Konkani is not a dialect of Marathi - 5B

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

in Heraldo, Pangim, Goa, Year IX, No. 2573, 16 February 1917, p. 1

Translated from the Portuguese by Óscar de Noronha

There is a lot more to dig in this rich mine. I believe, however, that what has been laid out here is sufficient to understand the conjugational relations between the two languages. For sure, they are not very close. And so much of Konkani’s baggage definitely would not fit into the Marathi boat. It may have got bigger later, but surely Konkani was not the poorer for it; it rather got perceptibly richer.

Even so, given its special importance, let us analyse the Indo-European verb as (Sansk.) or es (Lat., es-se for es-re), to be, to have.

Sanskrit: Asmi, asi, asti, smas, stha, santí.

Konkani: âsám, âsáy, âsá (asa, among the Hindus), âsámv, âsát, âsát. Abbreviated form: âhám, hâháy, âhá, etc.

Marathi: âhe, âhes, âhe, âhom, âhám, âhet.

It is obvious that the anomalous flexions of Marathi would not produce those of Konkani, which are entirely regular, affixed to the root (as in Sanskrit), without the intervening suffix t (sart-t).

The past tense in Konkani uses the base as: âslom, âsloy, etc. That of Marathi is: hotom, hotás, hotá, etc. That is a huge difference – toto coelo – and does not discredit Konkani.

Another Sanskrit verb, jan (3rd p. pres., jâyate), to turn, to become, to get (French, devenir) passed on to Konkani in the stem (zátam, zátáy, zâtá), and is conjugated regularly in all tenses. Marathi, on the other hand, uses the said verb only in the past tense (jhâlom), replacing it, in the rest, with the verb honnem, derived from the Sanskrit bhû, which has given rise to the Lat. fu-i.

It is obvious, then, that these are not despicable minutiae that can be easily explained as ‘the degeneration of Konkani taken to extremes.’ On the contrary, they are fundamental divergences, and the aforementioned verbs are so too. It is rightly said in Konkani, when one hears nonsense: Tujé jibek hadd na munn borem âsá: You’re lucky that you don't have a bone in your tongue, or else it would break. And another popular saying goes as follows: Tuka jib nasli zâlyár kavlle tonchún kâtelé âslé: if you had no tongue (the only sign of life), crows would peck and eat you (as if you were a corpse).

Let us also compare the flexions of the same substantive verb to be in the Romance languages, so that the comparison highlights the inconsistency of the detractors of their own language, which they have never cared to study.

Latin: Sum, es, est, sumus, estis, sunt.

Portuguese: Sou, (archaic som, sam), és, é, somos, sois, são (archaic, som) [I am; thou art; he/she/it is; we are; ye/you are; they are]

Castillian: Soy, eres, es, somos, sois, son.

Italian: Sono, sel, è, siamo, siete, sono.

French: Suis, es, est, sommes, êtes, sont.

Is there less affinity between these flexions than between the previous ones? And yet, to this day no one has dared claim that one of the said languages ​​is a corruption of the other. And according to an English proverb (may everything pay homage to the alliance!): What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Let us now compare the negative forms of the aforementioned verb as:

Konkani: Hámv nám, túm námy, tó nám, ámím nâhv, tumim nánt, té nánt.

Marathi: Mîm nâhîm, túm nâhíms, to nâhím, âhmí nâhim, tuhmi nâhim, te nâhínt.

The Konkani verb záy, often used in the sense of the Latin oportet, it is necessary, it is proper, is invariable and mimics the Latin construction: Mâká záy, tuká záy, táká záy, etc. Mâká zây zataló = it will be necessary for me. Mâká záy zâló = it was necessary for me.

Marathi uses pâhije, which they conjugate as follows: pâhije, pâhijes, pâhije, pâhije, pâhije or pâhijes, pâhijet.

The verb that in both languages ​​has the past tense in gelom is represented in the other tenses by means of various radicals: in Konkani, vats (hámv vetám), from the Sansk. vraj; in Marathi, , from the Sanskrit : such that in Konkani tó zâtá means ‘he becomes’, and in Marathi to zâto means ‘he goes.’

The irregular Marathi past tenses of certain verbs are used, partly by some social classes of Goa, but not by the Brahmins, who use it otherwise: Ghetlem = ghelem (regular), was taken; dhutlem = dhulem (reg.), was washed; pyâlem = piyelem or pilem (reg.), was drunk; mâgitlem = mâglem (reg.), was asked for[i]; ghâtlem = ghâlem (reg.), was put; mhanttlem = mhannlem (reg.) or mhullem (by assimilation), [was said]; khâllem = khelem (khâlem would be regular), was eaten.

