Kannada language

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Old-Kannada inscription dated AD 578 - The rock stone inscription of Badami in archaic Kannada letters is ascribed to the 7th century. The three liner Tripadi (which by itself is as old as the Gayatri Mantra) type of literature was later popularized by the poet Sarvajna in his 'Vachanas' - Dr. (Mrs) Jyotsna Kamat

Kannada language (ಕನ್ನಡ kannaḍa, IPA: [ˈkʌnːəɖɑː]) or Kanarese /kænəˈriːz/, is a language spoken in India predominantly in the state of Karnataka. Kannada, whose native speakers are called Kannadigas (Kannaḍigaru) (Kannadiga-male) ಕನ್ನಡತಿ (Kannadati-female) and number roughly 40 million, 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.

Quotes[edit]

Kannada has been declared as Official Language of the State and is being used in all correspondences at all levels of Administration in the State in accordance with the provisions of Karnataka Official Language Act, 1963 (Karnataka Act 26 of 1963). - National Informatics Centre.
  • It has now been decided by the Government of India that on the occasion of the Rajyotsava day in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh formation day in Andhra Pradesh which fall on Ist November to declare Kannada and Telugu as Classical Languages.

Mysore scholar deciphers Chandragiri inscription[edit]

Halmidi inscription of 450 AD - Although there is a disagreement among epigraphists about the antiquity, Halmidi inscription is considered as the oldest known Kannada language inscription. This undated inscription was discovered in 1936 by M.H. Krishna, Director of Archaeology in the princely State of Mysore at Halmidi in Hassan taluk.

The Hindu in: [http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-karnataka/article1341687.ece Mysore scholar deciphers Chandragiri inscription], The Hindu, 20 September 2008

  • Nishadhi is the oldest known Kannada language inscription dating to 400 A.D.
  • Although this undated inscription has a mention in the Epigraphia Karnataka, epigraphists, who decoded Gunabhushitana Nishadi Shasana have said that “the purport of the inscription is not clear.
  • Although there is a disagreement among epigraphists about the antiquity, Halmidi inscription is considered as the oldest known Kannada language inscription. This undated inscription was discovered in 1936 by M.H. Krishna, Director of Archaeology in the princely State of Mysore at Halmidi in Hassan taluk.
  • After in-depth study I figured out Prakrit, Sanskrit and Purvada Halegannada words. I was aware of the fact that there are no Prakrit words in Halmidi inscription. The four-lined inscription has six words, besides Prakrit words. I also discovered that the inscription is in Shatavahana Brahmi and Aadi Ganga script. With great difficulty I restructured the text of inscription and reached the conclusion that the inscription in question is much older than Halmidi inscription.
    • Dr. Manjunath
  • There was no doubt that Gunabhushitana Nishadi Shasana was a Kannada inscription, which was in Purvada Halegannada script. The inscription in all probability was older by 50 to 100 years than Halmidi inscription. “In case the complete text is made available to me, I am interested in studying it".
    • M. Chidanandamurthy

Halmidi village finally on the road to recognition[edit]

As the inscription cannot be read easily, a replica [has been] readied in the Memorial Hall to give all information contained in it.

Muralidhara Khajane in: Halmidi village finally on the road to recognition, The Hindu, 3 November 2003

  • The word Isila found in the Ashokan inscription (called the Brahmagiri edict from Karnataka) meaning to shoot an arrow is a Kannada word, indicating that Kannada was a spoken language in the third century BC.
  • The names of a few places referred to by Ptolemy (A.D. 150) in his geographical treatise are undoubtedly the ancient forms of present day names of places in Karnataka.
    • M.V. Seetharamiah
  • The "Halmidi inscription" has put an end to many controversies surrounding the evolution of Kannada. The 16-line inscription, which is on rectangular sandstone with a height of 2.5 ft. and a width of 1 ft., has a Vishnu Chakra on its top. The earliest Kannada inscription found at Halmidi in w:BelurBelur taluk of Hassan district is dated 450 A.D., and it is the earliest known record in Kannada characters.
  • The language is known as "Poorvada Halegannada" (primitive Kannada), with distinctive characteristics resembling those of Tamil. Halmidi is a small village in the north of Hassan district with a population of 1,200, and was known as `Palmidi' and `Hanumidi'. However, the people of the village recently decided to retain the name Halmidi The inscription has become a subject of study for those who conduct research on the Kannada script, etymology, and Dravidian linguistics.
  • As the inscription cannot be read easily, a replica [has been] readied in the Memorial Hall to give all information contained in it.

