world kundapura kannada day Karnataka

For the love of Kundapura Kannada

A view of Kannada Kudru (river island) in Kundapura taluk of Udupi district.

A view of Kannada Kudru (river island) in Kundapura taluk of Udupi district. | Photo Credit: ANIL KUMAR SASTRY

A language is not just a means of communication; it encompasses within itself the history of a land and the way of life of its people. To speak a language, then, is to keep alive these cultural nuances and traditions, collective experiences and thoughts, even.

It was this idea that sparked the inception of Vishwa Kundapra Kannada Dina (World Kundapra Kannada Day), an initiative to revive Kundapra Kannada, also called Kunda Kannada, a unique dialect of Kannada spoken by the people in and around Kundapura taluk of Udupi district in coastal Karnataka.

Started in 2019, there is no specific date assigned to observe Vishwa Kundapra Kannada Dina. Instead, it is celebrated every year on the day of Ashada Amavasye, which this year happens to fall on July 28 (today). More interestingly, it is a completely people-led initiative organised by Kunda Kannadigas from the state and the diaspora as a mark of deep concern, appreciation and love for their dialect.

Ashada Amavasye holds a special significance for the natives since Kundapura is also an agro-centric region. So, every year on this day accomplished artists, writers, thinkers and commoners from home and abroad, come together to celebrate the unique tongue that binds them through stand-up comedy, Yakshagana and other art forms being performed in the dialect.

As part of the celebrations today, a major event has been organised at Bunt Sangha in Vijayanagar, Bengaluru from 4 p.m. onwards. The event will see programmes around the Kundapra dialect and its culture and will be attended by the likes of music composer Ravi Basrur, director Yograj Bhat, actor Pramod Shetty, and Cabinet Minister Kota Srinivasa Poojary. Events will also be held at Karkala, Dharwad and Dubai.

What is the Kundapra Kannada dialect?

According to linguists, dialects can be social (spoken by a sect or caste), regional (Belagavi Kannada or Kolar Kannada) or historical (spoken at different points in time). Predominantly a spoken dialect, Kundapra Kannada is considered a variant of Halegannada (Old Kannada) by virtue of having retained some aspects of Kannada’s historical dialect, says linguist K V Narayan. “It has imbibed certain essence from it and you will see words that are not in usage even in standard Kannada today, and therefore ‘sounds’ very different from other dialects,” he says.

Kundapra Kannada also has a massive vocabulary and got its first-ever dictionary last year. The dictionary with over ten thousand words and 1,500 idioms in use in the dialect, was put together by noted cartoonist Panju Gangolli and was published with support from the Tallur Family Trust.

“A distinct feature of Kundapra Kannada is its economical usage of words. For instance, a four-letter word like hogabeku (have to go) is reduced to hoyik, a one-and-a-half letter word. There are also a lot of words from Halegannada such as abbe (for amma or mother) or aanta, oonta, paanta ( aata, oota, paatha or play, eat, study) that are commonly used in Kundapra Kannada,” says Panju Gangolli.

Though the dialect evolves every 10 km or includes words that are a direct result of historical caste-based occupations, its usage has remained largely undiluted in the interiors of Karnataka. In urban spaces, however, it has faced a threat from mainstream Kannada and English medium education.

The Vishwa Kundapra Kannada Dina, thus, was a concerted effort by the younger generation of native speakers to save the language from being lost. “The decision for retention of a language/dialect and its features is always a community effort. It is done so by speaking the language at home, during inter-personal interactions, at social gatherings or in rituals,” says Mr. Narayan.

Leaders convey wishes on Twitter

Karnataka leaders, including former chief ministers Siddaramaiah and H D Kumaraswamy, took to Twitter to wish people on the occasion of Vishwa Kundapra Kannada Dina.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2022 5:52:57 pm |