About eight hundred different languages, about two thousand dialects – it is this rare diversity in linguistic life that makes another specialty for India. Including Hindi there are 22 languages are made official languages. (The other official languages are Assamia, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkan, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu). English may be used for official requirements, and it is a constitutional provision. Kokborok in Tripura, Mizo in Mizoram, Khasi and Garo in Meghalaya are four languages with the status of official languages.

The important languages of India belonged to the indo-European and Dravidian family of languages. Some of the languages belong to the Austro-Asiatic, and Tibeto-Burman families. The language of Andaman, the Andamanese is related to no language family. There are two languages of India that enjoy the position of ‘classical languages’ – Sanskrit and Tamil. (The other classical languages are: Greek, Latin, Paali, Persian, Old Church Slavonic, Arabic, Hebrew and Classical Chinese). The north Indian languages belong to the Indo-European family whereas the south Indian languages of Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam belong to the Dravidian. Some of the tribal languages like kui and kuwi and also Brahui, spoken in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, also belong to the Dravidian family of languages. The languages of the north eastern states belong to the Tibeto-Burman family.

Though spoken by more than five million people, certain languages of India do not have the status of official language. It was once thought that some of these were dialects of Hindi, they are in fact independent languages. Bhojpuri, Maagadhi and Angika, three languages of Bihar have not been given the status of official language. So is the case of Marwadi, Mewadi, Sikar, churu, Jununu, and Shekhavati, dialects of Rajastani.

Haryanvi of Haryana, Bhili of the Bhil tribes, Gondi of the Gond tribe, Kodava, the language of Kodagu in Karnataka, Katchi of the Kutch area in Gujarat, Tulu, the language of the Tulu Brahmans of Karnataka and Kerala also have prominence among the languages of India. Mahal, the language of Minicoy island in Lakshadweep has recognition as a minority language. French, spoken in Puthuchery (erstwhile Pondichery, a French colony) is recognized as an official language. French is taught in schools and colleges. Portuguese is spoken in the erstwhile Portuguese colonies of Goa, Daman and Diu and Dadra-Nagar Haveli.