(Last Updated on : 14/11/2014)
Marathi is an Indo Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people of western India (Maharshtrians). It serves as the official language of the state of Maharashtra, with roughly ninety million fluent speakers worldwide. Marathi ranks 4th in India with respect to the number of people who claim it as their primary language. Along with Bengali, Marathi is the oldest of the regional literatures in Indo-Aryan languages, dating from about 1000 AD. Marathi is at least fifteen hundred years old, and derives its grammar and syntax from Pali and Prakrit. The Marathi language was earlier known as Maharashtri, Maharathi, Malhatee or Marthi in ancient times. Some of the peculiar features of Marathi linguistic culture include Marathi drama, with its unique style of 'Sangeet Natak', scholarly discourses called 'Vasant Vyakhyanmala', Marathi folk dance called 'Lavani
', and special editions of magazines for Diwali called 'Diwali anka'.
Marathi is primarily spoken in Maharashtra and, to a lesser extent, in the neighboring states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka
and Andhra Pradesh, union-territories of Daman-diu and Dadra Nagar Haveli. The cities of Baroda and Ahmedabad
, Belgaum, Hubli, Dharwad and Bidar in Karnataka, Indore and Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh
have a sizable number of Marathi speaking communities. Marathi is also spoken by Maharashtrian emigrants in USA and Europe. The Ethnologue states that Marathi is even spoken in Israel and Mauritius.
Marathi serves as an official language of Indian state of Maharashtra. The State of Goa also recognizes Marathi as an official language, in addition to Konkani
. The Constitution of India recognizes Marathi as one of India's twenty-two official languages. In addition to universities in Maharashtra, universities at Baroda (Gujarat), Osmania (Andhra Pradesh), and Panjim (Goa) all have special departments for higher studies in Marathi linguistics.
Marathi started on its own quite early, but literary began only in 13AD. Marathi can be traced back far beyond the 10th century. It descends from Sanskrit through Pali, Maharashtri and Maharashtra Apabhramsa. Maharashtri Prakrit was most popular amongst Prakrit languages and widely spoken in western and southern India. Today's Marathi and Kannada speaking parts were speaking Maharashtri from centuries. A gradual process of change and modification in the spoken language has led to the rise of the present Marathi.
Dialects of Marathi language
The major dialect divisions have been:
Ahirani is spoken in the west Khandesh, North Maharashtara region. Ahirani is a language today spoken in the Jalgaon, Nandurbar, Dhule and Nashik (Baglan, Malegaon and Kalwan tehsils) districts of Maharashtra, India. It is further divided into languages, such as Chalisgaon, Malegaon and Dhule group. Borrowing & bending the words from Hindi and Gujarati, Ahirani has created its own words which are never found in these languages. Ahirani is a colloquial form and uses the Devnagari script for its writing. Though it is the written form of devnagari but it is very difficult to write rather than to speak.
Khandeshi is spoken in East Khandesh specifically in Yawal and Raver Talukas. Khandeshi is also called as Tawadi which is specifically spoken by Leva Patils dominant cast of east Khandesh. Bahinabai Chaudhari is well known poet in Khandeshi, the study of her literature is studied and included in Marathi language. It is often misquoted that Bahinabai is an ahirani poet.
Although the constitution of India and Sahitya Academi considers Konkani as one of the 21 official languages, in Maharashtra Konkani is considered a dialect of Marathi. The Britannica Encyclopedia 1911 reported Konkani as only one real dialect of Marathi. Maharashtrians and Konkanis in Goa have had bitter fights over the official language issue. The Marathi-Konkani feud and inclusion of Konkani in scheduled languages was mostly because of political reasons and status as Konkani as a separate language is disputed. The claims of Dnyaneshwari being in Konkani and Marathi itself being a dialect of Konkani have not been proved. Marathi linguists and Maharashtrians in Goa and Maharashtra consider Konkani as a boli (dialect) of Marathi. Most Konkani people in Maharashtra speak and write fluent Marathi.
This language may not be named though, but was primarily spoken by Wadvals which essentially means agricultural plot owners, of the Naigaon, Vasai region . This language is preserved by Roman Catholics native to this region and is also spoken by the Hindus. But due to external influence ordinary Marathi is now more popular among the Hindus.
Samavedi is spoken in the interiors of Nala Sopara and Virar region to the north of Mumbai in the Vasai Taluka, Thane District of Maharashtra. The name of this language correctly suggests that its origins lie with the Samavedi Brahmins native to this region. Again this language too finds more speakers among the Roman Catholic converts native to this region who are known as East Indians. This language is very different from the other Marathi languages spoken in other regions of Maharashtra, but resembles Wadvali very closely. Both Wadvali and Samavedi have relatively higher proportion of words borrowed from Portuguese as compared to ordinary Marathi, because of direct influence of the Portuguese who colonized this region till 1739.
Thanjavur Marathi & Namdev Marathi
Thanjavur and Namdev Marathi is spoken by many Southern Indians. This language has evolved from the time of occupation of the Marathas in the Thanjavur in southern Tamil Nadu. It has speakers in parts of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
Dangii (spoken near the Maharashtra-Gujarat border)
Judaeo-Marathi (spoken by the Bene Israel Jews)
Malvani (spoken in southern Konkan near Malvan)
Kadodii (spoken near Vasai)
Other languages having considerable Marathi influence
Dakhini and Hyderabadi Urdu spoken in Hyderabad and some parts of Deccan are considerably influenced by Marathi. The grammar of Hyderabadi Urdu is loaned from Marathi. In fact, it is also called a creole between Marathi and Urdu with some Telugu loan words.
Kannada: especially the northern Karnataka Kannada has been heavily influenced by Marathi.e.g The feature of aspiration quite non-native to any Dravidian language is found in norhtern Kannada.Also loan kinship terms like vahini(brother's wife)etc are also borrowed from Marathi.