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Marathi written in Devanāgarī and Modi Marathi written in Devanāgarī and Modi
Pronunciation [məˈɾaʈʰi]
Spoken in India and Mauritius[1]

Marathi speaking population is found in United States, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Netherlands, Canada, UAE, South Africa, Israel, Pakistan, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, UK, Australia & New Zealand

Region Maharashtra, Goa, parts of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Sindh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu
Total speakers Total 94 million speakers[2]
70 million native, 20 million second language
Ranking 15[3] (native)
15[2] (combined)
Language family Indo-European
Writing system Devanagari script, Modi script (traditional)
Official status
Official language in  India (State of Maharashtra, Union territories of Daman-Diu)[4] and Dadra Nagar Haveli[5]
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 90 million fluent speakers worldwide.[2] Marathi is the 4th most spoken language in India[6] and the 15th most spoken language in the world.[3] Marathi is the oldest of the regional literatures in Indo-Aryan languages, dating from about AD 1000.[7]

Marathi is estimated to be more than 1300 years old, evolving from Sanskrit through Prakrit and Apabhramsha. Its grammar and syntax derive from Pali[citation needed] and Prakrit. In ancient times, Marathi was called Maharashtri, Marhatti, Mahratti etc.

Peculiar features of Marathi linguistic culture include Marathi drama, with its unique flavour of 'Sangeet Natak' (musical dramas), scholarly discourses called 'Vasant Vyakhyanmala' (Lectures in Spring), Marathi folk dance called 'Lavani', and special editions of magazines for Diwali called 'Diwali anka'.


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 Majority of Marathi speakers live

Marathi is primarily spoken in Maharashtra and parts of neighboring 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. The Ethnologue states that Marathi is spoken in Israel and Mauritius.[1]

Official status

Marathi is an official language of the Indian state of Maharashtra, and a co-official language or used for official purposes in Goa, union territory of Daman and Diu[4] and Dadra Nagar haveli.[5] The Constitution of India recognizes Marathi as one of India's 22 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 Vedic Sanskrit. Further change led to apabhraṃśa languages like Marathi, which may be described as being a re-Sanskritised, developed form of Maharashtri Apabhraṃśa. However it is believed that Marathi is actually a language combining the old Dravidian vernacular of the region which would have been close to Kannada and Telugu and the actual Maharashtri Prakrit and Sanskrit[citation needed]. 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 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 BC) were written in it. Maharashtri Prakrit was the most widely used Prakrit language in western and southern India, spoken from Malwa and Rajputana in the north to Krishna and Tungabhadra in the south.[15] Today's Marathi- and Kannada- speaking parts spoke Maharashtri Prakrit for centuries.[16]

Maharashtri Apabhraṃśa remained in use for several hundred years until at least 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.[2]


Pre-13th century

Earliest forms

The first written attestation of Marathi, a document found in Karnataka, dates from 700 AD.[2] The earliest known written form is on the copperplate of Vijayaditya found in Satara, dated 739 AD.

The stone inscription at the feet of Shravanabelagola Gomateshwar in South Karnataka, whose first line reads as "Chavundarajen Karaviyalen" (श्रीचावुण्डराजे करवियले, श्रीगंगराजे सुत्ताले करवियले, meaning Built by Chavundaraja, the son of Gangaraja), is another old specimen, constructed in 983 AD.

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

By 983, therefore, Marathi was one of the distinctly different current languages widely used by the people of the area from North Maharashtra to South Karnataka. Six extant inscriptions dating from 979 to 1270 and placed in distant parts like Mysore, Khandesh and Mumbai are an index of the large area over which Marathi was spoken.[18]

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 AD) 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),[19] 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 were followed by the Warkari saint-poet Eknath (1528–1599). Eknath's Bhavarth Ramayana brought the message of the Bhagvat cult 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 the leading 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 'Sangit 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 newspapers

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. From time to time, MSP helps out in discourses on various aspects of Marathi and in laying down precedents by framing rules whenever required.

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.[2] Historically, the major dialect divisions have been Ahirani, Khandeshi, Varhadi, Wadvali, Samavedi and Are Marathi.


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, Parola, Amalner talukas), Nandurbar (Shahada, Maharashtra, Taloda, Navapur), Dhule and eastern Nashik (Baglan, Malegaon and Kalwan talukas) districts of Maharashtra. It is further divided into dialects, such as the Chalisgaon, Malegaon and Dhule groups. Amalner is considered the cultural capital of Khandesh. Amalner has witnessed Akhil Bhartiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan.

Adapting and bending the words from Hindi and Gujarati, Ahirani has created its own words which are not found in these languages. Ahirani is a colloquial form and uses the Modi script for its writing.

