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List of languages by number of native speakers in India





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India is home to several hundred languages. Most Indians speak a language belonging to the families of the Indo-Aryan branch of Indo-European (ca.74%), the Dravidian (ca. 24%), the Austroasiatic (Munda) (ca. 1.2%), or the Tibeto-Burman (ca. 0.6%), with some languages of the Himalayas still unclassified. The SIL Ethnologue lists 415 living languages for India.

Overview

Hindi is the most widespread language of India. The Indian census takes the widest possible definition of “Hindi” as a broad variety of “Hindi languages”. The native speakers of Hindi so defined account for about 41% of Indians according to the 2001 census.

Indian English is recorded as the native language of 226,449 Indians in the 2001 census. English is the second “language of the Union” besides Hindi.

Thirteen languages account for more than 1% of Indian population each, and between themselves for over 95%; all of them are “scheduled languages of the constitution.” Scheduled languages spoken by fewer than 1% of Indians are Santali (0.64%), Nepali (0.28%), Sindhi (0.25%), Manipuri (0.14%), Bodo (0.13%), Dogri (0.01%), spoken in Jammu and Kashmir). The largest language that is not “scheduled” is Bhili (0.95%), followed by Gondi (0.27%), Kumaoni (0.21%), Tulu (0.17%) and Kurukh (0.10%)

List by number of native speakers

Further information: List of languages by number of native speakers

Ordered by number of speakers as first language. Indian population in 1991 exhibited 19.4% of bilingualism and 7.2% of trilingualism, so that the total percentage of “native languages” is at about 127%.

More than one million speakers

The 2001 census recorded 29 individual languages as having more than 1 million native speakers (0.1% of total population).

Table: Ordered by number of native speakers
Rank Language 2001 census
(total population 1,028,610,328 )
1991 census
(total population 838,583,988)
Encarta 2007 estimate
(worldwide speakers)
Speakers Percentage Speakers Percentage Speakers
1 Hindi 422,048,642 41.03% 329,518,087 39.29% 366 M
2 Bengali 83,369,769 8.11% 69,595,738 8.30% 207 M
3 Telugu 74,002,856 7.19% 66,017,615 7.87% 69.7 M
4 Marathi 71,936,894 6.99% 62,481,681 7.45% 68.0 M
5 Tamil 60,793,814 5.91% 53,006,368 6.32% 66.0 M
6 Urdu 51,536,111 5.01% 43,406,932 5.18% 60.3 M
7 Gujarati 46,091,617 4.48% 40,673,814 4.85% 46.1 M
8 Kannada 37,924,011 3.69% 32,753,676 3.91% 35.3 M
9 Malayalam 33,066,392 3.21% 30,377,176 3.62% 35.7 M
10 Oriya 33,017,446 3.21% 28,061,313 3.35% 32.3 M
11 Punjabi 29,102,477 2.83% 23,378,744 2.79% 57.1 M
12 Assamese 13,168,484 1.28% 13,079,696 1.56% 15.4 M
13 Maithili 12,179,122 1.18% 7,766,921 0.926% 24.2 M
14 Bhili/Bhilodi 9,582,957 0.93%
15 Santali 6,469,600 0.63% 5,216,325 0.622%
16 Kashmiri 5,527,698 0.54%
17 Nepali 2,871,749 0.28% 2,076,645 0.248% 16.1 M
18 Gondi 2,713,790 0.26%
19 Sindhi 2,535,485 0.25% 2,122,848 0.253% 19.7 M
20 Konkani 2,489,015 0.24% 1,760,607 0.210%
21 Dogri 2,282,589 0.22%
22 Khandeshi 2,075,258 0.21%
23 Kurukh 1,751,489 0.17%
24 Tulu 1,722,768 0.17%
25 Meitei/Manipuri 1,466,705* 0.14% 1,270,216 0.151%
26 Bodo 1,350,478 0.13% 1,221,881 0.146%
27 Khasi 1,128,575 0.11%
28 Mundari 1,061,352 0.103%
29 Ho 1,042,724 0.101%

* Excludes figures of Paomata, Mao-Maram and Purul sub-divisions of Senapati district of Manipur for 2001.
** The percentage of speakers of each language for 2001 has been worked out on the total population of India excluding the population of Mao-Maram, Paomata and Purul subdivisions of Senapati district of Manipur due to cancellation of census results.