I could have expanded on this arid and, for many, boring matter, tackling particles and syntax, but I think it is pointless. As regards the former, it will suffice to note that many of them differ from language to language or take diverse forms. Some of them in Marathi are used only by certain classes in Goa; which may be due to ethnic relations. It is a matter more closely associated with lexicology than with grammar; and the comparison is not tough.

Properly speaking, the syntax of modern Indo-Aryan languages ​​has few essential differences. Sentence construction and agreement are almost the same. However, Marathi and Konkani vary a lot in the manner of forming propositions; in ‘our language’, it is more concise, cohesive and elliptical. Here are some examples, taken from Navalcar's Marathi grammar: Râma ânni tyâtsá bâp âle âhet = Râmá âni tâtsó bâpúi áylé: Rama and his father have come. Durgá ânni Sâvitri hyâ bahinni hotyá = Durgá áni Sâvitri bahinnyó: Durga and Savitri are sisters. Janoji va tyâchi báyko kutthem gelim âhet = Janoji âní tâchî bâyl khaim gelint? Where have Janoji and his wife gone? Vaidyânem tilá auxadh deún barem kelem = Vaizan tiká okhat diún bari keli (agreement difference): The doctor cured her by giving her medicine. Mim tum’chyá gharim udyám yein = Hámv tum’ger phalyá yen or yeyn (I may come) or yetalom = I shall come: I shall come to your house tomorrow.

Those interested can easily make other syntactical comparisons, for example, between a catechism in Konkani and Marathi. Rest assured that one will learn a lot about the disparity of the two languages ​​and be convinced – if any more arguments are necessary – that Konkani is not the same as Marathi.


[i] Dalgado’s says ‘foi bebido’, which is obviously a typo; it should read ‘foi pedido’ [was asked].

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

Konkani is not a dialect of Marathi - 5A

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)

Konkani is not a dialect of Marathi - IV

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)

Konkani is not a dialect of Marathi - 3

Part 3 of "O concani não é dialecto do marata", by Mgr. Sebastião Rodolfo Dalgado, in Heraldo, Pangim, Goa, Year IX, No. 2570, 13 February 1917, p. 1)


Since Konkani is not a dialectal variant of Marathi, would it at least be a dialect, in the sense that it originated from the Marathi in ancient times?

It seems that for expert philologists there, the assertion is almost an axiom, which admits of no discussion. There are writers who declare it; there are Marathists who swear by it; there are many obvious analogies between one speech and the other. What more can one want?

But there are also many analogies between Gujarati and Marathi. Therefore, one is a dialect of the other! There are many points of contact between Portuguese and Italian. Therefore, one has derived from the other! There is almost no Arabic word that is not used or cannot be used in Persian. Therefore, both languages ​​belong to the same family, Semitic or Aryan! Konkani also seems to have similarities with Gujarati, Hindi, Sindhi, Bengali, Oriya, Punjabi, Kashmiri. Therefore, it is a daughter of them all! I do not know if it was for this reason that someone has said that she is almost a “daughter of Marathi”, or if because she has not yet fully emerged from her mother's womb.

It would in fact be surprising if there were no similarities between the sister languages; they ​​would not be from the same family. But partial similarity does not necessarily explain derivation or affiliation. Much more is needed for that. English has many French and Latin words and phrases, and nobody till date has thought of including it among the Romance languages. A language that spreads over a vast area, by absorption, colonization or conquest, naturally and unwittingly produces regional changes that can be easily understood. With the passage of time, they move away further and further from the prototype, to the point of becoming unintelligible as a whole. They then change from mere dialects to languages in their own right. However, they never substantially lose their kinship with the mother language or with others of the same origin. They are like water flowing from the same source by different channels.

But it is one thing to be a sister and another to be a mother; what is good enough for the former is not good enough for the latter. Sisters are content with the broad strokes; a daughter demands that the mother give a reason for her existence.

In the first ardour of enthusiasm, produced by the discovery of Sanskrit by the Europeans, it was believed that the said language was the mother of Greek, Latin and others languages of Europe. But soon it was found that it did not satisfactorily explain the phonology and morphology of like languages, which had phonemes (short e and o) and more primitive forms. It was then acknowledged that only the elder sister had the key to the resolution of various linguistic problems. And it was concluded that there might be another language without historical monuments from which Sanskrit, Iranian, Greek, Latin, Celtic, etc. have derived. The existence of the Indo-European or Proto-Aryan is now an established and inescapable point, by the principle of causality.

