Marathi language

Marathi language

Devanāgarī and Modi scripts.svg
Marathi written in Devanāgarī and Modi
Pronunciation [məˈɾaʈʰi]
Spoken in

India, Mauritius and Israel [1]

Marathi-speaking populations are found in United States, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Netherlands, Canada, UAE, South Africa, Israel, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, UK, Australia & New Zealand
Region Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, parts of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, and Daman & Diu
Native speakers 68 million  (1997)[1]
3 million as a second language
Language family
Thanjavur Marathi
Writing system Devanagari script (standard), Modi script (shorthand script)
Official status
Official language in  India (State of Maharashtra, Union territories of Daman-Diu)[2] and Dadra Nagar Haveli[3]
Regulated by Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad & various other institutions
Language codes
ISO 639-1 mr
ISO 639-2 mar
ISO 639-3 mar
Distribution of native Marathi speakers in India
Indic script
This page contains Indic text. Without rendering support you may see irregular vowel positioning and a lack of conjuncts. More...

Marathi (मराठी Marāṭhī) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people of western and central India. It is the official language of the state of Maharashtra. There are over 68 million fluent speakers worldwide.[1] Marathi has the fourth largest number of native speakers in India[4] and is the fifteenth most spoken language in the world.[5] Marathi has some of the oldest literature of all modern Indo-Aryan languages, dating from about 1000 AD.[6] The major dialects of Marathi are called the Standard Marathi and the Warhadi Marathi.[7] There are a few other sub-dialects like Ahirani, Dangi, Samavedi, Khandeshi . Standard Marathi is the official language of the State of Maharashtra.


Geographic distribution

Marathi is spoken in India, Mauritius and Israel. Marathi is also spoken by emigrant Maharashtrians worldwide, especially in the U.S. and Europe.
Maharashtra, the state in India where the majority of Marathi speakers live.

Marathi is primarily spoken in Maharashtra and parts of neighbouring states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Chattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, union-territories of Daman-diu and Dadra Nagar Haveli. The cities of Baroda, Surat, Ahmedabad and Belgaum (Karnataka), Indore, Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh), Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh) and Tanjore (Tamil Nadu) each have sizable Marathi-speaking communities. Marathi is also spoken by Maharashtrian emigrants worldwide, in the United States, UAE, South Africa, Singapore, Germany, UK, Australia, Japan and New Zealand[citation needed]. The Ethnologue states that Marathi is also spoken in Israel and Mauritius, and Canada.[1]Ethnologue report of Marathi language</ref>

Official status

Marathi is an official language of the Indian state of Maharashtra and co-official language in the union territories of Daman and Diu[2] and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.[3] In Goa, Konkani is the sole official language; however, Marathi may also be used for all official purposes. The Constitution of India recognizes Marathi as one of India's twenty-two official languages.[8]

In addition to all universities in Maharashtra, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (Gujarat),[9] Osmania University (Andhra Pradesh),[10] Gulbarga university (Karnataka),[11] Devi Ahilya University of Indore[12] and Goa University (Panaji)[13] all have special departments for higher studies in Marathi linguistics. Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi) has announced plans to establish a special department for Marathi.[14]


The Prakrit vernacular languages, including Maharashtri Prakrit, were originally derived from Sanskrit.[citation needed] Further change led to apabhraṃśa languages like Marathi, which may be described as being a re-Sanskritised, developed form of Maharashtri Apabhraṃśa. The more recent influence of Persian, Arabic or Urdu has also made this language seem close to mainstream Hindi.[citation needed]

Maharashtri Prakrit was commonly spoken until 875 CE (875 AD) and was the official language of the Sātavāhana empire. It had risen to a high literary level, and works like Karpurmanjari and Saptashati (150 BCE) were written in it. Maharashtri Prakrit was the most widely used Prakrit language in western and southern India.

Maharashtri Apabhraṃśa remained in use for several hundred years until at least 500 CE (500 AD). Apabhraṃśa was used widely in Jain literature and formed an important link in the evolution of Marathi. This form of Apabhraṃśa was re-Sanskritised and eventually became Marathi.

According to the written forms and historical attestations and evidences, Marathi is said to date to the 8th century.[15]

Pre-13th century

Earliest forms

The first written attestation of Marathi, a document found in Karnataka, dates from 700 CE.[15] The earliest known written form is on a copper plate of Vijayaditya found in Satara, dated 739 CE (739 AD).

