Indian Languages Origin: Classification of Indian Languages and Indo-Aryan Language

Get unlimited access to the best preparation resource for competitive exams : get questions, notes, tests, video lectures and more- for all subjects of your exam.

Indian Languages

Classification of Indian Languages

  • Indo-Aryan Group
  • Dravidian Group
  • Sino-Tibetan Group
  • Negroid
  • Austric
  • Others

Language is a system of communication through speech, collection of sounds that a group of people understand to have the same meaning.

  • Language family includes individual languages related through a common ancestor that existed before the recorded history.
  • Dialect is a form of language spoken in a local area.
  • Many dialects can be derived from a particular language.
  • Several languages families where most of them belong to Indo-Aryan group of languages.
  • Indo-Aryan group has been born out Indo-European family.

Indo-Aryan Language

Subdivision of Indo-Aryan Group

  • Old Indo-Aryan Group
  • Middle Indo-Aryan Group
  • Modern Indo-Aryan Group
Sub Division of Indo-Aryan Group
  • Indo-Aryan Group: Branch of larger Indo-European family. Around 74 % of the Indians speak those languages which belong to this group.
  • Old Indo-Aryan Group This group development around 15000 BC and Sanskrit was born out of this group. Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas and Dharma sutras all written in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is most ancient language of country. One of the 22 languages in constitution
  • Development of Sanskrit: 400BC with his book Ashtadhyayi. Some of the Buddhist literature belonging to Mahayana and Hinayana school.
  • Mahavastu, Lalita Vistara also written in Sanskrit language. Chaste form of Sanskrit developed in between 300 BC to 200 BC.
  • First evidence of use of Sanskrit: Found in inscriptions of Rudra Amana at Junagarh. Mahakavyas (epics) and Khandakavyas (semi-epics)
  • Use of Sanskrit language by the character of high varna. Use of Prakrit language by women and Shudras.
  • Middle Indo-Aryan Group: Development between 600 BC to 1000AD. Prakrit language originally belonged to this group. After, Pali, Apabhramsa, Ardha-magadhi found. Prakrit and Ardha-magadhi used in Jaina text. Gathasaptasati written by Hala, Parishishtaravan written by Hemchndra.
  • Secular texts were also written in Prakrit language. Pali language used in Buddhist scripts.
  • Important Buddhist tests in Pali language are Vinaypitaka, Suttapitaka and Abhidhammapitaka.
  • Modern Indo-Aryan Group: Languages: Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Sindhi, Odia, Urdu etc.
  • Developed after 1000 AD. Mainly spoken in Northern, Western and eastern parts of India.

Dravidian Language

  • Northern – Brahui, Malto, Kurukh
  • Central - Gondi, Khond, Kui, Manda, Parji, Gadaba, Kolami, Pengo, Naiki, Kuvi and Telugu
  • Southern - Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Tulu, Kodagu, Toda and Kota

Around 25 % of Indian population is covered under this group. 21 Dravidian languages. Classified into 3 group: Northern, Central and Southern

Northern Group

  • Consist of 3 languages: Brahui, Malto and Kurukh.
  • Brahui spoken in Baluchistan.
  • Malto spoken in the tribal areas of Bengal and Odissa.
  • Kurukh spoken in Bengal, Odissa, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

Central Group

  • Consist of 11 languages: Gondi, Khond, Kui, Manda, Parji, Gadaba, Kolami, Pengo, Naiki, Kuvi and Telugu.
  • Only Telugu became a civilized language.
  • Spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Southern Group

Consist of 7 languages:

  • Kannada
  • Tamil
  • Malayalam
  • Tulu
  • Kodagu
  • Toda and
  • Kota.

Tamil is the oldest among all these.

4 major languages of the Dravidian group among 21 languages:

  • Telugu (numerically largest of all Dravidian language)
  • Tamil (Oldest and Purest form of language)
  • Kannada
  • Malayalam (Smallest and youngest of the Dravidian group)

Difference between Indo-Aryan Group and Dravidian Group of Languages

  • Root words in two languages families are different.
  • Grammatical structure of Dravidian family is agglutinative.
  • Grammatical structure of Indo-Aryan Group is inflected.
  • Sino-Tibetan Language
  • Tibeto-Burman: Tibetan, Himalayan, North Assam & Assam Burmese
  • Siamese – Chinese: Ahom
  • Language under this group belongs to Mongoloid family. Older than Indo Aryan languages and referred to in the oldest Sanskrit literature as Kiratas. 0.6 % of the Indian population speaks languages belonging to this group.