Dr. D.G. Borase, Dr. Ramesh Suryawanshi, Dr. Vijaya Chitnis have studed Ahirani with linguistic point of view. Ahirani Bhasha Vadnyanic Ahyas, Mhani Kosha and Ahirani Shabdkosha (First dictionary of Ahirani language Pub.1997), Khandeshatil Krushak jivan Sachitra Kosha (Pictorial Dictionary Pub-2000) of Dr. Ramesh Suryawanshi are basic books on Ahirani language. Dilemma of Ahirani & Khandeshi Views of Dr. Ramesh Sitaram Suryawanshi on Ahirani and Khandeshi are explained in detail in his linguistic study of Ahirani. His books published on linguistic study of Ahirani dialect are 1) “Ahirani Bhasha Vaidnynik Abhyasa” which is linguistic study of Ahirani. It explains the grammar formation of words, formation of sentences of Ahirani. Another book named “Ahirani- shabdkosh” . It is first dictionary of Ahirani dialect which contains near about ten thousand words which lexicographically arranged. Third book on Ahirani is “Aharani Mhani Ani Wakprachar” mean sayings and proverbs in Ahirani dialect. It contains one thousand sayings and four thousand proverbs with the illustration of their meaning. All these books were published by Akshaya Prakashan, Pune in 1997. His fourth book is “ Khandeshatil Krishak Jivan Sachitra Kosha” mean a pictorial dictionary of words used by the farmers in Khandesh. It is book with pictures of the tools used by the farmers. All tools and it’s parts are labeled with local names – in Ahirani dialect. It is published by Maharashtra State Governments Sahitya Ani Sanskriti Mandal, Mumbai, in 2000. It is uploaded on net by 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 old name of area which covers today's Jalgaon, Dhulia ,Nandurbar and part of Nasik and Aurangabad districts. Originally Ahirani is spoken by the Ahiras. Ahiras are shepherds. They were with their cows, sheep’s, goats and bedfellows in the grassy land of Khandesh as previously it was named as Khandav Van. Khandesh was old district of Bombay Presidency. Kahan mean dry grass or grass land. Khan mean pure. Khan mean large ditch. Khandesh is area in surrounded by of Satpuda, Ajanta, Chandwad ranges, and Waghur river. This big basin, ditch, was grass land, useful for cattle. It is basin of Tapi and Narbada rivers. Ahirani is cast based name of the dialect and Khandeshi is region based name of the dialect. When Ahiras arrived in Khandesh with their cattle they settled in Khandesh. They were large in number. Mean while they indulged in various social roles. People around them tried to imitate their dialect, while speaking with them. Lewa, Wani, Bhill, Pardeshi all these castes have their own dialect yet they started speaking mixed Ahirani ( Ahirani affected by their dialect). Such process was in Khandesh territory. People speak the dialect in Khandesh was known by others as Khandeshi. In Khandesh the dialect spoken by the Ahiras was known as Ahirani. Ahirani is caste based name. And 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 sub dialects. 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 sub dialects. All are regional categories. Ahirani, Gujari, Bhilau, Maharau, Lewa, Purbhi all are social ( cast 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 concept. Region based concept.


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 Views of Dr. Ramesh Sitaram Suryawanshi on Ahirani and Khandeshi are explained in detail in his linguistic study of Ahirani. His books published on linguistic study of Ahirani dialect are 1) “Ahirani Bhasha Vaidnynik Abhyasa” which is linguistic study of Ahirani. It explains the grammar formation of words, formation of sentences of Ahirani. Another book named “Ahirani- shabdkosh” . It is first dictionary of Ahirani dialect which contains near about ten thousand words which lexicographically arranged. Third book on Ahirani is “Aharani Mhani Ani Wakprachar” mean sayings and proverbs in Ahirani dialect. It contains one thousand sayings and four thousand proverbs with the illustration of their meaning. All these books were published by Akshaya Prakashan, Pune in 1997. His fourth book is “ Khandeshatil Krishak Jivan Sachitra Kosha” mean a pictorial dictionary of words used by the farmers in Khandesh. It is book with pictures of the tools used by the farmers. All tools and it’s parts are labeled with local names – in Ahirani dialect. It is published by Maharashtra State Governments Sahitya Ani Sanskriti Mandal, Mumbai, in 2000. It is uploaded on net by 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 old name of area which covers today's Jalgaon, Dhulia ,Nandurbar and part of Nasik and Aurangabad districts. Originally Ahirani is spoken by the Ahiras. Ahiras are shepherds. They were with their cows, sheep’s, goats and bedfellows in the grassy land of Khandesh as previously it was named as Khandav Van. Khandesh was old district of Bombay Presidency. Kahan mean dry grass or grass land. Khan mean pure. Khan mean large ditch. Khandesh is area in surrounded by of Satpuda, Ajanta, Chandwad ranges, and Waghur river. This big basin, ditch, was grass land, useful for cattle. It is basin of Tapi and Narbada rivers. Ahirani is cast based name of the dialect and Khandeshi is region based name of the dialect. When Ahiras arrived in Khandesh with their cattle they settled in Khandesh. They were large in number. Mean while they indulged in various social roles. People around them tried to imitate their dialect, while speaking with them. Lewa, Wani, Bhill, Pardeshi all these castes have their own dialect yet they started speaking mixed Ahirani ( Ahirani affected by their dialect). Such process was in Khandesh territory. People speak the dialect in Khandesh was known by others as Khandeshi. In Khandesh the dialect spoken by the Ahiras was known as Ahirani. Ahirani is caste based name. And 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 sub dialects. 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 sub dialects. All are regional categories. Ahirani, Gujari, Bhilau, Maharau, Lewa, Purbhi all are social ( cast 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 concept. Region based concept.

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 intranstive, they are formed according to tense, person, gender and number


Varhadi, Varhādi or Vaidarbhi is spoken in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.

In Marathi, the retroflex lateral approximant (IPA: [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.


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. Grierson has referred to this dialect as the Konkan Standard of Marathi in order to differentiate it from Konkani language.[20] 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, Sangameshwari, Bankoti and Maoli.[21]


This dialect may not necessarily be named thus. It was primarily spoken by Wadvals, 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 Wadvali, 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 Taluka, Thane District of Maharashtra. The name of this language correctly suggests that its origins lie with the Samavedi 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 Wadvali very closely. Both Wadvali 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.

Are Marathi

Are Marathi, written in Devanagari script as अरे मराठी, is another dialect spoken mostly in Andhra Pradesh.[citation needed]

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.


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

Other languages having considerable Marathi influence


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   ɕ   h
Nasals m

ɲ ŋ  
Liquids ʋ
  l ɾ
ɭ ɽ j    
  Front Central Back
High i   u
Mid e ə o
Low   a  


Like other abugidas, Devanagari writes out syllables by adding vowel diacritics to consonant bases. The table below includes all the vowel symbols used in Marathi, along with a transliteration of each sound into the Roman alphabet and IPA.

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 अँ and आँ. The IPA signs for these are /æ/ and /ɔ/, respectively.


The table below includes all the consonant bases onto which vowel diacritics are placed. The lack of a vowel diacritic can either indicate the lack of a vowel, or the existence of the default, or "inherent", vowel, which in the case of Marathi is the schwa.


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. 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.[22]

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. Devnagari used to write Marathi is slightly different than that of Hindi or other languages. Marathi Devnagari script is called Balbodh (बाळबोध) script.

