A: Hundreds! India is home to 415 of the world’s 6,912 living languages (SIL Ethnologue), which accounts for around 6% of the languages spoken around the world today. Of course, these figures depend on how you define a language – there are many different dialects spoken in India, and the 1991 census recognised 1,576 languages being spoken as mother tongues.
So, if you’re visiting India and looking for interpreting services, it’s important to know which languages are spoken in the area you plan to visit. It’s also important to make sure that any interpreters you hire are fluent in the relevant dialect, as regional variations exist in many Indian languages.
The most widely spoken ‘language’ in India is Hindi – or, to be more accurate, the group of Hindi languages. Around 40% of India’s population speaks it, and Standard Hindi is one of India’s official languages, with English also used for official administration. However, each indian state is allowed to designate its own official language, and so some areas, such as Punjab and Orissa, have just one official language (Punjabi and Oriya, respectively).
According to figures given by the CIA, the most widely-spoken languages are: Hindi 41%, Bengali 8.1%, Telugu 7.2%, Marathi 7%, Tamil 5.9%, Urdu 5%, Gujarati 4.5%, Kannada 3.7%, Malayalam 3.2%, Oriya 3.2%, Punjabi 2.8%, Assamese 1.3%, Maithili 1.2%, other 5.9%. So you can see why it’s so important to get it right when it comes to language interpretation!
If you’re looking for interpreting services in India, contact us for more information.