5th Century copper coin found at Banavasi[edit]

Coin has inscription in archaic Kannada script found at Banavasi, capital of the Kadambas is said to be the first such coin found in the State. One side has a five-letter inscription and the other the symbol of Ujjain.

TThe Hindu in: 5th Century copper coin found at Banavasi, The Hindu.

  • Coin has inscription in archaic Kannada script found at Banavasi, capital of the Kadambas is said to be the first such coin found in the State. One side has a five-letter inscription and the other the symbol of Ujjain.
  • Though punch-marked and Satavahana coins had been discovered in Karnataka, this is the first coin with an inscription in archaic Kannada.
  • The discovery of the 5th century copper coin proves beyond doubt that Banavasi had a mint, and the tradition of minting coins with names or titles in Kannada was in vogue as early as the 5th century.

Kannada Dialect Dictionaries And Dictionaries In Subregional Languages Of Karnataka[edit]

L. Manjulakshi and Shripad Bhat in: Kannada Dialect Dictionaries And Dictionaries In Subregional Languages Of Karnataka, languageinindia.com

  • Kannada has a long history of dictionary-making, beginning from the dictionary written by Rannakanda of the 10th century till the dictionary produced by the Sahitya Parishat in the 20th century.
  • Rev. F. Kittel, a great scholar in many languages including Sanskrit, studied Kannada and took up the task of compiling a Kannada-English dictionary. He started the compilation in a thorough and systematic manner on the lines of the dictionaries of the Western countries, especially English dictionary.
  • The dictionary compiled by Rev. F. Kittel contained 70,000 words. On the literary side, it is a treasure of knowledge. Thus, Rev. F. Kittel may be called the father of Kannada dictionary. If he had not taken up and accomplished such a stupendous task in the 19th century, the present Kannada-English dictionary compiled by Kannada Sahitya Parishat would have taken another century to come into existence.

A Grammar of the Kannada Language: Comprising the Three Dialects of the Language (ancient, Medieval and Modern)[edit]

The term Kannada, the Canarese of European writers, is formed from Karnadu, the black cultivated country, referring to the black soil, commonly called cotton soil, which characterizes the plateau of the Southern Dekkan. In the Sanskrit language the term appears as Karanata and KarnKannada is the appellation of the Canarese country and its language.
Temple inscriptions: - The earliest written documents of the Kannada language are inscriptions on walls and pillars of temples, on detached stone-tablets and monumental stones, and on copper-plates of the Canarese country. The inscriptions are often dated; if they have no date, the form of the letters used and historical references to dated inscriptions serve to ascertain their age.

Ferdinand Kittel in: A Grammar of the Kannada Language: Comprising the Three Dialects of the Language (ancient, Medieval and Modern), Asian Educational Services, 01 January 1993

  • The term Kannada, the Canarese of European writers, is formed from Karnadu, the black cultivated country, referring to the black soil, commonly called cotton soil, which characterizes the plateau of the Southern Dekkan. In the Sanskrit language the term appears as Karanata and KarnKannada is the appellation of the Canarese country and its language.
    • In: p. 1.
  • The earliest written documents of the Kannada language are inscriptions on walls and pillars of temples, on detached stone-tablets and monumental stones, and on copper-plates of the Canarese country. The inscriptions are often dated; if they have no date, the form of the letters used and historical references to dated inscriptions serve to ascertain their age.
    • In: p. 1.
  • As regards the forms of the Old and Modern Kannada alphabets, they are varieties of the so-called Cave-character, an alphabet which was used for the inscriptions in the cave hermitages of Buddhists in India, and rests on the Southern Ashoka character. This character was about 250 BC employed in the edicts of Buddhist King Ashoka. Different forms of the letters used for the Kannada inscriptions appear at different periods, the earliest form differing in the greatest degree from those of the modern Kannada alphabet. At the time of the composition of the Basavapurana 1369 A. D. the old alphabet had become already out of use, as the author of that work mentions the letters of Old Kannada as belonging to the past.
    • In: p. 2.
  • The Kannada language in the old inscriptions of which specimens exist that belong to about 600 AD, is not the same as that of the present day; it is what is called Old Canarese. The Old Canarese is also the language of the early Kannada authors or the literary style. It may be said to have continued in use to the middle of the 13th century, when by degrees the language of the inscriptions and literary compositions begins to evince a tendency to become Modern Canarese or the popular and colloquial dialect of the present time.
    • In: p. 2.
  • The grammatical treatises on Kannada were constructed on the Samskrita plan. Their Jaina authors took Panini d others as their guides. The earliest grammarian, whose works have come down to us, is N'agavarma who appears to belong to the first half of the 12th century.
    • In: p. 3.
  • The ancient Kannada grammarians held the study of grammar in high esteem, as may be learned from the following words of the author of the Sabdaamnidarpana: " Through grammar (correct) words originate, through the words of that grammar meaning the beholding of truth the desired final beatitude.
    • In: p. 3.t

