Variety

India is home to more than 19,500 mother tongues

PTI New Delhi | Updated on July 01, 2018 Published on July 01, 2018

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121 languages are spoken by 10,000 or more people

More than 19,500 languages or dialects are spoken in India as mother tongues, according to the latest analysis of a census released this week.

There are 121 languages which are spoken by 10,000 or more people in India, which has a population of 121 crore, it said.

The Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India, said since a household may consist of persons related by blood or of unrelated persons or a mix of both, it is absolutely necessary to ask every person about her or his mother tongue. It was required because the mother tongue of each member of a household need not necessarily be the same — these may be different for different members in the household.

Correlation assessment

The number of such raw returns of mother tongues has totalled 19,569, the report of the 2011 census said.

However, 96.71 per cent population in the country have one of the 22 scheduled languages as their mother tongue.

Since mother tongues, as returned in the census, are basically the designations provided by the respondents of the linguistic mediums in which the respondents think they communicate, they need not be identical with the actual linguistic mediums, it said.

For assessing the correlation between the mother tongue and designations of the census and for presenting the numerous raw returns in terms of their linguistic affiliation to actual languages and dialects, 19,569 raw returns were subjected to thorough linguistic scrutiny, edit and rationalisation.

This resulted in 1,369 rationalised mother tongues and 1,474 names which were treated as “unclassified” and relegated to “other” mother tongue category.

The total number of languages arrived at is 121, the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India, said.

Published on July 01, 2018

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