The stone inscription at the feet of Bahubali in Shravanabelagola, South Karnataka, whose first line reads as "Chavundarajen Karaviyalen" (श्रीचावुण्डराजे करवियले, श्रीगंगराजे सुत्ताले करवियले "Built by Cāvuṇḍarājā, son of Gaṅgarājā"), is another old specimen, constructed in 983 CE. This inscription has been quite controversial, and was being touted as being in old-Marathi since the time it was noticed and interpreted. However, given that the distinctive instrumental -viyalē ending of the verb is the hallmark of Konkani language, and the verb suttālē not being prevalent in Marathi, linguists and historians such as S.B. Kulkarni of Nagpur University, Dr V.P. Chavan (former vice-president of the Anthropological society of Mumbai), and others have thus concluded that this inscription is in Konkani.[16]

Also, an interesting couplet is found in the monk Udyotansuri's Kuvalayamala in the 8th century, referring to a bazaar where the Marhattes speak Didhale (Dile - given), Gahille (Ghetale - taken). The Marathi translation of the Panchatantra is also considered very old.[17]

It is because the language was spoken so widely that the deeds of charitable gifts like the one at Patan recording the maintenance grants given by King Soidev to Changdev's University and the imperial mandates expected to be obeyed by all, like the Edict of King Aparaditya (1183), were inscribed in Marathi. The Pandharpur inscription (1273) of the days of Raja Shiromani Ramdev Rao is in flawless Marathi. Marathi was now spoken by all classes and castes.

12th century to 1905


Marathi literature began and grew thanks to the rise of both the Yadava dynasty of Devgiri (who adopted Marathi as the court language and patronized Marathi scholars) and two religious sects - Mahanubhav Panth and Warkari Panth, who adopted Marathi as the medium for preaching their doctrines of devotion. Marathi had attained a venerable place in court life by the time of the Yadava kings. During the reign of the last three Yadava kings, a great deal of literature in verse and prose, on astrology, medicine, Puranas, Vedanta, kings and courtiers were created. Nalopakhyan, Rukmini swayamvar and Shripati's Jyotishratnamala (1039 CE) are a few examples.

The oldest book in prose form in Marathi, Vivekasindhu (विवेकसिंधु), was written by Mukundaraj, a yogi of Natha Pantha and arch-poet of Marathi. Mukundaraj bases his exposition of the basic tenets of the Hindu philosophy and Yoga Marga on the utterances or teachings of Shankaracharya. Mukundaraj's other work, Paramamrita, is considered the first systematic attempt to explain the Vedanta in the Marathi language. One of the famous saints of this period is Sant Dnyaneshwar (1275–1296) who wrote Bhavarthadeepika, popularly known as Dnyaneshwari (1290),[18] and Amritanubhava. He also composed devotional songs called abhangas. Dnyaneshwar gave a higher status to Marathi by bringing the sacred Bhagavad Gita from Sanskrit to Marathi.

Mahanubhav sect

Notable examples of Marathi prose are "Līḷācarītra" (लीळाचरीत्र), events and anecdotes from the miracle filled life of Chakradhar Swami of the Mahanubhav sect compiled by his close disciple, Mahimabhatta, in 1238. The Mahanubhav sect made Marathi a vehicle for the propagation of religion and culture.

Warkari sect

The Mahanubhav sect was followed by the Warkari saint-poet Eknath (1528–1599). Eknath's Bhavarth Ramayana brought the message of the Bhagvat cult[clarification needed] to the people. Mukteswar translated the epic Mahabharata into Marathi. Social reformers like saint-poet Tukaram transformed Marathi into a rich literary language. Saint Tukaram’s (1608–49) poetry contained his inspirations. He was a radical reformer. Tukaram wrote over 3000 Abhangas. He was followed by Ramadas. Writers of the Mahanubhav sect contributed to Marathi prose while the saint-poets of Warkari sect composed Marathi poetry. However, the latter group is regarded as the pioneers and founders of Marathi literature. Jainism too enriched Marathi during Bahamani period.

Modern period

Since 1630, Marathi regained prominence with the rise of the Maratha empire beginning with the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji (1627–1680). Subsequent rulers extended the empire northwards to Delhi, eastwards to Orissa, and southwards to Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. These excursions by the Marathas helped to spread Marathi over broader geographical regions. This period also saw the use of Marathi in transactions involving land and other business. Documents from this period, therefore, give a better picture of life of common people - who spoke the language - than the documents in Persian which was used previously but understood only by the elites of the Islamic rulers. At the time, Saint Tukaram made important contributions to Marathi poetic literature in Warkari Pantha. But by the late 18th century, the Maratha Empire's influence over a large part of the country was on the decline.

18th century

In the 18th century, some well-known works such as Yatharthadeepika by Vaman Pandit, Naladamayanti Swayamvara by Raghunath Pandit, Pandava Pratap, Harivijay, Ramvijay by Shridhar Pandit and Mahabharata by Moropanta were produced. Krishnadayarnava and Sridhar were poets during the Peshwa period. New literary forms were successfully experimented with during the period and classical styles were revived, especially the Mahakavya and Prabandha forms.

