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Languages of Odisha

Odia is an Indian language belonging to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. Odia, one of the oldest languages in the country having Sanskrit origin, is the predominant language spoken in the state. Odia is one of the many official languages in India, it is the official language of Odisha and the second official language of Jharkhand. Odia is the sixth Indian language to be designated a Classical Language in India, on the basis of having a long literary history and not having borrowed extensively from other languages. In Odisha nearly 84% of the population speaks this language. 

Odia is seems to be very closely associated with Assamese, Bengali and Maithili. Under the influence of neighboring regional languages of the Aryan and Dravidian families, Odia has developed many linguistic variations, such as Baleswari (Balasore), Bhatri (Koraput), Laria (Sambalpur), Sambalpuri (Sambalpur and other western districts), Ganjami (Ganjam and Koraput), Chhatisgarhi (Chhatisgarh and adjoining areas of Odisha) and Medinipuri (Midnapur district of West Bengal). Mughalbandi Odia is considered as proper or Standard Odia due to literary traditions. Mughalbandi Odia is spoken in Puri, Khurdha, Cuttack, Jajpur, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapada, Anandapur, Dhenkanal, Angul and Nayagarh district with little variance. Along with Odia Hindi, Urdu, Bengali and Telugu are widely understood and spoken by people.

Odia Language in Neighbouring States of Odisha:
Outside Odisha, there are also significant Odia-speaking populations in other linguistic regions, such as the Midnapore district of West Bengal, the East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum Seraikela Kharsawan district, Simdega, Gumla, Khunti, Ranchi district of Jharkhand, the Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Vishakhapatnam District of Andhra Pradesh, eastern districts of Chhattisgarh state. Due to the increasing migration of labour, the west Indian state of Gujarat also has a significant Odia speaking population with Surat being the city with the second largest Odia-speaking population in India. The Odia-speaking people are also found in significant numbers in the cities of Vishakhapatnam, Hyderabad, Pondicherry, Bangalore, Chennai, Goa, Mumbai, Raipur, Jamshedpur, Baroda, Ahmedabad, New Delhi, Kolkata, Kharagpur, Guwahati, Shillong, Pune, and Silvassa in India.

Odia Language in Foreign Countries:
The Odia diaspora constitute a sizeable number in several countries around the world. They are major number of countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and Southeast Asia, the ancient traders from Odisha who carried the language along with the culture during the old day trading, and in the western countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and England. Odia speakers are regarded as one of the ‘Transnational Ethnic Indian Groups’. In India, the language is spoken by over 31 million people, and globally over 45 million speak Odia. Odia language has spread also to the other parts of the globe such as Burma, Malaysia, Fiji, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

History of Odia Language:
Odia literature has had a vivid and varying history through the age. Odia is an Eastern Indo-Aryan language belonging to the Indo-Aryan language family. It is thought to be directly descended from a Magadhi Prakrit similar to Ardha Magadhi, which was spoken in eastern India over 1,500 years ago, and is the primary language used in early Jain texts. Odia appears to have had relatively little influence from Persian and Arabic, compared to other major North Indian languages.

Tribal Languages of Odisha:
The tribal languages of Odisha are spoken languages with no script of their own. There are almost 44 tribal languages are found in Odisha. They fall into two board divisions, Mundari and Dravidian. The Mundari group has a northern branch, which Grierson called Kherwari after the traditional homeland of the Santals, Mundas, Birhors, Hos and other tribes. The southern Mundari branch includes Saora, Gadaba (Gutob), Remo, Pareng, Juang, etc. the chief Dravidian tribal languages are Kui, Kuvi, Gondi, Ollari, Kisan and Oraon. It is to be observed that all some languages have less numerical strength, some are primitive, and some have their own script.

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