India is a multilingual country with more than 1369 mother tongues. Out of these, as per census report 2011, there are 121 languages spoken by more than 10,000 people. These languages further include in themselves mother tongues which are considered as varieties of that language. For example, as per census report 2011, Hindi encompasses 57 mother tongues, Bhili or Bhilodi contains a total of 18 mother tongues, Odia has a total 9 mother tongues, Gujarati, Tamil and Konkani have 6 mother tongues each, Bengali, Kannada, Kashmiri, Maithili, Punjabi, Adi, Gondi, Khandeshi and Khasi have 5 mother tongues each and so on. For details of languages and their mother tongues, please the the language and its mother tongue page.
This portal does an in-depth analysis of languages and mother tongues of India at the state and district level. You can get the language profile of each of the states, union territories and districts of India. The data presented are based on the census data of 2011.
Later on, we will provide a brief details of the linguistic features of each of the languages and mother tongues of India.
The census of India does not record what is considered as language. Rather, it records the mother tongue as reported by the people during the census data collection process. The census of India reported that as per 2011, a total of unique 19,569 mother tongues were reported as being spoken by the people of India. However, this number included non-standard, non-rational names that cannot be rationally classified either as a language or mother tongue. For example, there were names such as Dehati, Ganvai, Thethi, Rampuria, Lakhnavi, Hyderabadi returned as mother tongues. These cannot be termed either as a mother tongue or language. Therefore, it needed a rationalization. The rationalization, as done by the census enumerators and the Language Division of the Registrar General of India, returned the total number of mother tongues as 1369 and an additional 1474 names that could not be classified and were marked as "other" mother tongue categories.
Mother tongue is the language spoken in childhood by the person’s mother to the person. If the mother died in infancy, the language mainly spoken in the person’s home in childhood will be the mother tongue. In the case of infants and deaf mutes, the language usually spoken by the mother should be recorded. In case of doubt, the language mainly spoken in the household may be recorded.
For more engaging questions on the languages and mother tongues of India with quick answers, please see this page.