Rahul Sharma (Editor)

Konkani language

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Official language in

Native speakers
7.4 million

Native to

ISO 639-2

Regulated by
Government of Goa

Konkani language

[kõkɳi] (in the language itself), [kõkɵɳi] (anglicised)

ISO 639-3
kok – inclusive codeIndividual codes:gom – Goan Konkaniknn – Maharashtrian Konkani

goan1235  (Goan Konkani)konk1267  (Konkani)

Language family
Marathi-Konkani languages, Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-European languages, Indo-Iranian languages

Malvani Konkani, Kukna language, Chitpavani Konkani

Writing system
Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli

Learn konkani mangalorean 01

Konkani (Kōṅkaṇī) is an Indo-Aryan language belonging to the Indo-European family of languages and is spoken along the South western coast of India. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages mentioned in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution and the official language of the Indian state of Goa. The first Konkani inscription is dated 1187 A.D. It is a minority language in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu.


Konkani is a member of the southern Indo-Aryan language group. It retains elements of Old Indo-Aryan structures and shows similarities with both western and eastern Indo-Aryan languages.


It is quite possible that Old Konkani was just referred to as Prakrit by its speakers. Among the inscriptions at the foot of the colossal statue of Bahubali at Shravanabelagola in Karnataka are two lines reading thus: (i) Sri Chamundaraje Karaviyale and (ii) Sri Ganga raje sutthale karaviyale. The first line was inscribed circa 981 AD and the second line in 116-17 AD. The language of these lines is Konkani according to Dr. S.B. Kulkarni (former head of Department of Marathi, Nagpur University) and Dr. Jose Pereira (former professor, Fordham University, USA). Considering these arguments, these inscriptions at Sravanabelegola may be considered the earliest Konkani inscriptions in Devanagari script. Reference to the name Konkani is not found in literature prior to 13th century. The first reference of the name Konkani is in "Abhanga 263" of the 13th century Marathi saint poet, Namadeva (1270–1350). Konkani has been known by a variety of names: Canarim, Concanim, Gomantaki, Bramana, and 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.

Konkani was commonly referred to as Lingua Canarim by the Portuguese and Lingua Brahmana by Catholic missionaries. The Portuguese later started referring to Konkani as Lingua Concanim.

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 work 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.

All the European authors, however, recognised two forms of the language in Goa: the plebeian, called Canarim, and the more regular (used by the educated classes), called Lingua Canarim Brámana or simply Brámana de Goa. The latter was the preferred choice of the Europeans, and also of other castes, for writing, sermons, and religious purposes.


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.
  • 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 is mentioned in Sahyadrikhanda of the Skanda Purana.
  • Konkan is synonymous with Konkani, but it is today divided into three states: Maharashtra (Konkan region), Goa, and Karnataka (North Canara).
  • Substratum


    The substratum of the Konkani language lies in the speech of Proto-Australoid tribes called Kurukh, Oraon, and Kukni, whose modern representatives are languages like Kurukh and its dialects like Kurux, Kunrukh, Kunna, and Malto. According to the Indian Anthropological Society, these Australoid tribes speaking Austro-Asiatic or Munda languages who once inhabited Konkan, migrated to Northern India (Chota Nagpur Plateau, Mirzapur) and are not found in Konkan any more. Olivinho Gomes in his essay "Medieval Konkani Literature" also mentions the Mundari substratum. Goan Indologist Ramakrishna Shenvi Dhume identified many Austroloid Munda words in Konkani, like mund, mundkar, dhumak, goem-bab. This substratum is very prominent in Konkani.

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


    The later migrants who reached Konkan speaking early Dravidian languages (see:Proto-Dravidian language) are believed to be the descendants of the Mediterraneans. Historians maintain that the paleo-Mediterraneans who came to India from north-west passes as early Dravidians formed a heterogeneous racial subtype. These Mediterraneans (or Dravidians as many historians call them) knew the craft of systematised agriculture, and inhabited most of neolithic India. 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. Some examples of Konkani words of Dravidian origin are: naall (coconut), madval (washerman), choru (cooked rice) and mulo (radish). Linguists also suggest that the substratum of Marathi and Konkani is more closely related to Dravidian Kannada.

