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"Konkani" redirects here. For other uses, see Konkani (disambiguation).

Template:Use Indian English

कोंकणी, Konknni, ಕೊಂಕಣಿ, കൊങ്കണി
Devanagari script
In other scripts:
Roman script: Konkani
Kannada script: ಕೊಂಕಣಿ (konkaṇi)
Malayalam script: കൊങ്കണി (konkaṇi)
Pronunciation kõkɵɳi (standard), kõkɳi (popular)
Native to India

Konkan, includes the state of Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra and some parts of Kerala

Konkani is also spoken in the United States, the United Kingdom, Kenya,[1] Uganda, Pakistan, Persian Gulf,[2] Portugal
Native speakers 7.4 million  (2007)Template:Infobox language/ref
Language family
Dialect groups: Maharashtrian Konkani, Karnataka Konkani, Canara Konkani, Goan Konkani
Individual dialects: Malvani, Mangalorean, Thakri, Chitpavani, Antruz, Bardeskari, Saxtti, Daldi, Parabhi, Pednekari, Koli, Kiristanv, Kunbi, Agari, Dhangari, Karadhi, Sangameshwari, Bankoti, Maoli
Writing system Devanagari (official),[note 1] Roman,[note 2] Kannada,[note 3] Malayalam and Arabic
Official status
Official language in India Goa, India
Regulated by Various academies and the Government of Goa[4]
Language codes
ISO 639-2 kok
ISO 639-3 kok – knn – Maharashtrian Konkani
Linguist List Template:Infobox language/linguistlist
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  Template:Infobox language/linguistlist
  Template:Infobox language/linguistlist
  Template:Infobox language/linguistlist
  Template:Infobox language/linguistlist
Distribution of native Konkani speakers in India

Konkani[note 4] (Devanāgarī: कोंकणी, Kōṅkaṇī) is an Indo-Aryan language belonging to the Indo-European family of languages and is spoken on the western coast of India. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages mentioned in 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution [6] and the official language of the Indian state of Goa, and a minority language in Maharashtra, Karnataka and northern Kerala (Kasaragod district).[7]

Konkani is a member of the southern Indo-Aryan language group. It retains elements of the old Indo-European language structure and shows similarities with both western and eastern Indo-Aryan languages.[7]


It is quite possible that Old Konkani was just referred to as Prakrit by its speakers.[8] Reference to the name Konkani is not found in literature prior to 13th century. We have first reference to the name Konkani in the abhanga 263 of the 13th century Marathi saint poet, Namadeva (1270–1350).[9] Konkani has been known by a variety of names: canarim, concanim, gomantaki, bramana, goani. It is called amchi bhas (our language) by native speakers (amchi gele in Dakshina Kannada), and govi or Goenchi bhas by others. Learned Marathi speakers tend to call it Gomantaki.[10]

Konkani was commonly referred to as lingua canarim by the Portuguese[11] while it was also known as lingua brahmana by the Catholic missionaries.[11] Portuguese later started referring to Konkani as Lingua Concanim.[11]

The name canarim or lingua canarim, which is how the 16th century European Jesuit, Thomas Stephens refers to it in the title of his famous grammar Arte da lingoa Canarim has always been intriguing. It is possible that the term is derived from the Persian word for coast, kinara; if so, it would mean the language of the coast. The problem is that this term overlaps with Kanarese or Kannada.[12]

All the European authors, however, recognized in Goa two forms of the language: the plebeian, called canarim, and the more regular, used by the educated classes, called lingua canarim brámana or simply brámana de Goa. Since the latter was the preferred choice of the Europeans, and also of other castes, for writing, sermons and religious purpose.[13]



There are different views as to the origin of the word Konkan and hence Konkani.

  • The word Konkan comes from the Kukkana tribe, who were the original inhabitants of the land Konkani originated from.[14]
  • According to some Hindu legends, Parashurama shot his arrow into the sea and commanded the Sea God to recede up to the point where his arrow landed. The new piece of land thus recovered came to be known as Konkan meaning piece of earth or corner of earth,kōṇa (corner)+ kaṇa (piece). This legend has been mentioned in Sahyadrikhanda of the Skanda Purana.
  • Konkan is synonymous to Konkani, but it is today divided into three states - Mahrashtra (Konkan regiona), Goa and Karnataka (North Canara)

Pre-history and early development



The Substratum of the Konkani language lies in the speech of Proto-Australoid tribes called Kurukh, Oraon, Kukni, whose modern representatives are languages like Kurukh and its dialects like Kurux, Kunrukh, Kunna and Malto[15] According to the Indian Anthropological Society,these Australoid tribes speaking Austro-Asiatic or Munda languages once inhabited Konkan,migrated to Northern India (Chota Nagpur Plateau, Mirzapur) and are not found in Konkan anymore[16][17] Olivinho Gomes in his essay Medieval Konkani literature also mentions Mundari substratum.[18] Goan Indologist Raakrishna Shenvi Dhume explains many Austroloid Munda words in Konkani like mund,mundkar,dhumak,goem-bab etc.[19] This substratum is very prominent in Konkani.[20]

These primitive Australoid tribes,once were pre-historic inhabitants of Goa and Konkan. Nothing more is known about them. As per some Historians and linguists,modern communities like Gaudes, Kunbis, Mahars of Konkan today are supposed to be the modern representatives of Proto-Australoids. Originally hunter-gatherers later developed a primitive form of agriculture. Few Konkani words related to agriculture find their roots in Proto-Australoid dialects, e.g.: kumeri-type of farming,mer-field boundary,zonn-share of the surplus production,khazan-type of farm land,kudd-room,khomp-hut.


