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Bihari languages

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Not to be confused with the languages of Bihar.

Bihari is a group of the Indo-Aryan languages. The Bihari languages are mainly spoken in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh and also in Nepal. The most widely spoken languages of the Bihari group are Bhojpuri, Magahi and Maithili.

Despite the large number of speakers of these languages, only Maithili has been constitutionally recognised in India, which gained constitutional status via the 92nd amendment to the Constitution of India, of 2003 (gaining assent in 2004). Both Maithili and Bhojpuri have constitutional recognition in Nepal. Bhojpuri is also official in Fiji as Fiji Baat. There are demands for including Bhojpuri in the 8th schedule of Indian constitution.

In Bihar, Hindi is the language used for educational and official matters. These languages were legally absorbed under the overarching label Hindi in the 1961 Census. Such state and national politics are creating conditions for language endangerments. After independence Hindi was given the sole official status through the Bihar Official Language Act, 1950. Hindi was displaced as the sole official language of Bihar in 1981, when Urdu was accorded the status of the second official language.


See also: Languages in Bihar, Maithili language, Bhojpuri, Angika, Magahi, Magadhi Prakrit, and Hindi in Bihar

The number of speakers of Bihari languages is difficult to indicate because of unreliable sources. In the urban region most educated speakers of the language name Hindi as their language because this is what they use in formal contexts and believe it to be the appropriate response because of unawareness. The educated and the urban population of the region return Hindi as the generic name for their language.


The Bihari languages fall into four language subgroups:

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