| Language Proficiency test in India || Nov 11, 2006 |
The procedure followed in Europe to test the level of proficiency of an Individual via written as well oral test seems logical to me. If one is to declare his/ her languages he / she must have a valid degree as per the norms of European Union.
I lived in Europe (Spain) for some time, and as per my understanding In Europe there has been tradition of maintaining written records. But you shall be surprised to note that in India, the tradition of maintenance of record has not been that strong as in Europe. However, In Modern India the common mass is now working towards developing written record management.. etc. which will take its own course.
Keeping above lines of thought you will notice that Modern India, as per the 1961 count, has more than 1652 mother tongues, genetically belonging to five different language families. Apart from them 527 mother tongues were considered unclassifiable at that time.
The 1991 Census had 10,400 raw returns and they were rationalized into 1576 mother tongues. They are further rationalized into 216 mother tongues, and grouped under 114 languages: Austro-Asiatic (14 languages, with a total population of 1.13%), Dravidian (17 languages, with a total population of 22.53%), Indo-European (Indo-Aryan, 19 languages, with a total population of 75.28%, and Germanic, 1 language, with a total population of 0.02%), Semito-Harmitic (1 language, with a total population of 0.01%), and Tibeto-Burman (62 languages with a total population of 0.97%).
It may be noted that mother tongues having a population of less than 10000 on all India basis or not possible to identify on the basis of available linguistic information have gone under 'others'. So, good number of "languages" recorded in the Indian Census could not be classified as to their genetic relation, and so are treated as Unclassified Languages.
The Indo-Aryan languages are spoken by the maximum number of speakers, followed in the descending order by the Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic, and Sino-Tibetan (Tibeto-Burman) languages.
Eighteen Indian languages, namely, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kashmiri, Kannada, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu are spoken by 96.29% of the population of the country and the remaining 3.71% of the population speak rest of the languages.
Not only India as a whole is multilingual but also each State and Union Territory within India is equally multilingual. Linguistically India is made of many mini-Indias.
The number of multilingual population is also remarkable. They constitute 19.44% of the total population in India. The traditionally strong constituent of multilingual groups is further strengthened in modern times from one decade to another, as mobility within the country as well as the introduction of formal education in all parts of the country that insists on learning at least two languages until the end of high or higher secondary education. Although Kerala appears to be the most cohesive linguistic state with a single language, Malayalam, claiming the mother tongue status for nearly 96 percent of its population, bilingualism among this mother tongue group is equally good.
Thanks and regards
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