virtually impossible. V so many traditions, and their complicated weave of borrowings and also translations, picking texts and finding the sources to examine them will provide more material than organizations in India or abroad deserve to handle. Coupled through that trouble is that the reputation of writers working in English or Hindi and also older Sanskrit texts has tendency to overshadow other legacies like Urdu and Bengali, not to point out the Dravidian languages, to human being in the West. In short, regardless of the recent interest in Indian literature, over there is quiet a lot much more to be done.

See more: History Of The Resource Conservation And Recovery Act Of 1976 Resulted In

Works Cited

Breton, Roland J-L.. Atlas of the Ethnic neighborhoods of southern Asia. Walnut Creek: Alta Mira Press, 1997.Comrie, Bernard, Stephen Matthews, and also Maria Polinsky, eds. The Atlas of Languages: The origin and advancement of languages Throughout the World. New York: truth on File, Inc. 1996.Emeneau, Murray B. Language and also Linguistic Area. Stanford: Stanford college Press, 1980.Grimes, Barbara F. Ed. “Ethnologue.” 1996. Summer institute of Linguistics, Inc. Web. 27 Mar 1998.Zograf, Georgi A. Languages of south Asia. Trans. G.L. Campbell. Boston: Routledge, Keegan & Paul, 1982.“Evolution the Indian scripts.” Colorado State University. Web. 27 Mar 1998.