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Culture of Karnataka - Languages of Karnataka

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The official language of Karnataka is Kannada, which has its roots in the Dravidian family. Kannada language has a rich literary tradition; with Kannada literature having seven Jnanpith awardees to its credit. It is as old as the Tamil language, which is also from the Dravidian family. However, it was only in the ninth century that Kannada actually became an independent language. Kannada is spoken by nearly 65 percent of the population of Karnataka.

Tulu, Kodava Takk and Konkani are some of the other native languages of Karnataka. The people living in the coastal districts of Karnataka, which consists of the districts of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada, speak Tulu.The oldest

surviving Tulu text is the Tulu Mahabharato, which was written by Arunabja in the Tulu script. Tulu script has shown a gradual and steady decline, and thus Tulu language uses Kannada script.

Majority of Kodavas reside in the Kodagu district. They speak the Kodava Takk. In this language there are two variations - one which is the northern variation and the other which is the southern variation. They are known as Mendale Takka and Kiggaati Takka respectively. The script used by the Kodavas for writing is the Kannada script. The Akademi of Tulu Sahithya and the Kodava Sahitya Akademi make it a point to promote their respective languages. These bodies are making sure that their languages do not die a natural death.

People who reside in the regions of Uttara Kannada and in some parts of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts speak the Konkani language. This language too uses the Kannada script for its writings. Since Karnataka has a large Muslim population, Urdu language is also spoken in Karnataka widely.

Karnataka is slowly growing more cosmopolitan and with the number of information technology companies making a beeline for setting up their businesses in Karnataka, especially in Bangaluru and Mysore, the popularity of English as a medium of expression and communication is on the rise. Many couples in Karnataka want their children to study in English medium schools, so as to enhance their job prospects, and this move has been a setback to the popularity of the Kannada language in the recent years.

The state government promotes the use of Kannada as the official language of Karnataka for purposes like communication, but it is not averse to the use of English either. There are a number of people who speak English in Karnataka as the need for the IT industry and the tourism industry is making English language highly popular here.

A minority of people living in the state also speak other languages like Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Persian, Tibetan, etc.


Costumes of Karnataka | Handicrafts of Karnataka | Dances of Karnataka | Languages of Karnataka


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