Dialects of Konkani Language

Konkani  is widely spoken in the west coast of India.  Unfortunately, it did not receive the respect or status it deserved and hence  resulted in lack of literature or patronage of the language.  The Konkani writers and scholars who enriched the Kannada, Marathi and English Literatures have done very little for their mother tongue.

However, fortunately due to the struggles and  movements in Goa, the language has been recognized as an independent language by the Central Literary Academy of India in the year 1987 and has set up honors and awards for recognition of works in Konkani. In the year 1992, Konkani has been added in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution as a recognised independent language. Thus, it is one of the 18 languages Officially recognised by the Government of India. The  Official Language of Goa has been declared as Konkani. The discoveries in the Saraswati river valley have rejuvenated interest in Saraswats and their Language and heritage.  The settlers on the banks of the river Saraswathi migrated to the South during the period from about 350 BC to about 150 BC.

The language spoken by the Saraswats from time immemorial is Konkani and it must be probably  for this reason that the land occupied by them in the west coast of South India is called Konkan. Early adopters used the Brahmi script and subsequently due to the local influence, Nagari was used for the benefit of much larger audience.

There has been always sibling rivalry amongst Konkanis and Marathis.The First Konkani Inscription  has been dated to 1187 A.D.  The Poet Sant Jnaneswar wanted to create his masterpiece Jnaneshwari and he had to take up study of Konkani which was very prevalent in 1209 A.D. To avoid religious persecution and to preserve their identity, the Konkanis had to migrate from Goa to different parts and that is why Konkani has so many dialects influenced by the local culture and languages. In Vengurla, Sawantvadi and Ratnagiri, they adopted Marathi and Malvani was formed.  Similarly in South and North Kanaras, Kannada words were used and in Kerala, Malayalam words were integrated to the language.

However, the clergy in Goa translated the Christian religious texts to Konkani  using Roman Script for the translation. In the 17th Century, "Christa-Purana" was published.  In the year 1808, Konkani Bible was published.

There are different names for the different dialects.  People of Ratnagiri origin and Konkan Brahmins speak Chitpawani that is influenced by Marathi.  People of Konkan speak Malavani and Goans speak Gomantaki. Although originally Konkani was the language of Saraswat Brahmins, millions have adopted it as their mother-tongue.  Sonar, Serugar, Mestri, Sutar, Vani, Devali, Gabeet, Kharvi, Samgar, Nawayati etc are some of the communities who speak Konkani.  It is of great importance that all these people start using one script for unity of the language.  Nagari has been accepted as the common script and should be used by all Konkanis regardless of the geographical location in order to be accepted as a national language of India.

-Joseph D'Sa,  Borivali