Indians speak more than 19,500 languages or dialects as mother tongue, a census has revealed. With a population of 121 crore, 121 languages are spoken by 10,000 or more people in the country, says the census.
According to Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India, each household has people related by blood or unrelated people or a mix of both so it is essential to ask everyone about their mother tongue.
The number of such languages and dialects comes to 19,569, the report of the 2011 census says.
However, nearly 97 per cent population of the country call one language included in the 22 scheduled languages as their mother tongue. The remaining 3 per cent speak other languages.
It is not necessary that the language mentioned by the respondents in the census is the one they think is their mother language is the actual language they speak, the report says.
For assessing the relationship between the mother language the respondents have mentioned in the census and the language and dialects they actually speak, the 19,569 languages were minutely scrutinised.
The results showed that 1,369 languages were identified as mother tongues and dialects and 1,474 were put in the unclassified and other mother tongue category.
The 1,369 languages were further classified using the available linguistic information.
Based on this information, a mother tongue which has more than 10,000 or more speakers has been grouped under the appropriate languages at the national level.
The total number of such languages is 121, according to the census. These languages have been included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, which has 22 languages and there are 99 languages which are not in the schedule along with the category of "total of other languages" which includes languages spoken by less than 10,000 people or were not identifiable because information about these is not available.
In the 2011 census, there were 99 non-scheduled languages, compared to the 2001 census when there were 100. Simte, a language spoken mainly by tribals in Manipur, and Persian were excluded from the 2011 census because there weren't enough speakers. Mao was included in the latest census as there were more than 10,000 speakers in the country.
There are 270 mother tongues which have 10,000 or more speakers consisting of 123 grouped under scheduled languages and 147 grouped under non-scheduled languages.
The 22 languages included in the Eighth Schedule are: Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Bodo, Santhali, Maithili and Dogri.