8 Oldest Languages In India - Oldest.org (2023)

India is a vast country, with people from all over the world. This means that many languages are spoken throughout the country, including Hindi and English. However, there are also many more languages spoken within Indian communities than in other parts of the world.

With a population of over a billion, India is one of the biggest nations in the world, but it also has a diverse linguistic population. There are many languages spoken in India, and all of them are counted together.

India has several languages which are incredibly different from each other. All Indian languages have their own distinct characteristics, cultures, and histories. Some of them are even considered classical languages, which means that people who speak those languages are considered classic in the sense of having a very unique and independent body of written literature that has existed before other languages.

Some people think that Hindi is the oldest language in India. However, there is a language older than Hindi, according to some experts. So let’s dig into this thing and find out which language it actually is. This article will talk about the eight oldest languages in India and some interesting facts about them.

8. Bengali

Existence: 1500 years
Recognized as Classical Language: No
Current No. of Native Speaker: 230 million

8 Oldest Languages In India - Oldest.org (1)photo source: alphaomegatranslations.com

Bengali, or Bangla, is the official language of Bangladesh and one of the six official languages of India. Bengali’s closest relatives are Sinhalese and Assamese.

Bengali shares common features with languages such as Hindi and Marathi. The literary history of Bengali stretches back more than several centuries, though there are no surviving texts from before the 12th century.

Muslim invasions during the 14th century led to the establishment of the Bengal Sultanate.

Did You Know?

Bengali was designated as the region’s official court language by the Sultanate. It soon evolved into Bengal’s local vernacular.

7. Marathi

Existence: 1500-2000 years
Recognized as Classical Language: No
Current No. of Native Speaker: 90 million

8 Oldest Languages In India - Oldest.org (2)photo source: indianetzone.com

The Marathi language is a constituent of the Indo-Aryan language family’s southern branch. It has been the official language of the state of Maharashtra since 1966 and is mostly spoken by residents of that region of western India. Earlier forms of Marathi were Maharashtri, Marhatti, Mahratti, etc.

Marathi is one of the 22 official languages of India, along with Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, and others. The state government recognizes Marathi as one of the most important languages in Maharashtra.

Did You Know?

The State of Goa also recognizes Marathi as an official language, along with Konkani. Maharashtra uses Marathi as its primary language of communication as well as in the media, government, business, and education.

6. Odia

Existence: 2000 years
Recognized as Classical Language: 2014
Current No. of Native Speaker: 48 million

8 Oldest Languages In India - Oldest.org (3)photo source: ritiriwaz.com

Odia is the official state language of India. It is a language of the Austroasiatic family and belongs to the Eastern or Dravidian group of languages. It is spoken in the Indian state of Odisha, which borders Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra.

The script was developed by King Bhoja in the 14th century AD and has been used since then. Its alphabet consists of 36 letters, including 17 vowels and 21 consonants. However, some consonants are combined to form different syllables.

Did You Know?

Odia was recognized as a provincial language in the state of Odisha and is used in the media, government, business, and education as well as for everyday communication.

5. Malayalam

Existence: 2000 years
Recognized as Classical Language: 2013
Current No. of Native Speaker: 38 million

8 Oldest Languages In India - Oldest.org (4)photo source: indianetzone.com

Malayalam is a language spoken in the Indian state of Kerala. It is the primary language of many Malayali people, and is also used by a large number of those who live in other parts of India, as well as some places in the Middle East.

The first recorded use of Malayalam in writing is found in the Vazhappally inscription, which dates to around 830 AD. Early in the thirteenth century, a script known as vattezhuthu (round writing), an ancestor of the Brahmi script, gave rise to the Malayalam script.

Ezhuthachan is widely recognized as the originator of the Malayalam language as it is now. The Tigalari script played a significant role in the structured development of the present Malayalam language.

Did You Know?

Malayalam has been used as a literary language since the 14th century, making it one of the earliest modern languages in South Asia.

4. Telugu

Existence: 2000 years
Recognized as Classical Language: 2008
Current No. of Native Speaker: 50 million

8 Oldest Languages In India - Oldest.org (5)photo source: pinimg.com

Telugu is the official language of Andhra Pradesh in India. Additionally, it is Telangana’s official language. Sanskrit is the most commonly mentioned progenitor in the long history.

