Marathi language

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Marathi (Template:Lang Template:Unicode Template:IPA-mr) is a southern Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people. It is the official language of Maharashtra and Goa and is one of the 23 official languages of India. It is the 19th most spoken language in the world. There were 72 million speakers in 2001. Marathi has the fourth largest number of native speakers in India<ref>Abstract of Language Strength in India: 2001 Census</ref><ref name="encarta">Template:Cite encyclopedia</ref> Marathi has some of the oldest literature of all modern Indo-European, Indic languages, dating from about 1000 AD.<ref>arts, South Asian." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2007 Ultimate Reference Suite.</ref> The major dialects of Marathi are called Standard Marathi and Warhadi Marathi.<ref name=kas>Template:Cite journal</ref> There are a few other sub-dialects like Ahirani, Dangi, Vadvali, Samavedi, Khandeshi, and Malwani. Standard Marathi is the official language of the State of Maharashtra.


Geographic distribution

File:India Maharashtra locator map.svg
Maharashtra, the state in India where the majority of Marathi speakers live.

Marathi is primarily spoken in Maharashtra and parts of neighbouring states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Chattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, union-territories of Daman-diu and Dadra Nagar Haveli. The cities of Baroda, Surat, and Ahmedabad (Gujrat), Belgaum (Karnataka), Indore, Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh), Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh) and Tanjore (Tamil Nadu) each have sizable Marathi-speaking communities. Marathi is also spoken by Maharashtrian emigrants worldwide, especially in the United States, Israel, Mauritius, and Canada.<ref name="eth">Ethnologue report of Marathi language</ref>

Official status

Marathi is an official language of Maharashtra and co-official language in the union territories of Daman and Diu<ref name="goa">The Goa, Daman and Diu Official Language Act, 1987 makes Konkani the sole official language, but provides that Marathi may also be used for "for all or any of the official purposes". The Government also has a policy of replying in Marathi to correspondence received in Marathi. Commissioner Linguistic Minorities, 42nd report: July 2003 - June 2004, pp. para 11.3</ref> and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.<ref name="dadra">Marathi is an official language of Dadra and Nagar Haveli Administration's profile.</ref> In Goa, Konkani is the sole official language; however, Marathi may also be used for all official purposes. The Constitution of India recognizes Marathi as one of India's twenty-two official languages.<ref>Official Languages Resolution, 1968, para.2</ref>

In addition to all universities in Maharashtra, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (Gujarat),<ref>Dept. of Marathi, M.S. University of Baroda</ref> Osmania University (Andhra Pradesh),<ref>Dept. of Marathi, Osmania University, Hyderabad</ref> Gulbarga university (Karnataka),<ref>Dept. of Marathi, Gulbarga University</ref> Devi Ahilya University of Indore<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> and Goa University (Panaji)<ref>Dept.of Marathi, Goa University</ref> all have special departments for higher studies in Marathi linguistics. Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi) has announced plans to establish a special department for Marathi.<ref>Jawaharlal Nehru University</ref>



The Prakrit vernacular languages, including Maharashtri Prakrit, were originally derived from Sanskrit.Template:Citation needed Further change led to apabhraṃśa languages like Marathi, which may be described as being a re-Sanskritised, developed form of Maharashtri Apabhraṃśa. The more recent influence of Persian, Arabic or Urdu has also made this language seem close to mainstream Hindi.Template:Citation needed

Maharashtri Prakrit was commonly spoken until 875Template:SpaceCE (875Template:SpaceAD) and was the official language of the Sātavāhana empire. It had risen to a high literary level, and works like Karpurmanjari and Saptashati (150Template:SpaceBCE) were written in it. Maharashtri Prakrit was the most widely used Prakrit language in western and southern India.

Maharashtri Apabhraṃśa remained in use for several hundred years until at least 500Template:SpaceCE (500Template:SpaceAD). Apabhraṃśa was used widely in Jain literature and formed an important link in the evolution of Marathi. This form of Apabhraṃśa was re-Sanskritised and eventually became Marathi.

According to the written forms and historical attestations and evidences, Marathi is said to date to the 8th century.<ref name="ucla">Khodade, 2004</ref>

Pre-13th century

Earliest forms

The first written attestation of Marathi, a document found in Maharastra, dates from 1012Template:SpaceCE.

