Marathi language

From Academic Kids

Marathi (Marathi)
Spoken in: India
Region: Maharashtra, Gujrat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and other pockets of the world.
Total speakers: 70 million native speakers

20 million second language speakers

Ranking: 15
Genetic classification: Indo-European

   Central zone

Official status
Official language of: Maharashtra State, India
Regulated by: -
Language codes
ISO 639-1mr
ISO 639-2mar
See also: LanguageList of languages

Marathi (मराठी) is one of the widely spoken languages of India, and has a long literary history. The first inscripted Marathi document was found in Karnataka state of India, which is supposed to be about 1300 years old.

In Maharashtra state, about 90 million people speak Marathi. Marathi derives its grammar, sentence construction, and vocabulary from Sanskrit. The name of the language can also appear as Maharashtri, Maharathi, Malhatee or Marthi.



Marathi descends from the Sanskrit language of India via the Prakrit dialect Maharashtri. The Satavahana empire based at Pratishthana (now Paithan) in the first few centuries CE used Maharashtri as its official language. Maharashtri became the most widespread Prakrit of its time, and also pre-dominated amongst the three "Dramatic" Prakrits (Maharashtri, Sauraseni and Magadhi). A version of Maharashtri (Jaina Maharashtri) served to write part of the Jain canon. The Satavahana emperor Hala's Sattasai (Sanskrit Saptashati) - an anthology of 700 love poems - became the most famous piece of literature in Maharashtri. Maharashtri slowly evolved into Marathi during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Marathi came into prominence during the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji (1630 - 1680). Shivaji let the Marathas in an independence struggle against the Muslim sultans of Bijapur and later the Mughal empire. The Marathas later established a loose-knit empire which extended north to Delhi, east to Orissa, and south to Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu by the mid-18th century.


Marathi is part of the Indo-Aryan grouping of the Indo-European family of languages.

Geographic distribution

Most speakers of Marathi live in the Indian state of Maharashtra, but some speakers also inhabit neighboring states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. The Ethnologue also records speakers of Marathi in Israel (thanks to the emigration of the Bene Israel and other Jews from India) and in Mauritius.

Official status

Marathi serves as an official language of Maharashtra. The Constitution of India recognises it as one of the twenty-two official languages of the country.


Dialects of Marathi include Ahirani and Manadeshi. Konkani as spoken in Goa or Karwar once ranked as a dialect of Marathi, but linguists now recognise it as a separate language. However one dialect called "Malwani" from Sindhudurg District (in the Konkan region) has now emerged as a major dialect, the vehicle of many entertaining plays. The recent rise of "Malwani" can be traced to the play "Wastraharan", written by Gangaram Gawankar and staged by Machchhindra Kambli, which became a superhit and virtually gave birth to the genre of Malwani plays. For more on this refer to the literature section.



Marathi, probably alone in the Indo-Aryan languages based on Sanskrit, partly preserves the Sanskrit locative case, thus:


         prabhaat: dawn         gR^iha: house
         prabhaate: at dawn     gR^ihe: at/in the house


         pahaaT: dawn            ghar: house
         pahaaTe: at dawn        gharI/gharaat: at/in/to the house


Interestingly, Marathi uses the large number of modified Urdu, Persian and Arabic words. This came about because, for a significant period, Marathi came under the influence of Muslim and Maratha rulers who used words from these languages.

Some examples of this vocabulary:

  • Khurchii (chair) originally comes from Arabic Kursi (chair).
  • Jaahiraat (advertisement) originally comes from Persian Zaahiraat (advertisement).
  • Shiphaaras (recommendation) originally comes from Urdu Sifarish (recommendation).
  • Marjee (wish) originally comes from Urdu Marzee (wish).
  • Ishq (love), used in rural and theatrical versions of Marathi, comes from Urdu Ishq (love).

Writing system

Marathi uses the Devanagari script for writing. Get Marathi Writing simple software baraha (, Itranslator (, ITRANS online (, Yudit.

Before the use of the printing press, writers in Marathi used a different script called the Modi script -- a cursive script written with a minimal lifting of pen from paper. However, with the advent of large-scale printing, Modi script fell into disuse, as it proved very difficult for type-setting. (See External Link). The courts in the olden days also used Persian-type scripts under the influence of Muslim and Maratha rulers.

The oldest evidence of written Marathi comes from the base of a gigantic thousand year-old statue in the southern Indian town of Shravanabelagola. The inscription concerns the king Gangaraya who funded the effort, and his general Chamundaraya, who erected the statue for the king.

Marathi literature

Main article: Marathi literature

Marathi has a long literary tradition, and a huge literature has grown up in Marathi in the last seven centuries. The saint-poet Dnyaneshwar ranks as the first major literateur in the Marathi language. Other prominent saint-poets include Eknath, Tukaram and Namdev, who enriched Marathi from the grass-roots level. Marathi probably has the richest saint-literature of all Indian languages. Prominent recent Marathi authors include P.K.Atre, P.L. Deshpande, Jaywant Dalawi, V. P. Kale, Vyankatesh Madgoolkar, D. M. Mirasdar, Anand Yadav, Shankar Patil, and Vijay Tendulkar. Famous poets include Vishnu Vaman Shirvadakar (Kavi Kusumagraj), Mangesh Padgaonkar, Vaman Pandit, Aarati Prabhu , Suresh Bhat and Shanta Shelake.

See also

External links

Template:InterWiki Template:Wikibookspar

Maharashtra Mandals

Maharashtrians or Marathis who leave Maharashtra for work/studies get together through "mandal" groups. Such Mandals around the world include:

de:Marathi es:Idioma marathi eo:Marata lingvo fr:Marth hi:मराठी id:Bahasa Marathi ja:マラーティー語 mr:मराठी ms:Bahasa Marathi nl:Marathi nn:Marathi pt:Marata sa:मराठी sv:Marathi


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