I have no doubt that this is Greek to several of my enlightened countrymen. A Sanskrit scholar asked me how one might explain the opposition by the Hindus of Goa (whose progress has of late been praised) to the introduction of the Sanskrit chair at the Goa Lyceum, whereas they should have been more committed! I had to contend with regret that the real reason would be the fallacy or patravôll of the Marathi chair, and the opponents some kind of young Turks who try to jump, as they say in Konkani, over the herb plants: tsannyânchím jhâdám uddunk. For I have always regarded the Hindus as staid people, and I would not ascribe to them such foolishness.

(Published in Revista da Casa de Goa, Series II, No. 25, Nov-Dec 2023, pp. ___)

Konkani is not a dialect of Marathi - 2

Part 2 of "O concani não é dialecto do marata", by Mgr. Sebastião Rodolfo Dalgado, in Heraldo, Pangim, Goa, Year IX, No. 2570, 13 February 1917, p. 1)


‘Dialect’ is a rather vague and ambiguous word.  It is taken in several senses, the two most common being: tenuous grammatical and vocabulary variants of the same language within its area, derivation, usually immediate, from one idiom to another.

Every living language is subject to changes, big or small, in time and in space. Only dead languages are immutable. The greater the vitality and the wider the area of a language, the more the changes of one kind or another that it undergoes.

The lack of homogeneity and cohesion of a people, the climactic and physiological differences, the diversity of the social environment, the proximity of other languages are other factors of modification. Some call that corruption or degeneration, while others more appropriately call it evolution or expansion.

Literature can stereotype a particular form of speech and limit its spontaneity; but it cannot totally prevent its development.

So, it is precisely these phonetic and morphological, and sometimes syntactic and lexicological, variations that constitute dialects in a linguistic space. Their differences in time are known as "phases".

The Portuguese language is regarded as uniform throughout the continental territory. This does not preclude dialectal peculiarities of varying importance in different provinces or districts. Such particularities have been the object of scientific study in modern times, by philologists of the calibre of Dr José Leite de Vasconcelos.

The Konkani language too (so disparaged for this reason) has similar province and class related varieties. Bardez speech is not identical to that of Salcete, nor is the speech of Sawantwadi the same as that of Kanara.

If such a flaw is of major significance, as some philologists there take it to be, other more cultured languages are not exempt from it. Italian has more than twenty dialects, remarkably differentiated; French, at least fifteen, and modern Greek, more than seventy.

But then again, it is evident that such dialects do not destroy the unity of the language. They are like petals of the same flower, like leaves of the same branch. And hence, those who speak different dialects follow each other without any difficulty, when they converse, and they easily understand common literature. The opposite is true of languages and their literatures.

Now, since Cunha Rivara it has been repeated that it is easier for a Portuguese to understand a Castilian than for a Goan to understand a Maratha, and vice-versa. And nonetheless, there are still enlightened spirits in Goa who are not convinced of this palpable truth nor do they wish to do a check for themselves, which is easy to access. They are content – I am not sure if for erudition or for convenience – to rely on the opinions of various authors, not all of them recommended for competence in the matter. Some are foreigners, who have learnt Konkani superficially; others have lived in times when glottology and dialectology made little progress. And they were all were fascinated to note the analogies, but failed to justify the discrepancies.

I can say from experience that I could more easily understand Italian by its likeness to Portuguese than I could colloquial Marathi by its similarity to Konkani. On my first trip to Europe, on an Italian steamer, an Englishman had me as his interpreter to communicate with the cabin boys on board.

And my observation matches. There is no need to pile up supporting facts.

In Portugal there are no schools teaching Castilian nor is Portuguese taught in Spain, as they consider it pointless. The Portuguese read Spanish literature as easily as the Spaniards read Portuguese literature. Among the not many books that a parish priest of Perném had, I saw one of sermons in Spanish, of which he had neither a grammar nor a dictionary. And it was not for show that he had the book.

It would indeed be interesting to know how many of the Christians who attended the Marathi school at our lyceum and graduated would be able to communicate easily in Marathi and translate books without undue aid of a dictionary. And how many of those who praise the vastness and the amenity of its literature are delighted to read it regularly?

All this is clear as daylight, and needs no further demonstration. In any other place this would suffice to establish in principle that Konkani is not a dialect of Marathi, in the sense of its slightly divergent form. But what would be incontestable truth to others, in Goa quite unsurprisingly finds astute opponents, who by hocus-pocus seek to prove that white is black.

It is not without reason that Tavernier wrote in 1676 (Voyages, 1712 edition, III, p. 159): "As for trials, they never come to an end; they are handled by the canarins, natives of the country who practice the professions of solicitors and procurators, and there are no people in the world more cunning and subtle."