100,000 to one million speakers

Rank Language 2001 census
Speakers Percentage
30 Kui 916,222
31 Garo 889,479
32 Kokborok 854,023
33 Mizo 674,756
34 Halabi 593,443
35 Korku 574,481
36 Munda 469,357
37 Mishing 390,583 0.047%
38 Karbi/Mikir 366,229 0.044%
39 Saurashtra 310,000 0.037%
40 Savara 273,168 0.033%
41 Koya 270,994 0.032%
42 English 226,449 0.027%
43 Kharia 225,556 0.027%
44 Khond/Kondh 220,783 0.026%
45 Nishi 173,791 0.021%
46 Ao 172,449 0.021%
50 Sema 166,157 0.020%
51 Kisan 162,088 0.019%
52 Adi 158,409 0.019%
53 Rabha 139,365 0.017%
54 Konyak 137,722 0.016%
55 Malto 108,148 0.013%
56 Thado 107,992 0.013%
57 Tangkhul 101,841 0.012%

10,000 to 100,000 speakers

1991 census SIL estimate
58 Kolami 98,281 (0.012%) 115,000 (1997) Northwestern: 50,000; Southeastern: 10,000
59 Angami 97,631 (0.012%) 109,000 (1997)
60 Kodava Takk 97,011 (0.012%) 122,000
61 Dogri 89,681 (0.011%) (Pakistan+India: 2.1 million)
62 Dimasa 88,543 (0.011%) 106,000
63 Lotha 85,802 (0.010%) 80,000
64 Mao 77,810 (0.009%) 81,000
65 Tibetan 69,146 (0.008%) 124,280 (1994)
66 Kabui (Rongmei) 68,925 (0.008%) 59,000 (1997)
67 Phom 65,350 (0.008%) 34,000 (1997)

The following are SIL Ethnologue estimates:

estimated native speakers
Gaddi 120,000
Pardhi 119,700
Pardhan 116,919
Churahi 110,552
Sauria Paharia 110,000
Kullu 109,000
Bhattiyali 102,252
Ladakhi 102,000
Dungra Bhil 100,000
Adiwasi Garasia 100,000
Rajput Garasia 100,000
Noiri 100,000
Jaunsari 97,000
Pnar 84,000
Andh 80,000
Mara 79,000 (India: 47,000 Burma:32,000)
Mawchi 76,000
Bishnupriya 75,000
Duruwa 75,000
Lodhi: 75,000
Saraiki: 74,000
Bhadrawahi 69,000
Eastern Magar 67,691
Balti 67,000
Korwa 66,000
Mahali 66,000
Rana Tharu 64,000
Paniya 63,827
Rathwi Bareli 63,700
Rawang 60,536
Sansi 60,000
Kachari 59,000
Bazigar 58,236
Agariya 55,757
Kanjari 55,386
Mal Paharia 51,000
Poumei Naga 51,000
Bodo Parja 50,000
Hmar 50,000
Juang 50,000
Desiya Oriya 50,000
Kinnauri 48,778
Moinba 46,000
Paite 45,000
Tase Naga 45,000
Wancho Naga 45,000
Braj Bhasha 44,000
Buksa 43,000
Sangtam Naga 39,000
Lepcha 38,000
Kudmali 37,000
Yimchungru Naga 37,000
Gavli 35,000
Jennu Kurumba 35,000
Nocte Naga 35,000
Khirwar 34,251
Betta Kurumba 32,000
Chang Naga 31,000
Dangaura Tharu 31,000
Gadaba 31,000 (Pottangi Ollar: 15,000; Bodo: 8,000; Mudhili: 8,000)
Zeme Naga 30,800
Naga Pidgin 30,000
Car Nicobarese 30,000
Kurichiya 29,375
Mzieme Naga 29,000
Chenchu 28,754
Sikkimese 28,600
Limbu 28,000
Majhwar 27,958
Vaiphei 27,791
Ravula 27,413
Western Panjabi 27,386
Deori 26,900
Khoibu Naga 25,600
Falam Chin 25,367
Kanikkaran 25,000
Khiamniungan Naga 25,000
Maram Naga 25,000
Tutsa Naga 25,000
Sirmauri 25,000
Arakanese 24,000
Chokri Naga 24,000
Sholaga 24,000
Thangal Naga 23,600
Kamar 23,456
Apatani 23,000
Koch 23,000
Khezha Naga 23,000
Tiwa 23,000
Southern Rengma Naga 21,000
Shina 21,000
Gowlan 20,179
Kumarbhag Paharia 20,179
Savara 20,179
Matu Chin 20,000
Liangmai Naga 20,000
Ooty, Nilgiris 20,000
Sakechep 20,000
Seraiki 20,000
Sherpa 20,000
Toto 20,000
Khowar 19,200
Biete 19,000
Hajong 19,000
Reli 19,000
Manna-Dora 18,964
Hrangkhol 18,665
Bhunjia 18,601
Persian 18,000
Mukha-Dora 17,456
Maring Naga 17,361
Pangwali 17,000
Asuri 16,596
Dhatki 16,400
Malaryan 16,068
Malavedan 15,241
Gangte 15,100
Konda-Dora 15,000
Korra Koraga 15,000
Mudu Koraga 15,000
Kalto (Nahali) 15,000
Dhivehi (Mahl dialect) 15,000
Northern Pashto 15,000
Ullatan 14,846
Eastern Tamang 14,000
Anal 13,853
Northern Rengma Naga 13,000
Pochuri Naga 13,000
Western Muria 12,898
Muthuvan 12,219
Zangskari 12,006
Mirgan 12,000
War 12,000
Kaikadi 11,846
Idu-Mishmi 11,041
Pattani 11,000
Changthang 10,089
Degaru 10,089
Eastern Muria 10,089
Far Western Muria 10,089
Andaman Creole Hindi 10,000
Palya Bareli 10,000
Birhor 10,000
Lamkang 10,000
Inpui Naga 10,000
Spiti Bhoti 10,000
Vaagri Booli 10,000