In modern times, Telugu has been written in three scripts, namely the Kannada script, the Tamil script, and the Devanagari script. In 2016, Telugu was ranked as the third most spoken Indian language by the number of native speakers.

Because Sanskrit is so heavily influenced by this language, certain of its expressions over time came to be thought of as Telugu words. Some words from Tamil and Kannada also made their way into Telugu, but they didn’t catch on very well.

Did You Know?

The word “telugu” comes from the word “tala”, which means “to write”.

3. Kannada

Existence: 2000 years
Recognized as Classical Language: 2008
Current No. of Native Speaker: 38 million

8 Oldest Languages In India - Oldest.org (6)photo source: pinimg.com

Kannada is a Dravidian language and belongs to the southern branch of this family of languages. The oldest record of Kannada dates back to 1000 B.C., when it was used in inscriptions on the Rock Edicts at Badami, which are believed to have been written by Ashoka.

It is one of the classical languages of India, along with Sanskrit and Pali, which was used as a courtly language by kings during ancient times and later became popular among poets and artists. Over time, it developed into an independent literary language and became an essential part of Hinduism.

Kannada is a 2500-year-old language. It appears that many of its words were adapted from Tamil or Sanskrit and then modified by exchanging “pa” with “ha.”

Did You Know?

There is also a notable difference between Kannada in its spoken and written forms. Spoken Kannada tends to vary from region to region, while written Kannada is more or less steady throughout Karnataka.

2. Sanskrit

Existence: 2000 years
Recognized as Classical Language: 2008
Current No. of Native Speaker: 38 million

8 Oldest Languages In India - Oldest.org (7)photo source: Culture Trip

Sanskrit is an ancient Indian language that is the lingua franca of many Indian languages. It is also the official language of India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Sanskrit is one of the oldest known languages in the world, with records dating back to 1500 BCE.

The earliest known form of Sanskrit was written in the Brahmi script, which was used to write Sanskrit until about 500 CE, when the Devanagari script was invented. The oldest surviving manuscript of a text in Sanskrit dates back to about 1000 CE and is believed to be from the Gupta period (4th-6th century CE).

Did You Know?

Sanskrit implies that everything has been done flawlessly or completely in terms of language used to transcend and convey a feeling as well as to communicate, read, and listen.

1. Tamil

Existence: 5000 years
Recognized as Classical Language: 2004
Current No. of Native Speaker: 78 million

8 Oldest Languages In India - Oldest.org (8)photo source: India TV News

Of all the languages in India, the Tamil language is recognized as the oldest language. Tamil is a language spoken in India, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia. Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu, and India all have it as their official language.

Tamil is a classical language, so there is a huge body of literature in it. The written language and literature of Tamil are both diverse. The oldest language still in use today is Tamil, which is still used to publish hundreds of daily publications. Many believe that Tamil dates back to 2500 BC.

The majority of words from classical Tamil still exist in the vocabulary of modern Tamil. Due to this and the importance placed on understanding classical works like Tirukkural, the majority of native Tamil speakers today can understand classical Tamil to varying degrees. However, several loan terms from Sanskrit and Prakrit have been adopted and are often employed in contemporary Tamil.

Did You Know?

The word “Tamil” also denotes “beautiful,” “sweet,” and “natural.”

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What are the oldest languages in India? ›

The Sanskrit language has been spoken since 5,000 years before Christ. Sanskrit is still the official language of India.

Is Sanskrit or Tamil older? ›

American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS)

Tamil is possibly older than Sanskrit, in speech, but Sanskrit is definitely older than Tamil in writing (that we know of).

Is Tamil older than Latin? ›

We do know Tamil is a classical language older than Latin, Greek, and Egyptian. And we know that it is oldest known language still in significant use. The earliest written work of Tamil is The Tolkāppiyam, which dates back between 2300 and 3000 years ago, based on linguistic and other evidence.

Is Tamil older than Chinese? ›

Though we can not ascertain the world's oldest language, other languages including Chinese and Egyptian are older than Tamil.

