New found love

Ok, ok,… Don’t get excited, I’m not talking about any person here, but about my sudden attraction towards Konkani language and Goan culture in general. Here is something I know:

Konkani and Marathi are thought as sisters, but on first introduction, it sounded way different to me. (My mother tongue is Marathi, btw). Konkani uses Devnagri script. It is spoken along the entire west coast of India- from Mumbai to Kerala. On the way it gets influenced by flatter Marathi words in Maharashtra, and as you move south, it has abundant usage of Kannada words. Konkani of Kerala is drenched in Malayalam. Goans however are known to use Portuguese words liberally and stretch words with sharper accents, so that no outsider can understand!

Historical evidence suggests that this language was brought by the Aryans, who were initially settled on the banks of the mythological river Saraswati (hence called Saraswat Brahmins).

I’ll learn it soon….

3 thoughts on “New found love

  1. Priyank,

    Hope it’s all right to respond to something you posted nearly three years ago.

    As a Marathi married to a Mangalore Konkani GSB, I appreciate your not making the common Marathi imperialist mistake of calling Konkani a dialect. Most Konkani speakers south of Goa strongly contest that assertion, and even in the stretch from Rajapur-Kankavali southwards to Goa, although they speak Marathi (in fact most of the outstanding Goan Hindu literary figures such as Ba. Bha. Borkar — “Bakibab” — and Ravindra Kelekar, are equally acclaimed for their literary contributions to both the languages).

    My own take is that until about the 14th-15th c. the two were the same language. The “Marathi” of the Dnyaneswari could equally well be considered Konkani (and Dnyaneshwar, remember, was from far inland, Paithan). Possibly the coastal and interior forms started evolving differently sometime soon after Dnyaneshwar, and the distinctive identities that we know today emerged.

    About the current geolinguistic spread of “Konkani”, I would say the cadences start appearing from around Vasai (north of that, up to Daman, is an interface area of Southern Gujarati, Marathi overflow from Khandesh and Nashik, and the tribal languages of the interior); the character becomes quite distinct by the time you reach Rajapur; from there south to Sawantwadi, Vengurla and Banda it is called Malvani; and then, when you cross the Terekhol creek, the realm of Konkani proper begins. By the time you reach South Canara it has acquired shades of Kannada and Tulu; and past Mangalore, from Kasargode southwards, the Malyalam influence comes becomes evident. So if one were to conceptualise a “Vishal Konkan”, it would stretch roughly from Vasai to Kochi.

    Incidentally, the script situation is slightly more complicated than you suggest. The Goan Christians use the Roman script. The Hindus use Devanagari. And from Karwar to Mangalore, it is mainly a spoken language, but if one has to write the preferred script is Kannada. As a matter of fact, for most Konkani speakers from the Kanaras, even the preferred language of written communication is either Kannada or English.

    Finally, I laud your ambition to learn it, but don’t be so sure you will pick it up soon. The phonetics, the nasalisation and stresses of accent are very subtly nuanced. The “shuddha” Marathi speaker almost inevitably murders them by exaggeration. But it’s worth giving it a try anyway. A far more musical language than modern Marathi. One does not have to look as far as Bengali or Gujarati to realise that Marathi is by far more abrasive. And Konkani reminds us that it does not have to be so.

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