After 1800 to 20th century

The British colonial period (also known as the Modern Period) saw standardization of Marathi grammar through the efforts of the Christian missionary William Carey. Christian missionaries played an important role in the production of scientific dictionaries and grammars.

The late 19th century in Maharashtra was a period of colonial modernity. Like the corresponding periods in other Indian languages, this was the period dominated by English-educated intellectuals. It was the age of prose and reason. It was the period of reformist activism and a great intellectual ferment.

The first Marathi translation of an English book was published in 1817, and the first Marathi newspaper was started in 1835. Newspapers provided a platform for sharing literary views, and many books on social reforms were written. The Marathi language flourished as Marathi drama gained popularity. Musicals known as Sangeet Natak also evolved. Keshavasut, the father of modern Marathi poetry published his first poem in 1885. First Marathi periodical Dirghadarshan was started in 1840 while first Marathi newspaper Durpan was started by Balshastri Jambhekar in 1832.

A few popular Marathi language newspapers at a newsstand in Mumbai, 2006

The first half of 20th century was marked by new enthusiasm in literary pursuits, and socio-political activism helped achieve major milestones in Marathi literature, drama, music and film. Modern Marathi prose flourished through various new literary forms like the essay, the biographies, the novels, prose, drama etc. Chiplunkar's Nibandhmala (essays), N.C.Kelkar's biographical writings, novels of Hari Narayan Apte, Narayan Sitaram Phadke and V. S. Khandekar, and plays of Mama Varerkar and Kirloskar's are particularly worth noting. Similarly Khandekar's Yayati which has won for him, the Jnanpith Award is a very noteworthy novel. Vijay Tendulkar's plays in Marathi have earned him a reputation beyond Maharashtra.

After Indian independence, Marathi was accorded the status of a scheduled language on the national level.

By May 1, 1960, Maharashtra emerged re-organised on linguistic lines adding Vidarbha and Marathwada region in its fold and bringing major chunks of Marathi population socio-politically together. With state and cultural protection, Marathi made great strides by the 1990s.

A literary event called Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan (All-India Marathi Literature Meet) is held every year. In addition, the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Natya Sammelan (All-India Marathi Theatre Meet) is also held annually. Both events are very popular amongst Maharashtrians.


Standard Marathi is based on dialects used by academics and the print media, and is influenced by the educated élite of the Pune region. Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad (MSP) is the apex guiding body for literary institutions of Marathi language.

Indic scholars distinguish 42 dialects of spoken Marathi. Dialects bordering other major language areas have many properties in common with those languages, further differentiating them from standard spoken Marathi. The bulk of the variation within these dialects is primarily lexical and phonological (e.g. accent placement and pronunciation). Although the number of dialects is considerable, the degree of intelligibility within these dialects is relatively high.[15] Historically, the major dialect divisions have been Ahirani, Khandeshi, Varhadi, Zadi Boli, Vadvali, Samavedi and Are Marathi.

Zadi Boli

Zadi Boli, Jhadi Boli or Zadiboli is spoken in Zadipranta (Forest rich region) of far eastern Maharashtra or eastern Vidarbha or western-central Gondvana comprising Gondia, Bhandara, Chandrpur, Gadchiroli and some parts of Nagpur and Wardha districts of Maharashtra.

Zadi Boli Sahitya Mandal and many literary are working for the conservation of this important and distinct dialect of Marathi.


Varhadi, Varhādi or Vaidarbhi is spoken in the Western Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. In Marathi, the retroflex lateral approximant [ɭ] is common, while in the Varhadii dialect, it corresponds to the palatal approximant y (IPA: [j]), making this dialect quite distinct. Such phonetic shifts are common in spoken Marathi, and as such, the spoken dialects vary from one region of Maharashtra to another.


Ahirani is spoken in the west Khandesh North Maharashtra region.

Ahirani is a language today spoken in the western and southern parts of Jalgaon (Chalisgaon, Bhadgaon, Pachora, Erandol, Dharangaon, Parole, Amalner, Chopada talukas), Nandurbar (Shahada, Maharashtra, Taloda, Navapur), Dhule (Shirpur, Shindkheda, Sakri)and eastern Nashik (Baglan, Malegaon and Kalwan talukas) districts of Maharashtra. This dialect has a considerable influence of Gujrati and Hindi, the languages spoken in the neighouring states Gujrat and Madhya Pradesh.


Khandesh was an old district of Bombay presidency. Later it was divided into East and West Khandesh. East Khandesh is now known as Jalgaon District and West Khandesh is now known as Dhule district. Ahirani was the languages of Ahir's who lived in Khandesh.

