languages and linguistus in india

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just a paper on languages in india

Submitted: February 09, 2008

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Submitted: February 09, 2008




Languages and Linguistics in India

use of english in india


I chose this topic because I have always been fascinated with the English Language and its wide body of literature. It seems to me that English is a universal language where there are a great number of people who speak it as a first language, there are also many who as this language as the second or third official language and there are others who have a great deal of knowledge of English and in many countries it's one of those languages that are taught in school as a foreign language. English is used in science, the arts, and religion. It has seemed to gain the status that other languages had before examples Latin, Greek, Persian and even French and Spanish.

Many languages come and go. Others have prominent status for a while and then disappear.  But it seems this language which originated from one island in Europe who started an empire after the Spaniards, who in turn started building an empire together with the French and the Dutch. It seems to gaining popularity year after year, century after century and seems to be colonizing even the non English countries. As much as I would like to go about the English language in general my focus is on one country India. India is a country that is very diverse with different types of people, cultures and languages. From 1856 to 1947 India had been ruled by Great Britain and though the Indian government tried to remove the British influence, it is still very much presence in India English is one of the official languages of this great and special country.

According to I love, “the subcontinent of India has numerous of linguistic communities which are separate but share a common language and culture. The Indian people speak many languages and dialects which are varieties of the same principal language.

There are some Indian languages that have a long history, there are also some languages that do not have a written form[1] eighteen languages are officially use and recognized in India and each language have produced great literature of great vitality and richness. Although languages are distinctive they all stand for the homogenous culture which is the essence of great Indian literature. Although Indian languages are called tribal or aboriginal, the speaker of these languages is larger than of those who speak the European languages. The schools in India teach fifty-eight different languages. There are newspapers in eighty-seven languages, radio programs in 71 and films in 15.  The Indian languages can be divided into four language groups: indo European, Dravidian, Mon –Khmer and Sino-Tibetan. The large majority of Indo-European speakers are in the north and central regions and the Dravidian are in the southern areas of the country. Indo European languages make ¾’s of the population, Dravidian ¼ and the Mon Khmer languages and Sino –Tibetan 2% each.”

According to the Indian, “many languages existed with in India. Some of the languages are accepted nationally while others are accepted as dialects of a particular region. Indian schools still feel the presence of the foreigners. English has become the commonly used official language of India which is a legacy   of British rule. The Indian constitution recognizes twenty-two languages in which all the languages have evolved from great languages drawn from history. [2]Article 347 of the Indian constitution declares Hindi the official language. English remains the additional official language of India and it’s enjoying special status”. I think colonialism is still part of the Indian minds because English represents power and privileges for only a special educated few had accessed to this language and are the ones usually represented in government. It also shows Great Britain’s power over   its former colony.

The Indian states “that English is the authoritative, legislative and judicial language. In other words English is an official language for all practical purposes. While English and Hindi are widely spoken there are many regional languages. Each state has its own language.” This in my mind represents the constant division of the Indian people which has been present for centuries.

As the Wikipedia free encyclopedia states, “article 343 of the Indian constitution recognizes Hindi as the official language. This constitution also allows the continuation use of the English language. Individual states which are mostly drawn on socio- linguistic lines are free to decide their own language for internal administration and education.

English is the co-official language of the Indian union and each of the states also has another co- official language. Since India does not have an official language, the constitution of India envisages a situation where each state has its own official language in addition to the official languages used by the Indian union. When the constitution came into being English was used for most official purposes at the federal level and in various states.”

[3]The constitution  envisaged the gradual phasing in of the local languages chiefly Hindi  to replace English over a fifteen year period but parliament  has the  power by law to provide contained use of English even after the period is up.

This was in 1965, now the current   position of the English language in India is a subsidiary official language and is used with Hindi. English is used at many levels.

According to the MSN, Encarta/India, English is spoken by 5% of the population, and the government, only made English an official language because the Dravidian speakers opposed to Hindi.  This shows this subcontinent is still cultural and racially divided even after unification. The MSN Encarta also states ‘English is the preferred language of the elite’ also resulting into economic division.

According to the wikipedia free encyclopedia" English is still used in India even though the government is trying to replace it with Hindi.

Official languages at the state level according to the Wikipedia encyclopedia. [4]The Indian constitution does not specify the official language to be used by the states for the conduct of their functions and leaves each state free to through its legislature, adopt Hindi or any language used in its territory as its official language or languages.