    The Indo-Aryan element

    Although Konkani shows influences of the Dravidian substratum it definitely belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch. It is inflexive, non-Dravidian, and less distant from Sanskrit as compared to other modern Indo-Aryan languages. Linguists describe Konkani as a fusion of variety of Prakrits. This could be attributed to the confluence of immigrants that the Konkan coast has witnessed over the years.

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

    Goa and Konkan was ruled by the Konkan Mauryas and the Bhojas; as a result numerous migrations occurred from northeast and western India. Immigrants spoke various vernaculars, which led to a mixture of features of Eastern and Western Prakrits. It was substantially influenced later by Magadhi Prakrit. The overtones of Pali (the liturgical language of the Buddhists) also played a very important role in the development of Konkani Apabhramsha grammar and vocabulary. A major number of linguistic innovations in Konkani are shared with Eastern Indo-Aryan languages like Bengali and Oriya, which have their roots in Magadhi.

    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 "the first-born daughter of Maharashtri". This old language that was prevalent contemporary to old Marathi is found to be distinct from its counterpart.

    The Sauraseni impact on Konkani is not as prominent as 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. 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. Examples include: dando, suno, raakhano, dukh, rukhu, manisu (from Prakrit), dandao, sunnao, rakkhakao, dukkhao, vukkhao, vrukkhao, and mannisso. Another example could be the sound of at the beginning of words; it is still retained in many Konkani words of archaic Shauraseni origin, such as णव (nine). Archaic Konkani born out of Shauraseni vernacular Prakrit at the earlier stage of the evolution (and later Maharashtri Prakrit), was commonly spoken until 875 AD, and at its later phase ultimately developed into Apabhramsha, which could be called a predecessor of old Konkani.


    Later Dravidian influence

    Though it belongs to the Indo-Aryan group, Konkani was influenced by a language of the 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. Another reason Kannada influenced Konkani was the proximity of original Konkani-speaking territories to Karnataka.

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

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

    Konkani and Gujarati analogy

    The Kols, Kharwas, Yadavas, and Lothal migrants all settled in Goa during the pre-historic period and later. Chavada, a tribe of warriors (now known as Chaddi or Chaddo), migrated to Goa from Saurashtra, during the 7th and 8th century AD, after their kingdom was destroyed by the Arabs in 740. Royal matrimonial relationships between the two states, as well as 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.
  • The Konkani O (as opposed to the Marathi A, which is of different Prakrit origin), is similar to that in Gujarati.
  • The case terminations in Konkani, lo, li, and le, and the Gujarati no, ni, and ne have the same Prakrit roots.
  • In both languages the present indicatives have no gender, unlike Marathi.
  • Other foreign languages

    Since Goa was a major trade centre for visiting Arabs and Turks, many Arabic and Persian words infiltrated the Konkani language. 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). Single and compound words are found wherein the original meaning has been changed or distorted. Examples include mustaiki (from Arabic mustaid, meaning "ready"), and kapan khairo ("eater of one's own shroud", meaning "a miser").

    Portuguese influence

    Most of the old Konkani Hindu literature does not show any influence from the Portuguese language. Even the spoken dialects by the majority of Goan Hindus has 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 of 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 common Konkani speech., The Portuguese influence is also evident in the Marathi–Konkani spoken in the former Northern Konkan district, Thane a variant of Konkani used by East Indians Catholic community.

    The language

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

    Early Konkani

    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 "lord".) at Shravanabelagola of 981 CE reads, in a variant of Nāgarī:

    "śrīcāvuṇḍarājē̃ kara viyālē̃, śrīgaṅgārājē̃ suttālē̃ kara viyālē̃" (Chavundaraya got it done, Gangaraya got the surroundings done).

    Another inscription in Nāgarī, of Shilahara King Aparaditya II of the year 1187 AD in Parel reportedly contains Konkani words, but this has not been reliably verified. 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. Copper plates found in Ponda dating back to the early 13th century, and from Quepem in the early 14th century, have been written in Goykanadi. One such stone inscription or shilalekh (written Nāgarī) is found at the Nageshi temple in Goa (dating back to the year 1463 AD). It 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 Pratihasta of the state. It mentions words like, kullgga, kulaagra, naralel, tambavem, and tilel.