The later migrants who reached Konkan speaking early Dravidian languages(see:Proto-Dravidian language) are believed to be the Mediterraneans. Historians(Sbjobreg1990:48) maintain that the paleo-Mediterraneans who came to India from north-west passes as early Dravidians formed a heterogeneous racial sub-type. These Mediterraneans or Dravidians as many historians call them,knew the craft of systematized agriculture,and inhabited most of the neolithic India.[21] The grammatical impact of the Dravidian languages on the structure and syntax of Indo-Aryan languages is difficult to fathom. Some linguists explain this anomaly by arguing that Middle Indo-Aryan and New Indo-Aryan were built on a Dravidian substratum.[22] Some examples of Konkani words of Dravidian origin are: tandul-rice, naall-coconut, madval-washerman, choru-cooked rice, methi-fenugreek, mulo-radish, chinch-tamarind, vayange-brinjal, bel, pal-house lizard.[23] Linguists also suggest that Substratum of Marathi and Konkani is more closely related to Dravidian Kannada.[24]

The Indo-Aryan element

Though Konkani shows Dravidian substratum it definitely belongs to Indo-Ayan branch and is inflexive and non-Dravidian,and is less distant from Sanskrit as compared to other modern Indo-Aryan languages. Konkani as per linguists is a fusion of variety of Prakrits. This could be attributed to confluence of the immigrants that Konkan coast has witnessed since times immemorial.[25]

Migrations of Indo-Aryan vernacular speakers have occurred in the history of the Indian west coast. Around 2400 BC the first wave of Indo-Aryans dialect speakers might have occurred, and the second wave around ca 1000–700 BC.[19] Many of them spoke old Indo-Aryan vernacular languages,which may be loosely related to Vedic Sanskrit,still some spoke Dravidian,Desi dialects. Thus the ancient of Konkani Prakrit was born as a confluence of the Indo-Aryan dialects while accepting many words from the Dravidian speech. Some linguists associate Shauraseni to be its progenitor whereas some call it Paisaci. The influence of Paisachi over Konkani can be proved from the findings of Dr. Taraporewala who, in his book Elements of Science of Languages, Calcutta University,he ascertains that Konkani shows many Dardic features which are found in present day Kashmiri language.[25] Thus archaic form of old Konkani is referred to as Paishachi by some linguists.[14] This progenitor of Konkani or Paishachi apabhramsha has preserved an older form of phonetic and grammatic development showing greater variety of verbal forms found in Sanskrit and larger number of grammatical forms that are not found in Marathi, examples of which are found in many works like Dnyaneshwari, and Leela Charitra.[26] The thus developed is endowed with overall Sanskrit complexity and grammatical structure, that developed a lexical fund of its own.[26] The second wave of Indo-Aryans is believed been accompanied by Dravidians from the Deccan plateau.[19] Paishachi is also considered it to be an Aryan language spoken by Dravidians.[27]

Goa and Konkan was ruled by the Mauryas and the Bhojaa, as a result numerous migrations occurred from North-east and Western India. Immigrants spoke various vernaculars,which led to an admixture of features of Eastern and Western Prakrits. It was substantially influenced later by Magadhi Prakrit[28] and the overtones of Pali[26] (the liturgical language of the Buddhists) that played a very important role in development of Konkani Apabhramsha grammar and vocabulary.[29] A major number of linguistic innovations in Konkani are shared with Eastern Indo-Aryan languages like Bengali, Oriya which have its roots in Magadhi.[30]

Maharashtri was the official language of the Satavahana Empire that ruled Goa and Konkan in the early centuries of the Common Era. Under the patronage of the Satavahana Empire, Maharashtri became the most widespread Prakrit of its time. Studying early Maharashtri compilations many linguists have called Konkani as the first-born daughter of Maharashtri.[31] This old language that was prevalent contemporary to old Marathi is found to be distinct from its counterpart.[31] The Sauraseni impact on Konkani is not so prominent than that of Maharashtri. Very few Konkani words are found to follow the Sauraseni pattern. Konkani forms are rather more akin to Pali than the corresponding Sauraseni forms.[32] The major Sauraseni influence on Konkani, is the ao sound found at the end of many nouns in Sauraseni, which becomes o or u in Konkani,[33] e.g.: dando, suno, raakhano and dukh, rukhu, manisu from prakrit dandao, sunnao, rakkhakao, dukkhao, vukkhao or vrukkhao, mannisso respectively. Another example could be the sound of in the beginning of the words, is still retained in many Konkani words as in archaic Shauraseni. E.g.: णव nine. Archaic Konkani born out of Shauraseni vernacular Prakrit at the earlier stage of the evolution and later Maharashtri prakrit, commonly spoken until 875 CE at its later phase ultimately developed into Apabhramsha which could be called as predecessor old Konkani.[29]


Later Dravidian influence

Though it belongs to Indo-Aryan group, Konkani was influenced by Old Kannada, a member of Dravidian family. A branch of the Kadambas who ruled Goa for a long period had their roots in Karnataka. Konkani was never used for official purposes.[34] Another reason Kannada influence on Konkani is proximity of original Konkani speaking territory to Karnataka.[35]

Old Konkani documents show considerable Kannada influence on grammar as well as the vocabulary. Like southern Dravidian languages Konkani has prothetic glides y- and w-.[36] Kannada influence is more evident in Konkani syntax. The question markers in yes/no questions and the negative marker are sentence final.[36] Copula deletion in Konkani is remarkably similar to Kannada.[36]

Phrasal verbs are not so commonly used in Indo-Aryan languages, Konkani spoken in Dravidian regions has however borrowed numerous phrasal verb patterns.[7]

The table below illustrates some phrasal verbs used in Konkani:

Phrasal verbs
Konkani in Goa and North Karnataka Konkani in South Karnataka Meaning
bas or basun sod baisa sit down
randh or randhun ghe randhun sodi cook
karun ghe kornu dhi to get something done
Konkani and Gujarati analogy

It is said that Gujarat has got many historical ties with the port of Goa, mainly because of trade, and it is also said that many people have migrated to Goa via the port of Dwaraka.

