Konkani alphabets

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Konkani alphabets refers to the five different scripts (Devanagari, Roman, Kannada, Malayalam and Perso-Arabic scripts) currently used to write the Konkani language.

As of 1987, the "Goan Antruz dialect" in the Devanagari script has been declared Standard Konkani and promulgated as an official language in the Indian state of Goa.[1][2] As Konkani in the Roman script is not mandated as an official script by law. However, an ordinance passed by the government of Goa allows the use of Roman script for official communication. This ordinance has been put into effect by various ministries in varying degrees. For example, the Goa Panchayat Rules, 1996 stipulate that the various forms used in the election process must be in both the Roman and Devanagari script.


The earliest inscription in Konkani in Goykanadi script (extinct now) is of the Gupta period in the 2nd century CE found at Aravalem, Goa. It reads

(On the top of Shachipura)

The famous inscription at the foot of the colossal Jain monolith Gomaṭēśvara (Bāhubali) Konkani: gomṭo - pretty masc., īśvar - God at Shravanabelagola of 981 CE reads,

(Chavundaraya got it done, Gangaraya got it done again.)[3]


The rules for writing Konkani in the Devanagari script are elucidated in a book released by the Goa Konkani Academy titled kōṅkaṇī śuddhalēkhanācē nēm. While the rules for writing Konkani in the Roman script are elucidated in a book titled thomas sṭīvans koṅkaṇi kēndr Romi Lipi by writer Pratap Naik, released by Konkani singer Ullās Buyā̃v at Dalgado Konkani Academy.

Vowels and syllabic consonants[edit]

Short vowel Long vowel
अ-ಅ-അ-O-ا،ع a
आ-ಆ-ആ-A-آ ā
इ-ಇ-ഇ-I-? i
ई-ಈ-ഈ-I-ي ī
उ-ಉ-ഉ-U-? u
ऊ-ಊ-ഊ-U-و ū
ऍ-?-?-A-? e
- -
ऎ-ಎ-എ-E-اے e
ए-ಏ-ഏ-E-اے ē
ऒ-ಒ-ഒ-O-او o
ओ-ಓ-ഓ-O-او ō
ऐ-ಐ-ഐ-Ai-اے ai
औ-ಔ-ഔ-Au-او au


  • ॠ, ऌ and ॡ are rarely used in Konkani except to render tatsam words. e.g. कॣप्त (imagined-derivative of कल्पना)
  • अ, ओ and ऒ are rendered in the Roman script by O. Under Portuguese rule, the Konkani language was modified to fit the Roman syllabary system. As a result, Portuguese orthography has eliminated or deformed original Konkani sounds.[4] e.g.
  1. अ - करता kartā is written as korta or even corta (sometimes it is nasalised to cortam)
  2. ओ - दोन dōn is written as don.
  3. ऒ - पॊरनॆं pornẽ is written as pornem
  • Both आ and ऍ are rendered by A in the Roman script.
  1. आ - हांव hā̃v is written as hanv or Anv
  2. ऍ - कॅनरा kænarā is written as Kanara or Canara.
  • Devanagari is the only script which has a separate letter for the vowel æ, ऍ.


Plosive Nasal Approximant Fricative Affricative
Voicing Unvoiced Voiced Unvoiced Voiced Unvoiced Voiced
Aspiration Unaspirated Aspirated Unaspirated Aspirated Unaspirated Aspirated Unaspirated Aspirated
Guttural क-ಕ-Ka-ക-ک ka
ख-ಖ-Kha-ഖ-كھ kha
ग-ಗ-Ga-ഗ-گ ga
घ-ಘ-Gha-ഘ-گھ gha
ङ-ಞ-Nga-ങ-? ṅa
ह-ಹ-Ha-ഹ-ہ،ح ha
Palatal च-ಚ-Cha-ച-چ ca
छ-ಛ-Chha-ഛ-چھ cha
ज-ಜ-Ja-ജ-ج ja
झ-ಝ-Jha-ഝ-جھ jha
ञ-ಙ-Nja-ഞ-? ña
य-ಯ-Ya-യ-ي ya
श-ಶ-Sha,Xa-ശ-ش śa
/ɕ, ʃ/
Retroflex ट-ಟ-Tta-ട-ٹ ṭa
ठ-ಠ-Ttha-ഠ-ٹھ ṭha
ड-ಡ-Dda-ഡ-ڈ ḍa
ढ-ಢ-Ddha-ഢ-ڈھ ḍha
ण-ಣ-Nna-ണ-? ṇa
र-ರ-Ra-ര-ر ra
ष-ಷ-Xa-ഷ-? ṣa
Dental त-ತ-Ta-ത-ط،ت ta
थ-ಥ-Tha-ഥ-تھ tha
द-ದ-Da-ദ-د da
ध-ಧ-Dha-ധ-دھ dha
न-ನ-Na-ന-ن na
ल-ಲ-La-ല-ل la
स-ಸ-Sa-സ-ص،س sa
Labial प-ಪ-Pa-പ-پ pa
फ-ಫ-Pha-ഫ-پھ pha
ब-ಬ-Ba-ബ-ب ba
भ-ಭ-Bha-ഭ-بھ bha
म-ಮ-Ma-മ-م ma
व-ವ-Va-വ-و va
Alveolar च़-?-Cha-?-? ca
ज़-?-Za-?-ز،ظ،ذ ja
Labiodental फ़-ಫ಼-Fa-ف fa
Retroflex Lateral flap ळ-ಳ-Lla-ള-? ḷa


