Sunday, March 22, 2009

Marathi is a South Indian language

The classification of Indian languages into Dravidian and Indo-European is well known. I would like to propose a new classification based on pronunciation -- South and North Indian.

1. Pronunciation of the vowels 'ai' and 'au'
If the vowels rhyme with "why" and "cow" respectively, the language is South Indian. If they are pronounced like "way" and "cause" respectively, the language is North Indian.

2. Pronunciation of the conjunct consonant 'jJa'
If it is pronounced as 'gya', the language is North Indian.

3. Pronunciation of the aspirate 'pha'
If the consonant is pronounced as F, the language is North Indian.

4. Extent of eliding the vowel 'a'
This criterion is more of degree than black-and-white. The extent of elision is close to 100% in North Indian languages.

In the case of Marathi, it meets all the criteria except the third. Observe how a Marathi speaker pronounces the words vaidya, gaurava, jJAna. Also note the non-elision of the vowel 'a' in the names Ranade, Thackeray and Fadake, and in the Varakari chant 'viTThala, viTThala.'

By the same token, Sanskrit is a South Indian language too.

31 comments :

Kaushik said...

Why do you say that it doesn't meet criterion 3? Most Marathi speakers I know pronounce pha as pha to a fault. This is true even when they pronounce words containing 'f' in other languages like English.

Srikanth said...

Thanks, I was not aware of that... That, I think, only strengthens my main point.

Possibly, there are variations among Marathi speakers on the pronunciation of 'pha'.

Kaushik said...

It certainly does strengthen your point. At least by these criteria Marathi would probably be classified as not-North Indian (though I would hesitate to call it South Indian).

Another curious thing I have found is that South Indians by and large classify both Maharashtrians and people further north (say Delhi) as North Indians. Maharashtrians wouldn't call themselves North Indians but would classify anyone from Delhi as obviously North Indian. I do not know if the same thing holds in the other direction. i.e., does a Delhi-ite consider a Maharashtrian to be South Indian?

Goes to show how inadequate such labels can be...

Srikanth said...

In my opinion, people from the 4 southern states mistakenly consider Maharashtra to be North India because:

* Marathi is written in Devanagari. (This is actually a relatively recent development.)
* Mumbai is Hindi-speaking, and is the capital of "Bollywood".

Yes, north and south are relative. But hopefully, this post has defined NI and SI languages more objectively. :-)

Subhash said...

Marathi meets all four criteria that you have mentioned to qulify as a South Indian langauge. The pronounciation in Marathi is "Pha" and not "F". Marathi people saying "F" do so due to effect of English speaking.
By the way, actually, the languages have NOT bneen classified as North or South Indian but as Indo-Aryan and Dravidian. All the Indo-Aryan languages are based on Sanskrit in the sense that their grammar (like sentence construction) is based on Sanskrit grammar. Dravidian langauge grammar is NOT based on Sanskrit. So even if Kannada, Telugu and Malyalam have many Sanskrit words, they are classified as Dravidian language, In this sense, Marathi is an Ind--Aryan language without doubt. However, if you want to classify as North and South Indian only, then it would fall more towards South than North. As it is, Marathi langauge evolved in a geographical area wherein Dravidian langauge(s) (perhaps Kannada or an extingushied proto-Dravidian langauge) was spoken while Marathi was being evolved. That is why some pure Marathi words have Dravidian origins. Same is the reason why there are much more number of Dravidian words in Marathi than in any other northern Indo-Aryan langauge.
So according to me, it would be more appropriate to say that Marathi is a South Indian Aryan language.

Srikanth said...

Thanks Subhash - I agree with you.

I have also corrected the post regarding the pronunciation of 'pha' based on your (and Kaushik's) comment.

Maria said...

I never heard of this language, very interesting!

Arvind S Kelkar said...

I feel your theory is too simplistic.

Many Indian languages have derived from different dialects of latter-day Sanskrit.