The Kols, Kharwas, Yadavas, and the Lothal migrants settled in Goa during the pre-historic and the later period. Chavada, a tribe of warriors (now known as Chaddi or Chaddo), migrated to Goa from Saurashtra,during 7th and 8th century CE, after their kingdom was destroyed by the Arabs in 740 AD.[37] Royal matrimonial relationships between the two states, and the trade relationships had a major impact on Goan society. Many of these groups spoke different Nagar Apabhramsha dialects,which could be seen as precursors of modern Gujarati.

  • Konkani and Gujarati have many words in common, not found in Marathi.[38]
  • Konkani O (as opposed to Marathi A which is of different Prakrit origin), is similar to that in Gujarati.[38]
  • The case terminations in Konkani lo, li, le, and Gujarati no, ni, ne have same Prakrit roots.[38]
  • In both the languages the present indicatives have no gender, unlike Marathi.[38]
Other foreign languages

Since Goa was a major trade centre for visited by Arabs and Turks since early times, many Arabic and Persian words infiltrated the Konkani language.[35] A large number of Arabic and Persian words now form an integral part of Konkani vocabulary and are commonly used in day-to-day life; examples are karz (debt), fakt (only), dusman (enemy) and barik (thin).[35] Single and compound words are found wherein the original meaning is changed or distorted: mustaiki, (from Arabic mustaid – ready), kapan khairo – eater of one's own shroud, meaning a miser, and so on.

Portuguese influence

Most of the old Konkani Hindu literature does not show any influence of the Portuguese language. Even the spoken dialects by the majority of Goan Hindus have a very limited Portuguese influence. On the other hand, the spoken dialects of the Catholics from Goa (as well as the Canara to some extent), and their religious literature shows a strong Portuguese influence. They contain a number Portuguese lexical items but these are almost all religious terms. Even in the context of religious terminology, the missionaries adapted native terms associated with Hindu religious concepts. (For example Krupa for grace, Yamakunda for hell, Vaikuntha for paradise and so on). The syntax used by Goan Catholics in their literature shows a prominent Portuguese influence. As a result, many Portuguese loanwords are now commonly found in vernacular Konkani speech.[39]

The Language

Although most of the stone inscriptions and copper plates found in Goa (and other parts of Konkan) from 2nd century BC to 10th century AD are in Prakrit-influenced Sanskrit (mostly written in early Brahmi and archaic Dravidian Brahmi), most of the place, grant, agricultural-related and names of some people are in Konkani. This suggests that Konkani was spoken in Goa and Konkan.[40]

Early Konkani

The earliest inscription in Konkani found in the village of Aravalem, in Goa dated back in the Gupta period in Brahmi script, ascribed to the 2nd Century AD in the late Brahmi script:
śacipurācyā śirāsi (on the top of Shachipura).[41]
Another inscription in Nāgarī, of Shilahara King Aaparditya of the year 1166 AD says:
ātā̃ jō kōṇṇuyirē śāsanō̃ḷapī̃ tēcyā vēḍhyāta dēvācī bhāla saktumbī āpaḍē̃ tēcī mā̃ya gāḍhavē̃.
An inscription at the foot of the colossal Jain monolith (The word Gomateshvara apparently comes from Konkani gomaṭo which means beautiful or handsome and īśvara meaning lord.[42]) at Shravanabelagola of 981 CE reads:
"śrīcāvuṇḍarājē̃ kara viyālē̃, śrīgaṅgārājē̃ suttālē̃ kara viyālē̃" (Chavundaraya got it done, Gangaraya got the surroundings done).[note 5][note 6]

Many stone and copper-plate inscriptions found in Goa and Konkan are written in Konkani. The grammar and the base of such texts is in Konkani, whereas very few verbs are in Marathi.[43] Copper-plates found in Ponda dating back early 13th century,and from Quepem from early 14th century,have been written in Goykanadi.[18] One such stone inscription or shilalekh written Nāgarī is found at the Nageshi temple in Goa (dating back to the year 1463 AD) mentions that the (then) ruler of Goa, Devaraja Gominam, had gifted land to the Nagueshi Maharudra temple when Nanjanna Gosavi was the religious head or the Pratihasta of the state. It mentions words like, kullgga,kulaagra, naralel, tambavem, tilel.[44]

A piece of hymn dedicated to lord Narayana attributed to 12th century AD says:
"jaṇẽ rasataḷavāntũ matsyarūpē̃ vēda āṇiyēlē̃. manuśivāka vāṇiyēlē̃. to saṁsārasāgara tāraṇu. mōhō to rākho nārāyāṇu". (The one who brought the Vedas up from the ocean in the form of a fish, from the bottoms of the water and offered it to Manu, he is the one Saviour of the world, that is Narayana my God.).
A hymn from later 16th century goes
vaikuṇṭhācē̃ jhāḍa tu gē phaḷa amṛtācē̃, jīvita rākhilē̃ tuvē̃ manasakuḷācē̃.[41]

Early Konkani was marked by the use of pronouns like dzo / jī / jẽ . This is replaced in contemporary Konkani by koṇa . The conjunctions yedō..tedō.. (when..then...) which were user in early Konkani are no longer in use.[45] The use of "-viyalẽ'"' has been replaced by " -aylẽ". The pronoun moho, which is similar to the Brijbhasha word mōhē has been replaced by mākā.

Medieval Konkani

This era was marked by the invasion of Goa and subsequent exodus to Marhatta territory and Canara (today's coastal Karnaraka) and Cochin.