Khandeshi has social and territorial dailects. Taptayngi, Varlyangi, Khallyangi, Baglani, Nandurbari, Ghatoi, Dhakani, Jamneri are territorial dailects of Khandeshi. Ahirani, Bhilli, Rajputi, Pardeshi, Ladsikkiwani, Tavadi, Levapatidari and Gujari are social dailects of Khandeshi.

Dilemma of Ahirani & Khandeshi

The views of Dr. Ramesh Sitaram Suryawanshi on Ahirani and Khandeshi are explained in detail in his linguistic study of Ahirani. His books, published on the linguistic study of the Ahirani dialect, are Ahirani Bhasha Vaidnynik Abhyasa ("A linguistic study of Ahirani"; it explains the grammar formation of words and formation of sentences of Ahirani), Ahirani-shabdkosh (the first dictionary of Ahirani dialect which contains nearly 10,000 words lexicographically arranged) and Aharani Mhani Ani Wakprachar ("sayings and proverbs" in Ahirani dialect; it contains 1,000 sayings and 4,000 proverbs with illustrations). All these books were published by Akshaya Prakashan, Pune in 1997. His fourth book is Khandeshatil Krishak Jivan Sachitra Kosha — a pictorial dictionary used by the farmers in Khandesh. It is a book with pictures of the tools used by the farmers: the tools and their parts are labeled with their local names in the Ahirani dialect. It is published by Maharashtra State Governments Sahitya Ani Sanskriti Mandal, Mumbai, in 2000, and uploaded to the net by the Digital Library of India under the barcode 999999901412000. Dr. Ramesh Suryawanshi explains Ahirani and Khandeshi in detail. His explanation is elaborated in this article.

Ahirani or Khandeshi is spoken in Khandesh. Khandesh is the old name of area which covers today's Jalgaon, Dhulia, Nandurbar and part of Nasik and Aurangabad districts. Originally Ahirani was spoken by the Ahiras, herders who were with their cows, sheep, goats and bedfellows in the grassy land of Khandesh (previously known as Khandav Van). Khandesh was an old district of the Bombay Presidency. (Kahan means dry grass or grass land. Khan means pure. Khan means large ditch.) Khandesh is an area surrounded by the Satpuda, Ajanta, and Chandwad ranges, and the River Waghur. This wide basin was grass land, useful for cattle, the basin of the Tapi and Narbada rivers. Ahirani is the caste based name of the dialect and Khandeshi is the region based name of the dialect.

When the Ahiras arrived in Khandesh with their cattle, they settled in Khandesh. They were large in number. Meanwhile they indulged in social roles. People around them tried to imitate their dialect, while speaking with them. The Lewa, Wani, Bhill, and Pardeshi all have their own dialect yet they started speaking mixed Ahirani (Ahirani affected by their dialect) in the Khandesh territory. The dialects in Khandesh were known by others as Khandeshi. In Khandesh the dialect spoken by the Ahiras was known as Ahirani. Ahirani is caste-based name; Khandeshi is region-based name. Khandeshi is large concept which merges Ahirani in its stomach. Socially Khandeshi is classified in Ahirani, Bhilli, Pardeshi, Lewa–Patidar, in such subdialects.

Chalisgaon, Dhulia is hypocenter of Ahirani. Chandwadi is spoken around Chandwad hills, Nandubari is spoken around Nandurbar, Jamnerior Tawadi is spoken around Jamner tehsil, Taptangi is spoken by the side of Tapi, Tapti river. Dongarangi is spoken by the side of forest Ajanta hills. All these are region-based names for Khandeshi subdialects. All are regional categories. Ahirani, Gujari, Bhilau, Maharau, Lewa, Purbhi all are social (caste-based) categories of Khandeshi. Some say Bhanabai poetess is not Ahirani but she is Lewa. But Lewa and Ahirani are wrapped in Khandeshi. So Khandeshi is the term or concept that merges all disputes. It is wide, region-based concept.

The Khandeshi language has six vowel sounds and 34 consonantal sounds. Out of 34 consonants 14 are voiced. There are three genders and eight cases. Verbs are of both type transitive and intransitive; they are formed according to tense, person, gender and number.


