Is Tulu a Kannada dialect


Kannada (ಕನ್ನಡ kannaḍa), too Canarian, is a language from the Dravidian language family. It is spoken by around 40 million native speakers in southern India, mainly in the state of Karnataka. It is mainly written in Kannada script.


Kannada belongs to the family of Dravidian languages, which are mainly spoken in South India. Besides Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam, Kannada is one of the four major Dravidian languages. Within this family of languages, Kannada belongs to the South Dravidian branch. The Kannada's closest relative is Badaga. This language, spoken among the tribal population of the Nilgiri Mountains in Tamil Nadu, is sometimes also understood as the Kannada dialect. [1]

Kannada is not related to the Indo-Aryan languages ​​spoken in northern India. However, it has been heavily influenced by Sanskrit, the classical language of Hinduism, and, in addition to a large number of loan words, has also adopted structural features from this Indo-Aryan language.

Geographical distribution

Approximate distribution area of ​​the Kannada

Kannada has 40 million native speakers.[2] The speakers of the Kannada are known as Kannadiga. The distribution area of ​​the language largely coincides with the borders of the Indian state of Karnataka. There are also kanada-speaking minorities in the neighboring areas of the neighboring states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. More recently, Kannada has also been spoken among expatriates in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

70% of the population of Karnataka speak Kannada as their mother tongue.[3] Most of the state's non-Kannada-speaking residents, such as the speakers of Tulu and Kodava, have a command of Kannada as a second language. Kannada is the only official language in the state of Karnataka. At the supraregional level it is recognized as one of the 22 national languages ​​of India.

Forms of speech

Kannada is divided into four dialect groups, which consist of further sub-dialects. The southern dialect is spoken in and around the two largest cities of Karnataka, Bangalore and Mysore. The western dialect is widespread in the Mangalore area. The northern dialect is spoken in the Dharwad area, the northeast dialect in and around Bijapur. The northern and northeastern dialect have been influenced by Marathi, the Indo-Aryan language of the neighboring state of Maharashtra.

In parallel to the geographical dialects, there are caste dialects or sociolects. The main distinction here lies between the dialects of the Brahmins, non-Brahmans and Dalit dialects. More recently, however, class differences have increasingly taken the place of caste membership, even among sociolects.[4]

The written and spoken language in the Kannada are quite different from each other, even if the diglossia is less pronounced than in the related Tamil, for example. The spoken language of the educated urban population of Bengalurus and Mysurus has established itself as the supraregional standard colloquial language.

History of language and literature

Kannada inscription in the temple of Basaral (Hoysala dynasty, 13th century)

Kannada is divided into three language levels: Old Kanada (up to 1200), Middle Kanada (1200–1700) and modern Kannada (since 1700). The oldest surviving language testimony of the Kannada is an inscription found in the Hassan district, which is dated to around 450.

Kannada is the second oldest Dravidian literary language after Tamil. The oldest known work of Kannada literature, attributed to the Rashtrakuta king Amoghavarsha I. Kavirajamarga, a treatise on poetry written in verse, is dated to the first quarter of the 9th century. In the 10th – 12th In the 19th century, poems, epic poems and fables were mainly written by the Jain authors Pampa, Ponna and Ranna. The first prose work on Kannada is this Lokopakara des Chavundaraya from the middle of the 12th century. Important authors of the late 12th century are the Hindu poets Harihara and Raghavanka. During the period of the Vijayanagar Kingdom in the 14th-16th centuries. In the 19th century, Kannada literature experienced an upswing thanks to the patronage of the court. The most famous authors of this period are Chamarasa and Kumara Vyasa.

After India became a British colony, Kannada literature dried up. It was not until the end of the 19th century that Kannada literature began to renaissance, drawing on Western influences and introducing new genres such as the novel and the short story. A Kannada-speaking author has won the Jnanpith Award, the most important Indian literary prize, seven times, most recently Girish Karnad (1998) and U. R. Ananthamurthy (1994).

