Sunday, 29 March 2015

Living Languages & Many Tongues



There are about a dozen countries in the world with more than 200 living and spoken languages, including indigenous languages. They are as follows – Congo 215 languages, Brazil 228, Australia 244, Cameroon 281, Mexico 288, China 301, USA 420, India 454, Nigeria 539, Indonesia 707 and Papua New Guinea 838........ 

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Language is a means of communication. Human being is a social animal and needs to communicate and interact with other humans; and this is what separates us from other species. According to Ethnologue, a research project that tracks living languages across the globe, India is the most diverse with over 450 active languages. Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Nigeria have more active languages.

Identification of a language can be controversial as some experts identify language on purely linguistic grounds while others also include social, cultural and political factors.

Indian constitution recognizes 22 languages as the official languages of the country. There is a demand to include 38 more. The peculiar thing about India is that even one language changes in style, tone and words after every few kilometers.


There are about a dozen countries in the world with more than 200 living and spoken languages, including indigenous languages. They are as follows – Congo 215 languages, Brazil 228, Australia 244, Cameroon 281, Mexico 288, China 301, USA 420, India 454, Nigeria 539, Indonesia 707 and Papua New Guinea 838. There are many countries like Philippines where more than 4-5 languages are spoken and Tagalog is predominantly spoken amongst the Filipino population.

Besides, there are many countries with two or less languages – Cabo Verde 2 languages, Iceland 2, Saint Lucia 2, Samoa 2, San Marino 2, Vatican 2 and North Korea 1. Since earlier days, English and French were considered lingua franca, language, a means of communication in a vast area by different people.

A country as vast and diverse as India, Hindi is considered the national language though it is not officially so. Since the British ruled India for over 200 years, English acts as a link language amongst Indians and plays an important role in all spheres of life, be it mere communication, business, law, legal matters, etc. A state like Karnataka, the state language is Kannada, but in north Kanara, Konkani is spoken. In south Kanara, Tulu, Konkani and Beary are spoken. In Coorg, Kodgu and Coorgi are spoken. In Bhatkal, near Mangalore, the Muslims speak a language with a lot of Arabic words. In Andhra Pradesh, now divided into Telengana and Seemandra, Telgu is the state language, a different Urdu with a sprinkling of words of surrounding areas, is spoken with a south Indian accent by the Muslims here. Similarly, the Marathi spoken in western and coastal Maharastra is different from what is spoken in Vidarbha region of Maharastra. A similar pattern is noticed across India in different states of the union. 

It is said most of the Indian languages have derived from the ancient language Sanskrit, considered to be the mother of all languages. In Karnataka, a village near Mandhya still converse in only Sanskrit. And in some regions with a very few people speaking in some of the old languages, many of these old languages are not active and dying to be lost forever. They will be extinct and lost to mankind.
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Indonesia has world’s largest Buddhist temple

The Borobudur Temple, located on the Indonesian island of Java, is the largest Buddhist temple. Built in the 9th century during the reign of Syailendra dynasty, the temple was constructed with approximately 56,000 cubic meters of volcanic stone, has around 504 Buddha statues and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels. It was restored with UNESCO’s help in the 1970s.

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Picture post:
Lake Palace, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India
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