    A piece of hymn dedicated to Lord Narayana attributed to the 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 the later 16th century goes

    vaikuṇṭhācē̃ jhāḍa tu gē phaḷa amṛtācē̃, jīvita rākhilē̃ tuvē̃ manasakuḷācē̃.

    Early Konkani was marked by the use of pronouns like dzo, , and jẽ. These are replaced in contemporary Konkani by koṇa. The conjunctions yedō and tedō ("when" and "then") which were used in early Konkani are no longer in use. 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, Canara (today's coastal Karnataka), and Cochin.

  • Exodus ( between 1312–1327 when General Malik Kafur of the Delhi Sultans, Alauddin Khilji, and Muhammed bin Tughlaq destroyed Govepuri and the Kadambas
  • Exodus subsequent to 1470 when the Bahamani kingdom captured Goa, and subsequent capture in 1492 by Sultan Yusuf Adil Shah of Bijapur
  • Exodus due to the Christianization of Goa by Portuguese subsequent to 1500
  • Hindu, Muslim, and Neo-Catholic Christian exodus during the Goa Inquisition, which was established in 1560 and abolished in 1812.
  • 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. This caused penetration of local words into the dialects of Konkani spoken by these speakers. Examples include dār (door) giving way to the word bāgil. Also, 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 intermarriages of Arab seafarers and locals as well as conversions of Hindus to Islam. Another migrant community that picked up Konkani are the Siddis, who are descended from Bantu peoples from South East Africa that were brought to the Indian subcontinent as slaves by Portuguese merchants.

    Contemporary Konkani

    Contemporary Konkani is written in 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 as 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 (such as Kasargod, Kochi, Alappuzha, Trivandrum, and Kottayam). Each region has a different dialect, pronunciation style, vocabulary, tone and sometimes, significant differences in grammar. 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, 706,397 were in Karnataka, 602,606 in Goa, 522,000 in Maharashtra, and 64,008 in Kerala. It ranks 15th on 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. 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, Uganda, Pakistan, the 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 single-handedly 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. His death anniversary, 9 April, is celebrated as World Konkani Day (Vishwa Konkani Dis).

    Madhav Manjunath Shanbhag, an advocate by profession from Karwar, who with a few like-minded companions travelled throughout all the Konkani speaking areas, sought 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. Successive Adhiveshans of All India Konkani Parishad were held at various places in subsequent years. 27 annual Adhiveshans of All India Konkani Parishad have been held so far.

    Pandu Putti Kolambkar an eminent social worker of Kodibag, Karwar strove for the upliftment of Konkani in Karwar (North Kanara) and 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. However, English, Hindi, and Marathi continued to be the preferred languages for official communication, while Konkani was sidelined.

    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 came to the conclusion that Konkani was indeed an independent and literary language, classified as an Indo-European language, which in its present state was heavily influenced by the Portuguese language.

    Official language status

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

    Konkani was included in the Eighth Schedule to 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 an 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.

  • The palatal and alveolar stops are affricates. The palatal glides are truly palatal but otherwise the consonants in the palatal column are alveopalatal.
  • The voiced/voiceless contrasts are found only in the stops and affricates. The affricates are all voiceless and the sonorants are all voiced.
  • The initial vowel-syllable is shortened after the aspirates and fricatives. Many speakers substitute unaspirated consonants for aspirates.
  • Aspirates in a 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 the 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
  • Vowels

    One of the most distinguishing features of Konkani phonology is the use of /ɵ/, 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/.


    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.

  • Speech can be classified into any of the following parts:
    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.

  • Almost all the verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and the avyayas are either tatsama or tadbhava.
  • The following table illustrates this:

  • Present indefinite of the auxiliary is fused with present participle of the primary verb, and the auxiliary is partially dropped. When the southern dialects came in contact with Dravidian languages this difference became more prominent in dialects spoken in Karnataka whereas Goan Konkani still retains the original form.
  • For example, "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".

