Languages of Karnataka

About

Kannadiga’s …..Karnataka…The land of Goddess Bhuvaneshwari, is also celebrated as karunadu which welcomed and blessed all people from all over the world. Mother tongue of the great land is (kasturi) Kannada, its ancient literature and scholars and poets made Karnataka as the distinct state of India. Exploration moves beyond Mauryan empaire, the glory of kannada land has many golden age.

Karnataka has produced noble poets and academicians and it accounts for great treasure of Gold, Spices, Sandalwood, Coffee, Areca, paddy, coconut and supplies 60% of the country’s silk. The Land blessed with holy rivers Cauveri, Sharavathi, Thungbadra & Ghataprabha, and covered by great Western Ghats and Arabian Sea and spread over the Deccan plateau situated in the southern part of India made lovely land to live with.

Andhra Pradesh is towards the east, the Arabian Sea to the west, Maharashtra and Goa to the north and northwest and Kerala & Tamilnadu to the South.

Languages of Karnataka

Kannada

Kannada is the State Language of Karnataka. Kannada – aptly described as ‘sirigannada’ (known to few as Kanarese) is one of the oldest Dravidian languages and is spoken in its various dialects by roughly 45 million people worldwide.

The Kannada language has been spoken for about 2500 years, with the Kannada writing system being in use for about the last 1900 years. The initial development of the Kannada language is similar to that of other Dravidian languages, notably Tamil and Telugu. During later centuries, Kannada, along with Telugu, has been highly influenced by Sanskrit vocabulary and literary styles. Kannada is a highly inflected language with three genders (masculine, feminine, neutral or common) and two numbers (singular, plural). It is inflected for gender, number and tense, among other things.

There is also a sharp distinction between the spoken and written forms of the language. Spoken Kannada tends to vary from region to region. The written form is more or less constant throughout Karnataka, however. The ethnologue identifies about 20 dialects of Kannada. Notable of them are Kodava (spoken in Coorg district), Kunda (spoken exclusively in Kundapura), Havyaka (spoken mainly by Havyaka Brahmanas of Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada, Shimoga, Sagara, and Udupi districts), Are Bhashe (spoken mainly in Sullia region of Dakshina Kannada), Soliga Kannada, Badaga Kannada, Gulbarga Kannada, Hubli Kannada, etc.

Kannada is one of the 22 official languages of India and is the official language of the state of Karnataka. Kannada has now received the Classical Language status effective November 1, 2008. After years of bitter struggle, Kannada has finally got the classical language status. The Union government announced that Kannada, besides Telugu, would get the classical tag on the occasion of Rajyotsava day.

Tulu

Dr Neria H Hebbar enlightens on Tulu writing. Tulu language is one of the five Dravidian languages of South India (Pancha- Bhasha, others are Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam). The four major languages spoken today are dominantly spoken in their respective states (Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala), whereas Tulu is spoken in a small niche, mainly in coastal Karnataka and Northern Karala (Kasaragod district). About 2.5 million people speak Tulu and call it their mother tongue. Tulu nadu is a region where many languages are spoken. While Kannada is the official state language, different ethnic communities in Tulu Nadu speak different languages. Tulu, derived from proto-Dravidian is the predominant language spoken by Hindus of various castes and by the Jains of Tulu Nadu. Konkanasthas and Catholics speak two variants of Konkani. Muslims speak a language of their own that is derived from Tulu as well as Malayalam.

There are about 24 Dravidian languages recognized by linguists. Of these the five languages in the South developed into major languages. Tulu is the only developed language that has not received the recognition it is due. However, Tulu language with its near extinct script has been generating much enthusiasm amongst the linguists, as it is now believed to be one of the oldest Dravidian languages.

The Script

The Tulu language has lost its prominence as a major language. Lack of serious literature in Tulu language has also hampered its claim as a language to be taught in educational institutes. Though it is certain that most of the literature has been lost because of difficulties in preserving palm leaf scrolls, the earliest literature available is from the 15th century. This indeed is a much later work than the language itself, which is thousands of years old. There was also some confusion regarding the script of Tulu language, which closely resembles Malayalam. It was thought that priests from Tulu Nadu went south to Kerala to perform and learn Agama Sastra rituals, where they jotted notes borrowing the Malayalam alphabets. This was the prevailing thought of many researches although now there is a consensus that Tulu language possessed its own script before Malayalam script existed. Perhaps the reciprocal is true that the Malayalam script developed from Tulu script as the language predates Malayalam by more than a thousand years. The priests who went south are now credited with carrying mantras written in Tulu script to Kerala. Like Tamil and Malayalam, Tulu script is derived from the Grantha* script.

History

Tulu

This language has a pretty fascinating history to as written by Neria H Hebbar

The earliest piece of literature, Tulu Mahabharata is from the 15th century written in Tulu script. Another manuscript that was discovered Tulu Devimahatme, a prose work like the Mahabharata, is also from the 15th century. Two epic poems written in 17th century namely Sri Bhagavata and Kaveri have also been found. Madhvacharya’s eight matts established in Udupi in the 13th century were centers of Tulu literature during his lifetime and thereafter. However, very little of this has survived. So it is not inconceivable (as it is claimed) that Madhvacharya himself did all his writings in the Tulu script. Other inscriptions discovered are Sanskrit mantras transliterated in Tulu script. It appears as though the Brahmins used the script mainly for this purpose.

In the first half of 19th century the German missionaries undertook a renaissance of the language. Unfortunately, they published Tulu literature and materials related to Christianity in the Kannada script as they had established printing presses in that language in Mangalore. In addition the German missionaries also produced Tulu lexicon and Tulu-English dictionary. They are also credited with transcription of Tulu folklore, Tulu proverbs and works on spirit worship in Tulu Nadu. Printing material in the Kannada script led to further disuse of the original Tulu script. By late 19th century Tulu script became remote and was endangered. Today there are no books or literature in the Tulu script and there are only a handful of Tuluvas who can read the script.

All the classic literatures discovered thus far are written only in one of the four dialects of the language, namely the Brahmin dialect. The dialect spoken by Brahmins in the southern part of Tulu Nadu is used in these manuscripts. The priests belonged to a sect of Tuluva Brahmins called the Shivalli Brahmins. (Only the Shivalli and the Sthanika sects in Tulu Nadu spoke the Brahmin dialect.) Tulu script was used by these Brahmins to write mantras. The Brahmin dialect also has imported many Sanskrit words into its dialect and lexicon. The Common dialect, which is spoken by the non-Brahmin class, was not used in writings of Tulu. However, the Common dialect is used in many of the folk songs, proverbs and riddles. The folk songs called the Paaddanas are treasures reflective of the rich culture of Tulu Nadu. They also allow a glimpse into the society of Tuluva people. These were never written down and have been passed on through generations as oral traditional songs.

Kannada

The early development of the Kannada language is very similar to that of other Dravidian languages and has been independent of the Sanskrit influence. However during later centuries, Kannada, like the other Dravidian languages like Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam was greatly influenced by Sanskrit in terms of vocabulary, grammar and literary style. One of the old Ashoka Rock edicts of 230 B.C. also contains identifiable Kannada.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *