Lowlands-L Anniversary Celebration

The Project

Language lists
Languages A–Z
Language Groups
Audio Files
Language information
Wish list

About Lowlands
Meet Lowlanders!
Project Team
Site map
Offline Resources
The Crypt
Language Tips
Members’ Links
Lowlands Shops
  · Canada
  · Deutschland
  · France
  · 日本 Japan
  · United Kingdom
  · United States
Recommended now!

What's new?

Please click here to leave an anniversary message (in any language you choose). You do not need to be a member of Lowlands-L to do so. In fact, we would be more than thrilled to receive messages from anyone.
Click here to read what others have written so far.

About the story
What’s with this “Wren” thing?
   The oldest extant version of the fable we are presenting here appeared in 1913 in the first volume of a two-volume anthology of Low Saxon folktales (Plattdeutsche Volksmärchen “Low German Folktales”) collected by Wilhelm Wisser (1843–1935). Read more ...

ಕನ್ನಡ  Kannada

Picture of a bilingual road sign in Karnataka
All official signs and most commercial signs in
India’s Karnataka Province are in Kannada and
English. Only some of them are in Hindi as well.
The Kannada text in transliteration from the top:
Vivāna nildāṇa
and Dommalūru.

Language information: Kannada used to be known by the name “Canarese.”
     Kannada is one of India’s official language,* and it is the official language of Karnataka Province.
     Kannada is currently used by about 64 million people, of which about 55 million are native speakers. The vast majority of speakers lives in Southern India’s Karnataka Province, and there are speaker communities in surrounding provinces as well (mostly in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra), also in various major metropolitan areas of India.
     Kannada is a Dravidian language and belongs to the southern subgroup. As such it is most closely related to languages such as Tamil and Malayalam, a little less closely to Telugu which belongs to the south central subgroup but has been strongly influenced by Kannada.
Picture of a bilingual road sign in Karnataka
An actor in a Yakshagana play. Performed
in Kannada or in closely related Tulu,
Yakshagana and related theatric traditions of
Southern India and Sri Lanka are derived from
India’s ancient Sanskrit drama, though they
may be partly derived from Northern India’s
erstwhile Dravidian culture. They appear to
have inspired Southeast Asia’s traditional
performing arts.

          Dravidian languages are used in India, with the exception of Brahui in Pakistan and Kurukh in Nepal (the latter of which is used in India as well). They are commonly regarded as representing a language family in its own right. However, there have been several proposals linking them with other language groups, families and isolates (for instance with Japanese, Korean, Uralic, Australian, Sumerian and Basque). However, all of these have been dismissed by others. Lately it has been proposed that Dravidian descended from a family that also included Elamite, a now extinct language of the Persian Empire. Traces of ancient northern language contacts (other than those with literary Sanskrit) that are absent in more northerly Dravidian subgroups are seen by many as supporting the hypothesis that South Dravidian moved to Southern India from what are now Northwestern India and Southeastern Pakistan. Specifically, some have hypothesized that they hail from the Indus Valley (which stretches between Balochistan and Gujarat) and may have descended from the unknown language of the ancient Harappan Civilization (ca. 3300–1700 BCE, flowered 2600–1900 BCE).

Of particular interest to European tradition is that a Kannada skit dialogue is featured in a Greek burlesque play, the Charition mime, which is found on Papyrus 413 of Oxyrhynchus (Pr-Medjed, al-Bahnasa), Egypt, and dates back at least to the second century CE. The play seems to be based upon Euripides’ Iphigeneia in Tauris (Iφιγένεια ή έν Ταύροις) but is set in India instead of Greece. This seems to prove that linguistic knowledge was passed on between India and the Mediterranean region at least as far back as in the early part of the first millennium CE.
     Published in 1904, these findings by E. Hultzsch were criticized and dismissed at the time. Discovered in the meantime, the Halmidi Kannada inscription of 450 AD corroborates many of Hultzsch’ theories about the development of Kannada and lends much credence to his work on the papyrus inscription.

           It is quite plausible to assume that Dravidian languages used to dominate over most of the Indian subcontinent and were partly eliminated and partly displaced by the Indo-European language varieties of the invading Aryans. However, the Indo-Aryan languages have been strongly influenced by the indigenous Dravidian languages (and by the Munda languages in the east), perhaps owing in part to substrates. Conversely, the Dravidian languages have been strongly influenced by the Indo-Aryan languages, partly by neighboring languages and partly owing to Sanskrit-based learning and arts. These mutual influences are of special interest considering many basic structural differences. For example, unlike Indo-European languages but like Altaic and Uralic languages as well as Korean and Japanese, Dravidian languages are of the agglutinative type in which new words and phrases are derived by adding suffixes to stems.
     Kannada speakers are particularly proud of their linguistic and cultural traditions which can be traced back to antiquity, the earliest extant documents being from the reign of the Buddhist King Aśoka (304–232 BCE). The Kannada script is related to the scripts of Northern India, although it has the typically rounded shapes of Southern India. It served as the basis for the script of the neighboring Dravidian Telugu script. The Kannada script is used by all Kannada speakers, Hindu, Muslim and Christian.
     The Kannada-speaking areas represent one of the literary power houses of India. Not only is there an abundance of ancient literary traditions and a particularly strong tradition of archaic Yakshagana plays, but modern-day Kannada literature is a prominent part of the modern Indian literary scene. The Jnanpith Award, India’s most prestigeous awards for literature, has been won by seven Kannada writers, and fourty-eight Kannada writers have won the Sahitya Academy Award. So far this puts Kannada in first place as far as representation per language is concerned.
* India’s official languages: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, English, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Maithili, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu. (Underlined names are those of Dravidian languages.)

Genealogy: Dravidian > Southern > Tamil-Kannada

Historical Lowlands language contacts: English

    Click to open the translation: [Click] Click here for different versions. >

Author: Reinhard F. Hahn

© 2011, Lowlands-L · ISSN 189-5582 · LCSN 96-4226 · All international rights reserved.
Lowlands-L Online Shops: Canada · Deutschland · France · 日本 · UK · USA