Most Spoken Indian Languages in the UK

Most Spoken Indian Languages in the UK

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Most Spoken Indian Languages in the UK [Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati]. Picture of a man's hand writing at Bengali on a blackboard by Raisuvam at Pixabay. Pixabay License.

Organisations aiming to reach Indian communities efficiently need to localise their content to some of the most spoken Indian languages. Localised content can effectively deliver your message and reach communities that you would otherwise have missed.

In the UK, 4.1 million people did not speak English as their main language in 2021. The top Indian languages spoken in the UK include Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, and Tamil. Many of these people are not fluent in English or may not understand English at all.

UK public workers need to translate, voiceover, and subtitle their crucial audio-visual content if they want to reach audiences that only speak their native language. This will allow organisations to successfully deliver public information.  

Top 5 Most Spoken Indian Languages in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has been an immigration hub since its existence. It comes as no surprise then that the number of people speaking foreign languages increases every year in the country. Of the 300 different languages spoken in the UK, these are the top Indian languages spoken in the country.

Punjabi Language in the UK

Punjabi is one of the most common Indian languages spoken in the UK. There are 273,000 Punjabi speakers in the country, which is 0.5% of the total population. The United Kingdom is home to the largest Punjabi diaspora. This is because of the country’s presence in India during the 19th century and 20th centuries.

A large number of Punjabi immigrants in the country live in Greater London’s South Hall area, earning it the nickname “Little Punjab.” Moreover, there are innumerable varieties of the Punjabi language spoken in the UK, creating a virtual continuum between the Eastern and Western varieties of this language. The dialects are usually mutually intelligible, even though there may be differences in vocabulary and pronunciation.

Punjabi expatriates in the UK and in other parts of the world speak a creolized version of the language that deviates from the norms of the language spoken in Pakistan and India. Creolization refers to the process where a language incorporates elements of multiple languages.

Urdu Language in the UK

There are approximately 269,000 Urdu speakers in the United Kingdom, according to the 2011 census. Urdu is one of the most widely spoken Indian languages in the UK and is spoken by a large number of people in the South Asian community.

Even Queen Victoria was at one time taught to write the Urdu language by Abdul Karim, her Indian servant. The country has several geographical areas with a large concentration of Urdu speakers. Northern towns like Bradford, Leeds, and Manchester (check out what the Manchester Accent sounds like), parts of London, West Midlands, and Scotland (read about the English Scottish Accent), are home to many Urdu speakers.

According to the UK census in 2021, Urdu is spoken by 0.5% of the population in the country. Therefore making it one of the top foreign languages spoken.

Do you know that Urdu is also one of the most spoken languages in the world?

Bengali Language in the UK

Native Bengali speakers make up 0.4% of the population of the United Kingdom. There has been a Bengali presence in the country for decades. In the 70s, when the immigration laws in the UK changed, more Bengalis started moving to the country.

Today, there is a thriving Bengali community in the UK, and the Bengali language is spoken by approximately 221,000 people. In London alone, as many as 71,000 residents speak Bengali. For example, it’s one of the most commonly spoken languages in London across the three boroughs. 18% of the residents in Tower Hamlets, 7% of residents of Newham, and 3% of residents of Camden say that Bengali is the main language they speak at home.

Spoken Bengali is a continuum of various regional dialects, and many of them are not even mutually intelligible. Many speakers can speak their regional dialect as well as standard Bengali because of widespread diglossia. For example, there are mainly two styles of speaking in Bengali which is informal language and high-style conservative literary language.

Do you know that Bengali is also one of the most spoken languages in the world?

Gujarati Language in the UK

Due to the presence of Britain in India during the 19th and the 20th centuries, a large number of Gujarati speakers immigrated to the UK. Many of these native speakers settled in large metropolitan areas such as Yorkshire, Greater London, Lancashire, and West and East Midlands.

Today, Gujarati native speakers have formed vibrant communities throughout the United Kingdom. They still honour their traditions and speak Gujarati. In fact, there are 213,094 Gujarati speakers in the UK today.

Gujarati has several different dialects. Northern dialects have loanwords from languages like Persian and Arabic. Southern dialects have more Portuguese, English, and Hindi borrowings. East African Gujarati borrows many words from local languages like Swahili.

Tamil Language in the UK

The native language of India and Sri Lanka, Tamil, is spoken by as many as 100,000 people in the United Kingdom. Tamil is often considered to be a rare language, but Tamil speakers can be found in some of the largest metropolitan areas in the UK, such as London, Yorkshire, and more.

Vocabulary in the modern Tamil language is based largely on classical Tamil, so it is mutually intelligible. The language also has many loanwords from the ancient language of Sanskrit. Tamil also makes use of some loanwords from Arabic and Persian. Furthermore, words for modern technical terms are borrowed from the English language.

Most Spoken Indian Languages: Voice-Over, Translation, and Subtitling

With a large Indian population in the UK localising your content to suit the needs of the community you wish to target is crucial. GoLocalise, a London based language services agency, can help you with every step of the process with a vast talent pool of professional voice-over artists, Indian languages translators, and subtitlers specializing in some of the top Indian languages like Punjabi, Urdu, Gujarati, Tamil, and Bengali.

GoLocalise can help you identify the most suitable Indian language and choose the right accent and dialect for your audio-visual localisation project. Our in-house project managers, linguistic directors, editors, and native-speaker voice artists will ensure that your project is culturally appropriate and linguistically perfect. Our state-of-the-art recording studio will ensure that the finished product has top-notch sound quality.

Check out our complete guides: Voice Over Rates, Translation Rates, and Subtitling Rates.

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