The earliest known linguistic activities date to Iron Age India (~8th century BC) with the analysis of Sanskrit. Presently, India is a home to several hundred languages. India’s census recognized “1,652” individual mother tongues. After Independence, language was used as a basis to define many state boundaries. Kerala(Malyalam), Tamil Nadu(Tamil), Andhra Pradesh(Telugu), Maharashtra(Marathi), Karnataka(Kannada), Orissa(Oriya), WestBengal(B engali), Gujrat(Gujrati) ,Punjab(Punjabi). It is interesting to study how these languages evolved over and how much important part language plays in such a culturally diverse country.
Sir Willian Jones during his stay in India got interested in Sanskrit and explored its virtues and founded Asiatic Society. In 1786, he suggested that Greek, Latin and Sanskrit all had a common root. After which many linguists started studying Sanskrit, finding out its links to other language families. It marked the beginning of “comparative linguistics”. “The Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident “
Indo Aryan Languages : 72 % population Example: Hindustani, Punjabi, Bengali, etc. Dravidian Languages : 25 % population Example: Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, etc. Austro-Asiatic languages : 1.5 % population Example: Munda Tibeto-Burman languages : 0.5 % population
Its history is divided into 3 stages : (1) Old, comprising Vedic and classical Sanskrit (2) Middle (from about the 3rd century BC), which embraces the vernacular dialects of Sanskrit called Prakrits, including Pali. (3) New or Modern, (from about the 10th century AD), which comprises the modern languages of the northern and central portions of the Indian subcontinent.
Vedic Sanskrit Vedic Sanskrit is the language of the Vedas, a large collection of hymns and religio-philosophical discussions which form the earliest religious texts in India and the basis for much of the Hindu religion. Modern linguists consider these hymns to be the earliest in the world.
Classical Sanskriti. It is essentially a prescriptive grammar, i.e., an authority that defines (rather than describes) correct Sanskrit.ii. The oldest surviving Sanskrit grammar is Pāṇinis Aṣtādhyāyī ("Eight-Chapter Grammar") dates back to the 5th century BCE.iii. Knowledge of Sanskrit was a marker of social class and educational attainment and was taught mainly to Brahmins.iv. Sanskrit as a language has its well defined Phonology and Grammar which is more perfect than in any other language.
Scholars from South India often distinguish Vedic Sanskrit and Classical or "Paninian" Sanskrit as separate dialects. However, they are extremely similar in many ways and differ mostly in a few points of phonology, vocabulary, and grammar. Classical Sanskrit can therefore be considered a seamless evolution of the earlier Vedic language.
Prakrit from prakṛti original, natural” in contrast to perfect Panini grammar, refers to the broad family of Indic languages and dialects spoken in ancient India. The Prakrits became literary languages, generally patronized by kings identified with the ksatriya caste. The earliest inscriptions in Prakrit are those of Ashoka. Pali the language of the Buddhist canonical writings, is the oldest literary Prakrit. It remains in use in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand.
The Prakrits continued in everyday use until about the 12th century AD, but even by about the 10th century, the Modern Indo- Aryan native languages had begun to develop. Presently- Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Bihari, Gujarati, Oriya, P unjabi, Rajasthani, all native variations of Indo-Aryan are significant, each of which has at least 10 million speakers.
The Dravidian family of languages includes approximately 73 languages that are mainly spoken in Southern India. Origins of the Dravidian languages, development and the period of their differentiation are unclear, partially due to the lack of comparative linguistic research into the Dravidian languages. The Dravidian family has defied all of the attempts to show a connection with other tongues, including Indo-European.
Typological Correlation with Uralic language Some linguists believe that they are native to India. Human Migration : Africa->Europe->Asia. Indicates that both Dravdians and Aryans are from outside India.
Dravidian Languages show extensive lexical borrowing but only a few traits of structural borrowings from Indo-Aryan. With Indo-Aryans, it is the other way round Remarkably Stable- Preservation of root vowels.
Although, over the time, large number of loan words from Sanskrit and other Indo-Aryan languages have entered Dravidian Languages. example: loan words in Tamil agni – akkini aśuddha - acutta With its great antiquity, Tamil can claim one of the oldest unbroken literary traditions of the worlds living languages. Though Dravidian and independent to Sanskrit, over 80% of words in Malayalam and Telugu are pure Sanskrit words.
In 2004, the Government of India declared that languages that met certain requirements could be accorded the status of a "Classical Language in India". Languages thus far declared to be Classical areTamil (in 2004), Sanskrit (in2005), Kannada and Telugu (in 2008).
Indus Script: refers to short strings of symbols associated with the Harappan civilization of ancient India (most of the Indus sites are distributed in present-day Pakistan and northwest India) used between 2600–1900 BC, which evolved from an early Indus script attested from around 3500–3300 BC. Brahmi Script: This script is ancestral to most of the Asia, Tibet, Mongolia, Manchuria, and perhaps even Korean Hangul. The Brāhmī numeral system is the ancestor of the Hindu-Arabic numerals, which are now used worldwide.
Gupta Script : It was used for writing Sanskrit and is associated with the Gupta Empire of India which was a period of material prosperity and great religious and scientific developments. The Gupta script was descended from Brahmi and gave rise to the Siddham script. Siddhaṃ (Sanskrit, accomplished or perfected), descended from the Brahmi script via the Gupta script, which also gave rise to the Devanāgarī script as well as a number of other Asian scripts such asTibetan script.
The principal official language of the Republic of India is Hindi, while English is the secondary official language. The dialect that has been chosen as Indias official language is Khariboli in the Devnagari script. Other dialects of Hindi are Brajbhasa, Bundeli, Awadhi, Marwari, Maithili and Bhojpuri.
Bihari , spoken in Bihar is the name of a group of three related languages—Bhojpuri, Maithili, and Magahi. Bhojpuri and Magahi is a combination of Kaithi and Devnagari script Bengali is spoken in West Bengal and by almost the entire population of Bangladesh. Like Hindi, it is descended from Sanskrit, and has the most extensive literature of any modern Indian language. Oriya, Bengali and Assamese all are quite similar and are considered to be sister languages.
Punjabi is spoken by inhabitants of the historical Punjab region (north western India and in north eastern Pakistan). Gurmukhi is the script used. Despite their separate names, Hindi and Urdu are actually slightly different dialects of the same language. The main differences lie in their vocabulary sources, scripts, and religious traditions. Hindi vocabulary derives mainly from Sanskrit, while Urdu contains many words of Persian and Arabic origin; Hindi is written in the Devanagari script, and Urdu in a Persian Arabic script.
From the British reign, English is trying to fix the language differences in India.
It was a project of the British Raj conducted between 1894 and 1928, under the direction of George A. Grierson. It described 364 languages and dialects. Online searchable database of LSI is available providing an excerpt of each word. New Survey : In the Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2007-12) Rs. 2.8 billion was sanctioned for the project. It was classified into two sections: a New Linguistic Survey of India and a Survey of Minor and Endangered Languages.
Computational Linguistics : Sanskrit, because of its perfect grammar and rules there have been suggestions to use Sanskrit as a meta language for knowledge representation in e.g. Machine Translation, and other areas of Natural Language Processing.