India is a country of rich cultural diversity where 22 officially recognised languages and over 1650 dialects are spoken across 29 states and 7 union territories, as in 2019. The 2011 Census of India last listed 1369 ‘mother tongues’, however, our country has been a witness to a great number of tongues over the centuries. One such distinctive and culturally rich language is Kannada.
Bangalore, India’s ‘Silicon Valley’ and hip startup hub, is known for many things. Some of those being its fast-paced development, quirky cafes, serene parks, temples and most of all, its exuberant multi-faceted culture. While the Kannada natives certainly placed Bangalore on the global map for its booming IT industry, let’s take a moment to celebrate the language of Karnataka’s folks – and we might even follow it up with some of Mysore’s famed culinary delights and its very popular “filter kaapi”!
The tongue of Kannadigas
Kannada is the official and administrative language of the South Indian state of Karnataka and is a member of the Dravidian language family. It is greatly influenced by Sanskrit in terms of vocabulary, grammar and literary style, and also has a lot in common with other Dravidian languages like Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. And I’m not just talking about its cute twirls and swirls!
Kannada’s native speakers aka Kannadigas do claim that Kannada happens to be one of the 40 most spoken languages in the world, while this tongue is also spoken in selected districts of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Goa and Telangana in addition to the many Kannad families who have moved to other parts of the world.
What definitely makes for good trivia is that Kannada was awarded the status of a classical language in 2008 and is estimated to be as old as 2500 years old, thereby ranking it to be the third oldest language in India, after Sanskrit and Tamil.
The language is notably, highly influenced by Tamil and Sanskrit. Influences of other languages such as Prakrit and Pali can also be detected. For instance, the word order is subject–object–verb, which is commonly found in other Dravidian languages.
Tracing back the links
The oldest Kannada inscription was first discovered at Halmidi (a small community) and dates back to about 450 ce. Researches indicate that Kannada was already a language of rich oral tradition, as was found in Prakrit and Tamil inscriptions around that period. The Kannada script is closely related to the Telugu script as well, since both have emerged from an Old Kannarese script (Karnataka).
In today’s era of digitalisation and localisation, while 88% of Indian language internet users are more likely to respond to a digital ad in their local language as compared to English, Tamil is currently said to have the highest internet adoption levels, closely followed by Hindi and Kannada.*
Google and KPMG’s recent study also illustrates how digital classifieds and payment gateways are increasingly gearing up and localising into Indian languages, with Hindi, Tamil & Kannada expected to contribute to 70% of the Indian internet users by 2021*. So if you want to reach out to close to 50 million people, that is definitely some food for thought, isn’t it? 🙂
* ‘Indian Languages: Defining India’s Internet’: A study by KPMG in India and Google, April 2017
Content curated & SmartRead by: Team Vernac
Author: Alifya Thingna