Kannada is spoken in Karnataka in India, and to a lesser extent in the neighbouring states. There are significant Kannada speaking population in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The Kannada language has been spoken for about 2500 years, with the Kannada writing system being in use for about last 1900 years. The initial development of the Kannada language is similar to that of other Dravidian languages, notably Tamil and Telugu. During later centuries, Kannada, along with Telugu, has been highly influenced by Sanskrit vocabulary and literary styles.
Kannada is a highly inflected language with three genders (masculine, feminine, neutral or common) and two numbers (singular, plural). It is inflected for gender, number and tense, among other things. There is also a sharp distinction between the spoken and written forms of the language. Spoken Kannada tends to vary from region to region. The written form is more or less constant throughout Karnataka, however. The ethnologue identifies about 20 dialects of Kannada. Notable of them are Kodava (spoken in Coorg district), Kunda (spoken exclusively in Kundapura), Havyaka (spoken mainly by Havyaka Brahmanas of Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada, Shimoga, Sagara, and Udupi), Are Bhashe (spoken mainly in Sullia region of Dakshina Kannada), Soliga Kannada, Badaga Kannada, Gulbarga Kannada, Hubli Kannada, etc.
Kannada is spoken in the state of Karnataka. There are at least four major regional dialects: 1) Mangalore/Udupi Kannada 2) Mysore/Bangalore Kannada 3) Kota/Kundapur Kannada 4) Hubli/Dharwad Kannada
These are the names of the major cities of Karnataka in which the dialects are spoken. Therefore, there are multiple names for each dialect. There are also a number of smaller dialects such as Havyaka Kannada. The upper castes tend to speak the language with a slight difference which makes the odds of one Kannadiga understanding another with slight perfection which is lower than 50-50.
In most of the places in Karnataka, Kannada is used as mother tongue by the people. In border areas like Chamarajanagar, Kuppam, Kasaragod, Bidar, Gulburga etc. along with Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Marathi, Kannada is also spoken by the people. Kannada which is spoken in North Karnataka is quite different from that of South Karnataka. This regional variation is seen because of the geographical distance of both the regions. Even in South Karnataka Kannada is varied from one geographical area to another geographical area. The Kannada language spoken in Mysore region is different from that of Chamarajanagar region because Chamarajanagar Kannada is influenced by the Tamil language. Similarly, Kannada which is spoken in Dharwad is varied from that of Mysore Kannada in pronunciation, accent and the style. Kannada spoken in Mangalore is different from Mysore and Dharwad Kannada.
In Karnataka, one can find many castes and their sub-castes on the basis of their occupation and social hierarchy. Brahmin, Vokkaliga (Gowda), Veerashaivas, Scheduled Castes etc are the main castes of Karnataka whereas Madhva, Srivaishnavas, Saraswatas, Ganigas, Gollas etc are the sub-castes. Kannada which is spoken by the people of particular caste and sub-caste vary from other caste and sub-caste.
Along with the prevailing castes and sub-castes, there are many tribal communities in Karnataka. Lambanis, Halakki, Todas etc are some of the tribes which have Kannada as mother tongue. Along with Kannada, they speak Tamil and the language of their region also.
Kannada language spoken by both men and women have common vocabulary. But in certain situations, some vocabularies which are spoken by the male members of the society are not used by women. It is considered as tabooed for the women folk. Similarly certain lexicons used by women are restricted only for them and it is not used by women in social gathering, public places etc.
In educational level, Standard Kannada is used for teaching in schools and colleges. Colloquial Kannada is not used by the teachers in schools. Standard Kannada which is also called as literary Kannada is used in schools.
Kannada language which is used by the younger generation is not informal Kannada. Their Kannada is modified through education and peer groups. Most of the vocabularies used by the elders are losing its importance because the younger generation is not showing any interest in learning Kannada. They are familiar with many languages. They are multilingual speakers. Their Kannada is mixed with the lexicons of English in most part and a few Hindi words.
People of Karnataka are using colloquial Kannada. In villages and taluk levels, most of the elders retain the form of spoken variety. But in Urban areas, elders who come into contact with many people of different regions and states are generally multilingual. They speak many languages like Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, English etc. They are changing with the younger generation.
In Karnataka, in all governmental activities, educational institutions, administration etc, a standard form of Kannada is used. There are many regional varieties of Kannada which are used by the people of Karnataka. So in order to bring uniformity in the language use, government has ordered to use a standard form of Kannada.