 The constitutional provisions in relation to use of the official language in legislation at the State level largely mirror those relating to the official language at the central level with minor variations.[5] State legislatures may conduct their business in their official language Hindi or (for a transitional period which the legislature can extend if it so chooses) English and members who cannot use any of these have the same rights to their mother tongue with speaker's permission."

According to the Wikipedia encyclopedia "The state has the right to regulate the use of its official language in public administration and the neither the constitution nor ant enactment imposes any restriction on this right. However  every person submitting a petition for  the redress of the grievance to an officer  or authority of the state government has a constitutional right it in any  language  used in that state , regardless of its official status."

The Wikipedia states that the [6]constitution grants the central government acting through the President the power to issue certain directives to the government of a state in relation to the use of minority languages for official purposes. The president may direct a state to the officially recognize a language spoken in its territory for specified reasons and in specified regions, if its speakers demand it and satisfy him that a substantial proportion of the state's population desire its use.

Wikipedia also states that [7]the states within the Indian Union have significantly less freedom in relation to determine the language in which judicial proceedings in their respective High Courts will be conducted.  The constitution gives the power to authorize the use of Hindi, or the state's legislature and requires the Governor to obtain the consent of the president of India. Four states Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have granted to conduct proceedings in their official language which was Hindi.

In terms of the language of the parliamentary proceedings and laws, Wikipedia encyclopedia [8]The Indian constitution draws a distinction between the language to be used in parliamentary proceedings and the languages and the laws are to be made. Parliamentary business according to the constitution may be conducted in either Hindi or English." In addition the constitution permits a person who is unable to express himself in either Hindi or English to with the Speaker of the relevant House address the House in his mother tongue.

The constitution requires the authoritative text of all laws including parliamentary enactments and statutory instruments to be in English until parliament decides otherwise which contradicts the original plan to phase out English in government proceedings.

According to the Wikipedia text parliament has not exercised its power to decide instead merely requiring that all such laws and instruments and all bills brought before it also be translated to Hindi though the English text remains authoritative. The constitution provides that all proceedings in the Supreme Court shall be in English. Parliament also has the power to alter this law but has not done so. The Indian Government by law to progressively increase the use of Hindi in its official work.

The official language act of India provides that the union government shall use both Hindi and English in most administrative documents that are intended for the public. The official languages rules in contras provide for a higher degree of use of Hindi in communications between departments within the central government may be in Hindi if the offices are in Hindi –speaking states and in either Hindi or English otherwise with Hindi being used in proportion to the percentage of staff in the receiving office who have a working knowledge of Hindi.  Memos and notes must be written in either English or Hindi with the government having to provide a translation of the document in the other language required."

Although the Indian government has tried to phase out English the union English has remained an unofficial language. In my opinion since this language together with Hindi is used in parliament, in the justice system and almost everything that has to do with the government English along with Hindi should remained the official languages of   India.

India   is a diverse country with so many different languages and dialects it needs a common language which could unite the people and the country and English can be that language.  I think  India  needs  a language that could be  used in business , commerce , trade and education and English can provide that  because  it has became the international language and  many people in India do not want to  learn Hindi. Hindi in my opinion cannot be helpful to the Indian subcontinent in foreign relations. Hindi just does not have the status and the power in which English has. There are only a few languages which have clout and status (French, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic) Hindi does not have this.

If the Indian government phrases out English which it has not it will continue to bring more division and chaos to an already chaotic and trouble country. Having English has an official language is the best thing the Indian politicians could do for their country.

[1] Http//, Sanskrit literature is more than 5000 years, Tamil 3000

[2] Bhili and Santali 4 million, Gondi 2 million

[3] http//

[4] English continues to be used today together with Hindi and other languages.


[5] The language need not be one of those listed in the eight schedule and several states have adopted official language.


[6] The authoritative text of all laws must be in English unless parliament passes a law permitting a state to use another language and if the original text is in a different language and English, an authoritative English translation of all must be prepared.

http// of national languages-of-India

[7] States and local authorities are required to endeavor to provide primary education in their mother tongue for all linguistic minorities regardless of whether or not their language is official in that state and the president has the power to issue directions he deems necessary to ensure that they are provided these faculties.

[8] The official languages act gives the governor a similar power subject to similar conditions in relation to the language in which the high court’s judgments will be delivered.

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