d. Linguistic classification of Indian tribes. (2013, Paper II Section B)
At present people of India may be divided into four speech families viz., the IndoEuropean (Aryan), the Dravidian, the Austric (Kolor Munda) and the Tibeto-Chinese (SinoTibetan). D.N. Majumdar (1955) opines that “so far as the tribal people are concerned the Aryan speech comes into the picture only as a consequence of cultural contract since almost all of our tribal people have pre-Aryan or nonAryan racial affinities and origins”.
Most of the scholars, therefore, are of the view that the tribal people of India may be classified chiefly into three speech families:
(1) Dravidian, (2) Austria, and (3) Tibeto-Chinese.
The tribal people speaking the languages falling under Dravidian speech family inhabit the middle and southern India. The most developed languages of the Dravidian family are Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. Gonds occupy the chief place among the tribal speeches derived from Dravidian family and it is spoken widely by the Gond tribals who are scattered from Madhya Pradesh to Andhra Pradesh. It has no literature but considering the numerical strength of its speakers, it has been assigned a very important place in the realm of tribal languages. Another important language of this group is Koi which is spoken by the Kandh of Orissa, Oraon of Chhotanagpur and Malto of Rajmahal hills. The speeches of Toda, Paliya, Chenchu, Irula and Kadar are also included in the Dravidian family.
The Austric family of speeches is also known as Munda speech family. Max Muller was the first scholar who distinguished it from Dravidian speech family and it is he who assigned the term Munda speech family to this group. Speeches of this family are spoken mainly by the tribals of Chhotanagpur area but these are also in vogue, to a lesser extent, in some parts of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Madras and Terai region of Himalayas stretching from Bihar to Shimla hills. The Santhali speech of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, Mundari, Ho, Kharia, Bhumij and some other speeches of Bihar are also included in this family.