Karnataka language and dialects

Karnataka language and dialects

Karnataka has a rich linguistic heritage. There are various languages and dialect spoken in the state. The variation is so much that at every 40-50 kms one could find a different dialect. Languages of Karnataka are of Dravidian Family. Kannada is the language spoken by majority of Karnataka people. Kannada has a large number of dialects. Apart from Kannada Tulu is also spoken in some regions while Hindi and English are quite popular in Urban Centres.

Various languages and their dialects are


Kannada is the State Language of Karnataka. 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 worldwide.

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 highly 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.

Kannada is one of the 22 official languages of India and is the official language of the state of Karnataka. Kannada has now received the Classical Language status effective November 1, 2008.

Dialects of Kannada

There is also a sharp distinction between the spoken and written forms of the Kannada. 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. Dialects of Kannada proper fall into four groups

Coastal dialects 

Mangalore kannada, Halakki, Barkur, Havyaka,kundagannada , Sirsi Kannada, Ankola Kannada.


Northern Dialects                          

Dharwad Kannada, Gulbarga Kannada, Bagalkot Kannada



Gowda Kannada, Tiptur, Rabakavi, Nanjangudu


South Karnataka

Aruvu, Bangalore Kannada, Soliga, Kannada Kurumba, Gowdra Bhashe


Havyaka- Havigannada is used only by Havyakas. It uses similar verbs and words as mainstream Kannada. It is spoken in the regions of Mangalore, Sagara, Sirsi, Yellapur, Siddapur, Honnavar, Kumta, Puttur, Gokarna, Hosanagara, Sullia, Kasaragod, etc. where there is a higher density of Havyakas in relation to other places.

Kundagannada – Spoken in Kundapura Taluk of Udupi district, Karnataka. It is also called as Kota Kannada as it is spoken by people of Kota and Kota brahmins of Karnataka.

Gowda kannadaArebhashe is a dialect of Hale Kannada and Tulu languages. It is spoken by more than 400,000 people, particularly Hindus in the Gowda community in the regions of Kodagu and Sullia of Dakshina Kannada.

Banglore KannadaBangalore Kannada is a vernacular dialect of the Indian language, Kannada, spoken mainly by people residing in and around Karnataka, especially South-East Karnataka (Bangalore, Mysore, Mandya, etc.).

Kannada Kurumba- spoken by the Kuruba tribe. It is often considered a dialect of Kannada; however, Ethnologue classifies it as a separate language. Kurumba speakers are situated in Teni, Dindigul, Coimbatore, Dharmapuri, Vellore, and Salem districts of Tamil Nadu, in addition to areas of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.


Badagu is the Kannada-related language spoken by the Badaga community in the Nilgiri region in Tamil Nadu and it is considered as an independent Dravidian language.


Holiya, also called Holar, Hole, Holu, Golari-Kannada, is the Kannada-related language spoken by a small section of people (500) in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.


Tulu Language

Tulu language is one of the five Dravidian languages of South India (Pancha- Bhasha, others are Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam). The four major languages spoken today are dominantly spoken in their respective states (Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala), whereas Tulu is spoken in a small niche, mainly in coastal Karnataka and Northern Karala (Kasaragod district).

About 2.5 million people speak Tulu and call it their mother tongue. Tulu nadu is a region where many languages are spoken. While Kannada is the official state language, different ethnic communities in Tulu Nadu speak different languages. Tulu, derived from proto-Dravidian is the predominant language spoken by Hindus of various castes and by the Jains of Tulu Nadu. Konkanasthas and Catholics speak two variants of Konkani. Muslims speak a language of their own that is derived from Tulu as well as Malayalam.


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