  • Out of eight grammatical cases, Konkani has totally lost the dative, the locative, and the ablative. It has partially lost the accusative and the instrumental cases too. So the preserved cases are: the nominative, the genitive, and the vocative case.
  • 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,in which it is retained much more in Marathi than Konkani. Gender in Konkani is purely grammatical and unconnected to sex.
  • Metathesis is a characteristic of all the middle and modern Indo-Aryan languages including Konkani. Consider the 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).

  • Unlike Sanskrit, anusvara has great importance in Konkani. A characteristic of Middle Indo-Aryan dialects, Konkani still retains the anusvara on the initial or final syllable. Similarly visarga, is totally lost and is assimilated with उ and/or ओ. For example, in 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. The "Breathed" accent is retained in most of the tatsamas than the tadbhavas. Declension also affects the accent.
  • 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, and क्ष, which are assimilated with र, ख, ह, श and स.
  • Sanskrit compound letters are avoided in Konkani. For example, in Sanskrit द्वे, प्राय, गृहस्थ, उद्योत become बे, पिराय, गिरेस्त, and उज्जो respectively in Konkani.
  • Vocabulary

    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 (foreign words). Other sources of vocabulary are Arabic, Persian, and Turkish. Finally Kannada, Marathi, and Portuguese have enriched its lexical content.


    Konkani is not highly Sanskritised like Marathi, but it still retains Prakrit and apabhramsha structure, verbal forms, and vocabulary. Though the Goan Hindu dialect is highly Prakritsed, numerous Sanskrit loanwords are found, unlike the Catholic dialect, which was influenced by the Portuguese during their conversion in the early 16th century. The Catholic literary dialect has now adopted Sanskrit vocabulary again; the Catholic Church has also adopted a Sanskritisation policy. Even though recently introduced Sanskritic vocabulary is difficult and unfamiliar to the new Catholic generations, they have not revolted. 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 over time.


    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, despite some inevitable dialectal convergences.


    The Brahmi script for Konkani fell into disuse Later, some inscriptions were written in old Nagari. However, owing to the Portuguese conquest in 1510 and the restrictions imposed by the inquisition, some early form of Devanagari was disused in Goa. The Portuguese promulgated a law banning the use of Konkani and Nagari scripts.

    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. 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 that says: "Ravala Śeṭī baraha" ("Writing of Ravala Śeṭī"). The earliest known inscription in Devanagari dates to 1187 AD. The Roman script has the oldest preserved and protected literary tradition, beginning from the 16th century.


    Konkani is written in five scripts: Devanagari, Roman, Kannada, Malayalam, and Perso-Arabic. Because Devanagari is the official script used to write Konkani in Goa and Maharashtra, most Konkanis (especially Hindus) in those two states write the language in Devanagari. However, Konkani is widely written in the Roman script (called Romi Konkani) by many Konkanis, (especially Catholics). This is because for many years, all Konkani literature was in the Latin script, and Catholic liturgy and other religious literature has always been in the Roman script. Most people of Karnataka use the Kannada script; however, the Saraswats of Karnataka use the Devanagari script in the North Kanara district. Malayalam script was used by the Konkani community in Kerala, but there has been a move towards the usage of the Devanagari script in recent years. Konkani Muslims around Bhatkal taluka of Karnataka use Arabic script to write Konkani. There has been to trend towards the usage of the Arabic script among Muslim communities; this coincides with them mixing more Urdu and Arabic words into their Konkani dialects. 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. For a very long time there has been a rising demand for official recognition of Romi Konkani by Catholics in Goa because a sizeable population of the people in Goa use the Roman script. Also a lot of the content on the Internet and the staging of the famed Tiatr is written in Romi Konkani. In January 2013, the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court issued a notice to the state government on a Public Interest Litigation filed by the Romi Lipi Action Front seeking to amend the Official Language Act to grant official language status to Romi Konkani but has not yet been granted.

    Alphabet or the Varṇamāḷha

    The vowels, consonants, and their arrangement are as follows:


    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.

