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Which Language Should I Focus On Learning?

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by Jackie, Dec 22, 2015.

  1. Jackie

    Jackie Member

    In planning my trip to India next year, I'm researching the language. Boy was I surprised to learn how many languages are spoken there! Wikipedia says Hindi is spoken the most (by population count), but I learned in college not to rely on Wikipedia for accuracy! Which language should I focus on learning between now and my trip next year?

  2. Sandy

    Sandy Guest

    It's so funny that you should post this thread. The other day I had to do busy work for my job, so I had a cool linguistic history YouTube video playing in the background using auto-play. And basically, it got into the most widely spoken languages in the world. People love to focus on the European languages, but India OWNS in terms of sheer volume of people and the language spoken. I think India is important anyway in terms of language history - most European language, one way or another, descend from Sanskrit. So languages owe India a lot.

    But anyway, to help you out, maybe you should go in order of most widely spoken languages in India. English is a good start of course, but here are the others on the list:


    Of course, these languages can also be quite regional, so think about what region of India you are going to be in and pick one on the list that is the most commonly spoken there. Also, if you get really proficient in the language, I think it will be an outstanding addition to your resume or LinkedIn. How many Westerners can say they know how to speak one of these? Good luck!
    hades_leae and Jackie like this.

  3. amelia88

    amelia88 Active Member

    I can't help you with advice about which language to learn (there's some great members of the forum living in India who might be better placed to assist!) but I'm blown away with how many languages there are to learn there. I truly didn't even know!
  4. Rezonate

    Rezonate Member

    I think you should go to your local book store and go pick out a couple of books or two about the Indian langauge. My mother in law recently took a trip down there but was fortunate enough to has a couple of Indian friends that spoke very good English as well as a couple of Indian native languages. You might also want to look for an app on the app store. I downloaded itranslate and it has a multitude of languages on there. Hope that helps and safe travels !
  5. Jackie

    Jackie Member

    This is really useful information; thank you for taking the time to post it! I like your idea of deciding on a region early and then focusing on the regional language. I was really naive when I first started researching for my trip; I assumed there would only be one or maybe two languages spoken across the country. I really had no idea that the country doesn't have a universal language!
  6. arthnel

    arthnel Member

    I knew they had many languages but that list is very mind blowing. Never knew they had that many. I would really go with Hindi if that's the most common but I don't know ow easy it will be to learn. Of course dedication is key in all this so I wish you all that will power to get there. If you don't get to learn it @Jackie just takes your good old English with you. You're still going to have the best time.
  7. M.Nayak

    M.Nayak Member

    Focus on Hindi mainly,you will be confused knowing about how many languages are spoken in India & how many of the official languages are in India..If you doing some research or diploma in any language then it's diffrent thing but if you simply want to learn about India and just to understand better this country then better to go through Hindi only.
  8. jnorth88

    jnorth88 Active Member

    I think the best option is to simply know the languages which are spoken where you decide to visit. Find out what they speak in the cities, the countryside, or wherever. Then, hope you find people who speak English. Really, it should not be a problem. Many people in India speak English, for historical reasons, and because it the the global economic language. The people are also quite used to foreigners and tourists, meaning they know how to deal with people who do dot speak the language.
  9. Ritika Sharma

    Ritika Sharma Member

    It depends upon the location you are visiting in India.
  10. DangerSuit

    DangerSuit New Member

    As I have had it explained to me numerous times by people of South Indian descent, the Tamil language is the oldest and forms the base for the majority of the languages on the Indian sub-continent. Whereas some of the North Indian languages were borne out of a mixture of Dravidian and central Asian languages, Tamil has remained largely unchanged over millenia and as such will retain a lot of the linkages it has with the other Indian languages.

    In addition, there is apparently a desire to use Tamil as a new coding language in computers, due to the inherently mathematical and logical nature of its structure. I don't pretend to understand too much about it, but I believe Tamil could essentially be used as a kind of shorthand to code computers with - so it could come in handy in different ways in future if you learned it now!

    I hope that is helpful!
  11. Elizabetonth

    Elizabetonth Member

    It depends where you're going to be. In Bangalore, for example, they speak Kannada. In other parts of the South, Tamil. In the North, you can usually get away with Hindi - if you travel from Jaisalmer to Varanasi in a roughly straight line, you'll be able to speak Hindi in all of those places. Plan your route, then pick your language.
  12. yeppeo

    yeppeo New Member

    Not exactly related and just for curiosity, which language do you think it's easier for a romance-language speaker?
  13. Hindi and English should be enough for you to get by anywhere in India if you are going to only the famous tourist places. But if you want to go into remote areas and villages you may need to have an interpreter; much easier than learning a whole new language. There are so many languages in India not even an Indian knows all of them. Hindi in most of North India and English in the southern states will be enough, to be honest.
  14. jnorth88

    jnorth88 Active Member

    How hard is it to get a local interpreter? Are there sites where they can be hired?
  15. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    I think India has a great percentage of English speakers. At this time, there are 125 million English speakers in India. So it's safe to assume that the people there have a good grasp of the English language already. In fact, most people listed English as their second language there defeating all other native languages except Hindi, which is still the number one most spoken language in India.

    @jnorth88 I've found a website called Synotrip which offers local interpreters for those who might need it. You can definitely check that site out. I saw that the fee per day is almost $50 though. You might want to put that into your budget.
  16. Geena

    Geena New Member

    I think you'll do just fine with just English.

    The whole time I was there, I don't recall ever being lost in translation. In fact, I actually met many who could speak many more languages on top of English. Having said that, I can't definitely oppose to you learning their language as I think that'd be rather pleasant and be seen as a sweet gesture from your side.

    Depending on where you'll be going as well, I'd say the two main ones would be Hindi and Tamil.
  17. roger1003

    roger1003 New Member

    India has more than one spoken language. However, Hindi is the most widely used language. Start studying Hindi by reading Hindi - English books, then slowly start watching Hindi movies.
  18. cecejailer

    cecejailer New Member

    Wow, I completely forgot that India doesn't speak only one language haha. It seems we always have the misconception that all India speaks Hindi (maybe because it sounds like India?)
    I'm not sure what languages are spoken so I might as well look into it haha. I thought I might as well just speak English but it's important to learn at least the basic sentences of most languages in case you need them.
  19. hades_leae

    hades_leae New Member

    Bengali, Punjabi, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu

    I wonder if people in India actually speak all of these languages, this is a lot for one person to remember. It's very possible, but for one to have to speak all of the on a regular basis just makes me ask myself where will India be in 50 years when there are so many needing to be able to speak more than 5 languages just to make a living. I'm not saying that's going to be the case, but I would be fine with progressing towards a single language or 3 at the most.
  20. Normad

    Normad New Member

    English will work perfectly fine. I don't think that you need to learn any other language just to communicate in India. A lot of people speak fluent English there, but if you still want to learn another language then I too would suggest Hindi. I'm actually taking lessons also, and I think I'm doing pretty well.
  21. arunava basu

    arunava basu New Member

    There are more than 1600 (yes! sixteen Hundred) spoken all over India in 36 provinces. So you must not expect to be able to speak the local language wherever you go. But most of the Indian population have at least working knowledge of either English or Hindi. So, try to grab some English and Hindi. Also, knowing some Bengali, Tamil and Kannada may be suggested but I do not think would be necessary at all.