What are the 5 oldest language? ›

The world's 10 oldest languages in the world
  1. Egyptian – 2690 BC (circa. 4700 years old) ...
  2. Sanskrit – 1500 BC (circa. 3500 years old) ...
  3. Greek – 1450 BC (circa. 3500 years old) ...
  4. Chinese – 1250 BC (circa. 3300 years old) ...
  5. Aramaic – 1100 BC (circa. 3100 years old) ...
  6. Hebrew – 1000 BC (circa. 3000 years old)
Mar 2, 2022

How many years old is Tamil? ›

Tamil. Tamil is the oldest language still in use today. By order of appearance, the Tamil language (part of the family of Dravidian languages) would be considered the world's oldest living language as it is over 5,000 years old, with its first grammar book having made its first appearance in 3,000 BC.

Which is the 2 oldest language in the world? ›

Greek is derived from Mycenaean Greek which appeared around 700 years ago after which The Odyssey was written. Modern Greece that is spoken by 13.5 million people around the world has a rough origination from almost 3,500 years back. This is the second oldest language in the world which is still being used today.

Is Tamil the oldest language in the world? ›

By order of appearance, Tamil would be considered the world's oldest language as it is over 5,000 years old, having made its first appearance in 3,000 BC. The literature collection in Tamil, which is a classical language, is very vast. It is also varied.

Is Tamil older than Egyptian? ›

Egyptian records are date back to to about 2,690 BC, which is much older by about 2,000 years than any historical evidence for Tamil.

Is Sanskrit born from Tamil? ›

Conversation. Sanskrit scholars always called Tamil as a sister language, and others as daughters. Thus Sanskrit can borrow from Tamil but not from others. The fact that Sanskrit words form 40% of Tamil vocabulary even today, hence Sanskrit is older.

Is Tamil 50,000 years old? ›

Tamil (5000 years old)

Indian Language Tamil is 5000 years old and is the official language of Sri Lanka as well as Singapore. It is the part of the Dravidian family and is also the only language that has survived all the way to the modern world.

What language did Jesus speak? ›

Most religious scholars and historians agree with Pope Francis that the historical Jesus principally spoke a Galilean dialect of Aramaic. Through trade, invasions and conquest, the Aramaic language had spread far afield by the 7th century B.C., and would become the lingua franca in much of the Middle East.

How old is the Tamil race? ›

The Tamil people are an ethnic group from South Asia with a recorded history going back more than two millennia. The oldest Tamil communities are those of southern India and northeastern Sri Lanka.

Is Hebrew older than Tamil? ›

The written origins of the language have been traced back to 1250 BC in the late Shang dynasty. Along with Tamil, Chinese is one of the oldest surviving languages in the world. Hebrew: While many believe that Hebrew has been used for the last 5000 years, its earliest written examples date only to 1000BC.

Where are the Tamils originally from? ›

1 • INTRODUCTION. The Tamil name comes from "Damila." This is the name of a non-Aryan people mentioned in early Buddhist and Jain records. The Tamil have roots in western India, Pakistan, and areas farther to the west. The peoples of the Indus civilization spoke a Dravidian language around 2500 BC .

Is Tamil the mother of all languages? ›

In many of the world languages, words that have no connection with Tamil language are a rarity. Therefore, the fact that Tamil is the mother of all languages in the world is beyond reasonable doubt and cannot be contradicted or disproved easily!

Which country invented Tamil? ›

Of them, most are in Tamil, with only about 5 percent in other languages. Tamil language inscriptions written in Brahmi script have been discovered in Sri Lanka and on trade goods in Thailand and Egypt.
Tamil language.
Native speakers78 million (2011–2019) L2 speakers: 8 million (2011)
22 more rows

Is Tamil or Kannada oldest language? ›

There are four Dravidian langauges - Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, and Malayalam. Among them, Tamil is the oldest.

What is the 1 oldest language? ›

Sumerian can be considered the first language in the world, according to Mondly. The oldest proof of written Sumerian was found on the Kish tablet in today's Iraq, dating back to approximately 3500 BC.

Is Tamil older than Telugu? ›

Some believe that Telugu evolved from proto-Dravidian, which is the mother of 21 languages that took birth south of the Vindhyas. Those who argue that Telugu is older than Tamil, peg the date of origin of Telugu to at least 1000 years BCE (3000 years old).

What is the mother of all languages? ›

He said: “... In the beginning, Sanskrit stood as mother of all languages and encouraged all languages and was the reason for their growth and prosperity. One may note that most of the works in Sanskrit have been translated into other Indian languages.”

Is Tamil the oldest civilization? ›

Connected with South India

This helped ensure that the modern Tamils could be described as both indigenous people of South India and the direct descendants of the people of Kumari Kandam. This, in turn, allowed them to describe the Tamil language and culture as the world's oldest.