A local Kannada grammar tradition had developed early on. Their most important works are those Shabdamanidarpana of the Keshiraja from the second half of the 13th century and that Shabdanushasana of Bhattakalanka (1604). The first western Kannada grammar appeared in 1820. In the 19th century, it was mainly Christian missionaries who were concerned with the Kannada. Above all, the German missionary Ferdinand Kittel did a great job with his Kannada-English dictionary (1894) and his grammar (1903).


Bilingual street sign (Kannada / English) in Bangalore
Main article: Kannada script

Like many Indian languages, Kannada has its own script, the Kannada script. This is very similar to the Telugu script and belongs to the family of Indian scripts. It shares the common origin of the Brahmi script from the 3rd century BC with the other scriptures of India, Tibet and Southeast Asia. And a common functional principle: They are an intermediate form of the alphabet and syllabary, so-called Abugidas, in which each consonant sign has an inherent vowela which can be modified with diacritical marks. Typically for a South Indian script, the Kannada script is characterized by its round shapes.


Kannada has 34 consonantic phonemes. The distinction between five articulations is typical of the Indian languages: velar, palatal, retroflex, dental and labial. The plosives (plosives) contrast unvoiced and voiced sounds. Due to the numerous loanwords from Sanskrit, the aspirated plosives (both voiceless and voiced) have acquired phoneme status in the Kannada, so that the plosives occur in rows of four as in the Indo-Aryan languages ​​(e.g. k, kh, G, gh). There are no aspirated consonants in inherited Dravidian words. In the case of careless pronunciation and in certain dialects, they can be replaced by the corresponding unaspirated sounds. The consonants f and z only occur in younger loan words, e.g. from English, so they are not always granted a phoneme status. The two nasals ñ and are allophones of nthat only appear before the corresponding plosives. In the Kannada script, nasals before plosives are consistently followed by the anusvara reproduced, depending on the following consonant for m, n, , ñ or can stand.

  front central back
short long short long short long
closed i [i] ī [iː]     u [u] ū [uː]
medium e [e] ē [eː]     o [o] ō [oː]
open     a [ʌ] ā [aː]    

There are ten vowel phonemes in the Kannada. The vocals a, i, u, e and O occur in pairs of long and short vowels. Then there are the phonematic diphthongsai and ouch. There is also the vowel / ǣ /, which is restricted to English loanwords (e.g. ಬ್ಯಾಂಕು / bǣnku / from Engl. Bank), and is therefore usually not counted as a full-fledged phoneme. In certain dialects, however, it also occurs in real Kannada words.

Almost all Kannada words end in a vowel. In loan words that end in a consonant, a so-called enunciatory vowel is often used u or i appended (e.g. ಬಸ್ಸು bassu from engl. bus). All consonants except retroflex ḷ and ṇ can appear at the beginning of a word. Consonant clusters (successions of two or more consonants) at the beginning of a word only occur in loan words (e.g. ಪ್ರೀತಿ prīti "Love", from Sanskrit). Uneducated speakers in particular often add a scion vowel and speak e.g. B. / piriti /. In Kannada, the emphasis is always on the first syllable of a word. So it does not differ in meaning and is also not too strongly pronounced.

Sandhi processes can occur when morphemes meet within a word or among words. So between the root of the word ಹೂ hu "Flower" and the instrumental suffix-iṃda a gliding sound v inserted: ಹೂವಿಂದ hūviṃda. If two words are joined together, the unvoiced initial consonant of the second word can become voiced. This phenomenon is usually not expressed in the scriptures: ಕೆಳತುಟಿ keḷatuṭi, spoken / keḷaduṭi / "lower lip". A phonological process that only occurs in colloquial language is the loss (syncope) of a vowel in the second syllable of three or more syllable words (e.g. written language ಹೆಸರು hesaru, colloquial ಹೆಸ್ರು hesru "Surname").


Kannada is an agglutinating language and expresses the relationships between words using suffixes (suffixes).