Modi script

Marathi was written in Modi script — a cursive script designed for minimising the lifting of pen from paper while writing.[23] 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 'təyāce', not 'tyāce'. To form 'tyāce', 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 - tyāce - "his"
  • प्रस्ता - prastāv-"proposal"
  • विद्या - vidyā - "knowledge"
  • म्या - myān "Sword Cover"
  • त्वरा - tvarā "immediate/Quick"
  • महत्त्व - mahattva - "importance"
  • क्त - phakt - "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 Kerry.[24] 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.

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 prominent Marathi organisations are given below:[25]

Outside Maharashtra state

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


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.

Day-to-day Marathi includes a higher number of Sanskrit-derived (tatsam) words than sister languages like Hindi. Some Sanskrit words that are common in day-to-day spoken Marathi include nantar (from nantaram or after), purṇa (purṇam or complete, full, or full measure of something), anna (annam or food), karaṇ (karaṇam or cause), kadāchit (kadāchit or perhaps), satat (satatam or always), abhyās (abhyāsam or study), vichitra (vichitram or strange), svatah (svatah or himself/herself), prayatna (prayatnam or effort), bhiti (from bhiti, or fear) and vishesh (vishesham or special), amongst others.

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 linguistcs.

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]

Word formation and origin

Marathi has taken words from and given words to Sanskrit, Kannada, Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Persian, and Portuguese. At least 50% of the words in Marathi are either taken or derived from Sanskrit.

  • Adakitta "nutcracker" directly borrowed from Kannada
  • Begeen "early" directly borrowed from Konkani
  • Ketli "kettle" directly borrowed from English
  • Estek "estate" corrupted from English
  • Khurchii "chair" is derived from Arabic kursi
  • Jaahiraat "advertisement" is derived from Persian zaahiraat
  • Shiphaaras "recommendation" is derived from Persian sifarish
  • Marjii "wish" is derived from Persian "marzi"
  • Batataa "potato", is derived from Portuguese
  • Ananas "pineapple", is derived from Portuguese
  • Niga "looking after" is derived from Persian nîgâh "sight-vision"
  • 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).

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:

  • 100: shambhar (also constructed with number prefix and "-she" suffix)
  • 1,000: hazaar (or sahasra, a word close to the Sanskrit version)
  • 100,000: laakh (or laksha)
  • 10,000,000: koti
  • 1,000,000,000: abja
  • 10,000,000,000: kharva
  • 100,000,000,000: nikharva
  • 100,000,000,000,000,000: parardha

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 hazaar 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 hazaar, etc. are written in the same way.

Example short phrases

Words/phrases Transliteration Meaning
नमस्कार Namaskār. Hi/Hello.
तुम्ही कसे आहात? Tumhī kase āhāt? How do you do?
तू कसा आहेस? Tū kasā āhes? How are you? (to a male)
तू कशी आहेस? Tū kaśī āhes? How are you? (to a female)
आपण कसे आहात? Āpaṇ kase āhāt? How are you? (formal)
तुम्हाला भेटून आनंद झाला Tumhālā bheṭūn ānand jhālā. Pleased to meet you.
पुन्हा भेटू Punhā bheṭū. Goodbye. (Lit.: "We will meet again.")
धन्यवाद Dhanyavād. Thank you.
हो Ho. Yes.
नाही Nāhī. No.
नको Nako. No, thank you.
किती? Kitī? How much?/How many?
कुठे? Kuthe? Where?
कसे? Kase? How?
केव्हा? Kevha? When?
कोण? Kon? Who?
काय? Kaay? What?
शुभ रात्री Śhubh Ratri. Good night.

Marathi on computers and the Internet

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. Shrilipi, Shivaji and Kiran fonts were used prior to the introduction of Unicode standard for Devanagari script. Various Marathi typing software is widely used and display interface packages are now available on Windows, Linux and MacOS. Many Marathi websites, including prominent 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.[26][27]

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 "Namaskar! Hya prithvitil lok tumhala tyanche shubhavichar pathavitat, ani tyanchi iccha ahe ki tumhi hya janmi dhanya vha"[28].

See also


  1. ^ a b Ethnologue report of Marathi language
  2. ^ a b c d e f UCLA language materials project- Marathi
  3. ^ a b "Languages Spoken by More Than 10 Million People". Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. 
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ a b Marathi is an official language of Dadra and Nagar Haveli Administration's profile.
  6. ^ Abstract of Language Strength in India: 2001 Census
  7. ^ arts, South Asian." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2007 Ultimate Reference Suite.
  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. ^ 1994, Kolarkar
  16. ^ C.V. Vaidya, History of medieval Hindu India (Being a history of Indian from 600 to 1200 AD), Vol. I, p. 317
  17. ^ Marathyancha Itihaas by Dr. Kolarkar (pg.3)
  18. ^ 1966, Deshpande
  19. ^ Dnyaneshwari
  20. ^ Konkani Detailed Description —
  21. ^ Konkani Detailed Description —
  22. ^ Marathi language, alphabet and pronunciation
  23. ^ Modi lipi
  24. ^ Maharashtra times article
  25. ^ Encyclopaedia of Indian literature Volume I, Published by Sahitya Akademi ISBN 8126018038
  26. ^ Askari, Faiz. "Inside the Indian Blogosphere". Express Computer. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  27. ^ Kumar, Rashmie. "Language No Bar". Express India.\. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  28. ^
  • 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 600AD to 1200 AD, by C. V. Vaidya
  • Marathi Sahitya (Review of the Marathi Literature up to I960) by Kusumavati Deshpande, Maharashtra Information Centre, New Delhi

External links

Marathi language edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Marathi phrasebook article)

From Wikitravel

Quick Stats

  • Official language of : Maharashtra & Goa, India
  • Speakers : 90 million
    • Native : 70 million
    • Non-native : 20 million
  • Family : Indo Aryan
  • Script : Devanagari
  • ISO 639-1 Code : mr
  • ISO 639-2/3 Code: mar

Marathi is the main language of Maharashtra, India. Marathi is written in the Devanagari script, like Hindi and some other Indian languages. It is the 4th most widely-spoken language in India, after Hindi, Bengali and Telugu. Regional literature in Marathi dates back to around 1000 AD.

Marathi grammar is largely based on Sanskrit and Pali. Unlike Hindi and similar to Sanskrit, Marathi has not 2, but 3 genders, masculine, feminine and neutral. Figuring out the gender of a word is very easy as it can be distinguished by the word's last vowel. This is not the case in many other Indian languages, such as Hindi or Urdu, where gender is probably the most difficult aspect of grammar.