Sino-Tibetian Group divided into:


  • Languages under Tibeto-Burman are further divided into four groups:
  • Tibetan: Sikkimese, Bhutia, Balti, Sherpa, Lahuli and Ladakhi
  • Himalayan: Kinnauri and Limbu
  • North Assam: Abor, Miri, Aka, Dafla and Mishmi
  • Assam-Burmese-Kuki-chin, Mikir, Bodo and Naga.
  • Manipuri and Meithi spoken under Kuki-chin under subgroup.


Ahom one of the language belonging to this group. This language has already been extinct from the Indian sub-continent.

Austric and Others


  • Languages under this group belonging to Austro-Asiatic sub-family. Represented by the language of Munda or Kol group. Spoken in Central, Eastern and North Eastern India. Some of them also belong to Mon-Khmer group, (Khasi and Nicobarese)
  • Santhali most important language under this group. Spoken by Santhal tribals of Jharkhand, Bihar and Bengal.
  • With expectations of Khasi and Santhali, All Austro-Asiatic languages on Indian territory are endangered.


This group includes several Dravidian Adivasi languages like Gondi, Oraon, Praji etc. Very distinct and cannot be classified in the groups mentioned above.

Official Language of India

Official Language of India
  • Hindi in Devanagari script. Parliament decides whether to use English as the official language or not. Led to protest across the nation by non-Hindi speaking communities against the change in official language from English to Hindi. Protest resulted in enactment of the official Language Act, 1963.
  • English given the status of “subsidiary official language” of the union.
  • Initially, 14 languages were selected under eight schedules.
  • Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.
  • Later, Sindhi was added as the 15th language through 21st Amendment Act of 1967.
  • 3 more languages (Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali) added by 71st Amendment Act, 1992.
  • 4 more languages (Bodo, Maithili, Dogri and Santhali) added by 92nd Amendment Act, 2003.
  • Total 22 languages listed under eight schedules of the Indian Constitution.
  • There is no national language of India. Hindi is not a national language. Language to be adopted by states do not need be one of those listed in the Eight Schedule.

Several state adopted official language which are not listed.

  • Ex, Tripura – Kokborok
  • Puducherry – French
  • Mizoram – Mizo

English is the official language of Nagaland and Meghalaya. English is not in the list of 22 scheduled languages as per eight schedules.

Status of Classical Language

In 2004, Government of India declared that languages that meet certain requirements could be accorded the status of “Classical Language in India” .


  • High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500 - 2000 years.
  • A body of ancient literature/texts considered valuable heritage by generations of speakers.
  • Literary tradition be original and not borrowed from another speech community.
  • Classical language and literature being distinct from Modern.

Languages so far declared to be classical language are:

  • Tamil: 2004
  • Sanskrit: 2005
  • Telugu: 2008
  • Kannada: 2008
  • Malayalam: 2013
  • Odia: 2014


  • Two major international awards to be awarded annually.
  • A ‘Centre of Excellence for Studies in classical languages’ will be set up.
  • UGC will be requested to create and to start with at least in the central university.

National Translation Mission Linguistic Diversity of India

Lingua Franca

Government of India Scheme. To facilitate higher education by making knowledge texts accessible to student and academics in Indian languages.


  • To disseminate knowledge in all Indian languages listed in 8 scheduled. Knowledge test translation is first step.
  • NTM is engaged in translation of all Pedagogic materials related to higher education in 22 Indian languages.

Objectives of Mission

  • Certification and training of translators in different areas. Generation and maintenance of databases. Conducting short term orientation courses.
  • Promotion of machine aided translation between English and Indian languages. Development of translation tools such as dictionaries and thesauri.
  • Offer fellowships and Grants Promote visibility

Linguistic Diversity Index (LDI)

  • LDI is the probability that two people selected from the population. Different mother tongues. Range from 0 (Everyone has same mother tongue) to 1 (no two people have same mother tongue) . Computation is based on population of each language as a proportion of the total population.
  • Index cannot fully account for the vitality of languages.

Lingua Franca

  • Also, known as bridge language, common, trade or vehicular language.
  • Not sharing a native language or dialect. It is a third language, distinct from both native languages. Developed around the world throughout human history.