April 14, 2022

#BlogchatterA2Z: L for language & linguistics - Goa’s vocal identity.

‘So many ideas, so little time,’ is what I told my friend when she demanded to know why I didn’t write about ‘Konkani’ for K. 

But for those like her who are cross at me for not doing a post on Goa’s official language yet, sulk no more. Because today, I intend to do just that. 

My post today is all about Goan languages and linguistics.

The two main languages spoken in Goa are Konkani and Marathi. Konkani was declared Goa’s official language by the government in early 2000 and is the predominant language of Goa. 57% of Goans speak Konkani.  While a small section of politically influential Goans still speak Portuguese, English is spoken relatively more commonly than Portuguese.

When it comes to Konkani, there is a distinct difference in the dialect and diction based on where in Goa you live. Also, the Catholics talk a different sounding Konkani from the Hindus. Since Goa shares a border with Maharashtra, the Konkani that the latter speak is influenced by Marathi. And is almost similar. Goa also shares a border line with Karnataka State, and so Kannada's influence is sometimes noticeable in Goa's south and south eastern regions.

Goa has a huge number of non Goans settled in and so you will find a large number of people speaking their mother tongue. These include: Marathi, Oriya, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Malayalam, Assamese etc. 

When it comes to the written word, Konkani is written using the Roman and Devnagri script.  The former is more popular among the Christians.  Among the local Christians, the Roman Catholic Missionaries built up a literature which is of Christian inspiration and so they write in Roman lipi (read ‘style’) rather than in Devanagri script. On the other hand, however, majority of the Hindus use the Devanagri script and also use Marathi for communication. 

It was during one of the edits of the inquisitionccc that Konkani literature was prohibited. However, once Goa was liberated, literature in Konkani started getting written, once again. It was only later in 1975, however, that the The Sahitya Academy recognised 'Konkani' as an independent modern literary language.

Even today, when we think of Goan Konkani literature, poet, novelist, and play write Bakibaab Borkar comes to mind. Other Konkani writers from Goa include Lakshmanrao Sardesai, Ravindra Kelkar, Manohar Sardesai, Dolphio Lobo, R.V. Pandit, Pundalek Naik, and Nagesh Karmali.

There is endless debate over Konkani being medium of instruction for primary education in schools of Goa. While some believe this should not be the case, there are others who are insistent over complete autonomy of the local language.   

But one thing is for certain, no matter how diverse our language and how different our views over the matter, we Goans are connected by the fact that we are united by heart and for that we are eternally grateful. 

We are grateful for our literature and for our writings. For our ‘kaatara’ and ‘tiatra’.  For our plays and our poetry. And hence in all modesty, we express our love and respect, by saying ‘Obrigado, Goa!’

Join me tomorrow for yet another local treasure of my lovely state. 

Until then, 

Mog aasu di.

(Let there be love!) 


I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z. 

My theme for the challenge is ‘Obrigado, Goa!’, under which I’ll be writing 26 posts on Goa (April 1-30th, excluding Sundays), each post corresponding to the letters of the English alphabet. You can read more about it in my theme reveal post


Anagha Yatin said...

Goa has a melange of languages to decorate its vibrant satin of personality. I love the innate lyrical stretch Konkani tone has.

Pri said...

Indeed, Anagha. But the intonation changes every few miles. Also the Konakni portrayed in Bollywood movies is usually the Catholic variant and is different from the Konkani most Hindus speak. But these are just linguistic differences. Konkani overall is a sweet language. :)