Goa was a Portuguese colony from the 16th to the 18th century, as a result of which Marathi has had influence from the Portuguese language. बटाटा (ba-tA-tA, potato) is a common example used in everyday speech.

Pronunciation guide

See Learning Devanagari for detailed information on the subject. Marathi is nearly 100% phonetic, so pronunciation is not as much of a problem as it may seem at first glance. Anglophones tend to pronounce आ as in cat or bat. This sound is non-existent in Marathi, and you will not be easily understood if you pronounce it this way. Vowels are added to consonants, similar to other Devanagari languages, but picking up the Devanagari script is not that essential. You will manage fine with the romanization used in this phrasebook.


In Marathi, vowels are added to consonants. Most of them are easy to pronounce, ऋ and ॠ are slightly challenging. Marathi vowels retain much of their original Sanskrit pronunciation making some of them different from their Hindi counterparts. A notable example is औ (au), pronounced as owl in Marathi but as Oxford in Hindi. ऑ (Ao) is a special vowel used for loan English words, and is pronounced as in doctor.

Devanagari Tranileration used here Examples
a as in allow
A as in hard
i as in hit
I as in mean
u as in put
U as in hoot
tR as in Brr! It's cold + a small u sound
TR similar to ऋ, slightly longer
लृ ltR as in life + ऋ
e as in main
ai as in fight
o as in Oh my God
au as in owl
अः aH as in huh?


Many Marathi consonants come in three different forms: aspirated, unaspirated and retroflex.

Aspiration means with a puff of air, and is the difference between the sound of the letter p in English pin (aspirated) and spit (unaspirated). Retroflex consonants, on the other hand, are not really found in English. They should be pronounced with the tongue tip curled back. Practice with a native speaker, or just pronounce as usual — you'll usually still get the message across.

Devanagari Transliteration Equivalent/Comments
k as in skip.
kh as in sinkhole.
g as in go.
gh as in doghouse.
G as in sing. Used only in Sanskrit loan words, does not occur independently.
ch as in church.
Ch as in pinchhit.
j as in jump.
jh as in dodge her.
nY as in canyon. Used only in Sanskrit loan words, does not occur independently.
t as in tick. Retroflex, but still a hard t sound similar to English.
T as in lighthouse. Retroflex
d as in doom. Retroflex
D as in mudhut. Retroflex
N retroflex n, as in grand.
th does not exist in English. more dental t, with a bit of a th sound. Softer than an English t.
Th aspirated version of the previous letter, not as in thanks or the.
dh dental d.
Dh aspirated version of the above.
n dental n.
p as in spin.
ph as in uphill.
b as in be.
bh as in abhor.
m as in mere.
y as in yet.
r as in Spanish pero, a tongue trip. Don't roll as in Spanish rr, German or Scottish English.
R as in ready. slightly different from the above.
l as in lean.
L as in Norwegian farlig. Retroflex lateral approximent
v as in Spanish vaca, between English v and w, but without the lip rounding of an English w.
sh as in shoot.
Sh almost indistinguishable retroflex of the above. slightly more aspirated.
s as in see.
h as in him.
नमस्कार ( na-ma-skA-r )
How are you? (to a male
तू कसा आहेस? ( thU ka-sA A-he-s )
How are you? (to a female
तू कशी आहेस? ( thU ka-shI A-he-s )
How are you? (formal
आपण कसे आहात? ( A-pa-N ka-she A-hA-th )
Fine, thank you. 
मी ठीक आहे ( mI TI-k A-he )
What is your name? 
तुझं नाव काय आहे? ( thu-jha nA-v kA-y A-he )
What is your name? (formal
आपले नाव काय आहे? ( A-pa-le nA-v kA-y A-he )
My name is XYZ. 
माझं नाव XYZ आहे ( mA-zha nA-v XYZ A-he )
Nice to meet you. 
तुम्हाला भेटून आनंद झाला ( thu-mhA-lA bhe-tU-n A-na-ndha jhA-lA )
कृपया ( ktR-pa-yA )
Thank you. 
धन्यवाद ( Dha-nya-vA-dh )
You're welcome. 
आपले स्वागत आहे ( A-pa-le svA-ga-tha A-he )--it is a literal welcome and not something you would say in response to "thank you"
हो ( ho )
नाही ( nA-hI )
Excuse me. 
Excuse me. (begging pardon
. ( )
I'm sorry. 
मला माफ करा ( ma-lA mA-f ka-rA )
("we'll meet again") पुन्हा भेटू ( pU-nhA bhe-tU )
I can't speak Marathi 
मला मराठी बोलता येत नाही ( ma-lA ma-rA-TI bo-la-thA ye-th nA-hI )
Do you speak English? 
तुम्हाला इंग्रजी येते का? ( thu-mhA-lA I-ngra-jI ye-the kA? )
Is there someone here who speaks English? 
इथे कुणाला इंग्रजी येते का? ( i-The ku-NA-lA I-ngra-jI ye-the kA )
मदत ( ma-dha-th )
Look out! 
("careful!") ! (sA-va-kA-sh)
Good night. 
शुभ रात्री ( shu-bha rA-thrI )
I don't understand. 
मला समजत नाही ( ma-lA sa-ma-ja-tha nA-hI )
Say it again. 
पुन्हा सांगा! (pu-nhA sA-nGA)


1 Ek एक

2 don दोन

3 tIn तीन

4 ch-ar चार

5 pa-ch पाच

6 sa-ha सहा

7 saa-th सात

8 aa-th आठ

9 nau नऊ

10 da-ha दहा

11 aka-raa 12 baa-raa 13 te-raa 14 chav-daa 15 pan-dha-raa 16 so-laa 17 sa-ta-raa 18 atha-raa 19 ako-nis 20 vees 21 ek-vees 22 ba-vees


Clock time


How much time? 
किती वेळ? ( ki-thI ve-La )
तास ( thA-sa )
Half an hour 
अर्धा तास ( A-DhA thA-sa )
15 minutes 
पाव तास ( pA-va thA-sa )
45 minutes 
पाउण तास ( pA-u-Na thA-sa )


सोमवार ( so-mavA-ra )
मंगळवार ( ma-Gga-La-vA-ra )
बुधवार ( bu-Dha-vA-ra )
गुरुवार ( gu-ru-vA-ra )
शुक्रवार ( shu-kra-vA-ra )
शनिवार ( sha-ni-vA-ra )
रविवार ( ra-vi-vA-ra )


Months for marathi calendar are different than English calendar. Chaitra,Vaishak,Jeshtha,Ashad,Shravan,Bhadrapad,Ashwin,Kartik,Margashish,Paush,Magh,Falgun.

