Konkani is one of the official Indian languages. It has about seven million speakers. The language takes its name from the region. It is spoken mainly in the western coastal region known as `Konkan’. This region is made up of Goa and parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala.

Konkani is the official state language of Goa and is used in all the official correspondence. Besides Konkani, Marathi is also spoken in Goa. It is interesting to note that Portuguese was the official language till 1961. It was a compulsory medium of study in schools right up till then. After the liberation, Konkani took over. Konkani had remained the language used only by the elite in Goa. It survived in Goa as a result of isolated study at home, in temples and in villages. Konkani was recognised as a national language as late as 20th August 1992 to include it in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.


Konkani inscriptions have been found since the late twelfth century. V.N. Kudva, in his great work, ‘The History of the Dakshinatya Saraswats’, has mentioned that the tract known as Konkan is referred to by its name in the Bhishma Purava, ninth chapter in the Mahabharata, in  Brihat-Samitha of Varahamihira and Dashakumara Charita of Dandin.

Dr. S. Dalgado, Polyglot Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Lisbon has made an observation that Konkani language represents the old `Saraswati’ language used by the Brahmins from the Saraswat Mandal ranging from Trihotra to Gomanchala which is modern day Goa.

Even the Chinese chronicler, Hieun Tsang, who came to India in the seventh century, gives an account of a tract called `Konkonapura’.

Muslim influence had a negative effect on the growth of Konkani. A major impact was when the Muslim converts, the Navayts, in the Bhatkal areas, started using the Arabic script.

In the mid sixteenth century, came the Portuguese conquest of Goa and that became a serious disadvantage to the development of Konkani language and literature. The Portuguese settlers tried to destroy all traces of the Konkani language but were unsuccessful.  There was a royal proclamation in 1685 forbidding the use of Konkani by the native population. A class of scholarly Portuguese people saved the language from total destruction. The first Konkani Bible was published in 1808. An important work in Konkani was the translation of the bible by William Carey in 1808 which is in the Devanagiri script. The Portuguese started a Konkani school in 1932.

Script and Grammar

Devanagari has been selected as the official script for the Konkani language. Konkani is derived from Sanskrit. The first Konkani inscription dates back to 1190 AD. The language was first used in an inscription of the Silhara King, Abarajita II, of North Konkan in 1190. The Marathi masterpiece, Jnaneshwari, was written in the Konkani language in the early thirteenth century.

There is a stone tablet with a Konkani inscription in front of the Nagesh temple of Bandiwada dating back to 1475.  During the Dutch settlement days in India, it has been observed that they held Devanagiri as the `lipi’ for Konkani. The introduction to ‘Hortus Indicus Malabaricus’ by Van Rheedes was printed in Amsterdam in 1680 in Konkani with the Devanagiri script.

Konkani has the distinction of being one of the first Indian languages to have a printed grammar. Konkani has an influence of Kannada. The Kadambas who ruled Goa for a long period had their roots in Karnataka. Old Konkani documents show Kannada influence on grammar as well as the vocabulary. Like the Dravidian languages, Konkani has prothetic glides (y- and w-). It is also brought out in the Konkani syntax. The copula deletion in Konkani is very similar to that of Kannada. Phrasal verbs are also not very commonly used.

The Konkani language has sixteen basic vowels, thirty six consonants, five semi-vowels, three sibilants, one aspirate and many diphthongs. It has both long and short vowels and syllables with long vowels are often stressed. Different types of nasal vowels are a special feature of the Konkani language.


Konkani developed as a dialect of Marathi. Dr. Jose Pereira, who is a Research Associate in the American Academy at Benares, has made an observation that Konkani was the first modern Indo-Aryan speech to have shaped out of the Prakrits and the Apabhramshas. He also states that Konkani is a remnant of the old Marathi as Konkani draws most of its expressions from the ancient Marathi works like `Jnaneshwari’. Konkani language shows an influence of Paisachi Prakrit. The language of Trihotra which was in the migratory route of the Saraswat Brahmins was Magadhi Prakrit. These elements can be traced in the Konkani that is spoken in Goa and in some settlements in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala.

The Inquisition ordered by St. Francis Xavier was established in 1560 and abolished in 1812. The Hindu, Muslim and Neo-Catholic Christian exodus caused the Konkani language to evolve into multiple dialects. Other Konkani communities came into being with their own dialects of Konkani. The Konkani Muslim communities of Ratnagiri and Bhatkal came about as a result of a confluence of intermarriage of Arab seafarers and locals as well as the conversion of Hindus to Islam. Another immigrant community that was influenced by the Konkani language were the `Siddis’ who were sailor warriors from Ethiopia.

