90 Per Cent Hindi, 80 Per Cent Bengali Speakers Know Just Their Mother Tongues, Reveals Census Data

Word cloud of Indian languages on Wikipedia. (Subhashish Panigrahi via Wikimedia Commons)

Hindi and Bengali speakers, two of the largest linguistic groups in India, have the lowest share of the people who know any other language than their own, according to recently released 2011 census data, Times of India has reported.

According to the report, The census data shows that only 12 per cent ( nearly 62.5 million) of the 520 million Hindi speakers in the country were bilingual while the number of those who were trilingual was 7.9 million.

Among those Hindi speakers who were bilingual, nearly 50 per cent (32 million) knew English followed by 6.05 million who knew Marathi.

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English was the third language of the 3.2 million Hindi speakers who were trilingual.

Similarly, only 18 per cent ( nearly 17 million) of the 97 million Bengali speakers were bilingual with half of the bilinguals knowing Hindi apart from their mother tongue.

Nearly 34 million of over 83 million Marathi speakers, the third largest linguistic group, knew Hindi as the second language.

Among the scheduled languages with more than 15 million speakers, Urdu, with 15 million speakers, had most number of multilingual speakers. 62 per cent of the Urdu speakers knew one more language, Hindi being the most prominent.

Punjabi speakers emerged as the second most multilingual group with 53 per cent being bilingual. Among those Punjabi speakers who were bilinguals, 87 per cent knew Hindi followed by 11 per cent knowing English.

In South India, the proportion of bilinguals ranged from 27 per cent among Kannada and Malayalam speakers to 25 per cent among Tamil and Telugu speakers with English being the second language of the majority.

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