Kannada knows three genera: masculine (male), feminine (female) and neuter (neuter). The gender division is based on the natural gender: the masculine is used for male persons or gods, the feminine for female persons or goddesses and usually the neuter for animals or things. At the tribes -a and the identifying tribes -u the gender can be recognized by the suffixes of the nominative singular: see ಸೇವಕನು sēvaka-nu (mask.) "servant", ಸೇವಕಳು sēvaka-ḷu (fem.) "servant" and ಮರವು mara-vu (neutr.) "tree".

Plural formation

The nouns in Kannada occur in two numbers: singular and plural. The plural is formed agglutinatively by one of four possible suffixes:

  • -aru in male and female tribes -a (e.g. ಹುಡುಗ huḍuga "Boy" - ಹುಡುಗರ huḍugaru "Boys")
  • -aṃdiru in the case of male and, more rarely, female relatives (e.g. ಅಣ್ಣ aṇṇa "Older brother" - ಅಣ್ಣಂದಿರು aṇṇaṃdiru "Older brothers")
  • -avaru for the so-called form of respect. Formally, the word is in the plural, but the meaning remains singular. (e.g. ತಾಯಿ tāyi "Mother" - ತಾಯಿಯವರು tāyiyavaru for example "Mrs. Mother")
  • -gaḷu with all neuter and partly with masculine personal names (e.g. ಮರ mara "Tree" - ಮರಗಳು maragaḷu "Trees", ಶತ್ರು śatru "Enemy" - ಶತ್ರುಗಳು śatrugaḷu "Enemies")


Nouns are declined in seven cases in Kannada: nominative, genitive, accusative, dative, instrumental, vocative and locative.


Adjectives can either be simple (e.g. ಒಳ್ಳೆ oḷḷe “Good”) or derived from nouns (e.g. ಬಲವಾದ balavāda "Strong" from ಬಲ bala "Strength"). As an attribute, the adjective always stands in its unchanged root form in front of its reference word, i.e. H. it is not declined: ಸಣ್ಣ ಮನೆ saṇṇa mane "A little house" - ಸಣ್ಣ ಮನೆಗಳು saṇṇa manegaḷu "small houses". Sometimes the attribute also merges with its reference word to form a compound: ಎಳೆಮಗು eḷe-magu "Little child". The personal pronoun of the 3rd person singular is appended to an adjective that is used predicatively or as a noun (e.g. ಈ ಕುದುರೆ ಒಳ್ಳೆದು ī kudure oḷḷe-du "This horse is good").


The numerals from 1 to 10 are:

1ಒಂದು oṃdu
2ಎರಡು eraḍu
3ಮೂರು mūru
4ನಾಲ್ಕು nālku
5ಐದು aidu
6ಆರು āru
7ಏಳು ēḷu
8ಎಂಟು eṃṭu
9ಒಂಬತ್ತು oṃbattu
10ಹತ್ತು hattu

The numerals from 11 to 19 are formed by adding the numerals for the ones han- or hadi- be appended (11 ಹನ್ನೊಂದು hannoṃdu , 12 ಹನ್ನೆರಡು hanneraḍu, 13 ಹದಿಮೂರು hadimūru Etc.). 20 has the special shape ಇಪ್ಪತ್ತು ippattu The numerals from 30 to 90 are made up of the numerals from 3 to 9 and hattu formed for 10 (30 ಮೂವತ್ತು mūvattu, 40 ನಾಲ್ವತ್ತು nālvattu Etc.). The words for 100 and 1000 are ನೂರು nūru and ಸಾವಿರ sāvira. As usual in South Asia, there are special numerals for 100,000 (ಲಕ್ಷವು lakṣavu, see Lakh) and 10,000,000 (ಕೋಟಿ kōṭi, see Crore).


Similar to German, the verb consists of stem + tense sign + personal ending.