These events caused the Konkani language to evolve into multiple dialects. The exodus to coastal Karnataka and Kerala required Konkani speakers in these regions to learn the local languages and hence this caused penetration of local words into the dialects of Konkani spoken by these speakers. e.g. the word dār (door) gave way to the word bāgil. The phoneme "a" in the Salcette dialect was replaced by the phoneme "o".

Other Konkani communities came into being with their own dialects of Konkani. The Konkani Muslim communities of Ratnagiri and Bhatkal came about due to a mixture of intermarriage of Arab seafarers and locals as well as conversions of Hindus to Islam.[46] Another migrant community that picked up Konkani are the Siddis, who are descended from Bantu peoples from Southeast Africa that were brought to the Indian subcontinent as slaves by Portuguese merchants.[47]

Contemporary Konkani

Contemporary Konkani is written in the Devanagari, Kannada, Malayalam, Persian and Roman scripts. It is written by speakers in their native dialects. However, the Goan Antruz dialect in the Devanagari script has been promulgated Standard Konkani.

Geographical distribution

The Konkani language is spoken widely in the Western Coastal region of India known as Konkan. This consists of the Konkan division of Maharashtra, the state of Goa, and the Uttara Kannada (formerly North Canara), Udupi and Dakshina Kannada (formerly South Canara) districts of Karnataka, together with many districts in Kerala(Kasargod, Kochi, Alappuzha, Trivandrum, Kottayam etc.). Each region has a different dialect, pronunciation style, vocabulary, tone and sometimes, significant differences in grammar.[48] The Census Department of India, 1991 figures put the number of Konkani speakers in India as 1,760,607 making up 0.21% of India's population. Out of these, 602,606 were in Goa, 706,397 in Karnataka, 312,618 in Maharashtra and 64,008 in Kerala.[49] It ranks 15th in the list of Scheduled Languages by strength. According to the 2001 estimates of The Census Department of India, there are 2,489,015 Konkani speakers in India.[50] A very large number of Konkanis live outside India, either as expatriates or citizens of other countries (NRIs). Determining their numbers is difficult.

A significant number of Konkani speakers are found in Kenya and Uganda, Pakistan, Persian Gulf and Portugal. During Portuguese rule many Goans had migrated to these countries. Many families still continue to speak different dialects that their ancestors spoke, which are now highly influenced by the native languages.

Konkani revival

Konkani was in a sorry state, due to the use of Portuguese as the official and social language among the Christians; the predominance of Marathi over Konkani among Hindus and the Konkani Christian-Hindu divide. Seeing this Vaman Raghunath Varde Valaulikar set about on a mission to unite all Konkanis, Hindus as well as Christians, regardless of caste or religion. He saw this movement not just as a nationalistic movement against Portuguese rule, but also against the pre-eminence of Marathi over Konkani. Almost singlehandedly he crusaded, writing a number of works in Konkani. He is regarded as the pioneer of modern Konkani literature and affectionately remembered as Shenoi Goembab.[51] His death anniversary, 9 April, is celebrated as World Konkani Day (Viswa Konknni Dis).[52]

Madhav Manjunath Shanbhag, an advocate by profession from Karwar, who with a few like-minded companions travelled in all the Konkani speaking areas, seeking to unite the fragmented Konkani community under the banner of "one language, one script, one literature". He succeeded in organising the first All India Konkani Parishad in Karwar in 1939[53] Successive Adhiveshans of All India Konkani Parishad held at various places in the following years. 27 Annual Adhiveshans of All India Konkani Parishad have been held so far.

Late Pandu Putti Kolambkar an eminient social worker of Kodibag, Karwar strove for the upliftment of Konkani in Karwar (North Kanara) and the Konkan.

Post-independence period

Following India's independence and its subsequent annexation of Goa in 1961, Goa was absorbed into the Indian Union as a Union Territory, directly under central administration.

However, with the reorganisation of states along linguistic lines, and growing calls from Maharashtra, as well as Marathis in Goa for the merger of Goa into Maharashtra, an intense debate was started in Goa. The main issues discussed were the status of Konkani as an independent language and Goa's future as a part of Maharashtra or as an independent state. A plebiscite retained Goa as an independent state in 1967.[51] However, English, Hindi and Marathi continued to be the preferred languages for official communication, while Konkani was sidelined.[54]

Recognition as an independent language

With the continued insistence of some Marathis that Konkani was a dialect of Marathi and not an independent language, the matter was finally placed before the Sahitya Akademi. Suniti Kumar Chatterji, the president of the Akademi appointed a Committee of linguistic experts to settle the dispute. On 26 February 1975, the Committee after due deliberation, came to the conclusion that Konkani was indeed an independent and literary language with it being classified as an Indo-European language which in its present state is heavily influenced by the Portuguese language.

Official language status

All this did not change anything in Goa. Finally fed up with the delay, Konkani lovers launched an agitation demanding official status to Konkani in 1986. The agitation turned violent in various places, resulting in the death of six agitators from Catholic Community, Mr. Floriano Vaz from Gogal Margao, Aldrin Fernandes, Mathew Faria, C. J. Dias, John Fernandes and Joaquim Pereira all from Agacaim. Finally, on 4 February 1987, the Goa Legislative Assembly passed the Official Language Bill making Konkani the Official Language of Goa.[54]

Konkani was included in the Eight Schedule of the Constitution of India, as per the Seventy-First Amendment on 20 August 1992, adding it to the list of National Languages.


