The dialects of Kannada may be studied from three different perspectives. The first is the historical perspective. This deals with the development of various dialects that are prevalent now as also the dialects mentioned in ancient texts. Geographical approach gives broad picture of the dialects that are present to day and the dynamic processes that are going on within them. The third dimension is a study of social dialects and the hierarchical situations that control their use and marginalization. Some dialects like Badaga are now treated as independent languages.

'>‘Kavirajamarga’ (9th Century) speaks of Dakshina Marga and Uttara Marga as the major dialect divisions of Kannada. However its author also opines that even Adishesha the thousand tongued serpent will despair while trying to describe the dialects Kannada prevalent then. Consequently he picks up a few towns such as kopaNa, puligere, okkunda and muduvolalu as the focal points and declares that the area covered by these places constitutes the core of Kannada language. (tiruLugannaDa) The Tungabhadra River is supposed to be the border that separates these southern and northern dialects of Kannada.

D.N.Shankara Bhatta even though he agrees with this contention puts forward a very interesting theory in his ‘kannada BASeya kalpita caritre’. He contends that the split between the western and the Eastern varieties of Kannada is much more important and ancient. He divides the Kannada dialects that are spoken in Kannada in to two groups. The first is the group which speaks Kannada only as a second language with Tulu, Konakani, Maratthi, Maleyalam and such languages as their mother tongue. The second group consists of people who use one or the other variety of Kannada as their mother tongue. These communities have Goudakannada, Havyaka Kannada. Halakki Kannada, Kota Kannada and Kumbara Kannada as their mother tongue. Bhat is of the opinion that these native speakers of Kannada have separated from the main stream of Kannada more than one thousand years ago and that they have retained many verbs and grammatical features that were innate to ancient Kannada relative to the more dynamic dialects of western Karnataka. He provides a number of illustrations in support of his speculation. A deep study of these dialects will unearth many interesting points about the historical development of Kannada.

However more traditional linguists have described four very broad categories of geographical dialects. They are Mysuuru Kannada, Dharwada Kannada, Mangalooru Kannada and Gulbarga Kannada, Of course each one of these consist of a sub dialects that have their own distinctive feature. Many of these distinctions occur because the dialects are strongly influenced by their neighboring languages. Tamil, Marathi, Telugu and Maleyalam have shaped their vocabulary and less intensely their grammar. The differences among these geographical dialects are well documented. Of course the pressures of centralization and the hierarchical nature of our society have created huge gaps between Kannada spoken in Bangalore and Mysore urban areas and the Kannadas that are spoken in other parts of Karnataka. The spoken varieties of these other dialects have been ridiculed and kept out of use by the custodians of the so called standard language.

Social dialects are distinctions that develop over a period of time depending on the caste and social conditioning of the people involved. The language spoken by the upper crust of the society becomes the privileged variety. Same region could have a distinct geographical dialect as also several social dialects dictated by the castes of the speakers. The artistic expression will use one or many of these dialects as their raw material and then create unique literary styles out of them.



1. Kannada: A Cultural Introduction to the Spoken Styles of the Language

By William Charles McCormack, M. G. Krishnamurthi, Contributor M. G. Krishnamurthi

Published by University of Wisconsin Press, 1966

2. An Outline Grammar of Havyaka by D. N. Shankara Bhat, Published by Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute, 1971.

3. A Comparative Study of Kannada Dialects: Bellary , Gulbarga , Kumta, and Nanjangud Dialects

By U. Padmanabha Upadhyaya, Published by Prasaranga, University of Mysore , 1976

4. The Dravidian Languages, Bhadriraju Krishnamurthy, 2003, Cambridge University Press.

5. Clause Structure of Northern Havyaka Kannaa, Dravidian: A Tagmemic Analysis

By Helen E. Ullrich, Published by Dravidian Linguistics Association, 1980, Original from the University of California

6. A Reference Grammar of Spoken Kannada, Schiffmann Harold, 1979.

7. The Havyaka Dialect of North Kanara, K.G.Shastry, 1971, Karnatak University .

8. Gowda Kannada, K.K.Gowda, 1976, Annamalai University

9. ‘Upabhashegalu’, Krishna Prameshvara Bhat, Bangalore University .

10. ‘Kannada Jagattu: Ardha Shatamana’, K.V.Narayana, 2007, Kannada University , Hampi.

11. ‘Halakki Kannada. Acharya, A. S. 1967, Linguistic Survey of India Series, no. 1. Poona : Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute.

, 12. Coorg Kannada (Jenu Kuruba Dialect), U.P.Upadhyaya, 1971, Linguistic Survey of India Series, no. 9. Poona : Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute.

13. ‘Kannada Bhashashastra’, R.Y.Dharwadkar,

14. ‘Kannada Bhasheya svaroopa’, K.M.Krishna Rao

15 ‘Kannada Bhasheya Kalpita Charitre’, D.N.Shankara Bhat, 1995, Kannda University , Hampi

16. ‘Samkhipta Kannada Bhasheya Charitre’, M.H.Krishnaiah


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