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Encyclopedia > Kannada
Kannada (ಕನ್ನಡ)
Spoken in: Karnataka, India
Region: South Asia
Total speakers: 45 million
Ranking: 33
Genetic classification: Dravidian


Official status
Official language of: Karnataka, India
Regulated by: Kannada Saahithya Parishath
Language codes
ISO 639-1 kn
ISO 639-2 kan

Kannada - aptly described as 'sirigannada' (known to few as Kanarese) is one of the oldest Dravidian languages and is spoken in its various dialects by roughly 45 million people. It is the state language of Karnataka, one of the four southern states in India.


The language

The Kannada language has been spoken for about 2500 years, with the Kannada writing system being in use for about the last 1900 years. The initial development of the Kannada language is similar to that of other Dravidian languages, notably Tamil and Telugu. During later centuries, Kannada, along with Telugu, has been highly influenced by Sanskrit vocabulary and literary styles.

Kannada is a higly inflected language with three genders (masculine, feminine, neutral or common) and two numbers (singular, plural). It is inflected for gender, number and tense, among other things.

There is also a sharp distinction between the spoken and written forms of the language. Spoken Kannada tends to vary from region to region. The written form is more or less constant throughout Karnataka, however. The ethnologue identifies about 20 dialects of Kannada. Notable of them are Kodava (spoken in Coorg district), Kunda (spoken exclusively in Kundapura), Havyaka (spoken mainly by Havyaka Brahmanas of Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada and Udupi), Are Bhashe (spoken mainly in Sullia region of Dakshina Kannada), Soliga Kannada, Badaga Kannada, etc...

Kannada on Wikipedia

Geographic distribution

Kannada is mainly spoken in Karnataka in India, and to a lesser extent in the neighboring states. There are significant Kannada speaking populations in the United States and the United Kingdom.

A Kannada language sign board

Official status

Kannada is one of the 22 official languages of India and is the state official language of the state of Karnataka.

Kannada script

Main article: Kannada alphabet
See the Kannada Aksharamaale (alphabets) here

The language has 49 letters and is phonetic. The character set is almost identical to that of other Indian languages. The script itself is fairly complicated like most other languages of India owing to the occurrence of various combinations of "half-letters", or symbols that attach to various letters in a manner similar to the aigüe, grave, and cédille marks in Romance languages. The number of written symbols, however, is far more than the 49 characters in the alphabet, owing to the fact that different characters can be combined to form compound characters (ottaksharas). Each written symbol in the Kannada script corresponds with one syllable, as opposed to one phoneme in languages like English.


Several transliteration schemes are used to type Kannada characters using a standard keyboard. These include ITRANS, Baraha (http://www.baraha.com) and Nudi. The Government of Karnataka standard for Kannada transliteration is the Nudi (http://www.bangaloreit.com/html/education/Nudi.html) transliteration scheme.

Few unique things about Kannada

Kannada has a few firsts. The first encyclopedia was written in Kannada. This was later translated to Sanskrit under name Shivatatvaratnakara.

See also

External links

Wikipedia articles written in this language are located at the
Kannada language
Kannada | Kannada literature | Kannada Wikipedia
Hubli kannada | Kannada language
Kannada film industry | Kannada alphabet | Kannada film | Kannada poetry

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Belonging to the group of Southern Indic scripts, Kannada script is used in the Indian state of Karnataka for writing the Kannada language, a member of the Dravidian group of languages.
Kannada is written horizontally from left to right and its basic set of symbols consists of 35 consonants and 14 vowels.
In Kannada script, the inherent vowel of a syllable is sup-pressed by a virama which is a small superscript mark on the syllable.
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