Fewer than 10,000 speakers

  • Zome: 9,112
  • Bondo: 9,000
  • Khamti: 8,879
  • Bhalay: 8,672
  • Digaro-Mishmi: 8,622
  • Paliyan: 8,615
  • Holiya: 8,000
  • Rongpo: 7,500
  • Malankuravan: 7,339
  • Mannan: 7,289
  • Pao: 7,223
  • Simte: 7,150
  • Nagarchal: 7,090
  • Chiru: 7,000
  • Miju-Mishmi: 6,500
  • Kinnauri, Harijan: 6,331
  • Sanskrit: 6,106
  • Turi: 6,054
  • Darlong: 6,000
  • Kinnauri, Bhoti: 6,000
  • Kurumba, Mullu: 6,000
  • Urali: 5,843
  • Sulung: 5,443
  • Chamari: 5,324
  • Bhatola: 5,045
  • Nicobarese, Southern: 5,045
  • Aiton: 5,000
  • Balochi, Eastern: 5,000
  • Kom: 5,000
  • Phake: 5,000
  • Katkari: 4,951
  • Chin, Bawm: 4,439
  • Manda: 4,036
  • Gahri: 4,000
  • Hruso: 4,000
  • Kupia: 4,000
  • Sajalong: 4,000
  • Naga, Moyon: 3,700
  • Naga, Chothe: 3,600
  • Thulung: 3,313
  • Naga, Monsang: 3,200
  • Malapandaram: 3,147
  • Sherdukpen: 3,100
  • Gata’: 3,055
  • Brokskat: 3,000
  • Dzongkha: 3,000
  • Koireng: 3,000
  • Kurmukar: 3,000
  • Naga, Puimei: 3,000
  • Singpho: 3,000
  • Zyphe: 3,000
  • Rawat: 2,926
  • Byangsi: 2,829
  • Teressa: 2,767
  • Aimol: 2,643
  • Kurumba, Alu: 2,500
  • Stod Bhoti: 2,500
  • Kudiya: 2,462
  • Bijori: 2,391
  • Kadar: 2,265
  • Nicobarese, Central: 2,200
  • Shumcho: 2,174
  • Darmiya: 2,027
  • Chaura: 2,018
  • Kota: 2,000
  • Nihali: 2,000
  • Tinani: 2,000
  • Jangshung: 1,990
  • Chaudangsi: 1,825
  • Na: 1,500
  • Kanashi: 1,400
  • Naga, Kharam: 1,400
  • Bellari: 1,352
  • Khamba: 1,333
  • Merwari: 1,312
  • Mru: 1,231
  • Kinnauri, Chitkuli: 1,060
  • Bugun: 1,046
  • Rangkas: 1,014
  • Lohar, Gade: 1,009
  • Phudagi: 1,009
  • Lhomi: 1,000
  • Lisu: 1,000
  • Yakha: 1,000
  • Naga, Tarao: 870
  • Bateri: 800
  • Parenga: 767
  • Korlai Creole Portuguese: 750
  • Lohar, Lahul: 750
  • Tukpa: 723
  • Indo-Portuguese: 700
  • Toda: 600
  • Sunam: 558
  • Naga, Purum: 503
  • Chinali: 500
  • Varhadi-Nagpuri: 463
  • Dhimal: 450
  • Allar: 350
  • Ralte: 303
  • Jad: 300
  • Jarawa: 300
  • Koda: 300
  • Zakhring: 300
  • Majhi: 246
  • Aranadan: 236
  • Pankhu: 234
  • Shom Peng: 223
  • Vishavan: 150
  • Hinduri: 138
  • Nahari: 108
  • Sentinel: 101
  • Mugom: 100
  • Önge: 96
  • Gurung, Western: 82
  • Godwari: 61
  • Khamyang: 50
  • Great Andamanese: 25




Published - August 2013













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