  • ಚ and ച in the Kannada and Malayalam scripts respectively, render two sounds, (c) and (t͡ʃ).
  • ಜ and ജ in the Kannada and Malayalam scripts respectively, render two sounds, (ɟ) and (d͡ʒ).
  • In the Roman script, a retroflex consonant is got by simply doubling the corresponding dental consonant; e.g. त - ta, ट - Tta.
  • Roman Konkani does not distinguish between श and ष. Both are written as Sha or Xa and pronounced as श.
  • Roman Konkani does not distinguish between फ and फ़. Both are normally written as F and pronounced accordingly. e.g. tomorrow फाल्लॆक (phāllek)- fallek (fāllek)
  • ن nūn in the Nawayati Konkani script not only is a separate consonant, but also performs the role of the anusvāra. It indicates a homorganic nasal preceding another consonant; e.g. رنگ raṅg, انڈو aṇḍo. It also undergoes nasalisation; e.g. ہازؤ hāṃv.
  • ع, 'ayin غ ghayin and ح he in the Nawayati Konkani script are used for incorporated Perso-Arabic words.

Nasal consonants and nasalisation[edit]

In Konkani, the anusvāra is traditionally defined as representing a nasal stop homorganic to a following plosive,(anunāsika) and also vowel nasalisation. The precise phonetic value of the phoneme is dependent on the phonological environment.[5] Word-finally, it is realized as nasalization of the preceding vowel (e.g. bā̃yi [bãːyi], "a well"). It results in vowel nasalization also medially between a short vowel and a non-obstruent (tũvẽ [tʊ̃ʋe] "you (acc.)". It is pronounced as a homorganic nasal, with the preceding vowel becoming nasalized allophonically, in the following cases: between a long vowel and a voiced stop (tāṃbo [taːmbo] "copper", cāṃdī [tʃaːndiː] "silver"), between a long vowel and a voiceless stop (dāṃt [daːnt] "tooth"), and also between a short vowel and an obstruent (sāṃbayi- [saːmbay] "to support", The last rule has two sets of exceptions where the anusvāra effects only a nasalization of the preceding short vowel. Words from the first set are morphologically derived from words with a long nasalized vowel (mā̃s [mãs], "meat". In such cases the vowel is sometimes denasalized ([maːs]. The second set is composed of a few words like (pā̃vcẽ [pãʋtʃɛ̃], "to arrive".)

Avagraha (ऽ)[edit]

Konkani is one of the few modern Indo-Aryan languages to apply the avagraha beyond mere sustenance of an exclamation, cry or shout in speech. It is used by verbs in continuous tense. The avagraha is not used in Standard Konkani in the continuous tense. Its use is however popular and prevalent amongst the Canara Saraswats, both Gaud and Bhanap, writing in their native Amchigele dialect, in the continuous tense with the aim of conforming to the schwa deletion rule.[6]

Sentence Konkani in Devanagari
He was doing तॊ करतलॊऽशिलॊ
He is doing तॊ करतऽसा
He will be doing तॊ करतलॊऽसतलॊ

(According to the schwa deletion rule in Indo-Aryan languages, करत आसा will be read as karat āsā and not as karta'sā as prevalent pronunciation is.)

The avagraha is also used to mark the non-elision of word-final inherent a, which otherwise is a modern orthographic convention: बैसऽ baisa "sit" versus बैस bais.

Schwa deletion[edit]

The IPA symbol for the schwa

The schwa deletion or schwa syncope phenomenon plays a crucial role in Konkani and several other Indo-Aryan languages, where schwas implicit in the written scripts of those languages are obligatorily deleted for correct pronunciation.[7][8] Schwa syncope is extremely important in these languages for intelligibility and unaccented speech. It also presents a challenge to non-native speakers and speech synthesis software because the scripts, including Nagar Barap, do not provide indicators of where schwas should be dropped.[9]

This means the schwa ('ə') implicit in each consonant of the script is "obligatorily deleted" at the end of words and in certain other contexts, unlike in Sanskrit. This phenomenon has been termed the "schwa syncope rule" or the "schwa deletion rule" of Konkani. In other words, when a vowel-preceded consonant is followed by a vowel-succeeded consonant, the schwa inherent in the first consonant is deleted.[10] However, this formalization is inexact and incomplete (i.e. sometimes deletes a schwa when it shouldn't or, at other times, fails to delete it when it should), and can yield errors. Schwa deletion is computationally important because it is essential to building text-to-speech software for Konkani.[10] Without the appropriate deletion of schwas, any speech output would sound unnatural.

