Classical Languages

Classical Languages

Classical Languages

  • Classical Languages are a language with original, independent literary tradition and a large body of ancient written literature.
  • India recognizes six classical languages: Tamil (declared in 2004), Sanskrit (2005), Kannada (2008), Telugu (2008), Malayalam (2013) and Odia (2014).
  • All the Classical Languages are listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian constitution.

Criteria for declaring a language as ‘Classical.’

The Ministry of Culture provides guidelines regarding Classical languages. They are:

  • High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over 1500-2000 years.
  • A body of ancient literature/texts is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers.
  • The literary tradition should be original and not borrowed from another speech community.
  • Classical language and literature are distinct from modern, but there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or offshoots.

Benefits of being a Classical Language

The Ministry of Education provides specific benefits to promote the classical languages:

  • Two major annual international awards for scholars of eminence in classical Indian languages.
  • Centre of Excellence for Studies in Classical Languages.
  • The University Grants Commission is requested to create several professional chairs for classical languages in the Central Universities.

Different Classical Languages in India

Six languages in India have a Classical Language status; these are:

Tamil

  • It was declared a classical language in 2004.
  • It is a classical Dravidian language spoken in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka, and various other parts of Southeast Asia.
  • Sangam literature constitutes the earliest period of Tamil literature.
  • It is one of the 22 languages in the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution.

Sanskrit

  • It was declared a classical language in 2005.
  • It belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of Indo-European languages.
  • It is one of the 22 languages in the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • It is a language of classical Hindu philosophy.
  • It spread to the northwest part of the subcontinent during Bronze Age.

Kannada

  • It was declared a classical language of India in 2008.
  • It is one of the 22 languages in the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • It is a Dravidian language spoken in the Indian state of Karnataka and southwest India.
  • It is written in Kannada script which was evolved from the Kadamba script during the 5th century.

Telugu

  • It was declared a classical language of India in 2008.
  • It is one of the 22 languages in the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • It is a Dravidian language spoken by people in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
  • It traces its origin from proto-Dravidian spoken during the third millennium BCE.

Malayalam

  • It was declared as a classical language of India in 2013.
  • It is one of the 22 languages in the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • It is a Dravidian language spoken in Kerala, Puducherry, Lakshadweep.
  • Its oldest literature work is from between the 9th and 11th centuries.
  • Vatteluttu script was the earliest script used to write Malayalam.

Odia

  • It was declared a classical language of India in 2014.
  • It is one of the 22 languages in the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • It is an Indo-Aryan language, spoken in the Indian states of Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand.
  • It has a wide literary history and is less borrowed from other languages.
  • The earliest known inscription in Odia dates back to the 10th century CE

Related Links:

Eighth Schedule of Indian ConstitutionHindustani Music
Schools of Indian PhilosophyIndian Puppetry
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