What language did Adam and Eve speak? ›

The Adamic language, according to Jewish tradition (as recorded in the midrashim) and some Christians, is the language spoken by Adam (and possibly Eve) in the Garden of Eden.

What is the oldest proof of Sanskrit? ›

The earliest attested Sanskrit text is the Rigveda, a Hindu scripture from the mid- to late-second millennium BCE.

Is Sanskrit is the oldest language? ›

Sanskrit (5000 years old) - World's Oldest Language

Source Unlike Tamil, which is still a widely spoken language, Sanskrit is the oldest language in the world but fell out of common usage around 600 B.C. It is now a liturgical language - the holy languages found in the scriptures of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

What is the proof for Tamil is oldest language? ›

A stone inscription in Modi script (used to write Marathi language), that was unearthed in Thanjavur reveals that the age of Tamil language could date back to more than 10,000 years. Such archaeological evidence provide ample proof to establish the antiquity of Tamil as an ancient language.

Is India older than Egypt? ›

Egypt: 6000 BC. India: 2500 BC. Vietnam: 4000 Years Old.

What's the oldest nation? ›

Here are the countries World Population Review lists as the oldest in the world by date of earliest known organized government:
  • Iran - 3200 BCE.
  • Egypt - 3100 BCE.
  • Vietnam - 2879 BCE.
  • Armenia - 2492 BCE.
  • North Korea - 2333 BCE.
  • China - 2070 BCE.
  • India - 2000 BCE.
  • Georgia - 1300 BCE.
Jan 18, 2023

Is egyptian or Sanskrit older? ›

In terms of the language that has the longest written history, that's probably Egyptian which later became Coptic (5,000 years). Sanskrit and Greek also come close.

Is Sanskrit African? ›

Sanskrit remained the dominant cultural language from 10th century to modern times. Contending that Sanskrit was not indigenous but, like all other languages, came from Africa, Dr. Scharf said all modern languages in India draw about 50 per cent from Sanskrit, with Malayalam and Kannada topping the list.

Is Chinese influenced by Sanskrit? ›

He said Sanskrit was the most important language through which Chinese learned about Hinduism, Buddhism, ancient Indian medicine, astronomy and mathematics. “While Buddhism declined in India, it became very strong in China and has become part of Chinese culture," he told PTI.

What ethnicity is Sanskrit? ›

Sanskrit traces its linguistic ancestry to Proto-Indo-Iranian and ultimately to Proto-Indo-European languages, meaning that it can be traced historically back to the people who spoke Indo-Iranian, also called the Aryan languages, as well as the Indo-European languages, a family of several hundred related languages and ...

Who is the last Tamil king? ›

According to Ashok Raja of Madurai, his ancestor Vikrama Singe was earlier known as Prince Kannasamy and was the last king of Sri Lanka from Tamil Nadu belonging to the Madurai Nayak dynasty. He had fought against the British who defeated him in 1815.

Who was the first Tamil king? ›

During the 1st to the 4th century, the early Cholas ruled the lands of Tamil Nadu. The first and the most important king of this dynasty was Karikalan.

Is Tamil older than rigveda? ›

Conversation. Forget about any Tamil work older than Rigveda, if one can find out a single work in Tamil for 1000 years after Rigveda was written I will do shastang dandavat to him. Even Prakrit is older than Tamil!

How did Jesus say God in Aramaic? ›

The Aramaic word for God is אלהא Elāhā ( Biblical Aramaic) and ܐܠܗܐ Alāhā ( Syriac), which comes from the same Proto- Semitic word (* ʾil-) as the Arabic and Hebrew terms; Jesus is described in Mark 15:34 as having used the word on the cross, with the ending meaning "my", when saying, "My God, my God, why hast Thou ...

What is God called in Aramaic? ›

Cognates of the name "Allāh" exist in other Semitic languages, including Hebrew and Aramaic. The corresponding Aramaic form is Elah (אלה), but its emphatic state is Elaha (אלהא). It is written as ܐܠܗܐ (ʼĔlāhā) in Biblical Aramaic and ܐܲܠܵܗܵܐ (ʼAlâhâ) in Syriac as used by the Assyrian Church, both meaning simply "God".

