Kannada

Kannada

Kannada (ಕನ್ನಡ Kannaḍa, [ˈkʌnːəɖa]) or Canarese, is a language spoken in India predominantly in the state of Karnataka. Kannada, whose native speakers are called Kannadigas (ಕನ್ನಡಿಗರು, Kannadigaru) and number roughly 50 million, is one of the 30 most spoken languages 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, which evolved from the Kadamba script. Kannada is attested epigraphically from the first millennium AD, and literary Old Kannada flourished in the 6th century Ganga dynasty and during 9th century Rashtrakuta Dynasty. With an unbroken literary history of over a thousand years, the excellence of Kannada literature continues into the present day. Works of Kannada literature have received eight Jnanpith awards and fifty-one Sahitya Akademi awards.

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. In July 2011, it set up a Centre for study of Kannada as a classical language at Mysore to facilitate research and other activities related to Kannada, which will function under the aegis of Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL).

History

Kannada is a southern Dravidian Language and the history of Kannada is conventionally divided in three periods, Old Kannada (6th to 13th centuries), Middle Kannada (14th to 18th century) and Modern Kannada (19th century to present).

Old Kannada

Early epigraphy

Pre-old Kannada (or Purava HaleGannada) was the language of Banavasi in the early Common Era, the Satavahana and Kadamba periods and hence has a history of over 2000 years. The Ashoka rock edict found at Brahmagiri (dated to 230 BC) has been suggested to contain words in identifiable Kannada.

A possibly more definite reference to Kannada is found in the 'Charition mime' of the 1st or 2nd CE. The farce by an unknown author was discovered at the beginning of the 20th century at Oxyrynchus in Egypt. It is concerned with a Greek lady named Charition who has been stranded on the coast of a country bordering the Indian Ocean. The king of this place, and his countrymen, sometimes use their own language, and the sentences spoken by them include ' Koncha madhu patrakke haki – having poured a little wine into the cup separately', and ' paanam beretti katti madhuvam ber ettuvenu – having taken up the cup separately and having covered it, I shall take wine separately'. The language employed in the papyrus indicates that the play is set in one of the numerous small ports on the western coast of India between Karwar and Mangalore.

The written tradition of Kannada begins in the early centuries of common era. The earliest examples of a full-length Kannada language stone inscription (shilashaasana) containing Brahmi characters with characteristics attributed to those of proto-Kannada in Hale Kannada (Old Kannada) script can be found in the Halmidi inscription, dated 450 AD, indicating that Kannada had become an administrative language by this time. The 5th century Tamatekallu inscription of Chitradurga and the Chikkamagaluru inscription of 500 AD are further examples. Recent reports indicate that the 'Nishadi' Inscription, of Shravanabelagola which is in Old-Kannada is older than Halmidi inscription by about fifty to hundred years and may belong to c.(350–400)CE. The Halmidi inscription provides invaluable information about the history and culture of Karnataka. Dr S.Settar has opined recently that another inscription by Kongunivarma (c.250 CE) of Ganga dynasty is also older than the Halmidi inscrption.

Over 30,000 inscriptions written in the Kannada language have been discovered so far. Prior to the Halmidi inscription, there is an abundance of inscriptions containing Kannada words, phrases and sentences, proving its antiquity. The 543 AD Badami cliff inscription of Pulakesi I is an example of a Sanskrit inscription in Hale Kannada script.

The earliest full-length Kannada copper plates in Old Kannada script (early 8th century AD) belongs to the Alupa King Aluvarasa II from Belmannu, South Kanara district and displays the double crested fish, his royal emblem. The oldest well-preserved palm leaf manuscript is in Old Kannada and is that of Dhavala, dated to around the 9th century, preserved in the Jain Bhandar, Mudbidri, Dakshina Kannada district. The manuscript contains 1478 leaves written using ink.

Coins

Some early Kadamba Dynasty coins bearing the Kannada inscription Vira and Skandha were found in Satara collectorate. A gold coin bearing three inscriptions of Sri and an abbreviated inscription of king Bhagiratha's name called bhagi (390–420 AD) in old Kannada exists. A Kadamba copper coin dated to the 5th century AD with the inscription Srimanaragi in Kannada script was discovered in Banavasi, Uttara Kannada district. Coins with Kannada legends have been discovered spanning the rule of the Western Ganga Dynasty, the Badami Chalukyas, the Alupas, the Western Chalukyas, the Rashtrakutas, the Hoysalas, the Vijayanagar Empire, the Kadamba Dynasty of Banavasi, the Keladi Nayakas and the Mysore Kingdom, the Badami Chalukya coins being a recent discovery. The coins of the Kadambas of Goa are unique in that they have alternate inscription of the king's name in Kannada and Devanagari in triplicate, a few coins of the Kadambas of Hangal are also available.

