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Languages of Goa


Portuguese 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.


language 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."


That 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.

language 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.


Konkani an indo-Aryan offshoot of Sanskrit that took root in the region more than two thousand year ago is the mother tongue of most goans, spoken by virtually all of its native inhabitants. Only in 1978, however, was it recognized by Delhi as more than a minor dialect, and another fourteen year elapsed before the Indian government, bowing to popular opinion, named it the states official language. However, maharathi, the language of Goa’s politically and economic powerful neighbor, Maharashtra, remain the principal medium of primary education.

language Although the two languages are closely related, the debate over which to use in government has aroused strong feeling over the year – most notably in the run-up to Delhi decision to rubber-stamp Konkani, which divide the regional press and sparked off violent confrontations between rival groups. The issues at stake, of course, have far less to do with which language is more universally understood, than with the politics and notions of regional identity. Those Goans who wanted their children taught in maharathi also tended to favor merger with Maharashtra, whereas the pro- Konkani lobby believed the state would be better off with greater autonomy.

An added complication has been the lingering presence of Portuguese. Only a tiny number of Goans still speak the former colonies mother tongue, but they tend to be form disproportionately well-educated, politically influential elite. The only area you’re likely to hear it spoken in the street is the neighborhood of Fontainhas, Panjim, which remains stoically pro-Portuguese.

India’s official national language, Hindi, has a place in Goa, too, largely thanks to the increasing numberLanguages of Goa of settlers from the north of the country, and the popularity of ‘‘Bollywood” Movies. However, the language of higher education, law and the quality press is English, which is so prevalent in the resort that you can easily get by without a word of Konkani or Maharathi. Even fluent English speakers, though will be flattered if you attempt a few words of their native tongue.

The list of work and phrases on pp.278-279 is intended as an aid to meeting people and traveling
independent around more off-the-beaten-track areas of the state, where English is less commonly spoken. Konkani has no official script of its own (Christian tend to use roman, and Hindus write with Devanagiri) so we’ve transcribed the expression phonetically, indicating the correct syllabus stress in italics


Meeting People
Hello/good morning good evening Dio boro dees diun
What is your name? Tu chay nau kitay?
My name is (David) Majaya nau (David)
Where do you come from? Tu koyee-sau yat-ee?
I come from……. Mau zo gao……
How are you (male)? Kos-o-asaee?
How are you (female)? Kos-hey-am?
Thank you Dio boray koruna
Happy Christmas Kooshal bhooreet natala
Happy Holi Holi moobarak
May I take your photograph? Au eek foto kardum?
Yes/no Borem
I am tired Aoo tsod tokla
I am happy Aoo tsaude kooshi
I love Goa Maka Goeya boray lakta
I understand a little Konkani Maka toree Konkani sazmata
I speak a little Konkani Aoo toree Konkani oolayta
Goodbye Miochay
Where can I catch the bus to (Calangute) (Kongotchi) bus ko-ee tamta?
Does this bus go to (Calangute)? Ee Kongotchi bus?
When does the bus leave? Bus kitley-anc-so-ta?
Have we arrived in (Candolim)? (Candolium) poh-lay?
How much to (Anjuna)? Kitlay pot-ollay (Anjuna)?
How many kilometers is it to (calangute)? (Kongotchi)kitley pois asa?
Turn left/right Dai-an/ooj-an wot.
Drive more slowly! Sossegarde solay!
Do you have a room/house to rent? Tu jay shee room/ gora asa?
Eating and Drinking
I am hungry maka bhook lageleah
I am thirsty maka taan lageleah
Water Oodak
No ice Barf naka
No suger Shakher naka
Not spicy Makta tikh naka
The food is good Jon boray ha
How much? Kitlay?
Too expensive! Ekdtom ma-araog!
I don’t want it Maka naka tem
I’ll take this Haon hem khatan
Have you got another one? Aslem aneek assa?
Father Pai (Christian),
Bapui (Hindu)
Mother Maee (Christian),
Avoi (Hindu)
Grandmother Shamai
Grandfather Shapai
Daughter Dhoo
Son Phoot
Wife Bhai
Husband Ghoo
Male/female cousin Primo/Prima
Older adults (polite) Tia (femal)/Tio (male)
Time & Days
Now At-ants
Today Atz
Yesterday Kal
Tomorrow Falyam
Morning Sakal
Afternoon Dnpara
Evening Sanz
Night rat
Monday Somar
Tuesday Munglar
Wednesday Boodhwar
Thursday Virestar
Friday Sookarvar
Saturday Shenvar
Sunday Aee-tar
Beach prayia
Cave Bhuher
Church Igroz
Coconut Nal
Doctor Daktar
Hill Dongoor
Moon Tsondrim
Palm tree Mard
River Wow
Road Rosto
Sea Doria
Sun Wot
Temple Day-vool
Tender coconut Adzar
Village Ga
1 Ek
2 Dohn
3 Teen
4 Char
5 Pants
6 Soh
7 Saht
8 Ahrt
9 Nou
10 Dha
20 Vees
30 Tees
40 Cha-ees
50 Po-nas
100 Chem-bor
150 Dher-chen
200 Dho-chen
1000 Ek-azar
2000 Dhon-azar

Note: a hundred thousand is a lakh (written 1,00,000);ten million is a crore (1,00,00,000); Millions, billions and the like are not in common usage.