The Konkani language has 16 basic vowels (excluding equal number of long vowels), 36 consonants, 5 semi-vowels, 3 sibilants, 1 aspirate and many diphthongs. Like the other Indo-Aryan languages, it has both long and short vowels and syllables with long vowels may appear to be stressed. Different types of nasal vowels are a special feature of the Konkani language.[32]

  • The palatal and alveolar stops are affricates. The palatal glides are truly palatal but other the consonants in the palatal column are alveopalatal.[55]
  • The voiced/voiceless contrasts is found only in the stops and affricates. The affricates are all voiceless and the sonorants are all voiced.[55]
  • The initial vowel-syllable is shortened after the aspirates and the fricatives. Many speakers substitute unaspirated consonants for aspirates.[55]
  • Aspirates in non-initial position are rare and only occur in careful speech. Palatalisation/non palatisation is found in all Obstruents, except for palatal and alveolars. Where a palatalised alveolar is expected, a palatal is found instead. In case of sonorants, only unaspirated consonants show this contrast, and among the glides only labeo-velar glides exhibit this. Vowels show a contrast between oral and nasal ones[55]


One of the most distinguishing features of Konkani phonology is the use of //, the close-mid central vowel, instead of the schwa as used in Hindi-Urdu and Marathi.

Whereas most Indian languages use only one of the three front vowels, represented by the Devanagari grapheme ए, Konkani uses three: /e/, /ɛ/ and /æ/.

Nasalizations exist for all vowels except for /ʌ/.


  Labial Dental Alveolar Retroflex Alveopalatal Velar Glottal



    s   ɕ   h
Nasals m

ɲ ŋ  
Liquids ʋ
  l ɾ
ɭ ɽ j    

The consonants in Konkani are similar to those in Marathi.


Konkani grammar has an overall Sanskrit structure and is similar to other Indo-Aryan languages. Notably Konkani grammar is also influenced by Dravidian languages. Konkani is a language rich in morphology and syntax. It cannot be described as a stress language nor as a tone language.[49]

  • Speech can be classified in any of the following parts:[56]
  1. naam (noun)
  2. sarvanaam (pronoun)
  3. visheshan (adjective)
  4. kriyapad (verb)
  5. kriyavisheshana (adverb)
  6. ubhayanvayi avyaya
  7. shabdayogi avyaya
  8. kevalaprayogi avyaya

Like most of the Indo-Aryan languages Konkani is an SOV language, meaning among other things that not only is the verb found at the end of the clause but also modifiers and complements tend to precede the head and postpositions are far more common than prepositions. In terms of syntax Konknai is a head-last language unlike English which is an SVO language.[57]

  • Almost all the verbs, adverbs, adjectives and the avyayas are either tatsama or tadbhava.[56]

The following table illustrates this:

Verbs and their roots:
Konkani verbs Sanskrit/Prakrit Root Translation
वाच vaach (tatsama) वच् vach read
आफय, आपय aafay, aapay (tatsama) आव्हय् aavhay call, summon
रांध raandh (tatsama) रांध् raandh cook
बरय baray (tadbhav) वर्णय् varnay write
व्हर vhar (tadbhav) हर har take away
भक bhak (tadbhav) भक्ष् bhaksh eat
हेड hedd (tadbhav) अट् att roam
ल्हेव lhev (tadbhav) लेह् leh lick
शीन sheen (tadbhav) छिन्न chinna cut
Source:Koṅkaṇî Dhatukosh[56]
  • Present indefinite of the auxiliary is fused with present participle of the primary verb, and the auxiliary is partially dropped.[56] The southern dialects when came in contact with Dravidian languages this difference became more prominent in dialects spoken in Karnataka whereas Goan Konkani still retains the original form.

e.g.: I eat and I am eating sound similar in Goan Konkani, due to loss of auxiliary in colloquial speech. hāv khātā corresponds to I am eating. On the other hand in Karnataka Konkani hāv khātā corresponds to I eat, and hāv khātoāsā or hāv khāter āsā means I am eating

Konkani Apabhramsha and Metathesis

  • Like other languages, the Konkani language has three genders. Use of the neuter gender is quite unique in Konkani. During the Middle Ages, most of the Indo-Aryan languages lost their neuter gender, except Maharashtri, which is retained much more in Konkani than Marathi.[56] Gender in Konkani is purely grammatical and unconnected to sex.[56]

Metathesis is a characteristic of all the middle and modern Indo-Aryan languages including Konkani. E.g.Consider Sanskrit word स्नुषा(daughter-in law); here, the ष is dropped,and स्नु alone is utilised, स्नु-->स/नु and you get the word सुन (metathesis of ukar).[58]

  • Unlike Sanskrit, anusvara has great importance in Konkani. A characteristic of Middle Indo-Aryan dialects, Konkani still retains the anusvara on the initial or the final syllable.[56] Similarly visarga, is totally lost and is assimilated with उ and/or ओ; e.g. Sanskrit दीपः becomes दिवो and दुःख becomes दुख.
  • Konkani retains the pitch accent which is a direct derivative of Vedic accent, which probably would account for nasalism in Konkani.[56] The Breathed accent is retained in most of the tatsamas than the tadbhavas.[56] Declension also affects the accent.[56]
  • Konkani has lost its passive voice, and now the transitive verbs in their perfects are equivalent to passives.
  • Konkani has rejected ऋ, ॠ, ऌ, ॡ, ष, क्ष and are assimilated with र, ख, ह, श and स.[56]
  • Sanskrit compound letters are avoided in Konkani; e.g. Sanskrit द्वे, प्राय, गृहस्थ, उद्योत become बे, पिराय, गिरेस्त, उज्जो respectively in Konkani.[56]


The vocabulary from Konkani comes from a number of sources. The main source is Prakrits. There are many indications that Konkani is more closer to Sanskrit than any other widely spoken Indian languages. So Sanskrit as a whole has played a very important part in Konkani vocabulary. Konkani vocabulary is made of tatsama (Sanskrit words without change), tadhbhava (adapted Sanskrit words), deshya (indigenous words) and antardeshya or foreign words. Other sources of vocabulary are Arabic,Persian and Turkish. Finally Kannada,Marathi and Portuguese have enriched its lexical content.[57]