Writing time and date

लाल ( lA-la )
हिरवा ( hi-ra-vA )
निळा ( ni-LA )
काळा ( kA-lA )
पांढरा ( pAn-Dha-rA )
पिवळा ( pi-va-LA )
नारंगी ( nA-ra-GgI )


Bus and train


Left: डावा  ; Dawa

Right: उजवा; Ujwa

UP: वर; var

Down: खाली Khali

Left Side: डावी कडे Dawikade

Right side: उजवी कडे Ujwikade

upside: वरती Varti

downside: खालती Khalti




नाश्ता ( nA-shthA )


जेवण ( je-va-na )


पाणी ( pA-nI )


बर्फ ( ba-rphA )


चहा ( cha-hA )


साखर ( sA-kha-ra )


दूध ( dhU-Dha )


फळ ( pha-la )


भाजी ( bhA-jI )


भात ( bhA-tha )
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MARATHI (properly Marathi), 1 the name of an important Indo-Aryan language spoken in western and central India. In 1 The name is sometimes spelt Mahrathi, with an h before the r, but, according to a phonetic law of the Aryan languages of western India, this is incorrect. The original h in "Maharastri," from which the word is derived, is liable to elision on coming between two vowels.

1901 the number of speakers was 18,237,899, or about the same as the population of Spain. Marathi occupies an irregular triangular area of approximately ioo,000 sq.m., having its apex about the district of Balaghat in the Central Provinces, and for its base the western coast of the peninsula from Daman on the Gulf of Cambay in the north to Karwar on the open Arabian Sea in the south. It covers parts of two provinces of British India - Bombay and the Central Provinces (including Berar) - with numerous settlers in Central India and Madras, and is also the principal language of Portuguese India and of the north-western portion of His Highness the Nizam's dominions. The standard form of speech is that of Poona in Bombay, and, in its various dialects it covers the larger part of that province, in which it is the vernacular of more than eight and a half millions of people.

As explained in the article Indo-Aryan Languages, there were in ancient times two main groups of these forms of speech - one, the language of the Midland, spoken in the country near the Gangetic Doab, and the other, the languages of the so-called "Outer Band," containing the Midland on three sides, west, east and south. The country to the south of the Midland, in which members of this Outer group of languages were formerly spoken, included the modern Rajputana and Gujarat, and extended to the basin of the river Nerbudda, being bounded on the south by the Vindhya hills. In the course of time the population of the Midland expanded, and gradually occupied this tract, reaching the sea in Gujarat. The language of the Outer Band was thus forced farther afield. Its speakers crossed the Vindhyas and settled in the central plateau of the Deccan and on the Konkan coast. Here they came into contact with speakers of the Dravidian languages of southern India. As happened elsewhere in India, they retained their own Aryan tongue, and gradually through the influence of their superior civilization imposed it upon the aborigines, so that all the inhabitants of this tract became the ancestors of the speakers of modern Marathi.

In Rajputana and Gujarat the language (see Gujarat) is to a certain extent mixed. Near the original Midland there are few traces of the Outer language, but as we go farther and farther away from that centre we find, as might be expected, the influence of the Midland language becoming weaker and weaker, and traces of the Outer language becoming more and more evident, until in Gujarati we recognize several important survivals of the old language once spoken by the earlier Aryan inhabitants.

Table of contents


Besides the standard form of speech, there is only one real dialect of Marathi, viz. Konkani (Konkani), spoken in the country near Goa. There are also several local varieties, and we may conveniently distinguish between the Marathi of the Deccan, that of the Central Provinces (including Berar), and that of the northern and central Konkan. In the southern part of the district of Ratnagiri this latter Konkani variety of Marathi gradually merges into the true Konkani dialect through a number of intermediate forms of speech. There are also several broken jargones, based upon Marathi, employed by aboriginal tribes surviving in the hill country.

Relations with other Indo-Aryan Languages

Marathi has to its north, in order from west to east, Gujarati, Rajasthani, Western Hindi and Eastern Hindi. To its east and south it has the Dravidian languages, Gondi, Telugu and Kanarese. Elsewhere in India Aryan languages gradually fade away into each other, so that it is impossible to fix any definite boundary line between them. But this is not the case with Marathi. It does not merge into any of the cognate neighbouring forms of speech, but possesses a distinct linguistic frontier. A native writer 2 says: "The Gujarati language agrees very closely with the languages of the countries lying to the north of it, because the Gujarati people came from the north. If a native of Delhi, Ajmere, Marwar, Mewar, Jaipur, &c., comes into Gujarat, the Gujarati people find no difficulty in understanding his language. But it is very wonderful that when people from countries bordering Gujarat on the south, as the Konkan, Maharashtra, &c.

2 Shastri Vrajlal Kalidas, quoted by Beames in Comparative Grammar, i. 102.

(i.e. people speaking Marathi) come to Gujarat, the Gujarati people do not in the least comprehend what they say." This isolated character of Marathi is partly due to the barrier of the Vindhya range which lies to its north, and partly to the fact that none of the northern languages belongs now to the Outer Band, but are in more or less close relationship to the language of the Midland. There was no common ground either physical or linguistic, upon which the colliding forms of speech could meet on equal terms. Eastern Hindi is more closely related to Marathi than the others, and in its case, in its bordering dialects, we do find a few traces of the influence of Marathi - traces which are part of the essence of the language, and not mere borrowed waifs floating on the top of a sea of alien speech and not absorbed by it.