As a result of schwa syncope, the Konkani pronunciation of many words differs from that expected from a literal Sanskrit-style rendering of Devanagari. For instance, करता is kartā not karatā, आपयता is āpaytā not āpayatā', वेद is vēd not vēda and मिरसांग is mirsāṅg not mirasāṅga.

For instance, the letter sequence ळब is pronounced differently in मळब maḷab "sky" and मळबाmaḷbār "in the sky". While native speakers correctly pronounce the sequences differently in different contexts, non-native speakers and voice-synthesis software can make them "sound very unnatural", making it "extremely difficult for the listener" to grasp the intended meaning.[clarification needed]

Vowel nasalization[edit]

With some words that contain /n/ or /m/ consonants separated from succeeding consonants by schwas, the schwa deletion process has the effect of nasalizing any preceding vowels. Some examples in Konkani include:

  • jẽvaṇ => jẽvlo

Schwa rules[edit]

  1. The final inherent अ is generally omitted; e.g. देव is dēv not dēva.
  2. In a word of three letters ending with a vowel other than the inherent अ, if the second consonant ends in अ, then the अ of the second consonant is silenced. e.g. चॆरकॊ is cerko not cerako.
  3. In a word of four letters ending with a vowel other than the inherent अ, the second consonant, if it ends in अ, then the अ of the second consonant is silenced. e.g. उपकार is upkār not upakāra.
  4. Verb roots always end in a consonant even if they undergo declination. e.g. आपंव +चॆं= आपंवचॆं, hence one says āpãvcẽ not āpãvacẽ , आपय+ता=आपयता, hence we say āpaytā not āpayatā

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Goa, Daman and Diu Act, 1987 section 1 subsection 2 clause (c) defines "Konkani language" as Konkani in Devanagari script, and section 3 subsection 1 promulgates Konkani to be the official language of the Union Territory.
  2. ^ On 20.8.1992 Parliament of India by effecting the 78th amendment to the Constitution of India, Konkani in Devanagari script has been included in VIIIth Schedule of Constitution of India.
  3. ^ Chavundaraya was the military chief of the Ganga dynasty King Gangaraya. This inscription on the Bahubali statue draws attention to a Basadi (Jain temple) initially built by him and then modified by Gangaraya in the 12th century CE Ref: S. Settar in Adiga (2006), p 256
  4. ^ A history of Konkani literature: from 1500 to 1992 By Manohararāya Saradesāya (pg. 22)
  5. ^ Varma, Siddheshwar (1929), Critical studies in the phonetic observations of Indian grammarians
  6. ^ Parijnanashram III (2008). Hā̃va āmmi (First ed.). Mumbai: Sharvari Arts. pp. 5–7. 
  7. ^ Larry M. Hyman; Victoria Fromkin; Charles N. Li (1988), Language, speech, and mind, 1988 (2), Taylor & Francis, ISBN 0-415-00311-3, ... The implicit /a/ is not read when the symbol appears in word-final position or in certain other contexts where it is obligatorily deleted (via the so-called schwa-deletion rule which plays a crucial role in Konkani word phonology ... 
  8. ^ Indian linguistics, Volume 37, Linguistic Society of India, 1976, ... the history of the schwa deletion rule in Gujarati has been examined. The historical perspective brings out the fact that schwa deletion is not an isolated phenomenon; the loss of final -a has preceded the loss of medial -a-; ... 
  9. ^ Tej K. Bhatia (1987), A history of the Hindi grammatical tradition: Hindi-Hindustani grammar, grammarians, history and problems, BRILL, ISBN 90-04-07924-6, ... Hindi literature fails as a reliable indicator of the actual pronunciation because it is written in the Devanagari script ... the schwa syncope rule which operates in Hindi ... 
  10. ^ a b Monojit Choudhury; Anupam Basu; Sudeshna Sarkar (July 2004), "A Diachronic Approach for Schwa Deletion in Indo Aryan Languages" (PDF), Proceedings of the Workshop of the ACL Special Interest Group on Computational Phonology (SIGPHON), Association for Computations Linguistics, ... schwa deletion is an important issue for grapheme-to-phoneme conversion of IAL, which in turn is required for a good Text-to-Speech synthesizer ...