Konkani is not highly Sanskritised like Marathi, but it still retains Prakrit and apabhramsha structure, verbal forms and vocabulary. Though Goan Hindu dialect is highly Prakritsed, numerous Sanskrit loan words are found unlike the Catholic dialect which was influenced by Portuguese as they got converted in early 16th century. The catholic literary dialect has now adopted Sanskrit vocabulary again, the Catholic Church has also adopted Sanskritisation policy.[55] Even though recently introduced Sanskritic vocabulary is difficult and unfamiliar to the new catholic generations, they have not revolted.[55] On the other hand, southern Konkani dialects, having been influenced by Kannada, which is one of the most sanskritised language of Dravidian origin, have undergone re-sanskritisation in the due course of time.[55]


Main article: Konkani script

Konkani has been compelled to become a language using a multiplicity of scripts, and not just one single script used everywhere. This has led to an outward splitting up of the same language which is spoken and understood by all, in spite of some inevitable dialectal convergences.[59]


Main article: Goykanadi

The Brahmi script was originally used but fell into disuse.[32] Later some inscriptions were written in old Nagari. However, with the destruction of Konkani-speaking Hindu state of Gomantak by Portuguese conquest in 1510 some early form of Devanagari was disused in Goa.[59] The Portuguese promulgated a law banning the use of Konkani and Nagari scripts.[11]

Another script called Kandevi or Goykandi was used in Goa since the times of the Kadambas, although it lost its popularity after the 17th century. Kandevi/Goykandi is very different from the Halekannada script, with strikingly similar features.[60] Unlike Halekannada, Kandevi/Goykandi letters were usually written with a distinctive horizontal bar, like the Nagari scripts. This script may have been evolved out of the Kadamba script which was extensively used in Goa and Konkan. The earliest documents written in this script are found in a petition addressed by Ravala Śeṭī; most probably a Gaunkar of Caraim in the islands of Goa, to the king of Portugal. This 15th-century document bears a signature in Konkani which says: Ravala Śeṭī baraha (Translation: writing of Ravala Śeṭī).[61] The earliest known inscription in Devanagari dates back to 1187 AD. The Roman script has the oldest preserved and protected literary tradition beginning from the 16th century.


Konkani is today written in five scripts – Devanagari, Roman, Kannada, Malayalam and Perso-Arabic. The Goan Hindus use the Devanagari script in their writings while the Goan Catholics use the Roman script. The Saraswats of Karnataka use the Devanagari script in the North Kanara district, but those in Udupi and South Kanara use the Kannada script. The Karnataka Christians also use the Kannada script. Malayalam script was used by the Konkani community in Kerala, but now there is a move to use the Devanagari script.[36] Konkani Muslims around Bhatkal taluka of Karnataka use Arabic script to write Konkani.[62] When the Sahitya Akademi recognised Konkani in 1975 as an independent and literary language, one of the important factors was the literary heritage of Romi Konkani since the year 1556. However, after Konkani in the Devanagari script was made the official language of Goa in 1987, the Sahitya Akademi has supported only writers in the Devanagari script.

Alphabet or the Varṇamāḷha

The vowels,consonants and their arrangement are:[63]

अं aṃ
अः aḥ
/c, t͡ʃ/
/cʰ, t͡ʃʰ/
/ɟ, d͡ʒ/
/ɟʱ, d͡ʒʱ/
/ɕ, ʃ/
क्ष kṣa
ज्ञ jña


Konkani, despite having a small population shows a very high number of dialects. The dialect tree structure of Konkani can easily be classified according to the region, religion, caste and local tongue influence.[62]

Other researchers have classified the dialects differently.

Kalelkar classification

Based on the historical events and cultural ties of the speakers, N. G. Kalelkar has broadly classified the dialects into three main groups:[62]

  • Northern Konkani: Dialects spoken in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra with strong cultural ties to Marathi; i.e. Malvani
  • Central Konkani: Dialects in Goa and Northern Karnataka, where Konkani came in close contact with Portuguese language and culture.
  • Southern Konkani: Dialects spoken in the Canara region (Mangalore & Udupi) of Karnataka which came in close contact with Tulu and Kannada.
Ethnologue (ISO) classification

Ethnologue assigns two kok:

  1. Goan Konkani – official recognition as an independent language

  2. knn Maharashtrian Konkani – no official recognition, treated by some linguists as a dialect of Marathi

Both languages are referred to as Konkani by their respective speakers.


The Konkani language has been in danger of dying out primarily due to:

  1. The fragmentation of Konkani into various, sometimes mutually unintelligible dialects.
  2. The Portuguese influence in Goa, especially on Catholics.
  3. Strong degree of bilingualism of Konkani Hindus in Goa and coastal Maharashtra with Marathi
  4. Progressive inroads made by Urdu into the Muslim communities.
  5. Mutual animosity among various religious and caste groups; including a secondary status of Konkani culture to religion.
  6. Migration of Konkanis to various parts of India and around the world.
  7. Lack of opportunities to study Konkani in schools and colleges. Even until recently there were few Konkani schools in Goa. Populations outside the native Konkani areas have absolutely no access to Konkani education, even informally.
  8. Preference among Konkani parents to speak to their children in “Potaachi Bhas” (language of the stomach) over “Maaim Bhas”(mother tongue) Konkani; primarily in English to help their children gain a grip over English in schools.[62]

Efforts have been made to stop this downward trend of usage of Konkani, starting with Shenoi Goembab's efforts to revive Konkani. There has been a renewed interest in Konkani Literature. The recognition granted by Sahitya Akademi to Konkani and the institution of an annual award for Konkani literature has helped.