In Kannada the verb has three tenses:

  • The present tense is made by adding the morpheme - (u) tt- formed on the trunk (ಮಾಡುತ್ತೇನೆ māḍuttēne "I do").
  • The future tense is created by adding the morpheme - (u) v- formed on the trunk. (ಮಾಡುವೆನು māḍuvenu "I will do"). In addition to the future, the future tense can also express actions that occur regularly in the present (“I am used to doing”). In colloquial language, the present tense is often used instead of the future tense as in German.
  • The past tense is made by adding the morpheme - (i) d- formed on the trunk (ಮಾಡಿದೆನು māḍidenu "I did"). However, there are quite a few irregular verbs whose past tense has to be learned, e.g. B. ಕೊಂದೆನು kondenu from ಕೊಳ್ಳು koḷḷu "Set", ಬಂದೆನುbandenu from ಬರು baru "Come", ಇದ್ದೆನು iddenu from ಇರು iru "Be there" etc.

With the present participle on -uttā + iru “To be” can be formed into progressive forms: ಮಾಡುತ್ತಾ ಇರುತ್ತೇನೆ māḍuttā iruttēne "I'm doing", ಮಾಡುತ್ತಾ ಇದ್ದೆನು māḍuttā iddenu "I just did".

Likewise, perfect forms arise from the past participle + iru. The past participle is formed:

  • in the regular verbs with -i (ಮಾಡಿ māḍi "made")
  • occurs with the irregular verbs -u to the perfect stem (ಬಂದು bandu "came")

Along with iru this creates a perfect (ಬಂದಿರುತ್ತೇನೆ band ’iruttēne "I came") and a past perfect (ಬಂದಿದ್ದೆನು band ’iddenu "I came").

There are several forms of the imperative:

  • The rude you imperative is the basic form: ಮಾಡು! māḍu! "Do!"
  • For the polite you will be imperative -iri attached: ಮಾಡಿರಿ! māḍiri "make!"
  • When prompted to the group (hortative) -ōṇa appended: ಮಾಡೋಣ māḍōṇa! "do we!"
  • Finally there is a call to yourself with -ali: ಮಾಡಲಿ māḍali "I'll do it then"

The modal verbs “can”, “should” and “must” are expressed through extensions: ಮಾಡಬಲ್ಲೆನು māḍaballenu “I can do it”, ಮಾಡಲಾರೆನು māḍalārenu “I can't do it”, ಮಾಡಬೇಕು māḍabēku “I have to do it”, ಮಾಡಬಹುದು māḍabahudu "I should do" etc.


The fixed sentence order in the Kannada is subject-object-verb (SOV). Accordingly, the subject is in the first place in the sentence (it can only be preceded by circumstances of the time and place) and the predicate always at the end of the sentence. As is characteristic of SOV languages, in Kannada attributes always come before their reference word, subordinate clauses before main clauses, full verbs before auxiliary verbs and postpositions are used instead of prepositions.

Complex sentences consist of a main clause and one or more subordinate clauses. In general, a sentence can only contain one finite verb. The Kannada has no conjunctions, subordinate clauses as well as parataxes are formed by infinite verb forms. These include the infinitive, the gerund (verbal participle) and the participle.

Therefore, similar (but not the same!) As in Turkish, these infinite verb forms are used instead of words like “that”, “if” or “to”. For example, “I'm going out to have a coffee” means: ಒಂದು ಕಾಫಿ ಕುಡಿಯುವುದಕ್ಕೆ ಹೊರಗೆ ಹೋಗುತ್ತೇನೆ Ondu kaphi kudiyuvudakke horage hōguttēne, literally: “I'll go out to have a cup of coffee”. "If" is the verb ending -are: ನೀನು ಅವನನ್ನು ನೋಡಿದರೆ ನನಗೆ ಹೇಳು Nīnu avanannu nōḍid-are, nanage hēḷu, literally: "You see him-if, tell me (it)", thus: "Tell me when you see him". Etc.