Konkani refers to the collection of dialects of Marathi language spoken in the Konkan region. It is often mistakenly extended to cover Goan Konkani which is an independent language. George Abraham Grierson has referred to this dialect as the Konkan Standard of Marathi in order to differentiate it from Konkani language.[19] The sub-dialects of Konkani gradually merge from standard Marathi into Goan Konkani from north to south Konkan. The various sub dialects are: Parabhi, Koli, Kiristanv, Kunbi, Agari, Dhangari, Thakri, Karadhi, and Maoli.[20] These sub-dialects are together considered by the ISO to be a separate language and is assigned the ISO 639-3 code knn.[21]


This dialect may not necessarily be named thus. It was primarily spoken by Vadvals, which basically means agricultural plot owners, of the Naigaon, Vasai to Dahanu region. Somavamshi Kshatriyas speak this dialect. This language is preserved mostly by the Roman Catholics native to this region, since they are a closely knit community here and have very few relatives outside this region. It was also widely spoken among the Hindus native to this region, but due to external influences, ordinary Marathi is now more popular among the Hindus. There are many songs in this language. Recently a book was published by Nutan Patil containing around 70 songs. The songs are about marriage, pachvi etc. The dialect of the Kolis (fisherfolk) of Vasai and neighbouring Mumbai resembles this dialect closely, though they speak with a heavier accent. There is a village in Vasai called Chulna, which was predominantly Roman Catholic (now cosmopolitan). The striking feature of the dialect here contrasting it with Vadvali, is the preference of pronouncing the thinner 'l' and 'n' ('ल' and 'न') instead of the thicker 'l' and 'n' ('ळ' and 'ण'), which is retained even in the current generation of speakers even for conversing normal Marathi.


Samavedi is spoken in the interiors of the Nala Sopara and Virar regions to the north of Mumbai in the Vasai Talukauran panvel, Thane District of Maharashtra. The name of this language correctly suggests that its origins lie with the Samavedi[clarification needed] Brahmins native to this region. This language, too, finds more speakers among the Roman Catholic converts native to the region (who are known as East Indians), but nevertheless is popular among the Samavedi Brahmins. This dialect is very different from the other Marathi dialects spoken in other regions of Maharashtra, but resembles Vadvali very closely. Both Vadvali and Samavedi have relatively high proportions of words imported from Portuguese as compared to ordinary Marathi, because of direct influence of the Portuguese who colonized this region till 1739.

Thanjavur Marathi and Namdev Marathi

Thanjavur Marathi, Namdev Marathi and Bhavsar Marathi are spoken by many Southern Indians. This dialect evolved from the time of occupation of the Marathas in Thanjavur in southern Tamil Nadu. It has speakers in parts of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.


  • Tharki (Spoken by the Adivasi community found in Raigad district of Maharashtra)
  • Dangii (spoken near the Maharashtra-Gujarat border)
  • Judæo-Marathi (spoken by the Bene Israel Jews)
  • Kadodi (spoken near Vasai)
  • Agari (Spoken by the Agari community found in Raigad & Thane district of Maharashtra)
  • Ahirani ( spoken in north maharatra esp in Jalgaon and some parts of Dhule, Nandurbar )

Other dialects of Marathi include Warli of Thane District, Dakshini (Marathwada), Deshi (Eastern Konkan Ghats), Deccan, Nagpuri, Ikrani and Gowlan.

  • Malvani ( spoken in South Maharashtra esp in down below southern part of Kokan.)
  • Satari/Deshi ( spoken in South Maharashtra, especially in Satara, Sangli and Kolhapur Districts)

Other languages having considerable Marathi influence

  • Dakhini and Hyderabadi Urdu spoken in Hyderabad and some parts of Deccan are considerably influenced by Marathi. The grammar of Hyderabadi Urdu is adapted from Marathi. In fact, it is also called a creole between Marathi and Urdu with some Telugu words.


The phoneme inventory of Marathi is similar to that of many other Indo-Aryan languages, especially that of the Konkani language. An IPA chart of all contrastive sounds in Marathi is provided below.

  Labial Dental Alveolar Retroflex Alveopalatal Velar Glottal




s ʃ h
Nasals m

Liquids ʋ
l ɾ
ɭ j

Older aspirated *tsʰ, dzʱ have lost their onset, with *tsʰ merging with /s/ and *dzʱ being typically realized as an aspirated fricative, [zʱ]. This /ts, dz, zʱ/ series is not distinguished in writing from /tʃ, tʃʰ, dʒ, dʒʱ/.

  Front Central Back
High i   u
Mid e ə o
Low   a  

There are two more vowels in Marathi to denote the pronunciations of English words such as of a in act and a in all. These are written as अॅ and . The IPA signs for these are [æ] and [ɒ], respectively. Marathi retains the original Sanskrit pronunciations of certain alphabets such as the anusvāra (for instance, saṃhar, compared to sanhar in Hindi). Moreover, Marathi preserves certain Sanskrit patterns of pronunciation, as in the words purṇa and rāma compared to purṇ and rām in Hindi.


