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Indian Language Families

All modern languages probably originated from a single proto-language that evolved over time and spread to many parts of the globe. This proposition can be supported by the presence of terms that appear in wholly different languages.

As we progressed through history, we developed scripts and writing came into existence. Writing represents the culture, lifestyle, civilization, and polity of a society. Each civilisation developed its own language and as a result, a vast literary corpus came into place.

Indian Languages and its origins

With 22 scheduled languages, 122 regional languages, six classical languages (Tamil, Sanskrit, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, and Odia), hundreds of mother tongues, and an endless number of dialects, India has a distinct linguistic and literary history. Despite the fact that each of India's language clusters is unique, they share a common ancestor and essence.

The majority of Indian languages are divided into four groups.

1. Indo-Aryan: This language family is spoken by roughly 70% of the country's people. It is a well-known language family having roots in India. The bulk of the languages in this family have Sanskrit as their mother tongue. It includes Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Sindhi, Odia, Kashmiri, Urdu, Maithili, Rajasthani, and Assamese.

2. Dravidian: The southern Indian languages such as Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, and Telugu belong to this language family. The Dravidian languages predate the Indo-Aryan languages for thousands of years.

It can be further classified into 3 branches.

(i)The northern branch: Brahui which is spoken in Baluchistan, Kurukh and Malto dialects in Bengal and Odisha fall in this category

(ii) The Central Branch: Telugu and dialects such as Kui and Khond make up the central branch.

(iii) The Southern Branch: Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam, as well as Tulu, Badaga, Toda, and Kadagu, make up the southern branch.

3. Austric: This is the oldest and most indigenous language family in India. Its speakers are mostly found in Central and Eastern India's mountainous and tribal regions. Throughout the Vedic period, they were referred to as 'Nishaad.' This family of languages includes Santhali, Nicobarese, and Khond.

4. Sino-Indian: The languages of northern and central India are included in this group. Naga, Bodo, Tibetan, Ladakhi, Karbi, Sherpa, Lepcha, Arka, and Kachin are among them.

Other language families

Apart from these, the Ongan language family, which includes the Onge and Jarawa languages, is found in South Andaman. Aside from that, there is the Great Andamanese language family, which is now extinct. Around 2000 persons in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan speak Nihali, a distant dialect. It bears no resemblance to any other language. The Niger-Congo language family included the Sidi language, which evolved from Swahili. It was spoken in Gujarat until the mid-twentieth century, after which it died out.


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