Written Character

Marathi books are generally printed in the well-known Nagari character (see Sanskrit), and this is also used to a great extent in private transactions and correspondence. In the Maratha country it is known as the Balbodh (" teachable to children," i.e. " easy") character. A cursive form of Nagari called Modi, or "twisted," is also employed as a handwriting. It is said to have been invented in the 17th century by Balaji Avaji, the secretary of the celebrated Sivaji. Its chief merit is that each word can be written as a whole without lifting the pen from the paper, a feat which is impossible in the case of Nagari.' Origin of the Language. - The word "Marathi" signifies (the language) of the Maratha country. It is the modern form of the Sanskrit Maharatsri, just as "Maratha" represents the old Maha-rastra, or Great Kingdom. Maharastri was the name given by Sanskrit writers to the particular form of Prakrit spoken in Maharastra, the great Aryan kingdom extending southwards from the Vindhya range to the Kistna, broadly corresponding to the southern part of the Bombay Presidency and to the state of Hyderabad. As pointed out in the article Prakrit this Maharastri early obtained literary pre-eminence in India, and became the form of Prakrit employed as the language not only of lyric poetry but also of the formal epic (kavya). Dramatic works were composed in it, and it was the vehicle of the non-canonical scriptures of the Jaina religion. The oldest work in the language of which we have any knowledge is the Sattasai, or Seven Centuries of verses, compiled at Pratisthana, on the Godavari, the capital of King Hala, at some time between the 3 rd and 7th centuries A.D. Pratisthana is the modern Paithan in the Aurangabad district of Hyderabad, and that city was for long famous as a centre of literary composition. In later times the political centre of gravity was changed to Poona, the language of which district is now accepted as the standard of the best Marathi.

General Character of the Language

In the following account of the main features of Marathi, the reader is presumed to be familiar with the leading facts stated in the articles Indo-Aryan Languages and Prakrit. In the Prakrit stage of the IndoAryan languages we can divide the Prakrits into two welldefined groups, an Inner, Sauraseni and its connected dialects on the one hand, and an Outer, Maharastri, Ardhamagadhi, and Magadhi with their connected dialects on the other. These two groups differed in their phonetic laws, in their systems of declension and conjugation, in vocabulary, and in general character.' In regard to the last point reference may be made to the frequent use of meaningless suffixes, such as -alla, -ilia, -ulla, &c., which can be added, almost ad libitum to any noun, adjective or particle in Maharastri and Ardhamagadhi, but which are hardly ever met in Sauraseni. These give rise to numerous secondary forms of words, used, it might be said, in a spirit of playfulness, which give a distinct flavour to the whole language. Similarly the late Mr Beames (Comparative Grammar, i. 103) well describes Marathi as possessing "a very decided individuality, a type quite its own, arising from its comparative 1 See B. A. Gupte in Indian Antiquary (1905), xxxiv. 27.

For details see Dr Sten Konow's article on Maharastri and Marathi in Indian Antiquary (2903), xxxii. 280 seq.

isolation for so many centuries." Elsewhere (p. 38) he uses language which would easily well apply to Maharastri Prakrit when he says, "Marathi is one of those languages which we may call playful - it delights in all sorts of jingling formations, and has struck out a larger quantity of secondary and tertiary words, diminutives, and the like, than any of the cognate tongues," and again (p. 52): "In Marathi we see the results of the Pandit's file applied to a form of speech originally possessed of much natural wildness and licence. The hedgerows have been pruned and the wild briars and roses trained into order. It is a copious and beautiful language, second only to Hindi. It has three genders, and the same elaborate preparation of the base as Sindhi, and, owing to the great corruption which has taken place in its terminations, the difficulty of determining the gender of nouns is as great in Marathi as in German. In fact, if we were to institute a parallel in this respect, we might appropriately describe Hindi as the English, Marathi as the German of the Indian group - Hindi having cast aside whatever could possibly be dispensed with, Marathi having retained whatever has been spared by the action of time. To an Englishman Hindi commends itself by its absence of form, and the positional structure of its sentences resulting therefrom; to our High-German cousins the Marathi, with its fuller array of genders, terminations, and inflexions, would probably seem the completer and finer language." In the article Prakrit it is explained that the literary Prakrits were not the direct parents of the modern Indo-Aryan vernaculars. Each Prakrit had first to pass through an intermediate stage - that of the Apabhramsa - before it took the form current at the present day. While we know a good deal about Maharastri and very little about Sauraseni Prakrit, the case is reversed in regard to their respective Apabhramsas. The Saurasena Apabhramsa is the only one concerning which we have definite information. Although it would be quite possible to reason from analogy, and thus to obtain what would be the corresponding forms of Maharastra Apabhramsa, we should often be travelling upon insecure ground, and it is therefore advisable to compare Marathi, not with the Apabhramsa from which it is immediately derived, but with its grandmother, Maharastri Prakrit. We shall adopt this course, so far as possible, in the following pages.


In the article Indo-Aryan Languages it is explained that, allowing for phonetic development, the vocabulary of Sauraseni Prakrit was the same as that of Sanskrit, but that the farther we go from the Midland, the more examples we meet of a new class of words, the so-called desyas, descendants of the old Primary Prakrits spoken outside the Midland, and strange to Sanskrit. Maharastra Prakrit, the most independent of the Outer languages, was distinguished by the large proportion of these desyas found in its vocabulary, and the same is consequently the case in Marathi. The Brahmins of the Maratha country have always had a great reputation for learning, and their efforts to create a literary language out of their vernacular took, as in other parts of India, the direction of borrowing tatsamas from Sanskrit, to lend what they considered to be dignity to their sentences. But the richness of the language in desya words has often rendered such borrowing unnecessary, and has saved Marathi, although the proportion of tatsamas to tadbhavas 3 in the language is more than sufficiently high, from the fate of the Pandit-ridden literary Bengali, in which 80 to 90% of the vocabulary is pure Sanskrit. There is indeed a tradition of stylistic chastity in the Maratha country from the earliest times, and even Sanskrit writers contrasted the simple elegance of the Deccan (or Vaidarbhi) style with the flowery complexity of eastern India.

