UNESCO list of endangered languages India

endangered languages in India
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We cannot progress by ignoring our past. We managed to build cars because the wheel was invented. If we had discarded every invention from the past and tried to make things from scratch, it would have taken centuries to get where we are today. The loss of the freedom to speak your native language is the loss of a fundamental human right. The past gives us the knowledge we need to succeed in the present. This is why it is crucial to study us. But the wisdom from the past is good for the progress of our industries, but it is also helpful for our social life. Social norms should indeed be updated with time, but many good things have come to us from our ancestors and that are helping us survive in the twentieth century. More than 500 languages are at risk of extinction today, including two portrayed in the film The Linguists: Chemehuevi, an Arizona Native American language, and Chulym, a Siberian language.

In India, there are 600 potentially endangered languages… each language that dies is a culture system that is lost.’ Ganesh Devy discussed the fading and dead languages of India how particular dead language acquires prominence. In contrast, others go away, and the influence of colonization on India’s linguistic system in the interview. “India may have lost 220 languages since 1961,” Ganesh N Devy, founder-director of the Bhasa Research and Publication Centre in Vadodara and the Adivasi Academy in Tejgadh, Gujarat, remarked. Newsguard, a global organization that analyses news sources for journalistic standards, has given the Indian Express website a GREEN rating for its reliability and trustworthiness.


The world’s second-most populous country is in South Asia. Humans have lived on the continent for 55,000 years. It is the land of the Indus Valley Civilization. The region is known for its human genetic diversity. The old history of the area is quite fascinating. Anyone who studies the region’s history will learn about different religions, cultures, and civilizations. The various rulers of the region brought other stories to the continent with them, and they affected the population. Because of the country’s linguistic variety, there is no such thing as an Indian language today.

endangered languages

The beliefs, culture, and languages of the land were significantly affected by different rulers. Even today, thousands of other languages are spoken in India. After the 1971 census, the Indian government declared that any language spoken by less than 10,000 people did not need to be included in the official list of languages. The 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution now recognizes only 22 major languages. Although not all of them have a lot of speakers, many of them are still going steady. The Indian official language is not one but two: Hindi and English. However, Hindi is the language of the majority of the population. The number of people who can speak and understand English in India is rising. But there are a lot of locations in the country where people don’t even know Hindi and only speak their regional languages.

The concept of mother tongue is central to the preservation of languages, especially in the face of the extinction of many languages around the world. As dominant languages continue to spread globally, there is a risk of losing linguistic diversity. Mother tongue, the first language a person learns at home, plays a vital role in cultural identity. Efforts to revitalize and protect endangered languages are essential to maintaining the rich tapestry of linguistic heritage in our global community.

endangered languages

Endangered Languages in India:

Every two weeks, according to United Nations studies, an indigenous language dies. It is up to us to protect our culture and history. But sometimes, that is not an easy job. Especially when it comes to languages, it is pretty challenging to gather data about them. When some languages are spoken in remote areas, it is challenging to research them. Sometimes, the speakers are only a few, and none are good interpreters, so communication becomes impossible. Many tongues are spoken in India, but a few have been around for ages and are in danger of becoming extinct now.

Some vernaculars from the region have already gone extinct. The UNESCO list of endangered languages in India gives us some idea about the vernaculars that will go extinct shortly and which ones can be saved with efforts from the people. India’s Endangered Languages Language loss has been a fact of life throughout history.

  1. Balti:

Spoken in both India and Pakistan, this is a Tibetic language. It has less than 400,000 speakers and could go extinct in a hundred years. For now, it is considered a vulnerable tongue. The Perso-Arabic script is used to write Balti. But in the past, it was written using Tibetan script. The language has been separated from other Tibetan vernaculars. Nowadays, it gets pressurized by the dominant tongues of the region.

  1. Darma:

This tribal tongue had less than two thousand speakers in 2006. It is closely related to a bunch of vernaculars that are spoken by different tribes.

