Maithili is a language of Indo-Aryan origin. It was spoken in the ancient land of Mithila and so it has incurred the name Maithili. Tirhutia is another name for the region so Maithili is also known as Tirhutia. The people in Nepal and North-Eastern Bihar speak in this language.
In Nepal, Maithili is the second state language and is used by 12% of the total population. Here, Maithili was used in the court of the Kings, during Malla period.
Near about 30 million people in the 26 districts of N.E. Bihar speak in Maithili. The Sahitya Akademi, India and P.E.N (an international organization of letters for Poets, Essayists and Novelists) have recognized Maithili.
It ranks 40th among the most spoken languages of the world, while it occupies the 16th position in the list of the most spoken languages in India. Maithilakshar or Tirhuta is its own script, which originated from Brahmi (a script of the 3rd B.C., also found in the Ahokan Inscriptions). At present the Devanagari script has been adopted because of its widespread use.
It is generally believed that the Sidhhacharyas evolved Proto Maithili during the 8th -9th century when they composed Charyapada. Since then the language has progressed steadily. Vidyapati, a very productive writer has used Avahatta, a form of Proto Maithili in his dramas, the Kirtilata and Kirtipataka. He also composed melodious poems depicting the love of Radha-Krishna in his Padavali that is written in the Maithili of medieval period. Vidyapati also influenced Nepali, Bengali, Assamese, Oriya and Manipuri literature during the medieval period.