Oriya is the principal and regional language of Orissa. Oriya language is belongs to the Aryan family of languages and is closely related to Assamese, Bengali and Maithili as a direct descendant of eastern Magadhi. Under the influence of neighbouring regional languages of the Aryan and Dravidian families, as also that of the Austric group of languages current among the tribal groups, Oriya 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 Orissa) and Medinipuri (Midnapur district of West Bengal).
Besides, hilly regions of north and south Orissa have their own local versions of Oriya with many linguistic peculiarities. The first dated, inscription in Oriya goes back to 1051 AD discovered at Urajang. But recent discoveries of Sanskrit inscriptions with Oriya words thrown in, reported from Orissa and Andhra Pradesh areas of the ancient Kalinga empire, push back its lineage to the 6th century AD. During the Surya dynasty(1435-1523), Oriya literacy activities were remarkable and the great epics and almost all the Puranas and some Upanishads were translated and often reinterpreted. The Oriya script, descending from Brahmi script, has been given the round or Dravidian finish, probably during the reign of the Ganga kings. The shape was admirably adopted to writing on processed palm leaves with an iron stylus.