Middle Kannada (14th – 18th centuries)

In the period between the 14th and 18th centuries, Hinduism had a great influence on Middle Kannada (ನಡುಗನ್ನಡ Nadugannada) language and literature. The Sanskrit influence is present in most abstract, religious, scientific and rhetorical terms. Kannada also has several Hindi words chiefly relating to feudalism and militia. Kannada also has many Marathi words.

Hindu saints of the Vaishnava sect such as Kanakadasa, Purandaradasa, Naraharitirtha, Vyasatirtha, Sripadaraya, Vadirajatirtha, Vijaya Dasa, Jagannathadasa, Prasanna Venkatadasa etc., produced devotional poems in this period. Kanakadasa's Ramadhanya Charite is a rare work, concerning itself with the issue of class struggle. This period saw the advent of Haridasa Sahitya which made rich contributions to bhakti literature and sowed the seeds of Carnatic music.

Modern Kannada (1800 – present)

The Kannada works produced by the end of the 19th century and later are classified as Hosagannada (ಹೊಸಗನ್ನಡ) or Modern Kannada. However, till the beginning of the 20th century there were no 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.

Recently some people have raised the issue of indiscriminate use of Sanskrit words in Kannada. Sanskrit words found a place in Kannada in the middle period when many writers found it convenient to use them instead of coining Kannada equivalents.

Sankrit and Prakrit influence on Kannada

The sources of influence on Kannada grammar appear to be three-fold. Panini's grammar, non-Paninian Schools of Sanskrit grammar, particularly Katantra and Sakatayana Schools, and Prakrit grammars. literary Prakrits seemed to have prevailed in Karnataka since times immemorial.The vernacular Prakrit speaking people, must be the first to come in contact with the Kannada speaking ones,and must have influenced the Kannada language,before it was used for administrative or liturgical purpose.Kannada phoenetics,morphology, vocabulory,grammar,syntax shows heavy Sanskrit and Prakrit influence.

Some of the examples of words of Prakrit origin in Kannada are:baṇṇa from Prakrit vaṇṇa and Sanskrit Varṇa-meaning colour,huṇime from puṇṇivā-Sanskrit paurṇimā-full moon day,arasu from Prakrit rāya-Sanskrit rāja-King. Similarly Kannada also has uncountable tatsama words.Eg:dina,kopa,surya,mukha,nimiṣa,anna etc.

Literature and poetry

The oldest existing record of Kannada poetry in tripadi metre is the Kappe Arabhatta record of 700 AD. Kavirajamarga by King Nripatunga Amoghavarsha I (850 AD) is the earliest existing literary work in Kannada. It is a writing on literary criticism and poetics meant to standardize various written Kannada dialects used in literature in previous centuries. The book makes reference to Kannada works by early writers such as King Durvinita of the 6th century and Ravikirti, the author of the Aihole record of 636 AD. Since the earliest available Kannada work is one on grammar and a guide of sorts to unify existing variants of Kannada grammar (ವ್ಯಾಕರಣ) and literary styles, it can be safely assumed that literature in Kannada must have started several centuries earlier. An early extant prose work, the Vaddaradhane by Shivakotiacharya of 900 AD provides an elaborate description of the life of Bhadrabahu of Shravanabelagola.

Kannada works from earlier centuries mentioned in the Kavirajamarga are not yet traced. Some ancient texts now considered extinct but referenced in later centuries are Prabhrita (650 AD) by Syamakundacharya, Chudamani (Crest Jewel—650 AD) by Srivaradhadeva, also known as Tumbuluracharya, which is a work of 96,000 verse-measures and a commentary on logic (Tatwartha-mahashastra). Other sources date Chudamani to the 6th century or earlier. The Karnateshwara Katha, a eulogy for King Pulakesi II, is said to have belonged to the 7th century; the Gajastaka, a work on elephant management by King Shivamara II, belonged to the 8th century, and the Chandraprabha-purana by Sri Vijaya, a court poet of King Amoghavarsha I, is ascribed to the early 9th century.[68] Tamil Buddhist commentators of the 10th century AD (in the commentary on Nemrinatham, a Tamil grammatical work) make references that show that Kannada literature must have flourished as early as the 4th century AD.

The Middle Kannada period gave birth to several genres of Kannada literature, with new forms of composition coming into use, including Ragale (a form of blank verse) and meters like Sangatya and Shatpadi. The works of this period are based on Jain and Hindu principles. Two of the early writers of this period are Harihara and Raghavanka, trailblazers in their own right. Harihara established the Ragale form of composition while Raghavanka popularized the Shatpadi(six-lined stanza) meter. A famous Jaina writer of the same period is Janna, who expressed Jain religious teachings through his works.