    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:

  • Northern Konkani: Dialects spoken in the Sindhudurga district of Maharashtra with strong cultural ties to Marathi; i.e. Malvani
  • Central Konkani: Dialects in Goa and Northern Kanataka, where Konkani came in close contact with Portuguese language and culture and Kannada.
  • Southern Konkani: Dialects spoken in the Canara region (Mangalore & Udupi) of Karnataka, which came in close contact with Tulu and Kannada.
  • Maharashtrian Konkani, which is a group of dialects that mark the transition between Konkani and Marathi, is sometimes included.


    The language spoken by East Indians usually classified as Konkani.

    It is a collection of dialects of Marathi-Konkani languages spoken in the Konkan region is referred to as Maharashtrian Konkani. The sub-dialects of Konkani gradually merge from standard Marathi into Konkani from north to south Konkan region.

    The various sub dialects spoken by the East Indian Community are;

    Vadvali language Vadvali or Phudagi was spoken by Vadvals, which means agricultural plot owners, of the Naigaon, Vasai to Dahanu region. Somavamshi Kshatriyas speak this dialect. This language is preserved mostly by the Roman Catholics native to this region, since they are a closely knit com predominantly munity here and have very few relatives outside this region. There are many songs in this language. Recently a book was published by Nutan Patil containing around 70 songs. The songs are about marriage, pachvi etc.

    The dialect of the Agri community in Thane Dadra and Nagar Haveli Daman and Diu (Salt makers) and Kolis (fisherfolk) of Vasai and neighbouring Mumbai (Bandar) resembles vadvali dialect closely, though they speak with a heavier accent. There is a village in Vasai called Chulna, which was Roman Catholic (now cosmopolitan). The striking feature of the dialect here contrasting it with Vadvali, is the preference of pronouncing the thinner 'l' and 'n' ('ल' and 'न') instead of the thicker 'l' and 'n' ('ळ' and 'ण'), whi isretained even in the current an agenrationpeakers.

    Samavedi: Samvedi language is spoken in the interiors of the Nala Sopara and Virar regions to the north of Mumbai in the Vasai Taluka Uran Panvel, Thane District of Maharashtra. The name of this language suggests that its origins lie with the Samvedi Brahmins native to this region. Majority of East Indians speak this dialect.

    Kadodis language: Kadodi community people were originally Brahmins, they converted to Christianity at the time of Portuguese reign, 30 years ago. The is a little difference between Samvedi and Kadodi.

    Thakri (Spoken by the Adivasi and Katkari community found in Raigad district.

    Kadodi, Samvedi, Vadvali, Koli and Agri resembles each other very closely. Both Vadvali and Samavedi have relatively high proportions of words imported from Portuguese, because of direct influence of the Portuguese who colonised this region till 1739.

    Goan Konkani

  • Under the ISO 639-3 classification, all the dialects of the Konkani language except for those that come under Maharashtrian Konkani are collectively assigned the language code ISO 639:gom and called as Goan Konkani. In this context, it includes dialects spoken outside the state of Goa, such as Mangalorean Konkani, Chitpavani Konkani Malvani Konkani and Karwari Konkani.
  • In common usage, Goan Konkani refers collectively only to those dialects of Konkani spoken primarily in the state of Goa, e.g. the Antruz, Bardeskari and Saxtti dialects.
  • Problems/issues

    The Konkani language has been in danger of dying out over the years for many of the following reasons:

    1. The fragmentation of Konkani into various, sometimes mutually unintelligible, dialects.
    2. The Portuguese influence in Goa, especially on Catholics.
    3. The 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. The migration of Konkanis to various parts of India and around the world.
    7. The 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. The preference among Konkani parents to speak to their children in Potaachi Bhas (language of the stomach) over Maaim Bhas (mother tongue). They sometimes speak primarily in English to help their children gain a grip on English in schools.

    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, and the newer Vishwa Konkani Parishad have laid great stress on uniting all factions of Konkanis.

    Opposition to Konkani Language

    Karnataka MLC Mr. Ivan D’Souza attempted to speak in Konkani at the Karnataka State Legislative Council, but was however stopped by the Chairman D H Shankaramurthy. Even though Mr. D'Souza pleading that Konkani was amongst the 22 official languages recognised by the Indian Constitution, he was not given permission to continue in Konkani.

