Kannada flag

This week Karnataka celebrates its 59th formation day – Kannada Rajyothsava. On 1 November 1956, the Kannada speaking regions spread across various other states came together to form the state of Karnataka. Today, the vibrant southern Indian state’s cosmopolitan capital Bangalore has officially become Bengaluru.

Karnataka is a land of culture, after gaining immensely popularity around the world as being the IT hub of India, the state has become a treasure trove for investors and a lucrative land for corrupt politicians.
However, there are some things about this state that hasn’t changed at all… like the culture, the hospitality, the processions, the cuisine and the language.

Ah! Kannada language!! Before the ‘IT boom’, Karnataka was primarily conversing in Kannada, and little bit of Telugu, Tamil and Marathi. The diction of North Karnataka people is slightly different in Kannada, which borrows a lot of words from Hindi and Marathi. And as you move up near the border towards Maharashtra, the language gradually changes to Marathi.

Back in the 1990s when I visited my granny’s place in Belgaum, I remember her saying something like “Priya, Kannadi madhe bolun dakho” (Priya, Speak some Kannada for me!) It really took me some time to realize that ‘Kannadi’ meant Kannada. I corrected her, but you know how it is with grannies!

However, after that incident, I kept my ears open for anyone saying Kannadi instead of Kannada. I was in for a major shock! Apparently Kannadi had a new synonym, and it was best friends with ‘Kannad’. Imagine my frustration when I had to deal with Kannad and amaze at a person’s inability to get the name of language right. We never say Marath, or Malyal or Hind, right?, so why does the world find it so difficult to say KannadA??? It’s a humble ‘A’…

It also reminds me of the infamous pronunciation of Hindi news readers calling the then prime minister, ‘Devegoda’, while it was ‘Devegowda’, as in ‘Gaul’! Forget pronunciation, most non-Kannadigas residing in Namma Bengaluru feel they can get by knowing little or no Kannada at all. How come learning a local language is not a necessity even after residing in that city for years? Can you live in Ludhiana for a few years and say I don’t know Punjabi?

I feel the primary reason for the locals’ resentment against North Indians is their utter disregard to local language. I have seen many North Indians arguing with an autorickshaw driver or the milkman in Hindi. Why don’t they have the cultural sensitivity that it is difficult for we south Indians to learn Hindi?! Obviously this kind of animosity leads to mindless violence against some innocent victim like the Manipuri student who got injured recently.

Anyway, I think it is high time we Kannadigas talk to everyone in Kannada; only then outsiders will be forced to learn Kannada. Thankfully, there are some great initiatives like KannadaBaruthe.com that promote Kannada as the primary spoken language!

Priyanka Rele
“It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do it perfectly” that’s her mantra for life. Before the writing-keeda bit her, she was just another techie working with some major IT companies and travelling around the world. Writing is a passion; she loves writing on varied topics and doesn’t believe in constraining to a specific section. Sharing opinions and spreading the good word around is what she loves doing and a good argument with like-minded people gets her going. Tucked away in the comfort of her home, this home-maker/writer is an obsessive shopaholic and can give you fashion advice and suggestions for hours at a stretch. From life’s lessons to tech fests, she loves learning and writing about them; have a look at her work and you will know what we are talking about.
  • I was just thinking this morning how much I love Bangalore and Kannadigas. I think Kannadigas are the most tolerant and gregarious people.
    And I couldn’t help but notice myself that non Kannada speaking people are willing to pay money and learn French and German in Bangalore and not willing to learn Kannada for free.

    “We never say Marath, or Malyal or Hind, right?, so why does the world find it so difficult to say KannadA???”

    Enjoyed reading you post! 😀


    • Caleidoscope

      Well said Mamta, people would pay for learning fancy language to show off, but never learn the language for free that comes handy at time:)

      • Priyanka Rele

        Will you people never stop being cheap? You have to resort to using y content free of cost to keep your website up? Well consider it as a charity. Its probably all you need anyway.

        • Hi Priyanka,
          No thanks for your charity. we had employed you as a content coordinator who will write, promote and coordinate. You had written this article as part of your job and we have paid you a proper salary. We have paid all our writers and Mamta is our best example for a longstanding relationship.

  • agree with you. it’s not difficult to pick up the language. i used an alphabet chart and the help of my neighbour who spoke only Kannada, and got along very well, at the market, in buses, wherever. open mind and willingness to understand the local nuances are the only necessities!
    Now in Assam, i again use alphabet chart and the All India Radio to try to understand and pick up as much of Assamese as i can…