Part 4 of “O concani não é dialecto do marata”, by Mgr. Sebastião Rodolfo Dalgado, in Heraldo, Pangim, Goa, Year IX, No. 2571, 14 February 1917, p. 1

Translated from the Portuguese by Óscar de Noronha


 I now ask: does Marathi provide an explanation for the lexicon and grammar of Konkani, as we have known it since times immemorial? Let us take a look.

Words are generally migratory. They accompany the objects that they designate, and they connect easily from one language to another, even if unrelated. See my book Influência do Vocabulário Português for the number of Portuguese expressions and how many Asian languages that they ​​got into.

Nor is there any European language devoid of pilgrim or heterogeneous terms. And Marathi itself, which seeks to stand on a pedestal, is full of exoticisms of different origins, as can be seen from any etymological publication. It even uses Portuguese expressions that are not in vogue in Goa, such as tabaco (tobacco), tronco (jail), ripa (lath), armada (armada), barqueta (small boat), barquinha (scull). And Sanskrit has the Greek horá, the Latin dinaro and the Semitic kulama.

But the words that serve as yardstick for languages to relate or to delimit themselves ​​are not such as to be regarded as adventitious or ambulant. On the contrary, they are considered organic and basic.

Such words concern the first elements, family relationships, religion, pronouns, names and numbers, main verbs, all of which form the structure. And this was the pattern that shaped the genealogical tree of the Indo-European group and established their mutual relationships.

Now, Konkani has many terms of this kind of primary necessity and of common usage, deriving from Prakrit (bâlabhâxa) or from Sanskrit, terms that it did not receive through the intermediacy of Marathi, for the simple reason that the latter does not know them or make use of them in colloquial speech: nemo dat quod non habet.

Gerson da Cunha mentions one pronoun and eight nouns in Konkani, besides verbs and adverbs in vogue, which are not commonplace in Marathi. They are ahum (I), pârvó (pigeon), kîr (parrot), bokem (crane), sunem (dog), zang (thigh), poló (face), kankon (bracelet), râzû (cord).[1] And he notes: “Several more (words), the identity whereof with Sanskrit can be easily verified, are not in use among the Marathas.”

Ramchandra Gunjikar, however, collects dozens of expressions derived from Sanskrit, which are not found in Marathi, or have some different forms. I find it inconvenient to reproduce them; but the scholar will be able to check them out at their source, and will not find it a waste of time. I will restrict myself to a few that seem to me important and peremptory.

It is well known that the Indo-European group has thematically distinguished the direct (nominative) case of the 1st person pronoun from its oblique cases, as in the Greek and Latin ego, Sanskrit aham, and the other branches. The word corresponding to ahum is ham in Prakrit and hâmv in Konkani, which in the instrumental case assumes the form hâmvêm. In Marathi, the first case is represented by mim and the second by mya or mim. How is this possible, if Konkani is the daughter or corruption of Marathi? Note that this point is partly morphological, and this enhances its value.

  Sanskrit Prakrit Konkani Marathi
Son putra puttaka pút mulgá
Daughter duhitá dhiyá dhúv mulgi
Son (restricted) chetta chelá tsaló mulgá
Boy chetta heddó mulgá
Water udaka udaka udak pânni
Fire vidyut vijjú uzó vistú
Summer grîsma gihma gim’ ubnállá
Tree vrikxa rukko rukh jhádd
Hay trinna tanna tann gavat
Ash goma a gobar rákh
Step sopâna sopânn sopann pâyri
Column stambha khambho khâmbó khâmb
Hair parting mârga maggo mâgo bhàng
Road mârga maggo mârag rastá
Toddy surá sura súr tâddi
Jackfruit panasa panasa pannas phannas
Big vriddha vudhdho vhadd motthá
Frontier samukha samukho sam’ko samor
Much bahu bahu bah bahut
Be jâ (ya) za ho
Go vraja vachcha vats
Take hara vhar ne
Call âhvaya âbaya âpay loláv
Place dhara davar tthey
No na ná nâm nâhim
Inside abhyantar bhitar ânt
What? kim tad kitem káy
Where? kva khaim kottem

From this example it is clear what kind of mother Marathi might be to Konkani. And to think that there are Konkaniphobes who platonically bemoan the bastardization of their language, which they do not seek to learn! It is said in Konkani that whoever cannot dance blames the unevenness of the floor: nâtsunk nennó, ângann vânkddem.

