Part 6 of “O concani não é dialecto do marata”by Mgr. Sebastião Rodolfo Dalgado,

in Heraldo, Pangim, Goa, Year IX, No. 2574, 17 February 1917, p. 1

Translated from the Portuguese by Óscar de Noronha

The multiple, grave and fundamental divergences, both in terms of vocabulary and grammar, which we have perfunctorily examined, completely destroy the legend or fanciful assertion that Konkani is a dialect of Marathi, as its variant or phase, or as its daughter. Not even half of this would be necessary to constitute an autonomous and independent language.

It is said that against facts there are no arguments. Nor are there authorities. Unless it has something to do with past or distant events, testimony alone is of little value, if devoid of proof.

The body is there within everyone’s reach. Any anatomist can dissect it, if he has the right instruments, and compare it, if he has experience and aptitude. But those who know nothing about pruning should not get into it, lest they spoil the vineyard.

It is a gross mistake to view Marathi as prototype of Konkani, or as its literary form. Such a pattern will necessarily distort the language, turning beauties into snags – as some Gongorists did in the past, with clumsy results – a monstrous amalgam. This should not be repeated in the future. With such an orientation and teachers, you can forget about cultivating Konkani. Let the language be!

Recently, it was stated that Konkani has been in existence for only about four hundred years, thus insinuating that it was a creation of the Christians. How cold-bloodedly can Goans make such audacious and paradoxical statements! Did they by any chance attend the délivrance – as they call it there, and it will not be long before they say ‘Our Lady of Bonne Délivrance’ – or at least have its birth certificate?

Prodigious Christians! They have invented a speech grammatically superior to Marathi and closer to the Prakrits and to Sanskrit!

And the amazement moves up another notch if we imagine how they imposed it on the Hindus in Goa and on the natives who went from here to as far as Bombay and Cochin, where I got to converse with a goldsmith in the said language!

Furthermore, the Hindu Brahmins who worked with Rheede on the Hortus Malabaricus (published in 1678) did not issue him a certificate in the ‘vernacular and literary’ language – Marathi – but in that monstrous Konkani; and the names that they gave to the plants were not taken from that ‘beloved daughter of Sanskrit’, but from its ‘nameless corruption’, namely: cudó, colassó, caló-dotiró, caró-nirvoló and many others. Some of them are marred by the convoluted orthography of Dutch, and the same is the case with Portuguese terms.

And the early Portuguese, who mention neither the Marathas nor their language, learned and used this gibberish, this ‘nothing’, as someone else chose to dub it, even while the country had a very developed vernacular and national language with a ‘vast and enjoyable literature’!

For example, Garcia de Orta, who spent many years in Goa, which he knew like the back of his palm, and who for his medical and botanical research took help from Kanarese (Hindu) physicians such as Malapa, writes panaj (jackfruit) and not phanaz; bibó (anacardium) and not bibá or bibbás bahó (canafistula), and not bavá or bahvá; rezanvalé (rozanvâlle), etc.

Similarly, Diogo do Couto, another Indianist di primo cartello, does not say ambá but ambó (Déc. VIII, I, 25). And António Bocarro (1635) does not say sissá, but sissó, nor does Father Francisco de Sousa (1697) employ Marathi diction when he writes charoddós.

Even the English were bewitched by this ‘unqualifiable dialect’, since it is in Konkani, and not in Marathi, that they looked for the origin of certain terms they used. Hobson-Jobson derives patamar from the Konkani, in the sense of ‘mail and vessel’: ‘In both senses the word is perhaps the Konkani path-mar, “a courier”.’ And as regards buckshaw, mentioned by Fryer, Hamilton and Grose, Yule writes: ‘“Little fish of any sort.” This is perhaps the real word’. Clearly, there are Konkani dictionaries that, in the opinion of the foreigners, deserve to be perused. And our scholars do not bother to read them, because they are not ‘comme il faut’. Good pretext for lazybones, no doubt: Language, why do I want you?

The last of the abovementioned words is indeed registered without its etymology, in my dictionary, under the forms bavxem and bapxem, and meaning ‘small fish, minnow’. But there will be always be a Konkanist emeritus who will declare that such a word does not exist, because he has not heard it, and that the dictionary is worthless. Jesus Christ forgot to include among the beatitudes: Beati ignari, qui sapientes se ostendunt! It is always more elegant to be a master than a disciple; it is more comfortable to teach than to learn.