Konkani (koNkaNi) is an important language which is spoken mainly in the state of Goa and the coastal districts of Karnataka. Konkani speaking people have a presence all over the country particularly in the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka. Konkani is an Indo Aryan language and its relationship with Kannada, a Dravidian language is circumstantial. According to scholars this language has evolved from ‘Shauraseni Prakrit’ along with Bengali and Assamese. Konkani speaking communities must have migrated to Goa from the North. Kadamba kings who hailed from Karnataka were ruling in Goa when this migration took place. Consequently some relationships were established between the languages. There was a large scale migration of Konkani communities from Goa to the coastal districts of North Canara, South Canara and Udupi as also the Shivamogga district of Malnad region. This migration, caused possibly by the persecution of the Portugese rulers, took place during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Most of these migrants were merchants, craftsmen and artisans. These migrants were either Christians or Hindus and their linguistic practices were influenced by this factor also. Konkani has many dialects as it is spoken in different parts of India . Each dialect is influenced by its geographical antecedents. Even in Karnataka there are subtle differences in the way that Konkani is spoken in different regions: “In Karwar and Ankola, they emphasize the syllables, and in Kumta-Honavar, they use consonants in abundance. The Konkani spoken by Nawayatis of Bhatkal is very melodious with smearing of Persian. People of South Kanara do not distinguish between nouns of Kannada and Konkani, and have developed a very business practical language. They sometimes add Tulu words also.” – (Dr Krishnananda Kamat, ‘Kamat’s Potpourri’) It is but natural that Konkani has many social variations also because it is spoken by many communities such as Sonar, Serugar, Mestri, Sutar, Gabeet, Kharvi, Samgar, Nawayati, etc.

Konkani does not have a script of its own. Native speakers of the language use either the Kannada script or the Devanagari depending on their inhabitation. Many religious texts, periodicals, books and accounts are written in the Kannada script in many parts of Karnataka. Native speakers of Konkani in Karnataka are bilinguals and their knowledge of Kannada is commendable. This is essentially a non reciprocal bilingualism because native speakers of Kannada hardly learn Konkani. As a matter of fact, there are many Konakani speaking writers in Karnataka who have contributed hugely to the development of Kannada literature. Panje Mangesha Rao, M.N.Kamath, M.Govinad Pai, Gangadhara Chittal, Dinakar Desai, Yashwant Chittal, Gourisha Kaikini, Na. D’Souza and Jayant Kaikini are a few among them. There is a slight difference between the Konkani spoken by the Christian community and the non Christian communities.

Continuous inter action between these communities over a period of time has resulted in influences which are largely unilateral. Kannada has influenced Konakani at the levels of morphology, syntax, vocabulary and larger semantic units such as proverbs and idioms. For instance many Konkani sentences that are accepted as grammatical by Gaud Saraswat Brahmans of Karnataka will not be treated like that in Maharastra because their Konkani is not influenced by Kannada. This phenomenon is illustrated by Nadakarni, Bernd Heine and Tanya Kuteva in their writings.

Many Kannada proverbs are accepted by Konkani either in their entirety or in parts. Many Kannada words such as duDDu, (money), nattu, (nose ring) bAvali, (bat) baDDi, (interest) and bAgilu (door) have found permanent places in Konkani often replacing the original Konkani words. The influence of Kannada grammar on Konkani grammar is found in following instances:

1.      Using short vowels J and M instead of the long vowels which are indigenous to Konkani.

2.      Words ending with consonants acquire a vowel at the end.

3.      Some case suffixes resemble the corresponding ones in Kannada rather than the Indo Aryan originals.

These details do not take away the fact that Konkani is not a Dravidian language. The Government of Karnataka has set up a separate ‘Konkani Academy to further the cause of language and literature. Interestingly, writers such as Yashawant Chittal and Jayant Kaikini have used many phrases and words that are unique to Konkani in their fiction. Some times even the syntactic patterns in their novels and stories exhibit the influence of their mother tongue.

The relationship between Kannada and Konkani is based on mutual acceptance and trust and it is not based on lingustic chuvanism.


References: 1. A History of Konkani Literature: From 1500 to 1992, By Manohararāya Saradesai

Published by Sahitya Akademi, 2000

2. The Christian Konkani of South Kanara: A Linguistic Analysis
W Madtha - 1984 - Prasaranga, Karnatak University

3. Literary Konkani: A Brief History J Pereira - 1973 - Konkani Sahitya Prakashan

4. The Konkani Language: Historical and Linguistic Perspectives by V.Nithyanantha Bhat, Ela Sunita, Sukruteendra, Oriental Research Institute, 2004

5. ‘Konkani Bhasheya Ugama mattu Belavanige’, by Krishnanada Kamat (in the website ‘Kamat’s Potpourri’, (English version)



Links: 1. Language Contact and Grammatical Change‎ - Page 95 (Kannada and Konkani) (Bernd Heine and Tania Kuteva, Cambridge University Press, 2005)

2. Essays on Konkani Language and Literature: Professor Armando (Prof Armando Menezes)

3. Kamat's Potpourri -- The History, Mystery, and Diversity of India



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