There are many terms specific to each language, deriving from different sources, which terms occur frequently, given that they represent commonplace ideas. Here is a small specimen:

English Konkani Marathi
Habit vaz savaí
Love mog príti
Bride hokal navari
Fan âllnnó pankhá
Palm-tree leaf tsuddet zhâmpem
Resentment xínn rusvá
Heel khott lát
Ant múi mungí
Lie phott gapp
Cloth kâpadd lugddem
Broom sarann kersunní
Orchard kullâgar bág
Monkey khetem mâkadd
Auction pâvnní lilâmv
All night savandrat râtrbhar
Tomorrow phâlyá udyám
Nearby lâgim zavall
Far pais dúr
Before âdim pûrvim
After mâgir mag
Presently sardyá turt
Behind pâthi mágem
Below saklá khálim
Gold bhángar sonem
Egg tântim anddem
Money duddú paisá
Stick boddí kâtthí
Limit mer maryâd
Writing barap lekh
Write baray lihí

It would be a never-ending story. But it will also enable unsuspecting minds to assess the nature of the Konkani vocabulary and its relations with that of Marathi, especially if they take into account that many of the expressions common to both languages ​​exist in other Neo-Aryan languages too, for they come from the ancient Prakrit languages. And they should not lose sight of the fact that those who, guided by analogies, consider Konkani to be a dialect of Marathi, will take words of the former as belonging to the latter, when dealing with its lexicon and grammar, as Dr Bhandarkar has done in his learned book Wilson Philological Lectures.

They will also note from the Kannada terms, marked with asterisks, how deep pilgrim expressions can penetrate, and supplant the previous homogeneous ones, on account of vicinity, conquest or trade. And they will not be surprised that the Portuguese language has contributed a large corpus, even if partly unnecessary. And likewise, Marathi has been taking many English words, as it did with Persian and Arabic. Such is the fate of the conquered.

Whoever is interested in more etymological information may look up my dictionary, where the origin of each word has been very diligently sought.

There will, however, be no lack of freshwater Konkanists who will continue to assert from their perches that none has understood the Konkani used in my dictionary, and that therein is not the Konkani that they speak. But would they know how to read it properly and do they have great knowledge of the language? A boorish Portuguese or Frenchman contented with some three hundred words, will obviously not understand a dictionary like that of Domingos Vieira and of Cândido de Figueiredo or those of Littré and Larousse. And how many Marathists are familiar with all the words mentioned by Molesworth and Candy? Those who do not know must learn and not preach.

Perhaps they think that I toured the lunar regions to put together the dictionary. Fortunately, many of those who witnessed its compilation are still alive and can vouch for the care I took to collect words and phrases, and the criterion that determined their inclusion. Imperfections it has aplenty, and they were unavoidable, given the circumstances. A perfect dictionary of living languages is nowhere to be found. Nor was it made for the blind in spirit who presume to be hawk-eyed. Others pronounce the dictionary to be more of Marathi than Konkani. So be it, for till date there is neither a Marathi-Portuguese nor a Portuguese-Marathi dictionary available, while Konkani has some old and modern ones. Our great Marathist Suriagi was at the most able to translate, but alas, very poorly, the dictionary by Molesworth – a Christian and European, two grounds of incapacity for Orientalism, in the opinion of our young Turks – and he only managed to have a part of it published. But why Marathi? For inserting many words that exist in Marathi? And would the Marathi dictionary be Sanskrit or Hindustani because it includes numerous words from those languages? Or will Phondu Sawant’s durai (ban) weigh on Konkani, in that no pilgrim expression be admitted without his prior sicó (stamp)? How far can disoriented passion or petulant ignorance get!

So, as for me and some others, many of the words that Marathi dictionaries claim as being in use in the Konkan, in Sawantvadi and Malwan, and even in Ratnagiri, owe their paternity to Konkani. Just as Hindus who know Marathi fit various words of this language into Konkani, so do Hindus originally from Goa introduce Konkani expressions into Marathi.

(Published in Revista da Casa de Goa, Series II, No. 26, Jan-Feb 2024, pp 16-20)

[1] Spellings taken from Dalgado’s article, slightly at variance with Gerson da Cunha’s. (Translator)