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There is a wide variety of languages spoken throughout Asia, comprising different language families and some unrelated isolates. The major language families spoken on the continent include Altaic, Austroasiatic, Austronesian, Caucasian, Dravidian, Indo-European, Semitic, Siberian, Sino-Tibetan and Tai-Kadai. They usually have a long tradition of writing, but not always.

Contents

1 Language
Language
groups

1.1 Sino-Tibetan 1.2 Indo-European 1.3 Altaic families 1.4 Mon–Khmer 1.5 Tai–Kadai 1.6 Austronesian 1.7 Dravidian 1.8 Afro-Asiatic 1.9 Siberian families 1.10 Caucasian families 1.11 Small families of Southern Asia 1.12 Creoles and pidgins 1.13 Sign languages

2 Official languages 3 See also 4 References

Language
Language
groups[edit]

Ethnolinguistic distribution in Central/Southwest Asia
Asia
of the Altaic, Caucasian, Afroasiatic (Hamito-Semitic) and Indo-European families.

The major families in terms of numbers are Indo-European and Dravidian in South Asia
Asia
and Sino-Tibetan in East Asia. Several other families are regionally dominant. Sino-Tibetan[edit] Main article: Sino-Tibetan languages Sino-Tibetan includes Chinese, Tibetan, Burmese, Karen and numerous languages of the Tibetan Plateau, southern China, Burma, and North east India. Indo-European[edit] Main articles: Indo-Iranian languages, Slavic languages, Armenian languages, Anatolian languages, and Tocharian languages The Indo-European languages
Indo-European languages
are primarily represented by the Indo-Iranian branch. The family includes both Indic languages
Indic languages
(Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Marathi, Gujarati, Sinhalese and other languages spoken primarily in South Asia) and Iranian (Persian, Kurdish, Pashto, Balochi and other languages spoken primarily in Iran, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Central Asia, the Caucasus
Caucasus
and parts of South Asia). In addition, other branches of Indo-European spoken in Asia include the Slavic branch, which includes Russian in Siberia; Greek around the Black Sea; and Armenian; as well as extinct languages such as Hittite of Anatolia and Tocharian of (Chinese) Turkestan. Altaic families[edit] Main article: Altaic languages A number of smaller, but important language families spread across central and northern Asia
Asia
have long been linked in an as-yet unproven Altaic family. These are the Turkic languages, Mongolic languages, Tungusic languages
Tungusic languages
(including Manchu), Korean, and Japonic
Japonic
languages. Speakers of Turkish (Anatolian Turks) are believed to have adopted the language, having instead originally spoken the Anatolian languages, an extinct group of languages belonging to the Indo-European family.[1] Mon–Khmer[edit] Main article: Austroasiatic
Austroasiatic
languages The Mon–Khmer languages ( Austroasiatic
Austroasiatic
languages) are the oldest family in Asia. They include Vietnamese and Khmer (Cambodian). Tai–Kadai[edit] Main article: Tai-Kadai
Tai-Kadai
languages The Tai-Kadai languages
Tai-Kadai languages
(or just Kadai) of southern China
China
spread in historic times into Southeast Asia, where Thai (Siamese) and Lao are official languages. Austronesian[edit] Main article: Austronesian
Austronesian
languages The Austronesian languages
Austronesian languages
include the languages of the Philippines and most of the languages of Indonesia
Indonesia
(excluding inland New Guinea), such as Malay (Indonesian) and Tagalog (Filipino). Dravidian[edit] Main article: Dravidian languages The Dravidian languages
Dravidian languages
of southern India
India
and parts of Sri Lanka include Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, and Malayalam, while smaller languages such as Gondi and Brahui are spoken in central India
India
and Pakistan respectively. Afro-Asiatic[edit] Main article: Semitic languages The Afroasiatic languages
Afroasiatic languages
(Hamito-Semitic) are presently represented by the Semitic branch spoken in Southwest Asia. It includes Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic, in addition to extinct languages such as Akkadian. The Modern South Arabian languages
Modern South Arabian languages
contain a substratum influence from the Cushitic branch of Afroasiatic, which suggests that Cushitic speakers originally inhabited the Arabian Peninsula alongside Semitic speakers.[2] Siberian families[edit] Main article: Paleosiberian languages Besides the Altaic families already mentioned (of which Tungusic is today a minor family of Siberia), there are a number of small language families and isolates spoken across northern Asia. These include the Uralic languages
Uralic languages
of western Siberia
Siberia
(better known for Hungarian and Finnish in Europe), the Yeniseian languages
Yeniseian languages
(linked to Turkic and to the Athabaskan languages of North America), Yukaghir, Nivkh of Sakhalin, Ainu of northern Japan, Chukotko-Kamchatkan in easternmost Siberia, and—just barely—Eskimo–Aleut. Some linguists have noted that the Koreanic languages
Koreanic languages
share more similarities with the Paleosiberian languages
Paleosiberian languages
than with the Altaic languages. The extinct Ruan-ruan language of Mongolia
Mongolia
is unclassified, and does not show genetic relationships with any other known language family. Caucasian families[edit] Main article: Languages of the Caucasus Three small families are spoken in the Caucasus: Kartvelian languages, such as Georgian; Northeast Caucasian (Dagestanian languages), such as Chechen; and Northwest Caucasian, such as Circassian. The latter two may be related to each other. The extinct Hurro-Urartian languages may be related as well. Small families of Southern Asia[edit] Although dominated by major languages and families, there are number of minor families and isolates in South Asia
Asia
& Southeast Asia. From west to east, these include:

extinct languages of the Fertile Crescent
Fertile Crescent
such as Sumerian, Elamite, and Proto-Euphratean extinct languages of South Asia: the unclassified Harappan language small language families and isolates of the Indian subcontinent: Burushaski, Kusunda, and Nihali. The Vedda language
Vedda language
of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
is likely an isolate that has mixed with Sinhalese. the two Andamanese language families: Great Andamanese and Ongan; Sentinelese remains undocumented to date, and hence unclassified. isolates and languages with isolate substrata of Southeast Asia: Kenaboi, Enggano, and the Philippine Negrito languages Manide and Umiray Dumagat Language
Language
isolates and independent language families in Arunachal: Digaro, Hrusish (including the Miji languages[3]), Midzu, Puroik, Siangic, and Kho-Bwa Hmong–Mien (Miao–Yao) scattered across southern China
China
and Southeast Asia several "Papuan" families of the central and eastern Malay Archipelago: languages of Halmahera, East Timor, and the extinct Tambora of Sumbawa. Numerous additional families are spoken in Indonesian New Guinea, but this lies outside the scope of an article on Asian languages.

Creoles and pidgins[edit] Main articles: Creole languages
Creole languages
and Pidgin language The eponymous pidgin ("business") language developed with European trade in China. Of the many creoles to have developed, the most spoken today are Chavacano, a Spanish-based creole
Spanish-based creole
of the Philippines, and various Malay-based creoles such as Manado Malay influenced by Portuguese. A very well-known Portuguese-based creole is the Kristang, which is spoken in Malacca, a city-state in Malaysia. Sign languages[edit] Main articles: Sign language
Sign language
and List of sign languages § Asia/Pacific A number of sign languages are spoken throughout Asia. These include the Japanese Sign Language
Language
family, Chinese Sign Language, Indo-Pakistani Sign Language, as well as a number of small indigenous sign languages of countries such as Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam. Many official sign languages are part of the French Sign Language
Language
family. Official languages[edit] Main article: List of official languages by state Asia
Asia
and Europe are the only two continents where most countries use native languages as their official languages, though English is also widespread.

Language Native name Speakers Language
Language
Family Official Status in a Country Official Status in a Region

Abkhaz Aԥсшәа 240,000 Northwest Caucasian  Abkhazia  Georgia

Arabic العَرَبِيَّة 230,000,000 Afro-Asiatic  Qatar,  Jordan,  Saudi Arabia,  Iraq,  Yemen,  Kuwait,  Bahrain,  Syria,  Palestine,  Lebanon,  Oman,  UAE,  Israel

Armenian հայերեն 5,902,970 Indo-European  Armenia,  Nagorno-Karabakh

Assamese অসমীয়া 15,000,000 Indo-European

  India
India
(in Assam)

Azerbaijani Azərbaycanca 37,324,060 Turkic  Azerbaijan  Iran

Bangla বাংলা 230,000,000 Indo-European  Bangladesh   India
India
(in West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Andaman and Nicobar islands and Jharkhand)

Bodo Boro 1,984,569 Sino-Tibetan

  India
India
(in Bodoland)

Burmese မြန်မာစာ 33,000,000 Sino-Tibetan  Myanmar

Cantonese 廣東話/广东话 7,877,900 Sino-Tibetan

 Hong Kong,  Macau

Chinese 普通話/普通话,國語/国语,華語/华语

Sino-Tibetan  China,  Taiwan,  Singapore

Dari دری 19,600,000 Indo-European  Afghanistan

Dhivehi ދިވެހި 400,000 Indo-European  Maldives

Dzongkha རྫོང་ཁ་ 600,000 Sino-Tibetan  Bhutan

English English 301,625,412 Indo-European  Philippines,  Singapore,  India,  Pakistan   Hong Kong
Hong Kong
(China)

Filipino Wikang Filipino 90,000,000 Austronesian  Philippines

Formosan

171,855 Austronesian  Taiwan

Georgian ქართული 4,200,000 Kartvelian  Georgia

Gujarati ગુજરાતી 50,000,000 Indo-European

  India
India
(in Gujarat, Daman and Diu
Daman and Diu
and Dadra and Nagar Haveli)

Hakka 臺灣客家語 2,370,000 Sino-Tibetan  Taiwan

Hebrew עברית 7,000,000 Afro-Asiatic  Israel

Hindi हिन्दी 550,000,000 Indo-European  India

Indonesian Bahasa Indonesia 240,000,000 Austronesian  Indonesia   East Timor
East Timor
(as a working language)

Japanese 日本語 120,000,000 Japonic  Japan

Kannada ಕನ್ನಡ 51,000,000 Dravidian

  India
India
(in Karnataka)