The proportion of Persian and, through Persian, of Arabic words in the Marathi vocabulary is comparatively low, when compared with, say, Hindostani. The reason is, firstly, the predominance in the literary world of these learned Brahmins, and, secondly, the fact that the Maratha country was not conquered by the Mussulmans till a fairly late period, nor was it so thoroughly occupied by them as were Sind, the Punjab, and the Gangetic valley.

Phonetics. 4

In the standard dialect the vowels are the same as in Sanskrit, but r and l only appear in words borrowed directly from that language (tatsamas). Final short vowels (a, i and u) have all disappeared in prose pronunciation, except in a few local dialects, and final i and u are not even written. On the other hand, in the Nagari character, the non-pronunciation of a final a is not indicated. After an accented syllable a medial a is pronounced very lightly, even when the accent is not the main accent of the word. Thus, if we indicate the main accent by ', and subsidiary accents (equivalent 3 For the explanation of these terms see Indo-Aryan Languages. Abbreviations: Skr. = Sanskrit. Pr. = Maharastri Prakrit.

M. = Marathi.

to the Hebrew methegh) by then the word kdrawat, a saw, is pronounced kdr a wat; and kalakdlane, to be agitated, is pronounced kal a kdl a ne. In Konkani the vowel a assumes the sound of o in "hot," a sound which is also heard in the language of Bengal. In dialectic speech e is often interchangeable with short or long a, so that the standard sangit a le, it was said, may appear as sangit a la or sangitala. The vowels e and o are apparently always long in the standard dialect, thus following Sanskrit; but in Konkani there is a short and a long form of each vowel. Very probably, although the distinction is not observed in writing, and has not been noticed by native scholars, these vowels are also pronounced short in the standard dialect under the circumstances to be now described. p When a long a, i or u precedes an accented syllable it is usually shortened. In the case of a the shortening is not indicated by the spelling, but the written long a is pronounced short like the a in the Italian ballo. Thus, the dative of pik, a ripe crop, is pikas, and that of hat, a hand, is hat¢s, pronounced hatas. Almost the only compound consonants which survived in the Prakrit stage were double letters, and in M. these are usually simplified, the preceding vowel being lengthened in compensation. Thus, the Prakrit kanno becomes kan, an ear; Pr. bhikkha becomes bhik, alms; and Pr. putto becomes put, a son. In the Pisaca (see Indo-Aryan Languages) and other languages of northwestern India it is not usual to lengthen the vowel in compensation, and the same tendency is observable in Konkani, which, it may be remarked, appears to contain many relics of the old Prakrit (Saurastri) spoken in the Gujarat country before the invasion from the Midland. Thus, in Konkani, we have put as well as put, while the word corresponding to the Pr. ekko, one, is ek as well as the standard ek. On the whole, the consonantal system is much the same as in other Indian languages. Nasalization of long vowels is very common, especially in Konkani. In this article it is indicated by the sign - placed over the affected vowel. The palatals are pronounced as in Skr. in words borrowed from that language or from Hindostani, and also in Marathi tadbhavas before i, I, e or y. Thus, cand (tatsama), fierce; .. .lama (Hindostani), collected; cikhal (M. tadbhava), mud. In other cases they are pronounced ts, tsh, dz, dzh respectively. Thus tsakar (for cakar), a servant; dzane (for jag), to go. There are two s-sounds jri the standard dialect which are very similarly distinguished. S, pronounced like an English sh, is used before i, i, e or y; and s, as in English "sin," elsewhere. Thus, simphi, a castename; sil, a stone; ;set, a field; syam, dark blue; but sap, a snake; sumar (Persian shumar), an estimate; stri, a woman. In the dialects s is practically the only sibilant used, and that is changed by the vulgar speakers of Konkani to h (again as in north-western India). Aspirated letters show a tendency to lose their aspiration, especially in Konkani. Thus, bhik (for bhikh), alms, quoted above; hat (Pr. hattho), a hand. In Konkani we have words such as boin, a sister, against standard bhain; ger, standard ghari, in a house; ami, standard amhi, we. Here again we have agreement with northwestern India. Generally speaking Marathi closely follows Maharastri when that differs from the Prakrits of other parts of India. Thus we have Skr. vrajati, Maharastri vaccai (instead of vajjai), he goes; Konkani votsu, to go; Sauraseni genhiduim, Maharastri ghettum, to take; Marathi ghet a le, taken. There is similarly both in Marathi and Maharastri a laxness in distinguishing between cerebral and dental letters (which again reminds us of north-western India). Thus, Skr. dasati, Maharastri dasai, he bites; M. das a ne to bite; Skr. dahati, Maharastri dahai, he burns; M. dadz a ne, to be hot; Skr. gardabhas; Sauraseni gaddaho; Hindostani gad/id; but Maharastri gaddaho; M. gadhav, an ass; and so many others. In Maharastri every n becomes n, but in Jaina MSS. when the n was initial or doubled it remained unchanged. A similar rule is followed regarding l and the cerebral l common in Vedic Sanskrit, in MSS. coming from southern India, and, according to the grammarians, also in the Pi§aca dialects of the north-west. In M. a Pr. double nn or ll is simplified, according to the usual rule, to n or 1 respectively, with lengthening of the preceding vowel in compensation. Both n and I are of frequent occurrence in M., but only as medial letters, and then only when they represent n or l in the Pr. stage. When the letter is initial (or represents a double nn or 11 of Pr. it is always n or 1 respectively, thus offering a striking testimony to the accuracy of the Jaina and southern MSS. Thus, ordinary Maharastri na, but Jaina Maharastri na, M. na, not; Maharastri (both kinds) ghano, M. ghan, dense; Maharastri sonnaam, Jaina sonnaath, M. sone, gold; Maharastri kale, time, southern MSS. of the same kalo, NI. kal, time; Maharastri callai, M. tsale, he goes or used to go. In some of the local dialects, following the Vedic practice, we find l where d is employed elsewhere, as in (Berar) ghola for ghoda, a horse; and there are instances of this change occurring even in Maharastri; e.g. Skr. tadagam, Maharastri talaam, M. tale, a pond.

The Skr. compound consonant jn is pronounced dny in the standard dialect, but gy in the Konkan. Thus, Skr. jnanam becomes dnyan or gyan according to locality.