In judicial level, lots of Kannada vocabularies are found. Some of them are: ನ್ಯಾಯಾಲಯ nyāyālaya ‘court’ ನ್ಯಾಯ nyāya ‘law, justice’ ನ್ಯಾಯಾಂಗ ಬಂಧನ nyāyāńga bandhana ‘judicial custody’ ತನಿಖೆ tanikhe ‘inquiry’ ಕ್ಷಮೆ kṣame ‘pardon’ ಅಪರಾಧಿ aparādhi ‘criminal’ ನ್ಯಾಯಾಧೀಶ nyāyādhīsha ‘judge’ ಆರಕ್ಷಕ ārakṣaka ‘police’ ವಕೀಲ vakīla ‘lawyer’ ಅಪರಾಧ aparādha ‘crime’ ಕಾನೂನು kānūnu ‘law’ ದೂರು dūru ‘complaint’ ಪರಾರಿ parāri ‘abscond’ ಜಾಮೀನು jāmīnu ‘bail’ ಸೆರೆಮನೆ seremane ‘prison’ ದರೋಡೆ darōḍe ‘robbery’ ಕಳ್ಳ kaļļa ‘thief’ ವಿಚಾರಣೆ vicāraņe ‘hearing’ ಸಾಕ್ಷಿ sākṣi ‘witness’ ಕಕ್ಷಿದಾರ kakṣidāra ‘client’ ಕೊಲೆ kole ‘murder’ ಮರಣ ದಂಡನೆ maraṇa daṅḍane ‘death sentence’
There are many medical terms found in Kannada language. Some of them are as follows: ಔಷಧ auṣadha ‘medicine’ ಆಸ್ಪತ್ರೆ āspatre ‘hospital’ ವೈದ್ಯ vaidya ‘doctor’ ಶಸ್ತ್ರಚಿಕಿತ್ಸೆ śastracikitse ‘operation’ ಮಾತ್ರೆ mātre ‘tablet’ ಚುಚ್ಚುಮದ್ದು cucchumaddu ‘injection’ ಹೃದಯ hṛidaya ‘heart’ ದಾದಿ dādi ‘nurse’ ಬದಲಿ ಹೃದಯ badali hṛidaya ‘bypass’ ಆರ್ಬುದ ārbuda ‘cancer’ ಮಕ್ಕಳ ತಜ್ಞ makkaļa tajña ‘paediatrist’ ರೋಗಿ rōgi ‘patient ಮೂಳೆ ಸವೆತ mūļe saveta ‘osteoporosis’ ಹೃದಯ ಸ್ತಂಭನ hṛidaya stambhana ‘heart attack’ ಕೀಲು ನೋವು kīlu nōvu ‘joint pain’ ಅಪಘಾತ apaghāta ‘accident’ ಹೃದಯ ತಜ್ಞ hṛidaya tagña ‘cardiologist’
Lots of educational terms are used in Kannada. Some of them are: ಶಾಲೆ śāle ‘school’ ಆಡಳಿತ ಮಂಡಳಿ āḍaļita maṅḍaļi ‘management’ ಶಿಕ್ಷಕ śikṣaka ‘teacher’ ಉಪನ್ಯಾಸಕ upanyāsaka ‘lecturer’ ಪ್ರಾಧ್ಯಾಪಕ prādhyāpaka ‘professor’ ಪ್ರಾಚಾರ್ಯ prācārya ‘principal’ ಪರೀಕ್ಷೆ parīkṣe ‘examination’ ಫಲಿತಾಂಶ phalitāṁśa ‘result’ ಪ್ರವೇಶ ಪತ್ರ pravēśa patra ‘hall-ticket’ ವಿದ್ಯಾರ್ಥಿ vidyārthi ‘student’ ಮೇಲ್ವಿಚಾರಕ mēlvicāraka ‘supervisor’ ವಾರ್ಷಿಕ vārṣika ‘annual’ ಸಂವೀಕ್ಷಕ samvīkṣaka ‘invigilator’ ಮೌಲ್ಯನಿರ್ಧಾರಕ maulyanirdhāraka ‘evaluator’ ಮೌಲ್ಯಮಾಪನ maulyamāpana ‘valuation’ ಶಿಕ್ಷಣ shikṣaṇa ‘education’ ಪ್ರವೇಶ pravēśa ‘entrance’ ತಪಾಸಣೆ tapāsaṇe ‘inspection’
Copyright CIIL-India Mysore