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What Language Does India Speak?


11 months agoBusy3 min read

A couple of months back I had posted about the countless languages & dialects spoken in India. According to a recent analysis of 2011 census data, more than 19,500 languages are spoken in India.

With 22 Scheduled languages, India has no national language. Surprisingly, none of these is English. According to census dataIndia has only 226,449 people as native speaker of English. But 12% Indians declared that they can speak English as a second language. Really?

Do 12% Indians can speak English?

I doubt. At least, not proficiently.

Well, I was really trying to figure out how many of us are comfortable with English language. Today, my friend Andro Heim, who is travelling across the world on his bicycle to spread the message of veganism, told me that he meditated over this issue a lot. He analysed his own experiences and reached to some conclusion and messaged us to book his flight ticket to Italy. Quite surprised, I asked him the reason of his sudden decision to leave.

He said that he is travelling in Asia for past 7-8 months and found that it is difficult to make any meaningful conversation in English. He was more efficient in America & Europe. So there is no point in wasting time in Asia.

I knew that he was struggling with communication problem for few days now but I didn't had an idea of its severity. Last week he had expressed his surprise when he found that even university students couldn't make any deep conversation in English. How come people are not taught any foreign language here!

I told him that they are taught but they fail to get proficiency in it and are not comfortable in communicating in it even if they do know a little of it. I told him to spend more time in metro cities for interacting with English speaking population. But he wasn't convinced as he couldn't speak to masses in his visits to metro cities too.

So finally, after struggling for about an hour with various travel websites, @chetanpadliya booked his flight ticket to Italy for next month. He will take his bike along with him and then continue his journey on his bike in Europe.

What is the English word for "translation"?

It's sad when communication ability becomes a stumbling block in spreading an important message. But I feel his experience and conclusion is not wrong. Last year, I was in a workshop at a metro city where an American was addressing it. But many of us couldn't understood him. So an interpreter helped "translate" what he was speaking. It was funny to term this process as "translation" as English was being translated to English ...just with a different accent. I don't know the right word for this process. But I always chuckled whenever someone would ask the interpreter to "translate" what he was speaking.

Well, I'm sorry for publishing a rough and unedited draft here. I'm too tired and sleepy right now. Hope you won't mind going through it. You know, English is not my first language too and I don't count myself in that 12% figure. So will be writing more in Hindi now.
Thank you!


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