What is Jesus's name in Aramaic? ›

However, both the Western and Eastern Syriac Christian traditions use the Aramaic name ܝܫܘܥ (in Hebrew script: ישוע) Yeshuʿ and Yishoʿ, respectively, including the ʿayin.

Who are the ancestors of Tamils? ›

According to their tradition, Sri Lankan Tamils are lineal descendants of the aboriginal Naga and Yaksha people of Sri Lanka.

How old is the Indian race? ›

The Indian population originated from three separate waves of migration from Africa, Iran and Central Asia over a period of 50,000 years, scientists have found using genetic evidence from people alive in the subcontinent today.

Is Tamil mentioned in the Bible? ›

Some of these loan words are present in the earliest transcripts of the Bible. By the mid-nineteenth century, Christian missionaries trained in Biblical Hebrew noticed that there were words of Indian origin in the Bible, including from the Tamil language.

Which is older Sanskrit or Hebrew? ›

Sanskrit is the oldest language in the world, but it faded away as a commonly spoken language. The first written record of Sanskrit can be found in scriptures and Rigveda, a collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns. It is still India's one of the official languages.

Which language originated from Tamil? ›

The Dravidian languages are first attested in the 2nd century BCE, as Tamil-Brahmi script, inscribed on the cave walls in the Madurai and Tirunelveli districts of Tamil Nadu.
Dravidian languages.
Geographic distributionSouth Asia and Southeast Asia, mainly South India, north-east Sri Lanka and south-west Pakistan
7 more rows

Which language is older Tamil or Hindi? ›

1. Tamil (5000 years old) - Oldest Living Language of the World. Source Spoken by 78 million people and official language in Sri Lanka and Singapore, Tamil is the oldest language in the world. It is the only ancient language that has survived all the way to the modern world.

Which language is older Telugu or Tamil? ›

Tamil. Of the four literary languages in the Dravidian family, Tamil is the oldest, with examples dating to the early Common Era. In the early 21st century, Tamil was spoken by more than 66 million people, mostly residing in India, northern Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, Fiji, and Myanmar (Burma).

Which is older Kannada or Tamil? ›

Kannada is the oldest language along with Prakrit, Sanskrit, and Tamil. Linguists are of believing that Kannada branched off from the proto-Tamil South Dravidian division even before the Christian Era. This means it was spoken way before English and Hindi.

What is the origin of Tamil? ›

Tamil, like other Dravidian languages, ultimately descends from the Proto-Dravidian language, which was most likely spoken around the third millennium BC, possibly in the region around the lower Godavari river basin.

What is the 3 oldest language in the world? ›

  • Tamil (300 BC – present) ...
  • Farsi(522 BC – present) ...
  • Hebrew (1000 BC- present) ...
  • Aramaic ( 1100 BC to present) ...
  • Chinese(1250 BC) ...
  • Greek (1450 BC) This language has evolved from its old scripture. ...
  • Sanskrit. This is the second oldest language in the world which is still being used today. ...
  • Egyptian (2690 BC)
Oct 11, 2021

Is Telugu born from Tamil? ›

The Telugu language is not derived from Tamil. Telegu is one of the Dravidian languages, originated along with Gondi (spoken in Madhya Pradesh) and Kovi(spoken in Orissa). It is mainly spoken by the people in the southeastern state of India - Andra Pradesh and Telangana.

Is Sanskrit older than Telugu? ›

Sanskrit is a more recent language, and even though it has left its mark on Telugu's lexicon, they are not descendants from the same language tree.

Is Kannada derived from Tamil? ›

According to R. C. Hiremath, the separation of Tamil and Kannada into independent languages from the Tamil–Kannada inner branch started with the separation of Tulu in about 1500 BCE and completed in about 300 BCE.
Tamil–Kannada languages.
SubdivisionsKannada–Badaga Tamil–Kodagu
2 more rows

Is Tamil the mother of all Dravidian languages? ›

Yes, Tamil is said to be the mother of all Dravidian languages. It dates back 5000 years. It is recognized as the oldest language in the world. There are four Dravidian literary languages in Southern India, of which Tamil is the oldest.

Is Kannada older than Telugu? ›

Kannada became a written language ahead of Telugu. Kannada produced many poetries during the eighth century under Chalukyas. Full-fledged literary works in Kannada appeared in the ninth century, two centuries later they became available in Telugu. The earliest known Telugu inscriptions date to the 6th century CE.


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