Part 5[A] of “O concani não é dialecto do marata”by Mgr. Sebastião Rodolfo Dalgado,

in Heraldo, Pangim, Goa, Year IX, No. 2572, 15 February 1917, p. 1

Translated from the Portuguese by Óscar de Noronha

If, however, lexicology does not suffice, let us look at grammar, which better characterises a language and provides a safer criterion.

As regards phonology, it is obvious to whoever has some notion of Konkani and Marathi phonetics that the former, besides employing all the phonemes of the latter, has some unique ones, such as open é and ó, which distinguish words, genders and numbers. Pêr (fem.), guava tree, and pér (neut.), guava; pêr (fem.), roe, pér (neut.), finger joint. Bôr (f.), jujube tree, bór (n.), jujube. Pôr (m.), lad, pór (pl.), lads, (n.), girl. Môr, peacock, mór, peacocks.

The tonic e of masculine nouns also develops into diphthong eu (very faint u): euk, êk, ék, one, one, veull (m.), time, vêll (f.), beach, véll (n.), pick, kheull, game, meull, dirt.

The short a deserves special mention; it is close to the muffled and short o, as in Bengali, or better, as in the English u in but, cut.

It also has another notable peculiarity: that of being, like the open and closed o, contingent on the genders. The a of bhirandd, mangosteen tree, and the a of bhirandd, mangosteen, are not pronounced identically, except perhaps by a child in diapers. Also compare the second a of kharadd (f.), shavings, with that of kharadd (n.), bald head; that of karadd (f.), dryness of tongue, with that of karadd (n.), grass. Those who fail to understand this may be capable of speaking the Bunda language, which does not require great expertise, but they certainly do not understand the phonics techniques of Konkani. It is said that honey is not meant for the ass’s mouth.

Similar to the pre-consonantic tonic e of masculine nouns, the long á of certain feminine nouns develops into a regressive diphthong (or ) with muffled e: sattyá = Sansk. sattá, authority. Tarhyá = Mar. tarhá, from the Arabic tarhá, type, manner.

The ch and j, when not preceding e and i, always sound ts (or ) and z, without etymological restrictions; which is not the case with Marathi. Sansk. chal = tsal, go; char = tsar, folder; chakra = tsak, wheel; Râjâ = rázá, king; jana = zann, person; jati = zát, caste. People observe the logical coherence instinctively and send the etymologists packing. But in our eccentric Goa there are philological heavyweights armed with a ferule: they disregard such a clear truth! Or else, they would not be pinchbeck scholars nor would they be acclaimed by puppets.

Furthermore, the initial h and the h of aspirated consonants is not as sonorous as in Marathi, and many of the Marathi cacuminal initials correspond to the respective dentals in Konkani.

Can all these peculiarities be borne out by the evolutionary process or, if unscientific detractors so wish, by later corruption? And how is it that identical phenomena are unheard of in other Marathi areas? And will not at least such elements be useful to establish the autonomy of a language?

With regard to morphology: if there was anyone who, comparing the declensions and conjugations of Konkani and Marathi, has found complete uniformity, he was blind in spirit. The multiple and grave discrepancies are, as the English say, glaring; they stand out and can do without the lantern of Diogenes.

The long á of the nouns and adjectives in Marathi (as well as Hindi) corresponds in Konkani to open ó (closed ô in Gujarati and Sindhi). Goddá = ghoddó, horse; pâddá = pâddó, bull; reddá = reddó, buffalo; dhava = dhavó, white; kallá = kâlló, black.

Now, Sanskrit has never had the nominative singular in long â of the nouns ending in a vowel, except for vocalic r, which, really speaking, is a softening of ar (pitr = pitar; cf. Lat. pater). But under certain circumstances, the desinential visarga changes to ô. Axvah patati, the horse falls; axvo gachchhati, the horse goes. Gajah sarati, the elephant moves; gajo mritah, the elephant died. Xukla puruxah, white man; xuklo manuxyah, white man. Similarly, in ancient Prakrit we see the nominative in ó: Sansk. prasaráh, Prak. pasró, Konk. pasró, shop; pânddurah (whitish), panddrô, pânddrô, king cobra; devarah, devarô, dêr, brother-in-law. Konkani is not in bad company.

The same difference between á and ó is seen in masculine genitive terminations: âmbyáchá = âmbyatsó, of the mango, – in the nominative plural of feminine nouns (ô): gaddyá = gaddyô, cars; and in the verbs (3rd person) (sing., perf. indicative) utthlá = utthló, stood up.

The terminations nem and xim of the Marathi instrumental correspond to n in Konkani, and toand s of the dative, k (ko in Hindi, ke in Bengali): âmbyânem (by the mango), âmbyâxim (with the mango) = âmbyan (with or by the mango); âmbyálá or âmbyas, âmbyak (to the mango).