Similarly, a very meticulous judge of the Supreme Court told me, not many months ago, that libels from India, besides being longwinded and confused, were not much commended for legal erudition but rather abounded in petty objections and twists to muddle up the truth and obfuscate the law. What the cradle bestows only the tomb takes away.

There are yet those who even grudge Konkani the status of a dialect, calling it simply a "corruption of Marathi". But what is not corrupt, in some sense or other? We ourselves have been corrupt since our first parents’ prevarication. Omnis caro corruperat viam suam, says the Scripture about the antediluvian people. And that we did not get any better after the catastrophe is indicated by events unfolding before our eyes.

If by corruption is meant deviation from the original type, Portuguese, French and Italian are corruptions of colloquial Latin, just as Latin, Greek and Gothic are corruptions of the Proto-Aryan. Gujarati, Hindi and Bengali are corruptions of Sanskrit, or, strictly speaking, of archaic Prakrit languages, just as Sanskrit and Iranian are corruptions of the Indo-European language, which in turn would be a corruption of some other idiom. Corruption of languages is coeval with, if not earlier to, the tower of Babel. However, what to laypersons in the matter appears to be corruption, to those who know is actually evolution.

Of course, Marathi is an exception, for apparently it is in a class apart among the languages of India and the world. A native philologist regarded her as a "beloved daughter of Sanskrit" as though he had witnessed her mother’s caresses; some other decrees her to be Goa’s “national” language, as though this territory were a nation or now under Bhosale rule. Another raises it to the status of a vernacular language – of “our language”, to the Goans! But by what name is Konkani known in the country’s speech? one may ask a child. Certainly not Konkanni bháx, for to the Christians konknnó means “gentile”, and konknni bháx would mean “language of the gentiles”.

And when the Hindu litigant says, ‘Aga Sinhor Dijembargador tó artig âmkam duvârún am’che bhâxent sáng ga’ – which language is he referring to?

Nor is there lack of those who think that Marathi, by its own resources, can express all abstract ideas – a phenomenon that no other living language of India or of Europe can boast of. And I, in my indigence, would give one hundred rupees as a prize to whoever showed me some ten pages of a book of science or of high literature written exclusively using Marathi words – dexajas.

Konkani is not a dialect of Marathi - 1

Part 1 of "O concani não é dialecto do marata", by Mgr. Sebastião Rodolfo Dalgado, in Heraldo, Pangim, Goa, No. 2570, 13 February 2017. Translated from the Portuguese by Óscar de Noronha.

It is not a “Byzantine general’s problem”, as it might appear at first glance, to check whether Konkani is a language or a dialect. For it does matter if Portuguese be a mere modality of Castilian or an autonomous language. Being a mother or a sister is not the same, whether in sociology or in philology, just as it is not the same whether Portuguese be a daughter or a sister of French or of Russian.

It is a subject of capital importance both scientific and practical. A daughter carries on her mother’s existence in law, is entitled to her assets and is sure to resemble her in essential and characteristic features. It is in relation to her mother that she may be considered an improvement or a deterioration, more pure or less pure. Evidently, it is not so with her sister.

All glottologists acknowledge that it has been of utmost value to ascertain that Sanskrit is not the trunk but only a branch of the Indo-European family. Max Muller (Science of Language, 1890, I. p. 194) states: “It was exactly this necessity of determining distinctly and accurately the mutual relation of Sanskrit and the other members of the same family of speech, which led to such important results, and particularly to the establishment of the laws of phonetic change as the only safe means for measuring the various degrees of relationship of cognate dialects, and thus restoring the genealogical tree of human speech.”

For some time now, much has been magisterially written to the discredit of the ill-fated Konkani language; she has been cannily smeared with such dark colours, and exposed to public scorn as being such a horrendous monster, that I believe it opportune to know, clearly and without gimmicks, if she really deserves such treatment.

It is true that the subject has already been dealt with, quite exhaustively, by competent people, especially Dr Gerson da Cunha (The Konkani Language and Literature) and Ramachandra Gunjicar (Sarasvati mandala).

But, from the looks of it, they have not been read or duly studied by many who repeat what they have said about Konkani. Or else, we would not hear so much nonsense laced with disconcerting remarks.

It is also our generally accepted policy that money spent on the purchase of books is a waste. And with regard to Konkani, almost all Goans possess a magical mastery given that they have learned to babble it away on their mother’s lap! If some admit that they fall short, yet argue and come up with far-fetched doctrines, they do so out of false humility.

I do not propose to treat the matter at great length; it would take much time and space. I will gather what others have put forth and indicate the main topics leading to further research by a person well-meaning and eager to learn, that rara avis, if there is any.

(First published in Revista da Casa de Goa, Lisbon, Series II, No. 24, Sep-Oct 2023, p. 15)