Some organisations such as the Konkan Daiz Yatra, organised by Konkani Bhasha Mandal, Mumbai since 1939 and the newer Vishwa Konkani Parishad have laid great stress on uniting all factions of Konkanis.


According to the Census Department of India, Konkani speakers show a very high degree of multilingualism. In the 1991 census, as compared to the national average of 19.44% for bilingualism and 7.26% for trilingualism; Konkani speakers scored 74.20% and 44.68% respectively. This makes Konkanis the most multilingual community of India.

This has been due to the fact that in most areas where Konkanis have settled, they seldom form a majority of the population and have to interact with others in the local tongue. Another reason for bilingualism has been the lack of schools teaching Konkani as a primary or secondary language.

While bilingualism is not by itself a bad thing, it has been misinterpreted as a sign that Konkani is not a developed language. The bilingualism of Konkanis with Marathi in Goa and Maharashtra has been a source of great discontent because it has led to the belief that Konkani is a dialect of Marathi[62][64] and hence had a bearing on the future of Goa.

Konkani–Marathi dispute

It has been claimed by some quarters that Konkani is a dialect of Marathi and not an independent language. This has been attributed to several historical reasons (outlined in the History section), the close similarities between Marathi and Konkani, the geographical proximity between Goa and Maharashtra, the strong Marathi influence on Konkani dialects spoken in Maharashtra (such as Malwani), a supposed lack of literature in Konkani and a great degree of bilingualism of Konkani Hindus with respect to Marathi.

José Pereira, in his 1971 work “Konkani – A Language: A History of the Konkani Marathi Controversy”, pointed to an essay on Indian languages written by John Leyden in 1807 wherein Konkani is called a “dialect of Maharashtra” as an origin of the language controversy.[62]

Another linguist to whom the error is attributed is Grierson. Grierson's work on the languages of India: The Linguistic Survey of India was regarded as an important reference by other linguists. In his book, Grierson had distinguished between the Konkani spoken in costal Maharashtra (then, part of Bombay Presidency) and the Konkani spoken in Goa as being two different languages. He regarded the Konkani spoken in costal Maharashtra as a dialect of Marathi and not as a dialect of Goan Konkani itself. But, in his opinion, Goan Konkani was also to be considered a dialect of Marathi because the religious literature used by the Hindus in Goa was not in Konkani itself, but in Marathi. Grierson's opinion about Goan Konkani was not based on its linguistics but on the diglossic situation in Goa.

S. M. Katre's 1966 work, The Formation of Konkani, which utilised the instruments of modern historical and comparative linguistics across six typical Konkani dialects, showed the formation of Konkani to be distinct from that of Marathi.[62][64] Shenoi Goembab, who played a pivotal role in the Konkani revival movement, rallied against the pre-eminence of Marathi over Konkani amongst Hindus and Portuguese amongst Christians.

Goa's accession to India in 1961 came at a time when Indian states were being reorganised along linguistic lines. There were demands to merge Goa with Maharashtra state. This was because Goa had a sizeable population of Marathi speakers and Konkani was also considered to be a dialect of Marathi by many. Konkani Goans were opposed to the move. The status of Konkani as an independent language or as a dialect of Marathi had a great political bearing on Goa's merger, which was settled by a plebiscite in 1967.[62]

The Sahitya Akademi (a prominent literary organisation in India) recognised it as an independent language in 1975, and subsequently Konkani (in Devanagari script) was made the official language of Goa in 1987.

Script and dialect issues

The problems posed by multiple scripts and varying dialects have come as an impediment in the efforts to unite Konkanis. The decision to use Devanagari as official script and Antruz dialect has met with opposition both within Goa and outside it.[54] The critics contend that Antruz dialect is unintelligible to most Goans, let alone other Konkanis, and that Devanagari is used very little as compared to Roman script in Goa or Kannada script in coastal Karnataka[54] Prominent among the critics are Konkani Catholics in Goa, who have been at the forefront of the Konkani agitation in 1986–87 and have for long used the Roman script including producing literature in Roman script. They are demanding that Roman script be given equal status to Devanagari.[65]

In Karnataka, which has the largest number of Konkanis, leading organisations and activists have similarly demanded that Kannada script be made the medium of instruction for Konkani in local schools instead of Devanagari.[66] Government of Karnataka has given its approval for teaching of Konkani as an optional third language from 6th to 10th standard students either in Kannada or Devanagari script.[67]


There are organisations working for Konkani but, primarily, these were restricted to individual communities. The All India Konkani Parishad founded on 8 July 1939 served the purpose of providing a common ground for Konkani people from all the regions.[68] A new organisation known as Vishwa Konkani Parishad, which aims to be an all-inclusive and pluralistic umbrella organisation for Konkanis around the world, was founded on 11 September 2005.

Mandd Sobhann is the premier organisation which is striving hard to preserve, promote, propagate and enrich Konkani language and culture.

The Konkan Daiz Yatra, started in 1939 in Mumbai, is the oldest Konkani organisation. The Konkani Bhasha Mandal was born in Mumbai on 5 April 1942 during the Third Adhiveshan of All India Konkani Parishad. On 28 December 1984, Goa Konkani Akademi (GKA) was founded by the Government of Goa to promote Konkani language, literature and culture.[69] The Thomas Stephens Konknni Kendr (TSKK) is a popular research institute based in the Goan capital Panaji, which works on issues related to the Konkani language, literature, culture and education.[70] The Dalgado Konkani Academy is a popular Konkani organisation based in Panaji.

