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Languages of Goa

Language of GoaPortuguese was much more widely spoken in Goa than was English in most of the rest of India, but local languages remained important. The two more significant were Marathi, the language of the politically dominant majority of the neighboring state to the north, and Konkani, the language commonly spoken on the coastal districts further south. Konkani was declared Goa’s official language by the state government in early 2000. English and Hindi are widely understood in the parts visited by travelers and used on road signs, bus destinations and tourism-related notices. In rural areas, however, Konkani predominates.

Perhaps due to its comparatively small size Goa's 3,702 sq. km as against India' 32, 87, 263 sq. km. and a tendency for several Goans to migrate to other parts of India, especially Bombay (Maharashtra) in search of their livelihood Portuguese as a language spoken by a majority of Goans does not appear to "have taken tool in Goa: this seems to be in distinct contrast to that prevailing in the rest of India where English the language of India's former colonial masters is not only an official language for business and official communication (along with other languages) but is well-understood by a majority of India's local, national and international businessmen and those who run a large and extensive civil service in a country like India. This aspect, however, does not rule out a small portion of Goans who had taken to Portuguese and even had pursued further studies in Portugal but, nevertheless, their numbers are negligible not only in relation to Goa's population but also the much large population of India, as a whole. In contrast, with migration to India taking place before and after liberation, English perhaps takes a more dominant position in the State of Goa than Portuguese.

Being located in the southern part of the Konkan, Konkani claims a place of honour among the languages read, written and spoken throughout Goa State.

Among the other languages of Goa worth noting are those of the States with whom Goa shares state borders: with a neighbouring Maharashtra in its northern end, the influence of Marathi is noticeable in these areas coupled with what gets 'imported' into Goa through those who live and work in Bombay and, later, get back to Goa. Similarly, sharing a border line with Karnataka State, Kannada's influence would be noticeable in Goa's south and south eastern regions.


The dominant language that is spoken in Goa is Konkani. However, English, Hindi and Marathi are known to several people living in Goa. With Goa becoming part of the Indian Union, the 1971 Census showed that several language are spoken by the people residing in Goa and these include: Marathi, Oriya, Sanskrit, Siudtu, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kan-nada, Kashmiri, Malayalam.
In this context it is interesting to note that some Catholic families still speak Portuguese while several Christians use the Roman script for writing in Konkani. A majority of the Hindus speak Konkani and they also use Marathi as a language of communication. Some authorities view Konkani as an "older offshoot of Proto-Marathi but it has some independent grammatical characteristics. It is split into a number of dialects. In Goa among the local Christians, the Roman Catholic Missionaries have built up a literature which is of Christian inspiration. This is written and printed in the Roman Character in Portuguese Orthography."


Language of GoaThat there must have been written words and Literature in Goa can hardly be denied. However, we find no extant example of it. It can be surmised that the Portuguese in their efforts to wipe out the religions and during the period of their repression on all religions destroyed literature of all types in Goa. However, the missionary zeal of the priests in Goa found its expression in many a book written by them for the Indian laity. The surprising part of this trend is that today hardly a rare copy of this literature is available in the libraries in India and Europe. The printing press came to Goa about the year 1556. The Portuguese were familiar with Arabic and this is evidenced in the book "Cologuious dos Simples e Drogas" by Dr. Gracias da Qrta which was printed in Goa in 1563. The first book printed in Goa seems to be Doutrina Crista' by Fr. Stephen. The Christian Marathe Literature of this period printed in Goa is in Roman Script. Fr. Stephen brought out in 1616 his book on "Christian Purana." the second edition came out in 1649 and the third in 1654. Not a single copy, however, of these editions seems to be available today. The language of this book is Marathi as the edition published in 1907 from the manuscript copies shows. Fr. Stephen also published a grammer of the dialect spoken in Goa under the Title 'Arte da Lingua Camarina'. This was enlarged and republished in 1640 and again in 1858. Fr. Groise who succeeded Fr. Stephen as Rector of Jesuit College at Rachol published a book on the life of St. Peter titled Discurso sobre a vida do Aspotolo Sam Pedro'. This work is divided into three

Puranas and comprises of about 12,000 ovis. Fr. Antonio De Saldanha who succeeded Fr. Groise as the Rector continued the traditions of his predecessors. He wrote an account of the life of St. Anthony of Padua. The first part of the book written in prose in the spoken language of Goa and the second written in verse is in Marathi. The book was printed in 1655 at Rachol College. A Marathi work titled Sarvesh Warach Dnyanopadosha' written perhaps by Fr. Simeo Gomes is available in the School of Oriental and African Studies London. This work in prose is of 360 pages and is in Devnagri Script. There seems to be number of translations like the two mentioned in ‘Biblioteca Lusitana' by Fr. Joao des Mathies. A number of works written on the Crucificiation of Christ are mentioned in the ‘Biblioteca Lusitana'.

Among the prominent writers in Konkani or the spoken language of Goa, we have Fr. Diogo Riberio, whose "Explanation of Christian Doctrine" was printed in Goa in 1632. Another prominent writer was Fr. Minguel d'Almedia. In the Library of Goa, we have a copy of the third volume of his "Jardim dos Pastores" written in Konkani language. Finally, we have the 1660 printed "Solioquios Divionos" by Padre Joao de Padrosa.

This stream of literature died down because the Church decreed in 1684 that the local language should not be used and only Portuguese should be used in Goa. Then in 1776, the Archbishop of Goa decreed that reading of passages from the Marathi 'Christian Purana in the Churches of Goa should be discontinued'. However, a book on Grammar called "Gramatica Marastta" was published in Rome in 1778 and a second etlition in Lisbon in 1805. In 1858, Dr. Cunha rivara published another book on Grammar titled "Arte Canarine Na Lingua de Norte."

Konkani Literature has a large history which can go back, to 13th century. Saint Namdev and Krishna Das Sharma, wrote in Konkani. We have seen how the Portuguese missionaries wrote Konkani literature in Roman script. We can however give complete credit to Varde Walanlekar, a Saraswat Goan Brahmin as the pioneer in Konkani literature. He has written about twenty books in Konkani in Roman, and Devnagri script. Tukarambaba Varde translated Bharatrharis works into Marathi. It was, however, only after Goa was liberated that Konkani literature came into being written, once again. The Sahitya Academy in 1975 recognised 'Konkani' as an independent modern literary language'. We had now writers like Bakebab Borkar who was a poet, novelist, biographer and critic. He has also written dramas. He wrote in 7 languages including Portuguese and English. Other wellknown writers in Konkani are Lakshmanrao Sardesai, Ravindra Kelkar, Pundalek Naik, R.V. Pandit, Nagesh Karmali and Manohar Sardesai. Dolphio Lobo has written many books in Kanada script.


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