The terminations of the nominative plural of neuter nouns also differ: motyem = motyám, pearls; gharem = gharám, houses.

Konkani has a formal locative on, which Marathi represents periphrastically: mathyár = mátyá var, on top of the head; gharámr = gharám upari, on the housetops.

There are nouns that have one base or theme in Konkani and another in Marathi = hatti (dental tt) = hattyán = háttinem, by the elephant; bhint = bhintyechí = bhintichi, of the wall; khâtt = khâttichem = khâttechem, of the bed.

We have already seen that the nominative and the instrumental of the first-person pronoun are not the same in both languages. Let us now compare other cases and other pronouns. Dative. Mâká (cf. Sansk. mayam, Lat. mihi, which is sometimes pronounced as miki) = mâlá, to me; âm’kám = âhmâlá, to us. Tuka, tulá, tujlá, to you; tum’kam = tuhmâlá, to ye/you. Tâká or teká = tyâlá, to him, etc. Instrumental: tuvem = tvá, for you. Tannêm, tínnem = tyannêm, tinem, by him, by her. The same is to be said of the demonstrative , this, and the relative , that: hâká, zâká, hânnem, zânnem.

The conjugational differences between the two languages are so many that I do not know how to deal with them in a few words. It would be necessary to reproduce entire paradigms of various verbs to help one get a complete idea. Those who feign ignorance, and those who consider themselves all-knowing, will stay put; those who sincerely wish to study will find half a dozen grammars. But there are some people out there who swear by all gods that Konkani has no grammars and dictionaries comme il faut! Might they have examined them all? And are there many Marathi-Portuguese dictionaries, and vice-versa, and grammars comme il faut? The English put it nicely: ‘Fools rush in where the wise fear to tread.’

I will nevertheless present some corroborative schema as specimens.

Radical sar, to go, pass. Sansk. Sarâmi, sarasi, sarati, sarâmas, saratha, saranti.

Konk. Hámv sartám, tum sartây, tó sartá, ámim sartam, tumim sartát, té sartát.

Mar. Mim sartom, tum sartos, to sarto (m.); mim sartem, tum sartes, ti sarte (f.) mim sartem, tum sartem, tem sartem, (n.) Pl. âhmi sartom, tummi sartám, te sartát.

Lat. Amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant.

Port. Amo, amas, ama, amamos, amais, amam. [I love, thou lovest, he/she/it loves, we love, ye/you love, they love]

Cast. Amo, amas, ama, amamos, amais, amam.

Ital. Amo, ami, ama, amiamo, amate, amano.

Now, is there not a closer analogy between the flexions of the Romance languages than between those of Marathi and Konkani? And yet there are sharp minds that do not realise it.

Let us juxtapose Sanskrit and Latin flexions. Radical vah-veh: vahâmi = veho, vahasi = vehis, vahati = vehit, vahámas = vehimus, vahatha = vehitis, vahanti = vehunt. Are not these flexions more akin to each other than are those of Konkani and Marathi? Might Latin, then, be a corruption of Sanskrit? There are no people more exacting than the Goans.

Past perfect. Konk.: Hámv sarlom, túm sarloy, tó sarló (m.), hámv sarlim, túm sarliyi, ti sarli (f.), hámv sarlem, túm sarlemy, tem sarlem.

Mar. Mim sarlom, túm sarlas, to sarlá (m.), mim sarlem, tum sarlis, ti sarli (f.), mim sarlem, túm sarlens (n.) Is the daughter a faithful likeness of the mother?

Imperfect: Konk. Sarom, saroy, saro, saromy, sarot, sarot. Mar. sarem, sares, sare, sarúm, saram, sarat.

Konkani has another formal imperfect, made up of the base of the present tense and the flexions of the perfect; and that has no counterpart in the other language: sartâlom, sartaloy, sartâló (m.), sartalim, sartâliy, sartáli, etc.

At the same time, the past perfect, formed by adding to the perfect: sarló, it ended; sarloló, it had ended.

Future. Konk.: saran, sarxi, sarat, sarâmv, sarxyát, sartit. Mar.: saren, sarxil, sarel, sarúm, saral, sartil.

How much parity is there between one and the other?

The aforesaid Konkani future is contingent (as Maffei calls it, if you know) or potential: karít, may be able to do it, may wish to do it, maybe doing it, may do it; páus paddat, it may rain, perhaps it will rain. But we have another future, absolute and more assertive, which in Portuguese is expressed as há de [will]: há de chover [it will rain], which differs from choverá [it will rain].[i] Marathi does not have it in a simple form; Konkani, on the contrary, forms it with the flexions of the past tense joined to the base of the present, ending in a (sarta), or to the present participle (sartó): sartalom, sartaloy, sartaló, etc.


[i] Both Há de chover and choverá express the future tense, except that that the former is in the periphrastic form.

(Published in Revista da Casa de Goa, Series II, No. 27, March-April 2024, pp 38-41)