History of the Kannada Literature[edit]

Old_Kannada inscription in_Vindyagiri_hill at Shravanabelagola.

Dr. (Mrs) Jyotsna Kamat in:History of the Kannada Literature – I, and [http:*//www.kamat.com/kalranga/kar/literature/history2.htm History of the Kannada Literature – II], Kamat's Potpourri

  • Perhaps being the oldest language next to Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Tamil, Kannada country and language have a rich heritage. 'Kavirajamarga' of king Nripatunga (9th century A.D.) is believed to be the earliest literary work in Kannada. It is a treatise on poetics or a guide to poets indicating that Kannada was a fully developed literary language....from epigraphical evidence it can be surmised that the spoken Kannada language evolved much earlier than the Halmidi inscription (c. 450 A.D. ). Belonging to the Prto-Dravidian group it has close affinity with the Tamil language, prevalent now in the neighboring Tamil Nadu. But the language of the Halmidi inscription is highly Sanskritized.
  • By the 10th century Kannada had its greatest ancient poets like Pampa (born 902 A.D.), Ranna (born 949 A.D.) and special prose work like Waddaradhane (c. 930 A.D.) indicating that classical Kannada literature had fully evolved at least one or two centuries earlier, back to 'Kavirajamarga'. But since none of the earlier works have survived, we have to stick to the established norm that written Kannada came into vogue by the 5th century A.D.
  • The pundits have divided the development of Kannada language into three phases; The Old Kannada Phase, The Middle Kannada Phase, and The Modern Kannada Phase.
  • Most of the works in literature and secular sciences mentioned in reference books like Kavirajamarga are still not to be traced. But works of later centuries mention now extinct works on various topics. Thus, Chudamani (a 96,000 verse-measures), a commentary on logic (Tatwarthamahashastra) by Tambulacharya belonged to the 7th century.
  • 'Desi' and 'Marga' styles of native Kannada and then others influenced by Sanskrit had become demarcated clearly by then, and Pampa prided over assimilating both styles in his two great epics Adipurana and Vikramarjuna Vijaya or simply known as Pampa Bharata.
  • 'Vaddaradhane' is the earliest prose work in Kannada. Some ascribe it to the 9th century. But from the linguistic form and the depiction of the existing society, most scholars agree to its belonging to the early 10th century.
  • The language is suited to narrate stories and presents a well developed word form, idiom, structure, and texture indicating that Kannada was a full-fledged language for prose and poetry by the 10th century.
  • Apart from written works, the inscriptions of the period illustrate many variations of meters and structural variety. The hero-stone of Manalera's dog Kali (943 A.D.), the details of the pologame of Rashtrakuta, on king Indra IV. The heroic fight of Nolambaraditya provide moving descriptions attesting the fact that well known poets were asked to compose epitaphs befitting the occasion. These inscriptions are a wealth of information for historical data, cultural life and study of Kannada language and literature of early times.

The Place Of Kannada And Tamil In Indias National Culture[edit]

K. Appadurai in: The Place Of Kannada And Tamil In India's National Culture, archive.org


  • Kannada-Tamil literature, especially Kannada literature, is the key to the successive development of the literary and cultural, as well as the spiritual history of India. For we find, on the basis of Kannada literature mainly, that the course of India's religious, literary, cultural and national evolution can conveniently be divided into successive slabs of: (a) Pre-Buddhistic, (b) Buddhistic, (c) Jain, (d) Saivite, (e) Vaishnavite, (f) Late Hindu and lastly (g) the Modern periods. This succession is clearly shown in the history of Kannada literature, though the first two slabs, the Pre-Buddhistic and the Buddhistic are lost to us in Kannada and are available only in Tamil and in Sanskrit.

External links[edit]

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