    Even though there is a substantial Konkani Catholic population in Bangalore, and the Karnataka Government recognising Konkani as a state language, efforts to celebrate mass in Konkani have met with violent attacks by Kannada activists. Konkani mass has been held in the Sabbhavana and Saccidananda chapels of the Carmelite and Capuchin Fathers respectively, in Yeswanthpur and Rajajinagar. These services are under constant threat from Kannada activists who do not want mass to be celebrated in any other language other than Kannada, even though Kannada Catholics constitute only 20% of the total catholic population in the Archdiocese. Even some Kannada priests were among the attackers, who abused the Konkani congregation, asking Konkani speakers to 'go back to Goa', even though most Konkani speakers are native to the Mangalore region of Karnataka. Konkani speakers of Mysore and Shimoga districts have been demanding Konkani-language Mass celebrations for a long time. Konkani is, however, still the official language of the Mangalore Archdiocese.


    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 and hence has no bearing on the future of Goa.

    Konkani–Marathi dispute

    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.

    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 coastal Maharashtra (then, part of Bombay) and the Konkani spoken in Goa as two different languages. He regarded the Konkani spoken in coastal Maharashtra as a dialect of Marathi and not as a dialect of Goan Konkani itself. In his opinion, Goan Konkani was also 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. 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. 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.

    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 the official script and the Antruz dialect has met with opposition both within Goa and outside it. Critics contend that the 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 Prominent among the critics are Konkani Catholics in Goa, who were at the forefront of the Konkani agitation in 1986–87 and have for a long time used the Roman script, including producing literature in Roman script. They are demanding that Roman script be given equal status to Devanagari.

    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. The 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.


    There are organisations working for Konkani but, primarily, these were restricted to individual communities. The All India Konkani Parishad founded on 8 July 1939, provided a common ground for Konkani people from all regions. 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 that is striving hard to preserve, promote, propagate, and enrich the 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. The Thomas Stephens Konknni Kendr (TSKK) is a popular research institute based in the Goan capital Panaji. It works on issues related to the Konkani language, literature, culture, and education. 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 the theatre movement. The government of Karnataka established the Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Akademy on 20 April 1994. 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.

    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, "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.”


    During the Goa Inquisition which commenced in 1560, all books found in the Konkani language were burnt, and it is possible that old Konkani literature was destroyed as a consequence.

    The earliest writer in the history of Konkani language known today is Krishnadas Shama from Quelossim in Goa. He began writing 25 April 1526, and he authored Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Krishnacharitrakatha in prose style. The manuscripts have not been found, although transliterations in Roman script are found in Braga in Portugal. The script used by him for his work is not known.

    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.


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

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


    "Udentichem Sallok" was the first Konkani periodical published in 1888, from Poona, by Eduardo Bruno de Souza. It started as a monthly and then as a fortnightly. It closed down in 1894.

    Dailies/ Disallim

    "Sanjechem Nokhetr" was started in 1907, by B. F. Cabral, in 1907 in Bombay, and is the first Concanim newspaper. It contained detailed news of Bombay, as it was published from there. In 1982, "Novem Goem" was a daily edited by Gurunath Kelekar, Dr. F. M. Rebello and Felisio Cardozo. It was started due to people's initiative. In 1989, Fr. Freddy J. da Costa, began a Konkani daily "Goencho Avaz". It became a monthly after one and a half year. Presently there is just a single Konkani daily newspaper, called Bhaangar Bhuin. For a long time, there was another Konkani daily, Sunaparant, which was published in Panjim.

    Weeklies/ Satollim

    "O Luzo-Concanim" was a Concanim (Konkani)- Portuguese bilingual weekly, begun in 1891, by Aleixo Caitano José Francisco. From 1892 to 1897, "A Luz", "O Bombaim Esse", "A Lua", "O Intra Jijent" and "O Opinião Nacional" were bilingual Concanim- Portuguese weeklies published. In 1907 "O Goano" was putblished from Bombay, by Honorato Furtado and Francis Xavier Furtado. It was a trilingual weekly in Portuguese, Konkani and English.