Based on pronunciation, I feel that you should reclassify Indian languages (with a lot of overlap) as:
North Indian (Punjabi, Haryanvi)
Northwest (Gujarathi, Rajasthani)
West Indian (Marathi, Konkani)
South Indian (all the four states)
Central (MP, UP, Bihar)
Eastern (Bengali, Assamese, Oriya)


The way "ai" "au" are pronounced have to do with Sanskrit influence than anything else.

Also, all Indian languages show tremendous diversity within themselves. So, for example, what is "accepted" Marathi is just a dominant strain imposed by the ruling Brahmin Peshwas of Pune.

Parts of Eastern Maharashtra are closer in pronunciation to MP than the Konkan coast. Similarly, the Konkan coast dialects have a strong nasal twang seen in Goa.

South Indian languages such as Malayalam and Tamil have more in common in terms of the way they pronounce "zha" and "ra" which is not the same as the Marathi "la".

Marathi has several phonemes that are entirely absent in many modern Indian languages. For example, the "cha" in Chavan is not the same as the in Chouhan.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Yes. Marathi is south Indian Language. Please refer history of maharashtra, the land was known as "Dakshinapath" & Marathi spealing people were famous as "Marahatta". Mr. R.C. Dhere has done a lot of study & found the cuture of two states Karnataka & Maharshtra is similar. Marathi was accepted Devnagari script & so it becomes familier to North Indian. If it would have sticked to " Modi" script, It was alike Dravidian script & Marathi would have its own Identity. Today even if North Indian listne marathi conversation, For him it would be like any of "Madrasi" language.
rest is in next post.
Thanks.
MK

Rahul said...

But what about the script marathi is written in baLbodh(not devanagari)south indian languages are derived from brahmi there is no similarity between baLbodh and south indianscripts!

MK said...

Devnagari &/or Balbodh is modern version of Modi. Otherwise if you see, All Dravidian scripts written in circular way & so also Modi.
Marathi has soft pronunciation than any dravidian. This is because it has been affected by Urdu & Farsi languages.
Tamil, Marathi & Kannada are the oldest classical South Indian Languages.

Anjan said...

This is quite a ridiculous criteria for a language being "South Indian." Marathi retains many of the original Sanskrit pronunciation patterns unlike Hindi, and so do speakers of South Indian languages such as Telugu. So, the original pronunciation is Sanskrit, not South-Indian. Moreover, South Indian languages are Dravidian-based, but the majority of vocabulary in Marathi is Sanskrit-derived, to the extent that many of the original Sanskrit words remain intact in day-to-day Marathi unlike Hindi. So, while not exactly being "North-Indian language," it is much closer to North-Indian/Sanskrit-based languages than South Indian languages like Tamil.

MK said...

Thats what all common people misunderstood by Marathi being closer to Hindi.
All Indian languages are derived from SANSKRIT & at the same time they are affected by other languages spoken in nearby region.
Marathi& Maharashtra is entirely part of South India.
If still you have any doubt, pls. go & study the book on history of Asia which is available at British library.

nivant patankar said...

modern marathi language is no doubt an indo-aryan language but it has dravidian influence because maharashtra is situated between southern states and remaining india.. so its obvious to have southern influence.. n prakrit maharashtri was heavily influeced by dravidian languages.. and till the 8th-9th century,kannada script was used for writting in konkan n ghaat region..
and we use many words like appa, anna, akka etc. which are of southern origin.. a marathi word dhonda(rock) is taken from kannada.. marathi is influenced by many languages such as persian, kannada, sanskrit n even some arabic words and recently english!! hahaha..
but i think we should think more about the future of marathi rather than trying to find its origin.. that's what we have in our hand..

Anonymous said...

agree.
we should move ahead.

one should have a pride with our origin & yes, todays Marathis ( in fact Marhattas) are Dravid origin & lets take our marathi from this to one of the best Classical language of world.

Shaw said...

