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7 facts about Konkani language that may amaze you

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By Harshmeet Singh

There aren’t many better examples of India’s diverse culture than its linguistic diversity. The country is home to 780 languages with over 120 of them holding the ‘official’ status. But the other side of the story is that India currently heads the list of UNESCO’s world’s languages in danger.

The constitution, in its eighth schedule, lists 22 languages as the official regional languages in the country. This series of articles is an attempt to focus on these 22 languages, their pasts and present, and cherish our linguistic diversity. After discussing about Assamese, Bodo and Koshur in the previous write-ups, today, we shift our focus towards Konkani.

  • Konkani has close to 7.5 million native speakers spread across the western coast of the country in the states of Goa, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, and the Union territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli.
  • A number of Konkani scholars claim that the older version of the language was in fact Prakrit.

konkani facts

  • According to the legends, Parashurama, the sixth avtar of Lord Vishnu, shot an arrow in the Sea and instructed the Sea Lord to retreat to the level where the arrow was placed. The new land that came into being was called ‘Konkan’ – corner of the earth. The language of this land was called Konkani.
  • With Goa being a thriving commercial centre in the ancient times, a number of Turks and Arabs visited the place frequently. As a result, multiple Persian and Arabic words came into the Konkani language. Some of them include dusman (enemy) and karz (debt).
  • Konkani is written in multiple scripts, viz. Devanagari, Roman, Kannada, Malayalam and Perso-Arabic.
  • Marathis have always been very critical of Konkani. Their common view is, “It a branch of Marathi; it has neither script nor literature; it is not a language.”
  • When the Portuguese invaded Goa, they tried to force their language and culture on the local people. All the Konkani literature was burnt in 1548 and the use of the local language was banned. To safeguard their language, a number of locals fled to nearby states and provinces. As a result, the language developed different forms.
  • The Konkani Wikipedia project took off in 2006 and the site has close to 100 articles now.

So the next time you are holidaying in Goa, greet the locals by saying, “Dev Boro Dis Dium”!

To read more in this series –

Bodo Sahitya Sabha – Trying to revive the language

Assamese – a bright spot in Indian regional languages scene

Koshur language – Carrying forward Kashmiri culture

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Google India introduces new products on advancement in machine learning for Indian Languages

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New Delhi, Apr 25, 2017: Aiming to bring a billion people online and make the web more useful for them, Google India on Tuesday unveiled new products on advancement in machine learning for Indian languages.

Google also announced that the neural machine translation is now available for nine Indian languages — Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada.

“Google wants to extend internet for every Indian. We have identified gaps that bar Indians from accessing the internet. There are 400 million internet users in India and the number is expected to reach 600 million by 2020,” Rajan Anandan, Vice President, India and SouthEast Asia, Google, told reporters here.

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He added that 300 million Indians access internet on smartphones. Anandan also spoke about Google’s tie-up with RailTel to provide high-speed internet at Railway stations.

The neural machine translation is available in Chrome and Maps to make the translation process seamless and refined.

The company said it does one billion translations everyday and 95 per cent of Google Translate has its usage outside of the US.

“Of over 500 million people who use Google Translate, most of the users are in India, Indonesia, Brazil and Thailand,” it said.

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According to Google, neural networks initially took 10 seconds to translate but the company worked on it and brought down the time to 0.2 seconds in two months.

The company also launched “Gboard” in 22 scheduled languages in India. The users can now search words, meanings and even emojis in local language.

The keyboard now has a new feature by which text editing can be done on the go easily.

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The new Gboard comes with a feature that makes it easy to resize and reposition the keyboard according to a user’s need.

Goggle also unveiled Hindi dictionary in Google Search in collaboration with Oxford University Press.

It also shared findings from a new report by Google and KPMG India, titled “Indian Languages-Defining India’s Internet”.  (IANS)

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