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Linguistic Features of India: Eastern and North Eastern States

Updated on March 2, 2017

I had written about the linguistic diversity of the states in India in my earlier hub the Southern part of India. Now I give you below some narration about the amazing features of the versatility of languages used in the Eastern and the North Eastern States.

The Eastern and Northeastern states mainly cover the following states:

  1. Arunachal Pradesh
  2. Asom (Assam)
  3. Manipur
  4. Meghalaya
  5. Mizoram
  6. Nagaland
  7. Sikkim
  8. Tripura
  9. West Bengal
  10. Bihar
  11. Orissa (Odisha) and
  12. Jharkhand

As the rest of the India, the Eastern and Northeastern end also present a diverse linguistic picture of states. In fact, this region is more complex with the usage of many languages. All these 12 states have different languages and more than a couple of languages are spoken in each state.

The notable features of these states are that some of them share a border with some foreign countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Myanmar and Nepal. Moreover, English is widely spoken in many of these places, especially in the Northeastern states.

The famous Konark Beach in Odisha (Orissa)
The famous Konark Beach in Odisha (Orissa)

A lion share of people in the region can also follow Hindi even though it is not their mother tongue. One amusing fact about this region's multiplicity on language can be seen in Nagaland. The state's official language is English! It is is the only state in India with such a speciality.

As already stated, Hindi & English are lavishly used by people in the region though they have their own languages as their mother tongue. Now let's examine the subject in detail.

The people of Arunachal Pradesh speak a variety of languages such as Mompa, Adi, Wancho, Miji and Nyishi. The list goes up to 15. It must be the only state in India with such a large number of spoken languages. English also widely used here.

In Asom (formerly Assam), the languages are Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Mishing and Karbi. They also know Hindi well. What makes Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland something different is the presence of English among the spoken languages. While people of Meghalaya speak Garo and Khasi, the Mizoram people communicate in Mizo. While Sama is the language of Nagaland, the language of Manipur is Manipuri (Meiteilon) and English.

The  marvelous Mizoram
The marvelous Mizoram
A scene from the Kokatta city
A scene from the Kokatta city
The Seven Sister States (include all states in the map except Sikkim)
The Seven Sister States (include all states in the map except Sikkim)

When we move to Sikkim, we may hear Lepcha, Bhutia, Hindi, Nepali and Limbu. In Tripura, people use Bengali, Kokborok, Manipuri and Tripuri.

In Bihar the chief languages used are Hindi and Urdu. It has got some other languages also but of lesser popularity. The languages you need to handle in Jharkhand are Hindi, Urdu, Santali and Bengali. And if you are in Odisha (Orissa), you need to speak in Oriya. Hindi also used abundantly here. These three states situate exactly in the Eastern part of India.

Finally, we are heading towards Kolkatta (Calcutta), the Capital city of West Bengal.(Geographically it is wrong as Kolkatta is the gateway to the North East), Kolkatta is one of the four chief metro cities in India. The other three being Mumbai (Bombay), Chennai (Madras) & Delhi. The official language of West Bengal is Bengali. It is also the language of another country called Bangladesh. Hindi also prominently figure in the spoken languages used here. You can neatly manage with English too.

What makes the Northeastern states so different from the rest of the country is the multitude of spoken languages. Each state in the region has a different variety of languages. It may be a bad news for the visitors from other states and countries as far as communication is concerned. But don't worry. Since both English and Hindi are widely used here, the travelers won't face much communication problem in this green belt.(Yes, the region has abundant forest and various kinds of plants too).

While Hindi pleases the Indians, English does the job for the tourists from across the world. The foreign tourists will surely feel comfort when they reach this region thanks to its English usage. And sorry, if you can't follow English. Then you are advised to use the "sign language", the real universal language!

Wishing you all a happy journey to the Eastern Panorama of a great country called "India".

© 2012 Sunil Kumar Kunnoth


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