Language could be slightly different because of the location.

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VR said...

Original extend of KARNATAKA or Kannada speaking zone extended north as far as Godavari - so ancestors of bulk of Marathi speakers must have spoken older form of Kannada and hence only logical that Marathi have strong Dravidian influence.

M V Pitke said...

I agree, Marathi is a south Indian language. One of the 'Panch Dravids' Marathi grammar and pronunciation is far more complex than Sanskrit. It is highly influenced by Sanskrit but not originated from it. A derivative cannot be far more complex than the source. It is one of the most difficult languages. We need a far more analytical insight into analysing Indian languages.

MK said...

Thanks Mr.Pitke.

lets conclude this thread as " Marathi is south indian Language"

Anonymous said...

It's ridiculous and ilogical to say Marathi is south indian language. There are hardly any similarity or word which is common in Marathi and other south indian languages. Bcos Maratha empire was from Tungbhadra in Karnataka to north of delhi , once beyond Peshawar and as far as Orissa towards east, some words from other langauges might be common. Basically Marathi is the closest to Sanskrit in grammer and words etc. Persian and arabic has also inflence on it.

Anonymous said...

There is always logic in saying marathi is southern language.
Infact, Kannada & Marathi are of similar grammar.most of words are very common. all languages in India are borne from SANSKRIT. so Sanskrit is mother of all languages.
Tamil & malayalam are the purist form of sanskrit

Anonymous said...

>>>Infact, Kannada & Marathi are of similar grammar.... all languages in India are borne from SANSKRIT. so Sanskrit is mother of all languages.
Tamil & malayalam are the purist form of sanskrit>>>>>

Marathi and othe languages like Hindi, Gujarati etc. are considered in group of Indo Iranian languages which have origin from Sanskrit and some whhat Persian/Arabic etc. Mrathi is close to Sanskrit , Hindi is close to Urdu or Persian. Old Mrathi spoken in 16 to early 19th century was very close to Hindi or Persian but evenyually became more Sannkrit oriended as was language spoen by Pandits. Kannada may be haviing only 10 % of words similar in Marathi or Sanskrit bcos it is geographically close to Maharashtra but south indian language are maily dravidian origin with some similarity with sanskrit.

Anonymous said...

The topic of saying Marathi is south indian language is totally senseless. If somebody wants to conclude that Marathi is south Indian language then by same logic Hindi is also a south Indian lanuage

Anonymous said...

I guess saying topic senseless shows you are out of cultural & linguistic history. many of renown universities in the world are working on development of languages & trying to guess the originality of human races across the globe.
If someone does not find the topic sensible, pl stay away & search their favorite topics.
You just cant insult the topic originator & followers Theron.

Anonymous said...

>>>>I guess saying topic senseless shows you are out of cultural &
linguistic history....

You are not able to prove yor point logically. If many universities across the world are working on developmemt of languages but so far no one has heard that Marathi can be classified into south Indian langauge group. In that way all langauges or cultures in the world may be similar to an extent but languages are classified where more than 60 to 70% words, grammer , script etc. have similarity.
By your logic Hindi can also become south indian language

Vivek sarkale ..one common man with huge caliber. said...

"First up all I'm very Happy that peoples are discussing a lot about my mother tongue 'Marathi'...I 100%n agree that Marathi is south indian language...Marathi is very ancient language where found it's first proof in 8th century ,It was official language of ..Actully origin of Marathi and Maratha's is in today's karnataka and Maharashtra...First it was not seperated sates they were one...as one of friend said todays maharashtra and karnataka and some part of western ghat were totally influenced by marathi ,still many kannada wrods have their origin in marathi..Marathi belongs To Maharashtri prakrut which Indo-aryan south indian family...if someone saying marathi and hindi are same then it's biggest mistake they are doing...Actually Pure marathi is very difficult to speak...for other than native speakers...South indian can speaks better marathi than north india thats fact because of some common pronounciations...If you talk about origin of marathi then i will not say it is derived from pure sanskrit....Yes it is resemble to tatsam sanskrit but too many words are there in marathi that you can't find any other languages..Maratha's have their origin from south and south west of india...Tamil,marathi are independent and unique languages.but tamil has it's own script and marathi adopt devanagari...actually marathi language has it's own script called 'Modi' ...many peoples from maharashtra , karnataka tanjavur,tamilnadu can read that..Now days beacuse ob bollywood influence and devnagari script they are considering marathi as north indian language...Marathi is Totally different from all other north indian languages expect sript..At last yes Marathi is South indian language....!!!!