Each area of Konkan has developed a different dialect, a pronunciation style, vocabulary, tones and many differences in grammar.


Vaman Raghunath Varde Valaulikar crusaded to unite all Konkanis whether they were Hindus, Christians or Muslims against the Portuguese rule and the dominance of the Marathi language by writing a number of important works in Konkani. He is considered as the pioneer of modern Konkani literature. He is popularly known as `Shenoi Goembab’.

Konkani flourished under the nurturing care of the Hindu Kings. It evolved its own dramatic expressions. It developed its own rich nursery rhymes, lullabies and proverbs.

Famous Goan writers have written their literature in Konkani. The well known poets of Goa, Manohar Rai Sardesai and R.V. Pandit have written several poems on Goa, its natural beauty and its culture. Other writers like N. Shivdas and Mrs. Sheela Kolambkar have played an important role in developing Konkani literature.

Konkani plays called `nataks’ are held in each village. They are mainly written by the Goan Hindu community. `Tiatr’ plays mean `theatre’ in the Portuguese language. They are written mainly by the Goan Christian community. These plays have become the way of life for the Goans. Tiatr plays are folk oriented. The Tiatr groups stage their plays in all the important towns of Goa and they are very popular. Various topics such as social problems, family life and fiction dramas are popular.

Konkani Bhasha Mandal is the main group working for the development of Konkani language.  The most popular Roman script Konkani magazine is `Gulab’.

Goa Konkani Akademi

This Akademi was established by the State Government in 1987 to attain the objective of developing the language in all fields. The Government made it clear that development of Konkani language was important for the all round progress of the Goan people. The Akademi was keen to bring about the development of the Konkani language, its literature and culture towards promoting the cultural unity of Goa. The Akademi has its headquarters in Panaji. It is an autonomous society registered under the Societies Registration Act of 1890 and has its jurisdiction over the whole union territory of Goa.

The Akademi has to initiate and assist in implementation of schemes of research in the field of Konkani language, literature and culture. It has to initiate and assist in publication of the results of this research in Konkani language. The Akademi has to assist in the publication of original papers, books, journals and all works in the branch of knowledge in the Konkani language.

It has to help in the schemes of preparing and publishing of reference literature such as dictionaries, encyclopaedias and bibliographies in the Konkani language. The Akademi has to initiate in the preparation and publication of all translations of classical or any other literary work of outstanding quality from various Indian and foreign languages into the Konkani language.

It has to assist in all schemes of editing, translating and publishing all relevant source material which has direct or indirect bearing on the history and culture of Goa in Konkani language. The Akademi has to offer financial assistance to scholars and writers for publication of their works in Konkani language. It also has to provide financial help to all cultural and literary institutions for their activities in the field of Konkani language, culture and literature. It has to initiate and assist in organising seminars and conferences for the encouragement of Konkani language, culture and literature. It has to provide books and magazines in Konkani language to all libraries and public reading rooms.  It is responsible for giving awards for excellence in studies and research in different branches of Konkani language, literature and culture.

It is authorised to offer fellowships and scholarships to deserving scholars and students in the field of Konkani language, culture and literature. Overall, it has to encourage the use of Konkani language in all walks of life in the state of Goa by promoting the study and teaching of Konkani language, culture and literature in Goa.

Software for Typing Konkani

`Lipikaar’ is an easy way for typing in Konkani on an ordinary keyboard. It requires only some familiarity with the regular English keyboard and helps the user to think in his or her regional language. It works on all Windows Applications which support MS Word, Excel, Power Point and Internet Explorer.

The Lipikaar Desktop Application is not dependent on Internet connectivity. It is an offline program which is in the background of your Windows operating system. All you need to do is to enable Lipikaar, select your language as Konkani and you are ready to type in any Windows-based application like Word, PowerPoint or Excel.

The Lipikaar Firefox Extension is a free tool for Internet applications. This extension technically does require an Internet connection, but after installation, it runs through Firefox. Thus, even if you are offline, the extension functions the same way as when you are online. You can turn off your connection and finish all the typing in your Internet Application using the Lipikaar Firefox extension. It is very similar to how you can be offline while composing an email in Outlook.

Article Posted By : tahnaklView All Articles

Tahseen Nakavi Juror

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Keywords :
Konkani , Goa


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