Modi script was used to write Marathi

Written Marathi first appeared during the 11th century in the form of inscriptions on stones and copper plates. Marathi alphabets are similar t0 hindi alphabets. From the 13th century until the mid-20th century, it was written with the Modi alphabet. Since 1950 it has been written with the Devanāgarī alphabet.[23]

Devanagari script

Marathi is written in the Devanagari script, an alphasyllabary or abugida consisting of 16 vowel letters and 36 consonant letters making a total of 52 letters. It is written from left to right. The Devanagari used to write Marathi is slightly different than that of Hindi or other languages. The Marathi Devanagari script is called Balbodh (बाळबोध) script.

Modi script

From the thirteenth century until 1950, Marathi was written in Modi script — a cursive script designed for minimising the lifting of pen from paper while writing.[24] Most writings of the Maratha empire are in Modi script. However, Persian-based scripts were also used for court documentation. With the advent of large-scale printing, Modi script fell into disuse, as it proved very difficult for type-setting. Currently, due to the availability of Modi fonts and the enthusiasm of the younger speakers, the script is far from disappearing. (See Reference Links).

Consonant clusters

In Marathi, the consonants by default come with a schwa. Therefore, तयाचे will be 'təyāche', not 'tyāche'. To form 'tyāche', you will have to add त् + याचे, giving त्याचे.

When two or more consecutive consonants are followed by a vowel then a jodakshar (consonant cluster) is formed. Some examples of consonant clusters are shown below:

  • त्याचे - tyāche - "his"
  • प्रस्ता - prastāv-"proposal"
  • विद्या - vidyā - "knowledge"
  • म्या - myān "Sword Cover"
  • त्वरा - tvarā "immediate/Quick"
  • महत्त्व - mahatva - "importance"
  • क्त - phakta - "only"
  • बाहुल्या - bāhulyā - "dolls"

Marathi has a few consonant clusters that are rarely seen in the world's languages, including the so-called "nasal aspirates" (ṇh, nh, and mh) and liquid aspirates (rh, ṟh, lh, and vh). Some examples are given below.

  • ण्हेरी - kaṇherī - "a shrub known for flowers"
  • न्हाणे - nhāṇ - "bath"
  • म्हणून - mhaṇūn - "because"
  • ऱ्हा - taṟhā - "different way of behaving"
  • कोल्हा - kolhā - "fox"
  • केंव्हा - keṃvhā "when"


Rajya Marathi Vikas Sanstha was established by Government of Maharashtra

Marathi grammar shares similarities with other modern Indo-Aryan languages such as Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, etc. The first modern book exclusively concerning Marathi Grammar was printed in 1805 by William Carey.[25] Sanskrit Grammar used to be referred more till late stages of Marathi Language.[citation needed]

The contemporary grammatical rules described by Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad and endorsed by the Government of Maharashtra are supposed to take precedence in standard written Marathi. Traditions of Marathi Linguistics and the above mentioned rules give special status to 'Tatsam' (Without Change) words adapted from the Sanskrit language. This special status expects the rules for 'Tatsam' words to be followed as in Sanskrit grammar. While this supports Marathi Language with a larger treasure of Sanskrit words to cope with demands of new technical words whenever needed; maintains influence over Marathi.[clarification needed]

The primary word order of Marathi is SOV (subject–object–verb)[26] An unusual feature of Marathi, as compared to other Indo-European languages, is that it displays the inclusive and exclusive we feature, common to the Austronesian languages, Dravidian languages, Rajasthani, and Gujarati.

Unlike its related languages, Marathi preserves all three grammatical genders (Linga) from Sanskrit, masculine, feminine and neuter. Marathi contains three grammatical voices (prayog) i.e. Kartari, Karmani and Bhave. Detailed analysis of grammatical aspects of Marathi language are covered in Marathi grammar.

Marathi organisations

Many government and semi-government organisations exist which work for the regulation, promotion and enrichment of the Marathi language. These are either initiated or funded by Government of Maharashtra. Few Marathi organisations are given below:[27]

Outside Maharashtra state

  • Gomantak Marathi academy
  • Madhya Pradesh Sahitya Parishad, Jabalpur
  • Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Paraishad, Hyderabad
  • Marathi Sahitya Parishad, Karnataka
  • Gomantak Sahitya Sewak Mandal, Goa


Sharing of linguistic resources with other languages

Marathi neon signboard at Maharashtra Police headquarters in Mumbai

Over a period of many centuries the Marathi language and people came into contact with many other languages and dialects. The primary influence of Prakrit, Maharashtri, Apbhramsha and Sanskrit is understandable. At least 50% of the words in Marathi are either taken or derived from Sanskrit.

Marathi has also shared directions, vocabulary and grammar with languages such as Indian Dravidian languages, and a few foreign languages like Persian, Arabic, English and a little from Portuguese.