Vivek sarkale ..one common man with huge caliber. said...

"First up all I'm very Happy that peoples are discussing a lot about my mother tongue 'Marathi'...I 100%n agree that Marathi is south indian language...Marathi is very ancient language where found it's first proof in 8th century ,It was official language of ..Actully origin of Marathi and Maratha's is in today's karnataka and Maharashtra...First it was not seperated sates they were one...as one of friend said todays maharashtra and karnataka and some part of western ghat were totally influenced by marathi ,still many kannada wrods have their origin in marathi..Marathi belongs To Maharashtri prakrut which Indo-aryan south indian family...if someone saying marathi and hindi are same then it's biggest mistake they are doing...Actually Pure marathi is very difficult to speak...for other than native speakers...South indian can speaks better marathi than north india thats fact because of some common pronounciations...If you talk about origin of marathi then i will not say it is derived from pure sanskrit....Yes it is resemble to tatsam sanskrit but too many words are there in marathi that you can't find any other languages..Maratha's have their origin from south and south west of india...Tamil,marathi are independent and unique languages.but tamil has it's own script and marathi adopt devanagari...actually marathi language has it's own script called 'Modi' ...many peoples from maharashtra , karnataka tanjavur,tamilnadu can read that..Now days beacuse ob bollywood influence and devnagari script they are considering marathi as north indian language...Marathi is Totally different from all other north indian languages expect sript..At last yes Marathi is South indian language....!!!!

Anonymous said...

>>>...South indian can speaks better marathi than north india thats fact because of some common pronounciations...

It is really funny to read this. In fact people from Gujarat, Rajasthan and hindi speaking eople can undrstand and speak marathi better. South indian can speak Marathi may be true but Tanjavur rulers were from Maharashta since 17 th century, many people in Kramataka being neighbouring state wee marathi so learning marathi for them is easy. Mrathi has mainly three dialectsal - Kokani, Mrathi, Vrahadi/Khandeshi and spoken in rest Mah. and of course according to geographical locatiuage ons dialects may vary to some extent. asically all the regional languages are derived from Prakrit. Marathi grammer and pronouncition is closest to Sanskrit. Gujarati, Marwari language is close to Marathi

Ashok Patil said...

Marathi is neither South Indian nor North Indian language. It is central Indian language.
As far as words are concerned they spread depending on the dominance of the people.
For exapmle
Shetty used in Karnataka, Andhra,
Chettiar used in Tamil nadu,
Sathe in Maharashtra,
seth in Gujarat and punjab,
they are all derived from 'Shrethy'
a sanskrit word which means traders_leader.
This must have been the influence of Aryans.

Same way 'Aiyya' present in all the four south Indian languages is derived from sanskrit word 'Arya' a nobleman.

similarly the pronounciation of 'Pha' as 'Fa' is the influence of Persians. Obviously the use of persian words is found more in north Indian languages than in south indian languages.

enough for now....

Navneet D Deshpande said...

The common thing that runs throughout is all the above comments are from an Englishman's perspective or those who have learnt English. For them anyway entire gangetic plains and downwards is Deccan ie. South.

It is not one day or one year that suddenly it became South. It has percolated, transformed, modulated, enriched and evolved from all the neighbouring areas and administrative regions but the pride for all of us is Modi.So lets preserve it.