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Languages of India

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Languages of India

The languages of India primarily belong to two major linguistic families, Indo-European (whose branch Indo-Aryan is spoken by about 70% of the population) and Dravidian (spoken by about 22%). Other languages spoken in India come mainly from the Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman linguistic families, as well as a few language isolates.

Individual mother tongues in India number several hundred (SIL Ethnologue lists 415). According to Census of India of 2001, 29 languages are spoken by more than a million native speakers, 122 by more than 10,000. Three millennia of language contact has led to significant mutual influence among the four language families in India and South Asia. Two contact languages have played an important role in the history of India: Persian and English.

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