Karen ကညီကျိး 6,000,000 Sino-Tibetan

  Myanmar
Myanmar
(in Kayin State)

Kazakh Қазақша 18,000,000 Turkic  Kazakhstan

Khmer ភាសាខ្មែរ 14,000,000 Austroasiatic  Cambodia

Korean 한국어/조선말 80,000,000 Koreanic  South Korea,  North Korea   China
China
(in Yanbian and Changbai)

Kurdish Kurdî/کوردی 20,000,000 Indo-European  Iraq

Kyrgyz кыргызча 2,900,000 Turkic  Kyrgyzstan

Lao ພາສາລາວ 7,000,000 Tai-Kadai  Laos

Malay Bahasa Melayu/بهاس ملايو 30,000,000 Austronesian  Malaysia,  Brunei,  Singapore

Malayalam മലയാളം 33,000,000 Dravidian

  India
India
(in Kerala, Lakshadweep
Lakshadweep
and Mahe)

Marathi मराठी 73,000,000 Indo-European

  India
India
(in Maharashtra
Maharashtra
and Dadra and Nagar Haveli)

Mongolian Монгол хэлᠮᠣᠨᠭᠭᠣᠯ ᠬᠡᠯᠡ 2,000,000 Mongolic  Mongolia   China
China
(in Inner Mongolia)

Nepali नेपाली 29,000,000 Indo-European    Nepal   India
India
(in Sikkim
Sikkim
and West Bengal)

Odia ଓଡ଼ିଆ 33,000,000 Indo-European

  India
India
(in Odisha
Odisha
and Jharkhand)

Ossetian Ирон 540,000 (50,000 in South Ossetia) Indo-European  South Ossetia  North Ossetia–Alania (Russia)

Pashto پښتو 45,000,000 Indo-European  Afghanistan Template:Flage

Persian فارسی 50,000,000 Indo-European  Iran

Punjabi پنجابی / ਪੰਜਾਬੀ 100,000,000 Indo-European

  India
India
(in Punjab, India, Haryana, Delhi
Delhi
and Chandigarh)   Pakistan
Pakistan
(in Punjab, Pakistan)

Portuguese Português 1,200,000 Indo-European  Timor Leste   Macau
Macau
(China)

Russian Русский 260,000,000 Indo-European  Abkhazia,  Kazakhstan,  Kyrgyzstan,  Russia,  South Ossetia  Uzbekistan,   Tajikistan
Tajikistan
(as an inter-ethnic language),   Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
(as an inter-ethnic language)

Saraiki سرائیکی‬ 18,179,610 Indo-European

  Pakistan
Pakistan
(in Bahawalpur
Bahawalpur
)   India
India
(in Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh
)

Sinhala සිංහල 18,000,000 Indo-European  Sri Lanka

Tamil தமிழ் 77,000,000 Dravidian  Sri Lanka,  Singapore   India
India
(in Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar islands
Andaman and Nicobar islands
and Puducherry)

Telugu తెలుగు 79,000,000 Dravidian

  India
India
(in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Andaman and Nicobar islands, Puducherry)

Tajik тоҷикӣ 7,900,000 Indo-European  Tajikistan

Tetum Lia-Tetun 500,000 Austronesian  Timor Leste

Thai ภาษาไทย 60,000,000 Tai-Kadai  Thailand

Tulu ತುಳು 1,722,768 Dravidian

  India
India
(in Mangalore, Udupi, Kasargod, Mumbai)

Turkish Türkçe 70,000,000 Turkic  Turkey,  Cyprus,  Northern Cyprus

Turkmen Türkmençe 7,000,000 Turkic  Turkmenistan

Urdu اُردُو‬ 62,120,540 Indo-European  Pakistan   India
India
(in Jammu and Kashmir, Telangana, Delhi, Bihar
Bihar
and Uttar Pradesh)

Uzbek Oʻzbekcha 25,000,000 Turkic  Uzbekistan

Vietnamese Tiếng Việt 80,000,000 Austroasiatic  Vietnam

Zopau Zomi 5,000,000 Sino-Tibetan

  Myanmar
Myanmar
(in Chin State, Sagaing Region)   Bangladesh
Bangladesh
(in Chittagong Hill Tracts)   India
India
(in Manipur, Mizoram, Assam, Nagaland
Nagaland
and Tripura)

See also[edit]

Asianic languages East Asian languages Languages of South Asia List of extinct languages of Asia Classification schemes for Southeast Asian languages

References[edit]

^ Z. Rosser et al. (2000). "Y-Chromosomal Diversity in Europe is Clinal and Influenced Primarily by Geography, Rather than by Language" (PDF). American Journal of Human Genetics. 67 (6): 1526–1543. doi:10.1086/316890. PMC 1287948 . PMID 11078479. CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link) CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al. (link) ^ Blažek, Václav. "Afroasiatic Migrations: Linguistic Evidence" (PDF). Retrieved 25 September 2017.  ^ Blench, Roger. 2015. The Mijiic languages: distribution, dialects, wordlist and classification. m.s.

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