While recent genome studies suggest some amount of political and trade relations between the Indian subcontinent and East Africa, Middle East, Central Asia over a millennium, these studies are still not conclusive about the exact effect on linguistics.

Morphology and etymology

Day-to-day spoken Marathi retains a noticeably higher number of Sanskrit-derived (tatsam) words compared to sister North-Indian languages like Hindi, and many of these words are more or less unchanged versions of their original Sanskrit counterparts. Examples of such words used more or less daily by Marathi speakers include nantar (from nantaram or after), purṇa (purṇam or complete, full, or full measure of something), ola (olam or damp), karaṇ (karaṇam or cause), puṣkaḷ (puṣkalam or much, many), satat (satatam or always), vichitra (vichitram or strange), svatah (svatah or himself/herself), prayatna (prayatnam or effort, attempt), bhīti (from bhīti, or fear) and bhāṇḍa (bhāṇḍam or vessel for cooking or storing food). Others such as dār (dwāram or door), ghar (gṛham or house), vāgh (vyāghram or tiger), paḷaṇe (palāyate or to run away), kiti (kati or how many) have undergone more modification.

Examples of words borrowed from other Indian and foreign languages include:

  • Adakitta "nutcracker" directly borrowed from Kannada
  • Begeen "early" directly borrowed from Kannada
  • Estek "estate" corrupted from English
  • Jaahiraat "advertisement" is derived from Arabic zaahiraat
  • Shiphaaras "recommendation" is derived from Persian sefaresh
  • Marjii "wish" is derived from Persian "marzi"
  • Hajeri Attendance from Hajiri Urdu

A lot of English words are commonly used in conversation, and are considered to be totally assimilated into the Marathi vocabulary. These include "pen" (native Marathi lekhaṇii), "shirt" (sadaraa).

Influence of foreign languages

Usage of punctuation marks was one of the major contributions to Indic script by foreign languages. Previously, due to Sanskritised poetry, textual punctuation requirements of many texts may have been less.[citation needed]

Forming complex words

Marathi uses many morphological processes to join words together, forming complex words. These processes are traditionally referred to as sandhi (from Sanskrit, "combination"). For example, ati + uttam gives the word atyuttam.

Another method of combining words is referred to as samaas (from Sanskrit, "margin"). There are no reliable rules to follow to make a samaas. When the second word starts with a consonant, a sandhi can not be formed, but a samaas can be formed. For example, miith-bhaakar ("salt-bread"), udyog-patii ("businessman"), ashṭa-bhujaa ("eight-hands", name of a Hindu goddess), and so on. There are different names given to each type of samaas.


Like many other languages, Marathi uses distinct names for the numbers 1 to 20 and each multiple of 10, and composite ones for those greater than 20.

As with other Indic languages, there are distinct names for the fractions 14, 12, and 34. They are paava, ardhaa, and pauṇa, respectively. For most fractions greater than 1, the prefixes savvaa-, saaḍe-, paavaṇe- are used. There are special names for 32 (diiḍ) and 52 (aḍich).

The powers of ten are as follows:

  • 10: daha (Devanagari:)
  • 100: shambhar (Devanagari:शंभर) (also constructed with number prefix and "-she" suffix)
  • 1,000: hajaar (Devanagari:हजार/सहस्र) (or sahasra, a word close to the Sanskrit version)
  • 100,000: laakh (Devanagari:लाख/लक्ष) (or laksha)
  • 10,000,000: koti (Devanagari:कोटी)
  • 1,000,000,000: abja (Devanagari:अब्ज)
  • 10,000,000,000: kharva (Devanagari:खर्व)
  • 100,000,000,000: nikharva (Devanagari:निखर्व)
  • 100,000,000,000,000,000: parardha (Devanagari:परार्ध)

A positive integer is read by breaking it up from the tens digit leftwards, into parts each containing two digits, the only exception being the hundreds place containing only one digit instead of two. For example, 1,234,567 is read as 12 laakh 34 hajaar 5 she 67. Every two-digit number after 18 (11 to 18 are predefined) is read backwards. For example, 21 is read एक-वीस (1-twenty). Also, a two digit number that ends with a 9 is considered to be the next tens place minus one. For example, 29 is एकुणतीस (Thirty minus one). Two digit numbers used before hajaar, etc. are written in the same way.

Marathi on computers and the Internet

Shrilipi, Shivaji, kothare 2,4,6 Kiran and many more (about48) based on ASCII code were used prior to the introduction of Unicode standard for Devanagari script. Fonts (Tanka) in ASCII code are in vogue on PCs even today since most of the computers in use are working with English Keyboard. Even today a large number of printed publications of books, news papers and magazines are prepared using these ASCII based fonts. However, these fonts cannot be used on internet due to new restrictions.

