Kannada language is spoken in India predominantly in the state of Karnataka.
Native speakers of Kannada are called Kannadigas and number roughly 38 million. It is one of the 40 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. Kannada is attested epigraphically for about one and a half millennia, 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 to the present day. Works of Kannada literature have received eight Jnanpith awards and fifty-six 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, a centre for the study of classical Kannada was established under the aegis of Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL) at Mysore to facilitate research related to the language.
Influence of Sanskrit and Prakrit
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 grammar. Literary Prakrit seemed to have prevailed in Karnataka since ancient times. The vernacular Prakrit speaking people, may have come in contact with the Kannada speakers, thus influencing their language, even before Kannada was used for administrative or liturgical purpose. Kannada phoenetics, morphology, vocabulory, grammar and syntax shows significant Sanskrit and Prakrit influence.
Some examples of naturalised (tatbhava) words of Prakrit origin in Kannada are baṇṇa derived from vaṇṇa, arasu (king), and from Sanskrit, varṇa (color), hunnime (new moon) from puṇṇivā, paurṇimā (full moon), and rāya from rāja (king). Kannada has numerous borrowed (tatsama) words such as dina, kopa, surya, mukha, nimiṣa, anna.
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 and literary styles, it can be safely assumed that literature in Kannada must have started several centuries earlier. An early Extant literature|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). 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. 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 late classical 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 Jainism|Jain and Hinduism|Hindu principles. Two of the early writers of this period are Harihara (poet)|Harihara and Raghavanka, trailblazers in their own right. Harihara established the Ragale form of composition while Raghavanka popularized the Shatpadi (six-lined stanza) meter. The Vachana|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.
During the period between the 15th and 18th centuries, Hinduism had a great influence on Middle Kannada (Nadugannada) language and literature. Kumara Vyasa, who wrote the Karnata Bharata Kathamanjari, was arguably the most influential Kannada writer of this period. His work, entirely composed in the native Bhamini Shatpadi (hexa-meter), is a sublime adaptation of the first ten books of the Mahabharata. During this period, the Sanskritic influence is present in most abstract, religious, scientific and rhetorical terms. During this period, several Hindi and Marathi words came into Kannada, chiefly relating to feudalism and militia.
Hindu saints of the Vaishnava sect such as Kanakadasa, Purandaradasa, Naraharitirtha, Vyasatirtha, Sripadaraya, Vadirajatirtha, Vijaya Dasa, Jagannatha Dasa, Prasanna Venkatadasa produced devotional poems in this period. Kanakadasa's Ramadhanya Charite is a rare work, concerning with the issue of class struggle. This period saw the advent of Haridasa Sahitya (lit Dasa literature) which made rich contributions to bhakti literature and sowed the seeds of Carnatic music. Purandara Dasa is widely considered the Father of Carnatic music.
The Kannada works produced from the 19th century make a gradual transition and are classified as Hosagannada or Modern Kannada. Most notable among the modernists was the poet Nandalike Muddana whose writing may be described as the "Dawn of Modern Kannada", though generally, linguists treat Indira Bai or Saddharma Vijayavu by Gulvadi Venkata Raya as the first literary works in Modern Kannada. The first modern movable type printing of "Canarese" appears to be the Canarese Grammar of William Carey (missionary)|Carey printed at Serampore in 1817, and the "Bible translations into Kannada|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|Jnanpith awards and fifty six Sahitya Academy awards.
There is also a 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 consistent throughout Karnataka. 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 etc. All of these dialects are influenced by their regional and cultural background Ethnologue also classifies a group of four languages related to Kannada, which are, besides Kannada proper, Badaga language|Badaga, Holiya and Urali.
Kannada is mainly spoken in Karnataka in India, and to a good extent in the border areas of neighbouring states 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.
Kannada is one of the 22 official languages of India and is an administrative language of the State of Karnataka. It is also one of the four classical languages of India.
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 Languages of India|Indian languages. The script itself, derived from Brahmi script, is airly 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 (ottakshara). 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.
Obsolete Kannada letters
Kannada literary works employed the letters ಱ (transliterated '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 language|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 evolution
The image below shows the evolution of Kannada script from prehistoric times to modern period. The Kannada script evolved in stages like:
Proto Kannada -> Pre-Old Kannada -> Old Kannada -> Modern Kannada.
The ProtoKannada script has its root in ancient Brahmi and evolved around c.3rd century BCE. The Pre-Old Kannada script evolved around c.4th century CE. Old Kannada script can be traced to c.10th Century CE. while Modern Kannada script came around c.17th Century CE.
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 Grammatical gender|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: Kavirajamarga. The most influential account of Kannada grammar is Keshiraja's Shabdamanidarpana (c. 1260 CE). The earlier grammatical works include portions of Kavirajamarga (a treatise on alańkāra) of the 9th century, and Kavyavalokana and Karnatakabhashabhushana (both authored by Nagavarma II in the first half of the 12th century).
Compound bases, called samāsa in Kannada, are a set of two or more words compounded together. There are several types of compound bases, based on the rules followed for compounding Examples: tangaaLi, hemmara, immadi.
According to Keshiraja's Shabdamanidarpana, there are nine gender forms in Kannada. However, in modern Kannada literature only three gender forms are used in practice: masculine, feminine, and neutral.
- Masculine Pullinga
Words that denote male persons are considered to have masculine gender.
- Examples: Shiva, Bhima, Rama, arasa 'king'
- Feminine Stree linga
Words that denote female persons are considered to have feminine gender.
- Examples: Parvati, Lakshmi, Saraswati, amma 'mother'
- Neuter Napunsaka
Nouns that do not belong to either of the above two classes are considered to have neuter gender.