The stone inscription at Akshi Taluka Alibaug District Raigad is the first clearly dated stone inscription. The brief description is as follows. गी सुष संतु | स्वस्ति ओ | पसीमस- मुद्रधिपति | स्री कोंकणा चक्री- वर्ती |स्री केसिदेवराय | महाप्रधा- न भइर्जू सेणुई तसीमीनी काले प्रव्रतमने | सकू संवतु : ९३४ प्रधा- वी संवसरे: अधीकु दीवे सुक्रे बौ- लु | भइर्जूवे तथा बोडणा तथा नऊ कुवली अधोर्यु प्रधानु | महलशु - मीची वआण | लुनया कचली ज It can be transliterated as : gee susha santu |swasti om |pasimasa - mudrdhipati | sri konkana chakri - varti | sri kesidevray |mahapradha - na bhairjoo senui taseemeeni kale pravratamane saku sanvatu :934 pradha- vi savsare : adhiku deeve sukre bau - lu | bhairjoove tatha bodana tatha nau kunvali ardhoyu pradhanu |mahalashu - meechee waaan | lunaya kachlee ja<ref name="prachin">Template:Cite book</ref>

Also, an interesting couplet is found in the monk Udyotansuri's Kuvalayamala in the 8th century, referring to a bazaar where the Marhattes speak Didhale (Dile - given), Gahille (Ghetale - taken). The Marathi translation of the Panchatantra is also considered very old.<ref name="kolarkar">Marathyancha Itihaas by Dr. Kolarkar (pg.3)</ref>

It is because the language was spoken so widely that the deeds of charitable gifts like the one at Patan recording the maintenance grants given by King Soidev to Changdev's University and the imperial mandates expected to be obeyed by all, like the Edict of King Aparaditya (1183), were inscribed in Marathi. The Pandharpur inscription (1273) of the days of Raja Shiromani Ramdev Rao is in flawless Marathi. Marathi was now spoken by all classes and castes.

12th century to 1905


Marathi literature began and grew thanks to the rise of both the Yadava dynasty of Devgiri (who adopted Marathi as the court language and patronized Marathi scholars) and two religious sects - Mahanubhav Panth and Warkari Panth, who adopted Marathi as the medium for preaching their doctrines of devotion. Marathi had attained a venerable place in court life by the time of the Yadava kings. During the reign of the last three Yadava kings, a great deal of literature in verse and prose, on astrology, medicine, Puranas, Vedanta, kings and courtiers were created. Nalopakhyan, Rukmini swayamvar and Shripati's Jyotishratnamala (1039Template:SpaceCE) are a few examples.

The oldest book in prose form in Marathi, Vivekasindhu (Template:Lang), was written by Mukundaraj, a yogi of Natha Pantha and arch-poet of Marathi. Mukundaraj bases his exposition of the basic tenets of the Hindu philosophy and Yoga Marga on the utterances or teachings of Shankaracharya. Mukundaraj's other work, Paramamrita, is considered the first systematic attempt to explain the Vedanta in the Marathi language. One of the famous saints of this period is Sant Dnyaneshwar (1275–1296) who wrote Bhavarthadeepika, popularly known as Dnyaneshwari (1290),<ref>Dnyaneshwari</ref> and Amritanubhava. He also composed devotional songs called abhangas. Dnyaneshwar gave a higher status to Marathi by bringing the sacred Bhagavad Gita from Sanskrit to Marathi.

Mahanubhav sect

Notable examples of Marathi prose are "Template:IAST" (Template:Lang), events and anecdotes from the miracle filled life of Chakradhar Swami of the Mahanubhav sect compiled by his close disciple, Mahimabhatta, in 1238. The Mahanubhav sect made Marathi a vehicle for the propagation of religion and culture.

Warkari sect

Template:Peacock The Mahanubhav sect was followed by the Warkari saint-poet Eknath (1528–1599). Eknath's Bhavarth Ramayana brought the message of the Bhagvat cultTemplate:Clarify to the people. Mukteswar translated the epic Mahabharata into Marathi. Social reformers like saint-poet Tukaram transformed Marathi into a rich literary language. Saint Tukaram’s (1608–49) poetry contained his inspirations. He was a radical reformer. Tukaram wrote over 3000 Abhangas. He was followed by Ramadas. Writers of the Mahanubhav sect contributed to Marathi prose while the saint-poets of Warkari sect composed Marathi poetry. However, the latter group is regarded as the pioneers and founders of Marathi literature. Jainism too enriched Marathi during Bahamani period. See essay on "Marathi keertan" for "Varkari keertan"which is different for of devotion and mass education thru a stage performing act, which is basically glorification of god and heavenly personalities.

Modern period

Since 1630, Marathi regained prominence with the rise of the Maratha empire beginning with the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji (1627–1680). Subsequent rulers extended the empire northwards to Delhi, eastwards to Orissa, and southwards to Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. These excursions by the Marathas helped to spread Marathi over broader geographical regions. This period also saw the use of Marathi in transactions involving land and other business. Documents from this period, therefore, give a better picture of life of common people - who spoke the language - than the documents in Persian which was used previously but understood only by the elites of the Islamic rulers. At the time, Saint Tukaram made important contributions to Marathi poetic literature in Warkari Pantha. Saints like Samartha Ramdas (Dasboth), Sant Namdev (his marathi couplets were even taken to Punjab), Moropant (creator of 'Aryas") and many others created famous literary works in Marathi. There are lot of Bakharis written in Marathi and Modi lipi (shorthand marathi) from this period. But by the late 18th century, the Maratha Empire's influence over a large part of the country was on the decline.

18th century

In the 18th century, some well-known works such as Yatharthadeepika by Vaman Pandit, Naladamayanti Swayamvara by Raghunath Pandit, Pandava Pratap, Harivijay, Ramvijay by Shridhar Pandit and Mahabharata by Moropanta were produced. Krishnadayarnava and Sridhar were poets during the Peshwa period. New literary forms were successfully experimented with during the period and classical styles were revived, especially the Mahakavya and Prabandha forms.

After 1800 to 20th century

The British colonial period (also known as the Modern Period) saw standardization of Marathi grammar through the efforts of the Christian missionary William Carey. Christian missionaries played an important role in the production of scientific dictionaries and grammars.

The late 19th century in Maharashtra was a period of colonial modernity. Like the corresponding periods in other Indian languages, this was the period dominated by English-educated intellectuals. It was the age of English prose, reformist activism and a great intellectual ferment.

The first Marathi translation of an English book was published in 1817, and the first Marathi newspaper was started in 1835. Newspapers provided a platform for sharing literary views, and many books on social reforms were written. The Marathi language flourished as Marathi drama gained popularity. Musicals known as Sangeet Natak also evolved. Keshavasut, the father of modern Marathi poetry published his first poem in 1885. First Marathi periodical Dirghadarshan was started in 1840 while first Marathi newspaper Durpan was started by Balshastri Jambhekar in 1832.

A few popular Marathi language newspapers at a newsstand in Mumbai, 2006

The first half of 20th century was marked by new enthusiasm in literary pursuits, and socio-political activism helped achieve major milestones in Marathi literature, drama, music and film. Modern Marathi prose flourished through various new literary forms like the essay, the biographies, the novels, prose, drama etc. Chiplunkar's Nibandhmala (essays), N.C.Kelkar's biographical writings, novels of Hari Narayan Apte, Narayan Sitaram Phadke and V. S. Khandekar, and plays of Mama Varerkar and Kirloskar's are particularly worth noting. Similarly Khandekar's Yayati which has won for him, the Jnanpith Award is a very noteworthy novel. Vijay Tendulkar's plays in Marathi have earned him a reputation beyond Maharashtra. P.L.Deshpande(PuLa), P.K.Atre & Prabodhankar Thakrey, were also known for their writings in Marathi in the field of Drama, Samaj Prabodhan. After Indian independence, Marathi was accorded the status of a scheduled language on the national level.

By May 1, 1960, Maharashtra emerged re-organised on linguistic lines adding Vidarbha and Marathwada region in its fold and bringing major chunks of Marathi population socio-politically together. With state and cultural protection, Marathi made great strides by the 1990s.

A literary event called Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan (All-India Marathi Literature Meet) is held every year. In addition, the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Natya Sammelan (All-India Marathi Theatre Meet) is also held annually. Both events are very popular amongst Maharashtrians.


Standard Marathi is based on dialects used by academics and the print media.

Indic scholars distinguish 42 dialects of spoken Marathi. Dialects bordering other major language areas have many properties in common with those languages, further differentiating them from standard spoken Marathi. The bulk of the variation within these dialects is primarily lexical and phonological (e.g. accent placement and pronunciation). Although the number of dialects is considerable, the degree of intelligibility within these dialects is relatively high.<ref name="ucla" /> Historically, the major dialect divisions have been Ahirani, Khandeshi, Varhadi, Zadi Boli, Vadvali, Samavedi and Are Marathi.

Jhadi Boli

Jhadi Boli or Jhadiboli is spoken in Jhadipranta (Forest rich region) of far eastern Maharashtra or eastern Vidarbha or western-central Gondvana comprising Gondia, Bhandara, Chandrpur, Gadchiroli and some parts of Nagpur and Wardha districts of Maharashtra.

Zadi Boli Sahitya Mandal and many literary are working for the conservation of this important and distinct dialect of Marathi.


Varhadi, Varhādi or Vaidarbhi is spoken in the Western Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. In Marathi, the retroflex lateral approximant Template:Unicode Template:IPAblink is common, while in the Varhadii dialect, it corresponds to the palatal approximant y (IPA: [j]), making this dialect quite distinct. Such phonetic shifts are common in spoken Marathi, and as such, the spoken dialects vary from one region of Maharashtra to another.


Ahirani is spoken in the west Khandesh North Maharashtra region.

Ahirani is a language today spoken in the western and southern parts of Jalgaon (Chalisgaon, Bhadgaon, Pachora, Erandol, Dharangaon, Parole, Amalner, Chopada talukas), Nandurbar (Shahada, Maharashtra, Taloda, Navapur), Dhule (Shirpur, Shindkheda, Sakri)and eastern Nashik (Baglan (Satana), Malegaon, Deola and Kalwan talukas) districts of Maharashtra. This dialect has a considerable influence of Gujrati and Hindi, the languages spoken in the neighouring states Gujrat and Madhya Pradesh.


Khandesh was an old district of Bombay presidency. Later it was divided into East and West Khandesh. East Khandesh is now known as Jalgaon District and West Khandesh is now known as Dhule district. Ahirani was the languages of Ahir's who lived in Khandesh.

Khandeshi has social and territorial dailects. Taptayngi, Varlyangi, Khallyangi, Baglani, Nandurbari, Ghatoi, Dhakani, Jamneri are territorial dailects of Khandeshi. Ahirani, Bhilli, Rajputi, Pardeshi, Ladsikkiwani, Tavadi, Levapatidari and Gujari are social dailects of Khandeshi.

Konkani Template:Anchor

Template:Main Template:Distinguish Konkani refers to the collection of dialects of Marathi language spoken in the Konkan region. It is often mistakenly extended to cover Goan Konkani which is an independent language. George Abraham Grierson has referred to this dialect as the Konkan Standard of Marathi in order to differentiate it from Konkani language.<ref>Konkani Detailed Description — </ref> The sub-dialects of Konkani gradually merge from standard Marathi into Goan Konkani from north to south Konkan. The various sub dialects are: Parabhi, Koli, Kiristanv, Kunbi, Agari, Dhangari, Thakri, Karadhi, and Maoli.<ref>Konkani Detailed Description — </ref> These sub-dialects are together considered by the ISO to be a separate language and is assigned the ISO 639-3 code knn.<ref>Ethnologue report - Maharashtrian Konkani</ref>


Template:Main Vadvali or Phudagi was primarily spoken by Vadvals, which basically means agricultural plot owners, of the Naigaon, Vasai to Dahanu region. Somavamshi Kshatriyas speak this dialect. This language is preserved mostly by the Roman Catholics native to this region, since they are a closely knit community here and have very few relatives outside this region. It was also widely spoken among the Hindus native to this region, but due to external influences, ordinary Marathi is now more popular among the Hindus. There are many songs in this language. Recently a book was published by Nutan Patil containing around 70 songs. The songs are about marriage, pachvi etc. The dialect of the Kolis (fisherfolk) of Vasai and neighbouring Mumbai resembles this dialect closely, though they speak with a heavier accent. There is a village in Vasai called Chulna, which was predominantly Roman Catholic (now cosmopolitan).

The striking feature of the dialect here contrasting it with Vadvali, is the preference of pronouncing the thinner 'l' and 'n' ('ल' and 'न') instead of the thicker 'l' and 'n' ('ळ' and 'ण'), which is retained even in the current generation of speakers even for conversing normal Marathi.


Template:Main Samavedi or Kadodi is spoken in the interiors of the Nala Sopara and Virar regions to the north of Mumbai in the Vasai TalukaUran panvel, Thane District of Maharashtra. The name of this language correctly suggests that its origins lie with the SamavediTemplate:Clarify Brahmins native to this region. This language, too, finds more speakers among the Roman Catholic converts native to the region (who are known as East Indians), but nevertheless is popular among the Samavedi Brahmins. This dialect is very different from the other Marathi dialects spoken in other regions of Maharashtra, but resembles Vadvali very closely. Both Vadvali and Samavedi have relatively high proportions of words imported from Portuguese as compared to ordinary Marathi, because of direct influence of the Portuguese who colonized this region till 1739.

Southern Indian Marathi

Thanjavur Marathi, Namdev shimpi Marathi and Bhavsar Marathi are spoken by many Maharashtrians in Southern India. This dialect is stuck in the 17th century and is old Marathi - it did not change from the time the Marathas conquered Thanjavur and Bangalore in southern India, till date. It has speakers in parts of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.


Template:Main Malvani is creole between Marathi and konkani. Though Malvani does not have a unique script, scripts of the other languages native to the regions its speakers inhabit are used. Devanagari is used by most of the speakers. Malvani is very popular language used for newspaper articles and dramas. Most of the people of Sindhudurg district speak Malvani.


Other dialects of Marathi include Warli of Thane District, Dakshini (Marathwada), Deshi (Eastern Konkan Ghats), Deccan, Nagpuri, Ikrani and Gowlan.



The phoneme inventory of Marathi is similar to that of many other Indo-Aryan languages, especially that of the Konkani language. An IPA chart of all contrastive sounds in Marathi is provided below.

Consonants<ref>Colin Masica, 1993, The Indo-Aryan Languages</ref>
  Labial Dental Alveolar Retroflex Alveopalatal Velar Glottal
Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA
Nasals Template:IPA
Liquids Template:IPA
Template:IPA Template:IPA
Template:IPA Template:IPA
Template:IPA Template:IPA

Older aspirated Template:IPA have lost their onset, with Template:IPA merging with Template:IPA and Template:IPA being typically realized as an aspirated fricative, Template:IPA. This Template:IPA series is not distinguished in writing from Template:IPA.

  Front Central Back
High Template:IPA   Template:IPA
Mid Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA
Low   Template:IPA  

There are two more vowels in Marathi to denote the pronunciations of English words such as of a in act and a in all. These are written as Template:Lang and Template:Lang. The IPA signs for these are Template:IPA and Template:IPA, respectively. Marathi retains the original Sanskrit pronunciations of certain alphabets such as the anusvāra (for instance, saṃhar, compared to sanhar in Hindi). Moreover, Marathi preserves certain Sanskrit patterns of pronunciation, as in the words purṇa and rāma compared to purṇ and rām in Hindi.


File:Verse in Modi script.svg
Modi script was used to write Marathi


Written Marathi first appeared during the 11th century in the form of inscriptions on stones and copper plates. The Marathi Devanagari alphabet are similar to the Hindi Devanagari alphabet. From the 13th century until the mid-20th century, Marathi was written in the Modi script. Since 1950 it has been written in Devanagari.<ref name="omni">Marathi language, alphabet and pronunciation</ref>


Marathi is usually written in the Devanagari script, an abugida consisting of 36 consonant letters and 16 initial-vowel letters. It is written from left to right. The Devanagari alphabet used to write Marathi is slightly different than the Devanagari alphabets of Hindi and other languages: there are a couple additional letters in the Marathi alphabet, and Western punctuation is used. This Marathi Devanagari alphabet is called Balbodh (Template:Lang).


From the thirteenth century until 1950, Marathi was written in Modi script — a cursive script designed for minimising the lifting of pen from paper while writing.<ref>Modi lipi</ref> Currently, due to the availability of Modi fonts and the enthusiasm of the younger speakers, the script is far from disappearing. (See Reference Links).


Since Devanagri is difficult to type on Latin keyboards and Devanagri not displaying properly on old computers without the proper fonts, the general public usually types Marathi in Latin on social networking sites like Facebook and in online chats. Since this is a new trend there is no standardisation of phonetic and spelling rules.

त्याचे - tyache - "his" प्रस्ताव - prastaw - "proposal" विद्या - vidya - "knowledge" म्यान - myan "Sword Cover" त्वरा - twara "immediate/Quick" महत्त्व - mahatwa - "importance" फक्त - fakta - "only" बाहुल्या - baahulya - "dolls"

Consonant clusters

In Marathi, the consonants by default come with a schwa. Therefore, Template:Lang will be 'təyāche', not 'tyāche'. To form 'tyāche', you will have to add Template:Lang + Template:Lang, giving Template:Lang.

When two or more consecutive consonants are followed by a vowel then a jodakshar (consonant cluster) is formed. Some examples of consonant clusters are shown below:

Marathi has a few consonant clusters that are rarely seen in the world's languages, including the so-called "nasal aspirates" (Template:Unicode, nh, and mh) and liquid aspirates (rh, Template:Unicode, lh, and vh). Some examples are given below.



File:Rajya Marathi sanstha.PNG
Rajya Marathi Vikas Sanstha was established by Government of Maharashtra

Marathi grammar shares similarities with other modern Indo-Aryan languages such as Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, etc. The first modern book exclusively concerning Marathi Grammar was printed in 1805 by William Carey.<ref>Maharashtra times article</ref> Sanskrit Grammar used to be referred more till late stages of Marathi Language.Template:Citation needed

The contemporary grammatical rules described by Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad and endorsed by the Government of Maharashtra are supposed to take precedence in standard written Marathi. Traditions of Marathi Linguistics and the above mentioned rules give special status to 'Tatsam' (Without Change) words adapted from the Sanskrit language. This special status expects the rules for 'Tatsam' words to be followed as in Sanskrit grammar. While this supports Marathi Language with a larger treasure of Sanskrit words to cope with demands of new technical words whenever needed; maintains influence over Marathi.Template:Clarify

The primary word order of Marathi is SOV (subject–object–verb)<ref></ref> An unusual feature of Marathi, as compared to other Indo-European languages, is that it displays the inclusive and exclusive we feature, common to the Austronesian languages, Dravidian languages, Rajasthani, and Gujarati.

Unlike its related languages, Marathi preserves all three grammatical genders (Linga) from Sanskrit, masculine, feminine and neuter. Marathi contains three grammatical voices (prayog) i.e. Kartari, Karmani and Bhave. Detailed analysis of grammatical aspects of Marathi language are covered in Marathi grammar.

Marathi organisations

Many government and semi-government organisations exist which work for the regulation, promotion and enrichment of the Marathi language. These are either initiated or funded by Government of Maharashtra. Few Marathi organisations are given below:<ref>Encyclopaedia of Indian literature Volume I, Published by Sahitya Akademi ISBN 81-260-1803-8</ref>

Outside Maharashtra state

  • Gomantak Marathi academy
  • Madhya Pradesh Sahitya Parishad, Jabalpur
  • Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Paraishad, Hyderabad
  • Marathi Sahitya Parishad, Karnataka
  • Gomantak Sahitya Sewak Mandal, Goa
  • Vadodara (Badode Sansthan-Gaikwad State), Gujarat Rajya, Bharat

{Fifty per cent of citizens of Vadodara speak fluent Marathi due to Sir Sayajirao Gaikwad's Marathi Medium School.}


Sharing of linguistic resources with other languages

File:Marathi sign board.JPG
Marathi neon signboard at Maharashtra Police headquarters in Mumbai

Over a period of many centuries the Marathi language and people came into contact with many other languages and dialects. The primary influence of Prakrit, Maharashtri, Apabhraṃśa and Sanskrit is understandable. At least 50% of the words in Marathi are either taken or derived from Sanskrit.