Earlier Marathi suffered from weak support by computer operating systems and Internet services, as have other Indian languages. But recently, with the introduction of language localisation projects and new technologies, various software and Internet applications have been introduced. Various Marathi typing software is widely used and display interface packages are now available on Windows, Linux and Mac OS. Many Marathi websites, including Marathi newspapers, have become popular especially with Maharashtrians outside India. Online projects such as the Marathi language Wikipedia, with 25,000+ articles, the Marathi blogroll and Marathi blogs have gained immense popularity.[28][29]

Voyager Golden Record

The Voyager Golden Record carries greetings from earth to the Universe in 55 different languages including Marathi. The message in Marathi is "नमस्कार. ह्या पृथ्वीतील लोक तुम्हाला त्यांचे शुभविचार पाठवतात आणि त्यांची इच्छा आहे की तुम्ही ह्या जन्मी धन्य व्हा". ("Namaskar! Hya prithvitil lok tumhala tyanche shubhavichar pathavitat, ani tyanchi iccha ahe ki tumhi hya janmi dhanya vha").[30]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Marathi language at Ethnologue
  2. ^ a b The Goa, Daman and Diu Official Language Act, 1987 makes Konkani the sole official language, but provides that Marathi may also be used for "for all or any of the official purposes". The Government also has a policy of replying in Marathi to correspondence received in Marathi. Commissioner Linguistic Minorities, 42nd report: July 2003 - June 2004, pp. para 11.3
  3. ^ a b Marathi is an official language of Dadra and Nagar Haveli Administration's profile.
  4. ^ Abstract of Language Strength in India: 2001 Census
  5. ^ "Languages Spoken by More Than 10 Million People". Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. 
  6. ^ arts, South Asian." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2007 Ultimate Reference Suite.
  7. ^ Dhoṅgaḍe, Rameśa; Wali, Kashi (2009). "Marathi". London Oriental and African language library (John Benjamins Publishing Company) 13: 101, 139. ISBN 9027238138, 9789027238139. 
  8. ^ Official Languages Resolution, 1968, para.2
  9. ^ Dept. of Marathi, M.S. University of Baroda
  10. ^ Dept. of Marathi, Osmania University, Hyderabad
  11. ^ Dept. of Marathi, Gulbarga University
  12. ^ "List of statutes (Devi Ahilya University of Indore)". 
  13. ^ Dept.of Marathi, Goa University
  14. ^ Jawaharlal Nehru University
  15. ^ a b c Khodade, 2004
  16. ^ Ayyappapanicker, K. Medieval Indian literature: an anthology. Volume 3. Sahitya Akademi. pp. 257. 
  17. ^ Marathyancha Itihaas by Dr. Kolarkar (pg.3)
  18. ^ Dnyaneshwari
  19. ^ Konkani Detailed Description —
  20. ^ Konkani Detailed Description —
  21. ^ Ethnologue report - Maharashtrian Konkani
  22. ^ Colin Masica, 1993, The Indo-Aryan Languages
  23. ^ Marathi language, alphabet and pronunciation
  24. ^ Modi lipi
  25. ^ Maharashtra times article
  26. ^
  27. ^ Encyclopaedia of Indian literature Volume I, Published by Sahitya Akademi ISBN 81-260-1803-8
  28. ^ Askari, Faiz. "Inside the Indian Blogosphere". Express Computer. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  29. ^ Kumar, Rashmie. "Language No Bar". Express India.\. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  30. ^ "Marathi". NASA. Retrieved 19 November 2010. 
  • A Survey of Marathi Dialects. VIII. Gāwḍi, A.M.Ghatage & P.P.Karapurkar. The State Board for Literature and Culture, Bombay. 1972.
  • Marathi: The Language and its Linguistic Traditions - Prabhakar Machwe, Indian and Foreign Review, 15 March 1985.
  • 'Atyavashyak Marathi Vyakaran' (Essential Marathi Grammar) - Dr. V. L. Vardhe
  • 'Marathi Vyakaran' (Marathi Grammar) - Moreshvar Sakharam More.
  • 'Marathi Vishwakosh, Khand 12 (Marathi World Encyclopedia, Volume 12), Maharashtra Rajya Vishwakosh Nirmiti Mandal, Mumbai
  • 'Marathyancha Itihaas' by Dr. Kolarkar, Shrimangesh Publishers, Nagpur
  • 'History of Medieval Hindu India from 600 CE to 1200 CE, by C. V. Vaidya
  • Marathi Sahitya (Review of the Marathi Literature up to I960) by Kusumavati Deshpande, Maharashtra Information Centre, New Delhi

External links


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