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About Kannada Language

Kannada (ಕನ್ನಡ Kannaḍa) is one of the major Dravidian languages of India, spoken predominantly in the state of Karnataka. Kannada, whose native speakers are called Kannadigas (ಕನ್ನಡಿಗರು Kannadigaru), number roughly 38 million, making it the 27th most spoken language in the world. It is one of the scheduled languages of India and the official and administrative language of the state of Karnataka.

The Kannada language is written using the Kannada script. The other native languages of Karnataka, Tulu, Kodava Takk, Beary bashe and Konkani are also written using the Kannada script.

Kannada is attested epigraphically from the mid-1st millennium CE, and literary Old Kannada flourished in the 9th to 10th century Rashtrakuta Dynasty. Contemporary Kannada literature is the most successful in India, with India's highest literary honor, the Jnanpith awards, having been conferred seven times upon Kannada writers, which is the highest for any language in India. Based on the recommendations of the Committee of Linguistic Experts, appointed by the Ministry of Culture, the Government of India officially recognised Kannada as a classical language.

History

The initial development of the Kannada language is similar to that of other Dravidian languages and independent of Sanskrit. During later centuries, Kannada, along with other Dravidian languages like Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, etc., has been greatly influenced by Sanskrit in terms of vocabulary, grammar and literary styles. The Sanskrit influence is present in most abstract, religious, scientific and rhetorical terms. Kannada also has several Hindi and Marathi loanwords, chiefly relating to feudalism and militia.

Modern Kannada (1800 – present)

The Kannada works produced by the end of the nineteenth century and later are classified as Hosagannada (ಹೊಸಗನ್ನಡ) or Modern Kannada. However, till the beginning of the twentieth century there were Kannada literary works that could still be classified under the heading of Middle Kannada. Most notable among them are the poet Muddana's works. His works may be described as the "Dawn of Modern Kannada". Generally, linguists treat Indira Bai or Saddharma Vijayavu by Gulvadi Venkata Raya as the first literary works in Modern Kannada.

Dialects

There is also some 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 reports "about 20 dialects" of Kannada. Among them are Kundagannada (spoken exclusively in Kundapura), Nadavar-Kannada (spoken by Nadavaru), Havigannada (spoken mainly by Havyaka Brahmins), Are Bhashe (spoken mainly in the Sullia region of Dakshina Kannada), Soliga, Gulbarga Kannada, Dharawad Kannada, Chitradurga Kannada, and others. All of these dialects are influenced by their regional and cultural background.

Ethnologue also classifies a group of "Kannada languages" comprising four members, besides Kannada proper including Badaga, Holiya and Urali.

Geographic distribution

Kannada is mainly spoken in Karnataka in India, and to a good extent in the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Goa, as well as in sizeable communities in the USA, Europe, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Middle Eastern countries, Canada, Malaysia, Australia, the UK, and Singapore.

Official status

Kannada is one of the twenty-two official languages of India and is the sole administrative language of the State of Karnataka. It is also one of the three classical languages of India.

Writing system

The language uses forty-nine phonemic letters, divided into three groups: swaragalu (vowels – thirteen letters); vyanjanagalu (consonants – thirty-four letters); and yogavaahakagalu (neither vowel nor consonant – two letters: the anusvara ಂ and the visarga ಃ), similar to the vowels and consonants of English. The character set is almost identical to that of other Indian languages. The script itself, derived from Brahmi script, is fairly complicated like most other languages of India owing to the occurrence of various combinations of "half-letters" (glyphs), or symbols that attach to various letters in a manner similar to diacritical marks in the Romance languages. The Kannada script is almost perfectly phonetic, but for the sound of a "half n" (which becomes a half m). The number of written symbols, however, is far more than the forty-nine characters in the alphabet, because different characters can be combined to form compound characters (vattaksharas). Each written symbol in the Kannada script corresponds with one syllable, as opposed to one phoneme in languages like English. The script of Kannada is also used in other languages such as Tulu, Kodava Takk and Konkani. The Kannada script is syllabic.

Grammar

Kannada is a highly inflected language with three genders (masculine, feminine, and neutral or common) and two numbers (singular and plural). It is inflected for gender, number and tense, among other things. The first authoritative known book on Kannada grammar is Shabdhamanidarpana by Keshiraaja. The first available Kannada book is a tretise on poetry Kaviraja Maarga.

Dictionary

A German priest, the Reverend Ferdinand Kittel, composed the first Kannada-English dictionary, consisting of more than 70,000 words.[70] Ferdinand Kittel also wrote a book on Kannada grammar called "A Grammar of the Kannada Language: Comprising the Three Dialects of the Language".

 

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