Marathi has also shared directions, vocabulary and grammar with languages such as Indian Dravidian languages, and a few foreign languages like Persian, Arabic, English and a little from Portuguese.

While recent genome studies suggest some amount of political and trade relations between the Indian subcontinent and East Africa, Middle East, Central Asia over a millennium, these studies are still not conclusive about the exact effect on linguistics.

Morphology and etymology

Day-to-day spoken Marathi retains a noticeably higher number of Sanskrit-derived (tatsam) words compared to sister North-Indian languages like Hindi, and many of these words are more or less unchanged versions of their original Sanskrit counterparts. Examples of such words used more or less daily by Marathi speakers include nantar (from nantaram or after), Template:IAST (Template:IAST or complete, full, or full measure of something), ola (olam or damp), Template:IAST (Template:IAST or cause), puṣkaḷ (puṣkalam or much, many), satat (satatam or always), vichitra (vichitram or strange), svatah (svatah or himself/herself), prayatna (prayatnam or effort, attempt), bhīti (from bhīti, or fear) and Template:Unicode (Template:Unicode or vessel for cooking or storing food). Others such as dār (dwāram or door), ghar (gṛham or house), vāgh (vyāghram or tiger), paḷaṇe (palāyate or to run away), kiti (kati or how many) have undergone more modification.

Examples of words borrowed from other Indian and foreign languages include:

  • Adakitta "nutcracker" directly borrowed from Kannada
  • Begeen "early" directly borrowed from Kannada
  • Estek "estate" corrupted from English
  • Jaahiraat "advertisement" is derived from Arabic zaahiraat
  • Shiphaaras "recommendation" is derived from Persian sefaresh
  • Marjii "wish" is derived from Persian "marzi"
  • Hajeri Attendance from Hajiri Urdu

A lot of English words are commonly used in conversation, and are considered to be totally assimilated into the Marathi vocabulary. These include "pen" (native Marathi Template:Unicode), "shirt" (sadaraa).

Influence of foreign languages

Usage of punctuation marks was one of the major contributions to Indic script by foreign languages. Previously, due to Sanskritised poetry, textual punctuation requirements of many texts may have been less.Template:Citation needed

Forming complex words

Marathi uses many morphological processes to join words together, forming complex words. These processes are traditionally referred to as sandhi (from Sanskrit, "combination"). For example, ati + uttam gives the word atyuttam.

Another method of combining words is referred to as samaas (from Sanskrit, "margin"). There are no reliable rules to follow to make a samaas. When the second word starts with a consonant, a sandhi can not be formed, but a samaas can be formed. For example, miith-bhaakar ("salt-bread"), udyog-patii ("businessman"), Template:Unicode ("eight-hands", name of a Hindu goddess), and so on. There are different names given to each type of samaas.


Like many other languages, Marathi uses distinct names for the numbers 1 to 20 and each multiple of 10, and composite ones for those greater than 20.

As with other Indic languages, there are distinct names for the fractions Template:Frac, Template:Frac, and Template:Frac. They are paava, ardhaa, and Template:Unicode, respectively. For most fractions greater than 1, the prefixes savvaa-, Template:Unicode, Template:Unicode are used. There are special names for Template:Frac Template:Unicode and Template:Frac Template:Unicode.

The powers of ten are as follows:

  • 10: daha (Devanagari:दहा)
  • 100: shambhar (Devanagari:शंभर) (constructed with number prefix and "-she" suffix)
  • 1,000: hajaar (Devanagari:हजार/सहस्र) (or sahasra, a word close to the Sanskrit version)
  • 1,00,000: laakh/laksh (Devanagari:लाख/लक्ष)
  • 10,00,000: dasha-laksh (Dasha = 10) (Devanagari: दशलक्ष)
  • 1,00,00,000: koti (Devanagari:कोटी)
  • 10,00,00,000 :dasha-koti (Devanagari: दशकोटी)
  • 1,00,00,00,000: abja (Devanagari:अब्ज)
  • 10,00,00,00,000 : dasha-abja (Devanagari: दशअब्ज)
  • 10,00,00,00,00,000: kharva (Devanagari:खर्व)
  • 10,00,00,00,00,00,000: nikharva (Devanagari:निखर्व)
  • 1,00,00,00,00,00,00,000: Mahapadma (Padma)
  • 1,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,000: shanku (Shankh)
  • 1,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,000 Jaladhi (Samudra)
  • 1,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,000 Antya
  • 1,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,000 Madhya
  • 1,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,000: parardha (Devanagari:परार्ध)
Number power to 10 Marathi Number name
10^0 Eka
10^1 dahaa
10^2 Shambhar
10^3 Hajaar (Sahastra, Ayut)
10^4 Daha Hajaar (dash-sahastra, )
10^5 Lakh (laksha)
10^6 DahaLakh (Dash-Laksha)
10^7 Koti (Karod)
10^8 dash-koti
10^9 Abja (Arbud, Arab)
10^10 dash-Abja
10^11 Vrunda
10^12 Karva (Kharab)
10^13 Nikharva (Neel)
10^15 Mahapadma (padma)
10^17 Shanku (shankha)
10^19 jaladhi (samudra)
10^21 Antya
10^23 Madhya
10^25 paraardha

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A positive integer is read by breaking it up from the tens digit leftwards, into parts each containing two digits, the only exception being the hundreds place containing only one digit instead of two. For example, 1,234,567 is read as 12 laakh 34 hajaar 5 she 67.

Every two-digit number after 18 (11 to 18 are predefined) is read backwards. For example, 21 is read एक-वीस (1-twenty). Also, a two digit number that ends with a 9 is considered to be the next tens place minus one. For example, 29 is एकुणतीस/एकोणतीस (Thirty minus one). Two digit numbers used before hajaar, etc. are written in the same way.

Marathi on computers and the Internet

Shrilipi, Shivaji, kothare 2,4,6, KF-Kiran<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> and many more (about48) based on ASCII code were used prior to the introduction of Unicode standard for Devanagari script. Fonts (Tanka) in ASCII code are in vogue on PCs even today since most of the computers in use are working with English Keyboard. Even today a large number of printed publications of books, news papers and magazines are prepared using these ASCII based fonts. However, these fonts cannot be used on internet due to new restrictions.

Earlier Marathi suffered from weak support by computer operating systems and Internet services, as have other Indian languages. But recently, with the introduction of language localisation projects and new technologies, various software and Internet applications have been introduced. Various Marathi typing software is widely used and display interface packages are now available on Windows, Linux and Mac OS. Many Marathi websites, including Marathi newspapers, have become popular especially with Maharashtrians outside India. Online projects such as the Marathi language Wikipedia, with 36,000+ articles, the Marathi blogroll and Marathi blogs have gained immense popularity.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

See also





  • A Survey of Marathi Dialects. VIII. Gāwḍi, A.M.Ghatage & P.P.Karapurkar. The State Board for Literature and Culture, Bombay. 1972.
  • Marathi: The Language and its Linguistic Traditions - Prabhakar Machwe, Indian and Foreign Review, 15 March 1985.
  • 'Atyavashyak Marathi Vyakaran' (Essential Marathi Grammar) - Dr. V. L. Vardhe
  • 'Marathi Vyakaran' (Marathi Grammar) - Moreshvar Sakharam More.
  • 'Marathi Vishwakosh, Khand 12 (Marathi World Encyclopedia, Volume 12), Maharashtra Rajya Vishwakosh Nirmiti Mandal, Mumbai
  • 'Marathyancha Itihaas' by Dr. Kolarkar, Shrimangesh Publishers, Nagpur
  • 'History of Medieval Hindu India from 600 CE to 1200 CE, by C. V. Vaidya
  • Marathi Sahitya (Review of the Marathi Literature up to I960) by Kusumavati Deshpande, Maharashtra Information Centre, New Delhi


External links

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