The Konkani Triveni Kala Sangam is one more famed Konkani organisation in Mumbai, which is engaged in the vocation of patronising Konkani language through theatre movement. The Government of Karnataka established the Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Akademy on 20 April 1994.[71] The Konkani Ekvott is an umbrella organisation of the Konkani bodies in Goa.

The First World Konkani Convention was held in Mangalore in December 1995. The Konkani Language and Cultural Foundation came into being immediately after the World Konkani Convention in 1995.[72]

The World Konkani Centre built on a three-acre plot called Konkani Gaon (Konkani Village) at Shakti Nagar, Mangalore was inaugurated on 17 January 2009[73] “to serve as a nodal agency for the preservation and overall development of Konkani language, art and culture involving all the Konkani people the world over.”


The inquisition of Goa is seen as a blot in the history of the Konkani language. According to the orders of the Goan inquisition, it was an offence to remain in possession of books in local languages. All books, whatever their subject matter, written in Konkani, Marathi, or Sanskrit, were seized by the inquisition and burnt on the suspicion that they might deal with idolatry. It is probable that valuable non-religious literature dealing with art, literature, sciences, etc. were destroyed indiscriminately as a consequence. For instance, even before the inquisition orders, in a letter dated 24 November 1548, Fr. Joao de Albuquerque proudly reports his achievement in this direction.[74]

  • The first writer in the history of Konkani language known to us today is Shamaraja; he was also known as Krishnadas Shama as he was an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna. He was born in the 15th century CE in the village of Quelossim in Goa. As per the date mentioned in his Shrikrishnacharitrakatha, he began writing his book on 13th of the Vaishakha month of the Hindu lunar calendar, which is 25 April 1526 according to the Gregorian calendar. He authored Ramayana, Mahabharata and Krishnacharitrakatha in prose style. The manuscripts have not been found, though transliterations in Roman script are found in Braga in Portugal. The script used by him for his work still remains a mystery.[75]
  • Vishnudas Nama who also takes pen-names like Vaishampayana and Parameshvaraco sharanagat nama, authored Bhishmaparva and Adiparva, transliterations of which are found in Public library of Braga in northern Portugal.[18]
  • Another copy of Ramayana does not bear any author's name, although the name of a certain Sadashiva has been mentioned.[18]
  • The first known printed book in Konkani was written by an English Jesuit priest, Fr. Thomas Stephens in 1622, and entitled Doutrina Christam em Lingoa Bramana Canarim (Old Portuguese for: Christian Doctrine in the Canarese Brahman Language).
  • The first book exclusively on Konkani Grammar, Arte da lingoa Canarim, was printed in 1640 by Father Stephens in Portuguese.[14] Similarly, a book named A Konkani grammar, was printed in the year 1882 in Mangalore by Angelo Francesco Saverio Maffei, and describes Canara Konkani grammar.[76]

Konkani media


All India Radio started broadcasting Konkani news and other services. Radio Goa Panjim started Konkani broadcast in 1945. AIR Mumbai and Dharwad later started it in the years 1952 and 1965 respectively. Portuguese Radio, Lisbon started services in 1955 for India, East Africa and Portuguese. Similarly Trivandrum, Alleppey, Trichur and Calicut AIR centres started Konkani broadcasts.[14]

In Manglore and Udupi there are many weekly news magazines are published. Rakno, Daize and few others are very famous among Christian community. Every Roman Catholic parish will publish 3- 4 magazines in a year.


Presently there is just a single daily newspaper, called Sunaparant. There is a fortnightly published newspaper called Kodial Khaber.

Konkani periodicals published in Goa include Vauraddeancho Ixtt (Roman script weekly), Gulab (Roman script monthly), Bimb (Devanagari script monthly) and Poddbimb (Roman script monthly).


The Doordarshan centre in Panjim produces Konkani programs which are broadcast in the evening. Many Local Goan channels also broadcast Konkani television programs. These include: Prudent media,Goa 365,HCN,RDX Goa and others.

In popular culture

Many Konkani songs of the Goan fisher-folk appear recurrently in a number of Hindi movies. Many Hindi movie characters feature a Goan Catholic accent. The famous song from 1957 movie Aasha (1957 film), contains Konkani words Mhaka naka,which became extremely popular. Some kids were chanting "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe", which inspired C Ramchandra and his assistant John Gomes to create first line of the song, "Eena Meena Deeka, De Dai Damanika". Gomes, who was a Goan, added the words "Maka naka" Konkani for "I don't want"). They kept on adding more nonsense rhymes till they ended with "Rum pum po!".[77][78]

An international ad campaign by Nike for the 2007 Cricket World Cup featured a Konkani song Rav Patrao Rav as the background theme. It was based on the tune of an older song Bebdo, composed by Chris Perry and sung by Lorna. The new lyrics written by Agnello Dias (who worked in the ad agency that made the ad), recomposed by Ram Sampat and sung by Ella Castellino.

A Konkani cultural event Konkani Nirantari held in Mangalore on 26 and 27 January 2008; has entered the Guinness Book of World Records for holding a 40-hour-long non-stop musical singing marathon by beating the Brazilian musical troupe who had previously held the record of singing non-stop for 36 hours.[79]

See also



External links

  • Vauraddeancho Ixtt, Konkani language site
  • Konkani News, Konkani language site
  • Kital, Konkani language site
  • Niz Goenkar, Konkani-English bilingual site
  • Learn Goan Konkani online
  • Read Konkani News online
  • Learn Mangalorean GSB Konkani online
  • Learn Mangalorean Catholic Konkani online
  • An excellent article on Konkani history and literature by Goa Konkani Academi
  • Online Manglorean Konkani Dictionary Project
  • Online Konkani (GSB) dictionary
  • World Konkani Centre, Mangalore
  • Konkanverter-Konkani script conversion utility

Template:Konkani language topics

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