    The Society of the Missionaries of Saint Francis Xavier, publish the Konkani weekly (satollem) named Vauraddeancho Ixtt, from Pilar. It was started in 1933 by Fr. Arsencio Fernandes and Fr. Graciano Moraes. Amcho Avaz is a weekly which began in 2013, in Panjim.


    There is a fortnightly published newspaper called Kodial Khaber. "ARSO" Konkani - Kannada Fortnightly is being published from 2013 from Mangalore. Editor / Publisher : H M Pernal

    Monthlies/ Mhoineallim

    Katolik Sovostkai was stated in 1907 by Roldão Noronha. It later became a fortnightly before ceasing publication. In 1912 "Konakn Magazine" was started by Joaquim Campos.

    Dor Mhoineachi Rotti is the oldest running current Konkani periodical. It is dedicated to the spreading of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and was initially named Dor Muineachi Rotti Povitra Jesucha Calzachem Devoçãõ Vaddounchi. Note that the til (tilde mark) over ãõ in Devoçãõ is one single til. Fr. Vincent Lobo, from Sangolda in Goa, who was then curator at the St. Patrick's Church in Karachi, began it in 1915, to feed the spiritual thirst and hunger of the large number of Konkani speaking people there, on noticing the absence of Konkani spiritual literature. The name was changed subsequently to "Dor Muiniachi Rotti, Concanim Messenger of the Sacred Heart". On Fr. Vincent Lobo's passing away on 11 November 1922, Fr. António Ludovico Pereira, also from Sangolda, took over the responsibility. Dor Mhoineachi Rotti had an estimated readership of around 12000 people then. After the passing away of Fr. António Ludovico Pereira on 26 July 1936, Fr. Antanasio Moniz, from Verna, took over. On his passing away in 1953, Fr. Elias D'Souza, from Bodiem, Tivim in Goa became the fourth editor of Dor Mhoineachi Rotti. After shifting to Velha Goa in Goa around 1964, Fr. Moreno de Souza was editor for around 42 years. Presently the Dor Mhuineachi Rotti is owned by the Jesuits in Goa, edited by Fr. Vasco do Rego, S. J. and printed and published by Fr. Jose Silveira, S.J. on behalf of the Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in Goa. Dor Mhoineachi Rotti will complete 100 years on 1 January 2015.

    Gulab is a monthly from Goa. It was started by late Fr. Freddy J. da Costa in 1983, and was printed in clour, not so common then. "Bimb"", "Jivit", "Panchkadayi" and ""Poddbimb" are some other monthlies.

    Konkani periodicals published in Goa include Vauraddeancho Ixtt (Roman script, weekly), Gulab (Roman script, monthly), Bimb (Devanagari script, monthly), Panchkadayi (Kannada script, monthly) and Poddbimb (Roman script,monthly). Konkani periodicals published in Mangalore include "Raknno" (Kannada script, weekly), "Kutmacho Sevak" (Kannada script, monthly), "Dirvem" (Kannada script, monthly),"Amcho Sandesh" (Kannada script, monthly) and "Kajulo" (Kannda script, children's magazine, monthly). Konkani periodical published in Udupi is "Uzwad" (Kannada script,monthly).Naman Ballok Jezu (Kannada,script monthly) Ekvottavorvim Uzvadd (Devanagari Script, monthly) is published from Belgaum since 1998. Panchkadayi Konkani Monthly magazine from Manipal since 1967


    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.

    Konkani Movies

    For full article about Konkani Language movies visit Konkani cinema

    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. A famous song from the 1957 movie Aasha, contains the Konkani words "mhaka naka" and became extremely popular. Some kids were chanting "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe", which inspired C Ramchandra and his assistant John Gomes to create the 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 until they ended with "Rum pum po!".

    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 were 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, was held in Mangalore on 26 and 27 January 2008, and entered the Guinness Book of World Records for holding a 40-hour-long non-stop musical singing marathon, beating a Brazilian musical troupe who had previously held the record of singing non-stop for 36 hours.


    Konkani language Wikipedia