  1. Gangte:

Spoken by the people of Manipur and Assam, this Kuki-Chin tongue has no known dialects. But it is mutually intelligible with other Kuki-Chin vernaculars. It also has a few speakers in Burma. In the census of 2011, its speakers were 17,542.

  1. Koch:

Koch is another Sino-Tibetan language in India that is endangered. Despite being spoken in Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh, as well as in India, the tongue still appears on the list of endangered tongues.

  1. Mandeali:

One of the highly endangered vernaculars in India is Mandeali. The number of its speakers has decreased drastically since 1961. The vernacular is divided into multiple dialects, mostly not mutually intelligible.

  1. Nihali:

The tribe of Nihali is made up of five thousand people. Out of them, only two thousand can speak their tribal language. Nihali has adopted a vast portion of its vocabulary from neighboring tongues.

  1. Sumi:

The people of the ethnic group known as Sumi Naga speak this language. They were less than eleven thousand in number in the census of 2011. The speakers of Sumi can be found in different parts of the country, but Nagaland is the central region where the tongue can be heard.

  1. Zakhring:

Spoken in Arunachal Pradesh, this tongue has only nine hundred speakers, which is highly at risk. A close relative of Zakhring is spoken in China. The vernacular has adopted a lot of foreign words over the years.

9. Mahasu Pahari or Mahasuvi:

Mahasu Pahari or Mahasuvi is one of the western Pahari languages with origins in the Mahasu district of Himachal Pradesh. Like all other Pahari languages, Mahasuvi’s history goes back to the Maurya period, i.e., 4th century BC. The language was originally recorded in Takri script, but due to modern distortions and convenience reasons, it is now written in the Devanagari script. Its decline can be attributed to the Colonisation of Lands Act levied upon Himachal Pradesh in 1912. After this, schools and offices in the area could only function in languages “approved” by the British government, which excluded all the native tongues of Himachal.


Today there is no tongue you can label as the Indian language because of the linguistic diversity of the country. It is only expected from the country that has the world’s second-biggest population. But it is our differences that can help us become stronger. It can feel a little overwhelming to accept that thousands of different vernaculars are spoken worldwide. But when you are coming from a place of love, you will be able to get included in conversations. And as long as you stay connected to your roots, you will continue to make it big in the present. Don’t let anyone take away your history from you.

Preserving Tribal Languages

The preservation of indigenous languages, often referred to as tribal languages, is imperative in safeguarding the rich tapestry of human communication. As globalization progresses, many of these languages face the threat of extinction, with the parent generation often being the last fluent speakers.

The loss of these languages represents more than just the disappearance of words; it erases an integral part of cultural heritage, disconnecting communities from their traditions and histories. While the dominance of the English language is pervasive, efforts to raise awareness about language endangerment are vital in advocating for the revitalization and protection of indigenous languages worldwide.


  • When a language dies, its speakers decide to migrate.
  • They migrate to another language and then they physically start migrating to another region.
  • Their traditional livelihood patterns go down. They may have some unique skills, and that disappears.
  • A unique way of looking at the world disappears. Every language is a unique worldview.

Native speakers of Andhra Pradesh are moving to Telugu as a result of large-scale migration to cities, putting the language endangered.

The only classical language that has survived to the modern world is Tamil, which is spoken by over 78 million people and is recognized as an official language in Sri Lanka and Singapore.

At least for the time being, that seems unlikely. Malayalam has a native speaker population of 38 million people. Only 34 nations have a higher population, and only 33 languages have more native speakers, therefore this is a massive figure.

As previously stated, a dead language has no native speakers, yet it does have a certain usefulness. People continue to use this language for a variety of purposes. Latin, Sanskrit, Coptic, Biblical Hebrew, and other dead languages are examples.

The language is critically endangered since the youngest speakers are grandparents and older, and they only speak it occasionally. There are no more speakers of this language.

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