The Vachana Sahitya tradition of the 12th century is purely native and unique in world literature, and the sum of contributions by all sections of society. Vachanas were pithy poems on that period's social, religious and economic conditions. More importantly, they held a mirror to the seed of social revolution, which caused a radical re-examination of the ideas of caste, creed and religion. Some of the important writers of Vachana literature include Basavanna, Allama Prabhu and Akka Mahadevi. Kumara Vyasa, who wrote the Karnata Bharata Kathamanjari, has arguably been the most famous and most influential Kannada writer of all time. His work, entirely composed in the Bhamini Shatpadi meter, is a sublime adaptation of the first ten books of the Mahabharata. The Bhakti movement gave rise to Dasa Sahitya around the 15th century which significantly contributed to the evolution of Carnatic music in its present form. This period witnessed great Haridasas like Purandara Dasa who has been aptly called the Pioneer of Carnatic music, Kanaka Dasa, Vyasathirtha and Vijaya Dasa.

The first modern movable type printing of "Canarese" appears to be the Canarese Grammar of Carey printed at Serampore in 1817, and the "Bible in Canarese" of John Hands in 1820. The first novel printed was John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, along with other texts including Canarese Proverbs, The History of Little Henry and his Bearer by Mary Martha Sherwood, Christian Gottlob Barth's Bible Stories and "a Canarese hymn book."

Modern Kannada in the 20th century has been influenced by many movements, notably Navodaya, Navya, Navyottara, Dalita and Bandaya. Contemporary Kannada literature has been highly successful in reaching people of all classes in society. Works of Kannada literature have received eight Jnanpith awards, which is the highest number awarded for the literature in any Indian language.[80] It has also received fifty-one Sahitya Academy awards.

Theatre art

Yakshagana, a theatre art form from Karnataka, which is also prevalent in north Kerala, is usually staged in Kannada. Yakshagana as an art form preserves the finest aspects of the Kannada language. Kannada films and plays usually cater to the modern masses and the Kannada used in them is influenced by modernity. This form of Kannada enjoys relative popularity.

Dialects

There is also considerable difference 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. Subjectively, three major varieties are perceived: Mysore Kannada (Southern); Dharwar Kannada (Northern) and Mangalore Kannada (Coastal). Within each of these broad varieties, many sub-varieties are found – e.g. Bijapura Kannada, etc. 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 by Gowda community 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 four 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 ಃ), . 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 (vattakshara). Each written symbol in the Kannada script corresponds with one syllable, as opposed to one phoneme in languages like English. The Kannada script is syllabic.

Extinct Kannada letters

Kannada literary works employed the letters ಱ (transliterated 'ṟ' or 'rh') and ೞ (transliterated 'ḻ', 'lh' or 'zh'), whose manner of articulation most plausibly could be akin to those in present-day Malayalam and Tamil. The letters dropped out of use in the 12th and 18th centuries, respectively. Later Kannada works replaced 'rh' and 'lh' with ರ (ra) and ಳ (la) respectively.

Another letter (or unclassified vyanjana (consonant)) that has become extinct is 'nh' or 'inn'. (Likewise, this has its equivalent in Malayalam and Tamil.) The usage of this consonant was observed until the 1980s in Kannada works from the mostly coastal areas of Karnataka (especially the Dakshina Kannada district). Now hardly any mainstream works use this consonant. This letter has been replaced by ನ್ (consonant n).
Kannada script in computing

Transliteration

Several transliteration schemes/tools are used to type Kannada characters using a standard keyboard. These include Baraha[83] (based on ITRANS) and Quillpad[84] (predictive transliterator). Nudi, the government of Karnataka's standard for Kannada Input, is a phonetic layout loosely based on transliteration.

Grammar

The canonical word order of Kannada is SOV (subject–object–verb) as is the case with Dravidian languages. Kannada is a highly inflected language with three genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter 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 treatise 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. Ferdinand Kittel also wrote a book on Kannada grammar called "A Grammar of the Kannada Language: Comprising the Three Dialects of the Language".

Kannada Script Evolution

The Image below shows the evolution of Kannada script from prehistoric times to modern period. The Kannada script evolved in stages like:

ProtoKannada -> PreOldKannada -> OldKannada -> ModernKannada.

The ProtoKannada script has its root in ancient Brahmi and evolved around c.3rd century BCE. The PreOldKannada script evolved around c.4th century CE. OldKannada script can be traced to c.10th Century CE. while ModernKannada script came around c.17th Century CE.

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