Marathi (मराठी) is one of the widely spoken languages of India, and has a long literary history. In Maharashtra state about 70 million people speak Marathi. Like many other Indian languages, Marathi derives from Sanskrit, becoming separated from the other languages in its group about a thousand years ago. The name of the language can also appear as Maharashtri, Maharathi, Malhatee or Marthi.
|Region:||Maharashtra and adjacent states|
|Total speakers:||68 million native speakers |
3 million second language speakers
|Official language of:||Maharashtra State, India|
Table of contents
Marathi descends from the Sanskrit language of India via the Prakrit dialect Maharashtri. The Satavahana empire based at Pratishthana (now Paithan) in the first few centuries A.D used Maharashtri as its official language. Maharashtri became the most widespread Prakrit of its time, and also pre-dominated amongst the three "Dramatic" Prakrits (Maharashtri, Sauraseni and Magadhi). A version of Maharashtri (Jaina Maharashtri) served to write part of the Jain canon. The Satavahana emperor Hala's Sattasai (Sanskrit Saptashati) – an anthology of 700 love poems – became the most famous piece of literature in Maharashtri. Maharashtri slowly evolved into Marathi during the 15th and 16th centuries A.D.
Most speakers of Marathi live in the Indian state of Maharashtra, but some speakers also inhabit neighboring states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. The Ethnologue also records speakers of Marathi in Israel (thanks to the emigration of the Bene Israel and other Jews from India) and in Mauritius.
Marathi serves as an official language of Maharashtra. The Constitution of India recognises it as one of the twenty-two official languages of the country.
Dialects of Marathi include Ahirani and Manadeshi. Konkani as spoken in Goa or Karwar once ranked as a dialect of Marathi, but linguists now recognise it as a separate language. However one dialect called "Malwani" from Sindhudurg district (part of the Konkan Coast) has now emerged as a major dialect, the vehicle of many entertaining plays. The recent rise of "MalwaNi" can be traced to the play "WastraharaN", written by Gangaram GawaNkar and staged by Machchhindra Kambli, which became a superhit and virtually gave birth to the genre of MalwaNi plays. For more on this refer to the literature section.
prabhaat: dawn gR^iha: house prabhaate: at dawn gR^ihe: at/in the house
pahaaT: dawn ghar: house pahaaTe: at dawn gharI/gharaat: at/in/to the house
Interestingly, Marathi uses the large number of modified Urdu, Persian and Arabic words. This came about because, for a significant period, Marathi came under the influence of Muslim and Maratha rulers who used words from these languages.
Some examples of this vocabulary:
- Khurchii (chair) originally comes from Arabic Kursi (chair).
- Jahiraat (advertisement) originally comes from Persian Zahiraat (advertisement).
- Shifaras (recommendation) originally comes from Urdu Sifarish (recommendation).
- Marjee (wish) originally comes from Urdu Marzee (wish).
- Ishq (love), used in rural and theatrical versions of Marathi, comes from Urdu Ishq (love).
Before the use of the printing press, writers in Marathi used a different script called the Modi script — a cursive script written with a minimal lifting of pen from paper. However, with the advent of large-scale printing, Modi script fell into disuse, as it proved very difficult for type-setting. (See External Link). The courts in the olden days also used Persian-type scripts under the influence of Muslim and Maratha rulers.
The oldest evidence of written Marathi comes from the base of a gigantic thousand year-old statue in the southern Indian town of Shravanabelagola. The inscription concerns the king Gangaraya who funded the effort, and his general Chamundaraya, who erected the statue for the king.
- Main article: Marathi literature
Marathi has a long literary tradition, and a huge literature has grown up in Marathi in the last seven centuries. The saint-poet Dnyaneshwar ranks as the first major literateur in the Marathi language. Other prominent saint-poets include Eknath, Tukaram and Namdev, who enriched Marathi from the grass-roots level. Marathi probably has the richest saint-literature of all Indian languages. Prominent recent Marathi authors include P.K.Atre, P.L. Deshpande, Jaywant Dalawi, V. P. Kale, Vyankatesh Madgoolkar, D. M. Mirasdar, Anand Yadav, Shankar Patil, and Vijay Tendulkar. Famous poets include Vishnu Vaman Shirvadakar (Kavi Kusumagraj), Mangesh Padgaonkar, Vaman Pandit, Aarati Prabhu and Shanta Shelake.
Though Maharashtra has a history of more than thousand years, it came into prominence during the reign of Chhtrapati Shivaji (1630 – 1680).
Shivaji rebelled against the existing Muslim rulers of the land and founded the Hindawi Swarajya (Hindu Self-rule) — see Maratha Empire.
Later this rule extended from Delhi in the north to Tanjavore in the south.
- Ethnologue report for Marathi
- A network of links to explain the variety of Marathi lifestyle and culture
- Marathi- and Maharashtra-related resources, discussion forums, songs, and links.
- Modi Script online
- Marathi documents and links
- Microsoft and Indian Languages
Maharashtrians or Marathis who leave Maharashtra for work/studies get together through "mandal" groups. Such Mandals around the world include:
- Hyderabad Marathis
- Maharashtra Mandal Vizag
- Maharashtra Mandal Chicago
- North American Maharashtra Mandal
- Dallas-Fort Worth Maharashtra Mandal
- Maharashtra Mandal London
- Maharashtra Mandal New York
- Maharashtra Mandal Singapore
- Maharashtra Mandal Detroit
- Maharashtra Mandal Columbus
- Maharashtra Mandal Bay Area
- Maharashtra Mandal Pittsburgh
- Maharashtra Mandal Atlanta
- Maharashtra Mandal Los Angeles
- Maharashtra Mandal Seattle
- Maharashtra Mandal Dar es Salaam,Tanzania
- Maharashtra Mandal Washington DC
- New England Marathi Mandal
- Maharashtra Mandal Milwaukee