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India's classical languages



  Jul 10, 2024

India's classical languages



1. What are India's classical languages?
Currently, six languages have been declared as classical languages in India: Tamil, Sanskrit, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, and Odia.

2. What criteria must a language meet to be considered classical?
To be declared a classical language, a language must meet the following criteria:
- High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over 1500-2000 years
- A body of ancient literature/texts considered valuable heritage by generations of speakers
- The literary tradition should be original and not borrowed from another speech community
- The classical language and literature should be distinct from its modern form or offshoots

3. Who decides which languages are given classical status?
The decision is made by the Government of India based on recommendations from language experts and committees.

4. What benefits does a language receive upon being declared classical?
Once a language is notified as a classical language:
- The Education Ministry helps promote it
- Two major annual international awards are instituted for scholars of eminence in the language
- A Centre of Excellence for studies in the language is set up
- The University Grants Commission is requested to create Professional Chairs for the language in Central universities

5. When was the first language declared classical in India?
Tamil was the first language to be declared classical in 2004.

6. Can more languages be added to the list of classical languages?
Yes, the government can consider adding more languages if they meet the required criteria.

7. What is the significance of classical language status?
It recognizes the historical importance and rich literary tradition of the language, and helps in its preservation and promotion.

8. Are there any financial benefits associated with classical language status?
Yes, there is often increased funding for research, scholarships, and promotion of the language.

9. How does classical language status affect education?
It often leads to increased academic focus on the language, including more research opportunities and the establishment of specialized study programs.

10. Do all classical languages have the same level of current usage?
No, the current usage of classical languages varies. Some, like Tamil, are widely spoken today, while others, like Sanskrit, have fewer active speakers but remain culturally significant.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​





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