Mar 2, 2010
Hey kid, do you speak Konkani”.”
What? NO NO, My Grandparents used to”.
Well these are the exact words we get to hear from Mangalorean kids nowadays. Konkani-which is our Mother Tongue, is beginning to become our Grandmother’s tongue. If the same attitude of ours continues, the day is not far away, when we have to show our kids scripts of Konkani in museums.
Well to start off about our Konkani, history of our Language dates back to 1900 BC.The website Wikipedia gives us a thorough insight into this (Not all is true). Konkani is one of the official languages of India and the official language of GOA.It is spoken by people, basically Roman Catholics in Mangalore, North Kanara and some parts of Kerala. Muslims in Bhatkal speak Konkani as well. There are many sects of Hindus who speak Konkani too. Hence Konkani speaking belt stretches from northern Kerala through Mangalore and ends up in Goa.There are different dialects of this amazing language, though it doesn’t have a script.Goan Konkani is completely different from Mangalorean Konkani, which in turn is completely different from what the Keralites speak.
Coming back to how Konkani originated in Mangalore, it seems people from Goa, because of the Goa Inquisition act, fled their state to come and settle in Basrur, a small town near Kundapur.They were skilled farmers and the King of Nagara(maybe Hosanagara now) embraced them and soon their population began to spread across the coastal belt. This is one of the theories. There are many more theories about the origin of Konkani in our city. Well History can be found out by digging into books, surfing the net etc, but at present what we need to do is prevent our language from becoming history.
Let me begin with how badly Konkani is faring in cities, especially in Mangalore city. First and foremost, most of the churches have English masses and most of our younger generation attend English service. Only the old and middle aged go for Konkani mass. The Konkani mass is also called “Mass for the OLD”. Being a Konkani speaking community, we, ourselves, are insulting it. We should learn a lesson or two from Keralites and Tamilians.Whenever two Keralites meet, they tend to speak mostly in Malayalam and when we Mangaloreans meet, we try to help each other by speaking in the QUEENS LANGAUAGE.We are so generous J.Moreover nowadays the priest’s too speak in English. Maybe they want to put to test their English language speaking skills, taught in the seminary .As a matter of fact, I have a friend who was in the seminary for just over a year and I asked him what exactly they taught in one year. His answer was just one word “ENGLISH”
We ourselves use so many other words from other languages when we speak Konkani. We don’t speak proper Konkani and if spoken to, we end up not understanding a thing/word. Words from different languages especially have entered Konkani eg late, care, wait etc. We often use these words in our conversation. Hopefully we don’t forget the actual language altogether. There are numerous people who sing, write and play dramas in Konkani. I cannot name them because I do not know their names, the reason being I have hardly read any Konkani books. The younger generation should be encouraged to read more Konkani literature, listen to more Konkani songs, and watch more Konkani plays.
There are many dialects of Konkani as I mentioned earlier. According to me within the Mangalorean Konkani there are numerous dialects. I classify them as
US – Canada based Konkani ,Middle eastern Konkani ,Mumbai Konkani ,Mangalore Konkani
Out of the above mentioned its pure fun to listen to Mumbai Konkani. Phrases like “Mummy te Kashe Morle” (Mummy how did she die),” Fish aso Kaanta Galenth Atkala”( thorn of the fish has stuck in the throat),” Girthaloy”( you may fall) and many more .Hope one day I would make a full translator of Mumbai Konkani to English.
Middle eastern and US Konkani is also good to listen to because of the accent and I somewhat feel our Konkani speaking community in USA , Canada and the middle East have taken enough care that their children at least speak Konkani. They have more respect for the language than us. The best part of this Konkani is when grandchildren try to speak to their grandparents in accented Konkani and the poor old people never understand a thing but still are proud of their little ones.
Of course, Speaking in English is good for ones overall personality development, it will be a huge booster in ones CV and will increase job prospects. But at the what expense? Now is the time for us to make amends for our failures so far and make this beautiful language more beautiful.
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