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Konkani alphabets

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Konkani alphabets

The Konkani alphabet (Devanāgarī: कोंकणी लिपी , kōṅkaṇī lipī, Latin script: Konknni lipi, koṅṇi lipi, Kannada script: ಕೊಂಕಣಿ ಲಿಪಿ, koṅkaṇi lipi, Malayalam script: കൊങ്കണി ലിപി, koṅkaṇi lipi) may be any one of three alphabets currently used to write the Konkani language.

As of 1987, the Goan Antruz dialect in the Devanagari script has been declared Standard Konkani and promulgated as an official language.[1][2] Nevertheless, Konkani is also written in the Roman, Kannada, Malayalam and Persian scripts.


Konkani is a name given to a group of several cognate dialects spoken along the narrow strip of land called Konkan, on the west coast of India. This is, however, somewhat an over-generalisation. Geographically, Konkan is defined roughly as the area between the river Damanganga to the north and river Kali to the south, the north-south length being approximately 650 km and the east-west breadth about 50 km, up to 96 km in some places. A major part of Konkan is in Maharashtra and most people in the area speak some dialects of Marathi. But the language spoken in Goa and further south in coastal Karnataka and in some parts of northern Kerala has its distinct features, and is rightly identified as a separate language called Konkani.


The earliest inscription in Konkani is of the Gupta period in the 2nd century CE found at Aravalem, Goa. It reads

(On the top of Shachipura)

The famous inscription at the foot of the colossal Jain monolith Gomaṭēśvara (Bāhubali) Konkani: gomṭo - pretty masc., īśvar - God at Shravanabelagola of 981 CE reads,

(Chavundaraya got it done, Gangaraya got it done again.)[3]


Devanagari script

The rules for writing Konkani in the Devanagari script are elucidated in a book released by the Goa Konkani Academy titled kōṅkaṇī śuddhalēkhanācē nēm.

Kannada script

The rules for writing Konkani in the Kannada script are elucidated in a book titled Konkani Orthography in Kannada Script released by Fr. Valerian Fernandes, a Konkani writer from Mangalore, at Thomas Stephens Konknni Kendr.

Latin script

The rules for writing Konkani in the Roman script are elucidated in a book titled thomas sṭīvans koṅkaṇi kēndr Romi Lipi by writer Pratap Naik, released by Konkani singer Ullās Buyā̃v at Dalgado Konkani Academy.

Malayalam and Persian orthographies have not as yet been standardised for Konkani.


Vowels and syllabic consonants

Short vowel Long vowel
अ-ಅ-അ-O-ا،ع a
आ-ಆ-ആ-A-آ ā
इ-ಇ-ഇ-I-? i
ई-ಈ-ഈ-I-ي ī
उ-ಉ-ഉ-U-? u
ऊ-ಊ-ഊ-U-و ū
ऍ-?-?-A-? e
- -
ऎ-ಎ-എ-E-اے e
ए-ಏ-ഏ-E-اے ē
ऒ-ಒ-ഒ-O-او o
ओ-ಓ-ഓ-O-او ō
ऐ-ಐ-ഐ-Ai-اے ai
औ-ಔ-ഔ-Au-او au


  • ॠ, ऌ and ॡ are rarely used in Konkani except to render tatsam words. e.g. कॣप्त (imagined-derivative of कल्पना)
  • अ, ओ and ऒ are rendered in the Roman script by O. Under Portuguese rule, the Konkani language was modified to fit the Roman syllabary system. As a result, Portuguese orthography has eliminated or deformed original Konkani sounds.[4] e.g.
  1. अ - करता kartā is written as korta or even corta (sometimes it is nasalised to cortam)
  2. ओ - दोन dōn is written as don.
  3. ऒ - पॊरनॆं pornẽ is written as pornem
  • Both आ and ऍ are rendered by A in the Roman script.
i.   आ - हांव hā̃v is written as hanv or Anv
ii.  ऍ - कॅनरा kænarā is written as Kanara or Canara.
  • Devanagari is the only script which has a separate letter for the vowel æ, ऍ.
  • The Kannada, Malayalam and Persian scripts render æ as ಯಾ, ഏ and اے respectively. e.g. बॅंक bæṅk, ಬ್ಯಾಂಕ್ byāṅk, ബേംക bēnk, بيٓنک beṅk.
  • The Persian script differentiates between vowels using markers called zer, zabar and pesh.


Plosive Nasal Approximant Fricative Affricative
Voicing Unvoiced Voiced Unvoiced Voiced Unvoiced Voiced
Aspiration Unaspirated Aspirated Unaspirated Aspirated Unaspirated Aspirated Unaspirated Aspirated
Guttural क-ಕ-Ka-ക-ک ka
ख-ಖ-Kha-ഖ-كھ kha
ग-ಗ-Ga-ഗ-گ ga
घ-ಘ-Gha-ഘ-گھ gha
ङ-ಞ-Nga-ങ-? ṅa
ह-ಹ-Ha-ഹ-ہ،ح ha
Palatal च-ಚ-Cha-ച-چ ca
छ-ಛ-Chha-ഛ-چھ cha
ज-ಜ-Ja-ജ-ج ja
झ-ಝ-Jha-ഝ-جھ jha
ञ-ಙ-Nja-ഞ-? ña
य-ಯ-Ya-യ-ي ya
श-ಶ-Sha,Xa-ശ-ش śa
/ɕ, ʃ/
Retroflex ट-ಟ-Tta-ട-ٹ ṭa
ठ-ಠ-Ttha-ഠ-ٹھ ṭha
ड-ಡ-Dda-ഡ-ڈ ḍa
ढ-ಢ-Ddha-ഢ-ڈھ ḍha
ण-ಣ-Nna-ണ-? ṇa
र-ರ-Ra-ര-ر ra
ष-ಷ-?-ഷ-? ṣa
Dental त-ತ-Ta-ത-ط،ت ta
थ-ಥ-Tha-ഥ-تھ tha
द-ದ-Da-ദ-د da
ध-ಧ-Dha-ധ-دھ dha
न-ನ-Na-ന-ن na
ल-ಲ-La-ല-ل la
स-ಸ-Sa-സ-ص،س sa
Labial प-ಪ-Pa-പ-پ pa
फ-ಫ-Pha-ഫ-پھ pha
ब-ಬ-Ba-ബ-ب ba
भ-ಭ-Bha-ഭ-بھ bha
म-ಮ-Ma-മ-م ma
व-ವ-Va-വ-و va
Alveolar च़-?-Cha-?-? ca
ज़-?-Za-?-ز،ظ،ذ ja
Labiodental फ़-ಫ಼-Fa-ف fa
Retroflex Lateral flap ळ-ಳ-Lla-ള-? ḷa


  • ಚ and ച in the Kannada and Malayalam scripts respectively, render two sounds, (c) and (t͡ʃ).
  • ಜ and ജ in the Kannada and Malayalam scripts respectively, render two sounds, (ɟ) and (d͡ʒ).
  • In the Roman script, a retroflex consonant is got by simply doubling the corresponding dental consonant; e.g. त - ta, ट - Tta.
  • Roman Konkani does not distinguish between श and ष. Both are written as Sha or Xa and pronounced as श.
  • Roman Konkani does not distinguish between फ and फ़. Both are normally written as F and pronounced accordingly. e.g. tomorrow फाल्लॆक (phāllek)- fallek (fāllek)
  • ن nūn in the Nawayati Konkani script not only is a separate consonant, but also performs the role of the anusvāra. It indicates a homorganic nasal preceding another consonant; e.g. رنگ raṅg, انڈو aṇḍo. It also undergoes nasalisation; e.g. ہازؤ hāṃv.
  • ع, 'ayin غ ghayin and ح he in the Nawayati Konkani script are used for incorporated Perso-Arabic words.

Nasal consonants and nasalisation

In Konkani, the anusvāra is traditionally defined as representing a nasal stop homorganic to a following allophonically, in the following cases: between a long vowel and a voiced stop (tāṃbo [taːmbo] "copper", cāṃdī [tʃaːndiː] "silver"), between a long vowel and a voiceless stop (dāṃt [daːnt] "tooth"), and also between a short vowel and an obstruent (sāṃbayi- [saːmbay] "to support", The last rule has two sets of exceptions where the anusvāra effects only a nasalization of the preceding short vowel. Words from the first set are morphologically derived from words with a long nasalized vowel (mā̃s [mãs], "meat". In such cases the vowel is sometimes denasalized ([maːs]. The second set is composed of a few words like (pā̃vcẽ [pãʋtʃɛ̃], "to arrive".)

Avagraha (ऽ)

Konkani is one of the few modern Indo-Aryan languages to apply the avagraha beyond mere sustenance of an exclamation, cry or shout in speech. It is used by verbs in continuous tense. The avagraha is not used in Standard Konkani in the continuous tense. Its use is however popular and prevalent amongst the Canara Saraswats, both Gaud and Bhanap, writing in their native Amchigele dialect, in the continuous tense with the aim of conforming to the schwa deletion rule.[6]

Sentence Konkani Hindi Gujarati Marathi
He was doing तॊ करतलॊऽशिलॊ वह कर रहा था ओल्हो करतो हतो तो करत होता
He is doing तॊ करतऽसा वह कर रहा है ओल्हो करे छे तो करत आहे
He will be doing तॊ करतलॊऽसतलॊ वह कर रहा होगा ओल्हो करतो हशे तो करत असेल

(According to the schwa deletion rule in Indo-Aryan languages, करत आसा will be read as karat āsā and not as karta'sā as prevalent pronunciation is.)

The avagraha is also used to mark the non-elision of word-final inherent a, which otherwise is a modern orthographic convention: बैसऽ baisa "sit" versus बैस bais.

Schwa deletion

The IPA symbol for the schwa

The schwa deletion or schwa syncope phenomenon plays a crucial role in Konkani and several other Indo-Aryan languages, where schwas implicit in the written scripts of those languages are obligatorily deleted for correct pronunciation.[7][8] Schwa syncope is extremely important in these languages for intelligibility and unaccented speech. It also presents a challenge to non-native speakers and speech synthesis software because the scripts, including Nagar Barap, do not provide indicators of where schwas should be dropped.[9]

This means the schwa ('ə') implicit in each consonant of the script is "obligatorily deleted" at the end of words and in certain other contexts, unlike in Sanskrit. This phenomenon has been termed the "schwa syncope rule" or the "schwa deletion rule" of Konkani. In other words, when a vowel-preceded consonant is followed by a vowel-succeeded consonant, the schwa inherent in the first consonant is deleted.[10] However, this formalization is inexact and incomplete (i.e. sometimes deletes a schwa when it shouldn't or, at other times, fails to delete it when it should), and can yield errors. Schwa deletion is computationally important because it is essential to building text-to-speech software for Konkani.[10] Without the appropriate deletion of schwas, any speech output would sound unnatural.

As a result of schwa syncope, the Konkani pronunciation of many words differs from that expected from a literal Sanskrit-style rendering of Devanagari. For instance, करता is kartā not karatā, आपयता is āpaytā not āpayatā', वेद is vēd not vēda and मिरसांग is mirsāṅg not mirasāṅga.

For instance, the letter sequence ळब is pronounced differently in मळब maḷab "sky" and मळबाmaḷbār "in the sky". While native speakers correctly pronounce the sequences differently in different contexts, non-native speakers and voice-synthesis software can make them "sound very unnatural", making it "extremely difficult for the listener" to grasp the intended meaning.

Vowel nasalization

With some words that contain /n/ or /m/ consonants separated from succeeding consonants by schwas, the schwa deletion process has the effect of nasalizing any preceding vowels. Some examples in Konkani include:

  • jẽvaṇ => jẽvlo

Schwa rules

  1. The final inherent अ is generally omitted; e.g. देव is dēv not dēva.
  2. In a word of three letters ending with a vowel other than the inherent अ, if the second consonant ends in अ, then the अ of the second consonant is silenced. e.g. चॆरकॊ is cerko not cerako.
  3. In a word of four letters ending with a vowel other than the inherent अ, the second consonant, if it ends in अ, then the अ of the second consonant is silenced. e.g. उपकार is upkār not upakāra.
  4. Verb roots always end in a consonant even if they undergo declination. e.g. आपंव +चॆं= आपंवचॆं, hence one says āpãvcẽ not āpãvacẽ , आपय+ता=आपयता, hence we say āpaytā not āpayatā

See also


  1. ^ Goa, Daman and Diu Act, 1987 section 1 subsection 2 clause (c) defines "Konkani language" as Konkani in Devanagari script, and section 3 subsection 1 promulgates Konkani to be the official language of the Union Territory.
  2. ^ On 20.8.1992 Parliament of India by effecting the 78th amendment to the Constitution of India, Konkani in Devanagari script has been included in VIIIth Schedule of Constitution of India.
  3. ^ Chavundaraya was the military chief of the Ganga dynasty King Gangaraya. This inscription on the Bahubali statue draws attention to a Basadi (Jain temple) initially built by him and then modified by Gangaraya in the 12th century CE Ref: S. Settar in Adiga (2006), p 256
  4. ^ A history of Konkani literature: from 1500 to 1992 By Manohararāya Saradesāya (pg. 22)
  5. ^ Varma, Siddheshwar (1929), Critical studies in the phonetic observations of Indian grammarians
  6. ^  
  7. ^ Larry M. Hyman, Victoria Fromkin, Charles N. Li (1988 (Volume 1988, Part 2)), Language, speech, and mind, Taylor & Francis,  
  8. ^ Indian linguistics, Volume 37, Linguistic Society of India, 1976, ... the history of the schwa deletion rule in Gujarati has been examined. The historical perspective brings out the fact that schwa deletion is not an isolated phenomenon; the loss of final -a has preceded the loss of medial -a-; ... 
  9. ^ Tej K. Bhatia (1987), A history of the Hindi grammatical tradition: Hindi-Hindustani grammar, grammarians, history and problems, BRILL,  
  10. ^ a b Monojit Choudhury, Anupam Basu and Sudeshna Sarkar (July 2004), "A Diachronic Approach for Schwa Deletion in Indo Aryan Languages", Proceedings of the Workshop of the ACL Special Interest Group on Computational Phonology (SIGPHON) (Association for Computations Linguistics), ... schwa deletion is an important issue for grapheme-to-phoneme conversion of IAL, which in turn is required for a good Text-to-Speech synthesizer ... 
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