Also in relative clauses there are no relative pronouns, but participles. For example: ನಿನ್ನೆ ಬಂದ ಹುಡುಗ ನನ್ನ ತಮ್ಮ ಆಗಿದ್ದ Ninne banda huḍuga nanna tamma agidda, literally: "The boy who came yesterday was my brother", thus: "The boy who came yesterday was my brother."


Native grammar divides the Kannada words into four categories. The main criterion is how they relate to the Sanskrit vocabulary. This concept originally comes from the daughter languages ​​of Sanskrit, but was also carried over to the unrelated Kannada.

  • As dēśya (ದೇಶ್ಯ "local") refers to real Kannada words with no equivalent in Sanskrit. This category includes Dravidian hereditary words such as ತಾಯಿ tāyi "Mother" (cf. Tamil தாய் tāy), ಕಾಲು kālu “Foot” (cf. Tamil கால் kāl) or ನಡೆ naḍe “Go” (cf. Tamil நட naṭa).
  • As tatsama (ತತ್ಸಮ "the same as that [i.e. a Sanskrit word]") is Sanskrit words that are present in the Kannada in an unchanged form. Much of them like ಚಂದ್ರ caṃdra "Moon" (from चन्द्र candra), ಮುಖ mukha "Face" (from मुख mukha) or ಗೃಹ gr̥ha "House" (from गृह gr̥ha) has been borrowed from Sanskrit into Kannada. But it can also be hereditary words that exist in Sanskrit as Dravidian borrowings, e.g. B. ಬಲ bala "Strength" (Sanskrit वल bala), ಮಣಿ maṇi "Jewel" (Sanskrit मणि maṇi) and ಮಾಲೆ times (Sanskrit माला mālā).
  • As tadbhava (ತದ್ಭವ "derived from it [i.e. from a Sanskrit word]") are words that originally come from Sanskrit but are subject to phonetic changes, e.g. B. ಅಕ್ಕರ akkara "Letter" (from akṣara), ಅಗಸ agasa (of akāśa) "Heaven" or ಕತಿ kati "History of kathā).
  • As anyadēśya (ಅನ್ಯದೇಶ್ಯ "foreign") refers to loanwords from other languages. These can originate in the following languages:
    • Hindustani (Hindi or Urdu), e.g. B. ತಯಾರು tayāru "Done" (from तैयार taiyār), ಸರ್ಕಾರ sarkara "Government" (from सरकार sarkār), ಮಾಲೀಕ mālīka "Owner" (from मालिक mālik). Again, these Hindustani words may originally come from other languages. Some of them came to the Kannada through Telugu or Marathi.
    • English, e.g. B. ನಂಬರು naṃbaru "Number" (from number), ಟಿಕೀಟು ṭikīṭu "Ticket" (from ticket), ಡಾಕ್ಟರು ḍākṭaru "Doctor" (from doctor)
    • Portuguese, e.g. B. ಮೇಜು mēju "Table" (from mesa)
    • French, e.g. B. ಕುಸೀನಿ kusīni "Kitchen" (from cuisine)


General descriptions

  • Sanford B. Steever: Kannada. In: Sanford B. Steever (Ed.): The Dravidian Languages. London 1998, pp. 129-157.


  • M. S. Andronov: The Kannada Language. Translated from V. Korotky. Moscow 1969.
  • Hans Jensen: Canarian written language grammar. Leipzig 1969.
  • Ferdinand Kittel: A Grammar of the Kannada Language in English. Mangalore 1900.
  • Harold F. Schiffman: A Reference Grammar of Spoken Kannada. Washington D.C. 1979.


  • L. Halemane & M.N. Leelavathi: An Intensive Course in Kannada. Mysore 1983.
  • Bando Bhimaji Rajpurohit: An Intensive Course in Kannada. 2nd rev. Edition. Dravidian Linguistics Association, 2006, ISBN 978-81-85691-13-8, p. 171.
  • Harold Spencer, W. Perston (arr.): A Kanarese Grammar with Graduated Exercises. Mysore 1950.

Web links

Individual evidence