Tribal Languages in India – Introduction (1/4)

Tribal Languages in India – Part I Introduction India, as we all know is a land full of diversity – different cultures, faiths, lifestyle, traditions, rituals etc. are all...
Gotipua_Dancevillage_Puri_IndiaPhoto by Ingetje Tadros

Tribal Languages in India – Part I

Introduction

India, as we all know is a land full of diversity – different cultures, faiths, lifestyle, traditions, rituals etc. are all interwoven, that makes it a vibrant nation. As you traverse the region, you will meet an entirely different set of communities with each passing kilometre. And as this popular adage in Hindi goes –

Every two miles the water doth change, and every four the dialect”.

As per the census, tribal people make up about 8.2 percent of the nation’s total population. This diversity extends to languages as well. A survey done by passionate linguistics has established that there exist about 1635 native languages (of which about 197 are classified as between endangered and vulnerable by UNESCO). Yes! This might be unbelievable to some but the vastness this country holds make others believe in it.

Noam Chomsky, the world renowned linguist once said, “A Language is the Mirror of the Mind”. It is only in a language that we find our lives, our stories, our ancestors and our future too. Tribal Languages, therefore are universally significant and are languages of the earth containing ecological, geographical, and climatic information.

When come to think of different dialects prevalent in India, we can easily divide them into five major language families starting from the first civilization of Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Tibeto-Burman, Andamanese, and Austro-Asiatic. However, for a better understanding of the tribal region segregation, it is best to have a look at the regions where tribal population inhabits. Therefore, a quick glance at the Indian map will divide the nation into five major belts namely –

  1. The Himalayan Belt: This region consists of states that are nick-named as seven sisters (North Eastern States–Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, and Tripura) along with Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.
  2. Central Indian Belt: Over half of the population lives in this belt and states that come into this region are Bihar, Odisha (Orissa), West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh.
  3. Western Indian Belt: This region consists of Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Goa, Gujarat, and Dadra & Nagar Haveli.
  4. The Dravidian Belt: Primarily, it’s the South Indian region and it starts from Karnataka to Kerala from one end and from Andhra Pradesh to Tamil Nadu at the other.
  5. The Islands: Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

For a better understanding of the regions, refer to the map below –

india

Words will fall short if I start covering each tribal language separately. So, below find the names of various languages spoken by different Indian tribes as per their family –

  • Indo-Aryan Family: The languages spoken by inhabitants of this family are following –

 

Name of the LanguageRegion Spoken
BaiganiChhattisgarh
BhiliGujarat& Rajasthan
ChakmaBengal & Assam
DhankiGujarat, Rajasthan & Maharashtra
DhundhariRajasthan
GarasiaGujarat & Rajasthan
GujjariHaryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab, Delhi
HajongMeghalaya, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh
HarautiRajasthan, Madhya Pradesh
HalbiChhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh
JaunsariUttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh
KhottaWest Bengal
KokniGujarat, Rajasthan
KotwaliaMadhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat
TharRajasthan
LamaniMadhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, West Bengal
MagahiBihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal
MavchiGujarat, Maharashtra
NimariMadhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra
RathiMadhya Pradesh, Maharashtra
TharuUttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal
WagriRajasthan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh
WarliMaharashtra, Gujarat, Dadra & Nagar Haveli

 

  • Tibeto-Burman Family: Language spoken by this part of region includes mainly –

 

Name of the LanguageRegion Spoken
AdiAshingArunachal Pradesh
ApataniArunachal Pradesh
AoNagaland
BaltiKashmir
DaflaArunachal Pradesh
BodoAssam
BhotiaUttarakhand
ChiruManipur, Nagaland
DeoriAssam, Arunachal Pradesh
Duhlian-TwangMizoram
GangteManipur, Meghalaya, Assam
HmarMizoram, Manipur, Assam
HualngoMizoram
KoirengManipur
KonyakArunachal Pradesh, Nagaland
LahauliHimachal Pradesh
MaraMizoram
LushaiMizoram, Tripura, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland
MishingAssam
MonpaArunachal Pradesh
NagaNagaland
SherdukpenAssam, Arunachal Pradesh
PaiteManipur
RengmaNagaland
SajalongArunachal Pradesh
SingphoArunachal Pradesh, Assam
TaginAssam
VaipheiManipur, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura
WanchoNagaland
ZakhringArunachal Pradesh
ZouManipur

 

 

  • Dravidian Family: The languages spoken by this family are –

 

Name of the LanguageRegion Spoken
DhurwaChhattisgarh
GondiMadhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh
KoragaKarnataka, Kerala
KodaguKarnataka
KolamiAndhra Pradesh, Maharashtra
KoyaAndhra Pradesh, Odisha
KuiOdisha
KuviOdisha
KurukhBihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh
MariaMadhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh
NaikiAndhra Pradesh, Maharashtra
ParjiMadhya Pradesh
PengoOdisha
TuluKarnataka, Kerala
YerukulaAndhra Pradesh

 

  • Austro-Asiatic Family – The not-so-famous tribal language spoken by the members of this family include –

 

Name of the LanguageRegion Spoken
AsuriJharkhand
BondoOdisha
JuangOdisha
HoJharkhand, Odisha
KhariaChhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Assam, Tripura
KorkuMadhya Pradesh, Maharashtra
KurmiMaharashtra
KorwaChhattisgarh
LodhaWest Bengal, Odisha
MundariJharkhand
NicobareseNicobar Islands
SavaraAndhra Pradesh
SantaliJharkhand, Assam, Odisha, Tripura, West Bengal, Assam
ShompenAndaman & Nicobar Islands

 

  • Andamanese Family: If you were looking for ancient aboriginal tribe, come to Andamans. The endangered tribe lives in misery, yet managed to survive all odds.

 

Name of the LanguageRegion Spoken
JarawaAndaman & Nicobar Islands
SantineleseNorth Sentinel Island – Andaman
OngeAndaman Islands

This was just an indicative list as there are many more languages prevalent. With this, the first part of Introduction comes to close. In Part II of this four part series, I will cover The Importance of Tribal Languages.

Till then, stay tuned for Tribal Tuesdays!

Tribal Languages in India – Introduction (1/4)
3.7 (73.33%) 3 votes
Categories
Tribal Languages
Akanksha Mittal

Akanksha Mittal, an avid reader, frequent traveler and a passionate blogger hails from Delhi, the capital of India. Her key areas of interest lies in politics, foreign policy, and international relations. When it comes to learning about different faiths and cultures, she is always curious. She can be reached at [email protected]
No Comment

Leave a Reply

*

*

RELATED POSTS