Marathi and Gujarati are the only Indo-Aryan languages which have retained the three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter, of Sanskrit and Prakrit. In rural dialects of Western Hindi and of Rajasthani sporadic instances of the neuter gender have survived, but elsewhere the only example occurs in the interrogative pronoun. In Marathi the neuter denotes not only inanimate things but also animate beings when both sexes arc included, or when the sex is left undecided. Thus, ghode, neut., a horse, without regard to sex. In the Konkan the neuter gender is further employed to denote females below the age of puberty, as in cedu, a girl. Numerous masculine and feminine words, however, denote inanimate objects. The rules for distinguishing the gender of such nouns are as complicated as in German, and must be learned from the grammars. For the most part, but not always, words follow the genders of their Skr. originals, and the abrasion of terminations in the modern language renders it impossible to lay down any complete set of rules on the subject. We may, however, say that strong bases (see below) in a - and these do not include tatsamas - are masculine, and that the corresponding feminine and neuter words end in i and e respectively. Thus, mul a ga, a son; mul a gi, a daughter; mul a ge, a child of so and so. As a further guide we may say, that sex is usually distinguished by the use of the masculine and feminine genders, and that large and powerful inanimate objects are generally masculine, while small, delicate things are generally feminine. In the case of some animals (as in our "horse" and "mare") sex is distinguished by the use of different words; e.g. bokad, he-goat, and seli, a nanny-goat.

The nominative form of a tadbhava word is derived from the nominative form in Sanskrit and Prakrit, but tatsama words are generally borrowed in the form of the Sanskrit crude base. Thus, Skr. crude base maiin, nom. sing. mali; Pr. nom. malio (malio); M. mali (tadbhava), a gardener; Skr. base mati-; nom. matis; M. mati (tatsama). Some tatsamas are, however, borrowed in the nominative form, as in Skr. dhanin, nom. dhani; M. dhani, a rich man. In Prakrit the nominative singular of many masculine tatsamas ended in o. In the Apabhrarhsa stage this o was weakened to u, and in modern Marathi, under the general rule, this final short u was dropped, the noun thus reverting as stated above to the form of the Sanskrit crude base. But in old Marathi, the short u was still retained. Thus, the Sanskrit isvaras, lord, became, as a Prakrit tatsama, isvaro, which in Apabhrarnsa took the form isvaru. The old Marathi form was also isvaru, but in modern Marathi we have isvar. Tadbhavas derived from Sanskrit bases in a are treated very similarly, the termination being dropped in the modern language. Thus, Skr. nom. masc. karnas, Pr. kanno, M. kan; Skr. nom. sing. fern. khatva, Pr. khatta, M. khat, a bed; Skr. nom. sing. neut. gyham, Pr. gharam, M. ghar, a house. Sometimes the Skr. nom. sing. fem. of these nouns ends in i, but this makes no difference, as in Skr. and Pr. culli, M. cul, a fireplace. There is one important set of exceptions to this rule. In the article Prakrit attention is drawn to the frequent use of pleonastic suffixes, especially of -(a)ka- (masc. and neut.), -(i)ka (fern.). This could in Sanskrit be added to any noun, whatever the termination of the base might be. In Prakrit the k of this suffix, being medial, was elided, so that we get forms like Skr. nom. sing. masc. ghota-kas, Pr. ghoda-5, M. ghoda, a horse; Skr. nom. sing. fem. ghoti-ka, Pr. ghodi-a, M. ghodi, a mare; Skr. ghota-karh, Pr. ghoda- (y)am, M. ghode, a horse (without distinction of sex). Such modern forms made with this pleonastic suffix, and ending in a, i or e are called "strong forms," while all those made without it are called "weak forms." As a rule the fact that a noun is in a weak or a strong form does not affect its meaning, but sometimes the use of a masculine strong form indicates clumsiness or hugeness. Thus bhakar (weak form) means "bread," while bhak a ra (strong form) means "a huge loaf of bread." The other pleonastic suffixes mentioned under Prakrit are also employed in Marathi, but usually with specific senses. Thus the suffix -illa- generally forms adjectives, while -da-ka- (in M. -da, fern. -di, neut. -de) implies contempt.

The synthetic declension of Sanskrit and Prakrit has been preserved in Marathi more completely than in any other Indo-Aryan language. While Maharastri Prakrit, like all others, passed through the Apabhrarin a stage in the course of its development, the conservative character of the language retained even in that stage some of the old pure Maharastri forms. In the article Prakrit we have seen how there gradually arose a laxity in distinguishing the cases. In Maharastri the Sanskrit dative fell into almost entire disuse, the genitive being used in its place, while in Apabhrarhsa the case terminations become worn down to -hu, -ho, -hi, -hi and -ha, of which -hi and -hi were employed for several cases, both singular and plural. There was also a marked tendency for these terminations to become confused, so that in the earliest stages of most of the modern IndoAryan vernaculars we find -hi freely employed for any oblique case of the singular, and -hi for any oblique case of the plural. Another feature of Prakrit was the simplification of the complicated declensional system of Sanskrit by assimilating it in all cases to the declension of a-bases, corresponding to the first and second declensions in Latin.




Nom. Sing.

Nom. Plur.

Nom. Sing.

Nom. Plur.

Nom. Sing.

Nom. Plur.

Nom. Sing.

Nom. Plur.

Weak form.

Prakrit. .. .


an ear.



a bed.



a fireplace.



a house.


Marathi. .. .









Strong form.

Prakrit. .. .


a horse.



a mare.





a horse.


Marathi. .. .









In the formation of the plural the Prakrit declensions are very closely followed by Marathi. We shall confine our remarks to a-bases, which may be either weak or strong forms, and of which the feminine ends sometimes in a, and sometimes in i. In Prakrit the nom. plur. of these nouns ends masc. a, fern. CO, TO', neut. aim. We thus get the following: - Several of the old synthetic cases have survived in Marathi, especially in the antique form of the language preserved in poetry. Most of them have fallen into disuse in the modern prose language. We may note the following, some of which have preserved the Maharastri forms, while others are directly derived from the Apabhrarrisa stage of the language. We content ourselves with giving some of the synthetic cases of one noun, a weak neuter a-base, ghar, a house.

As already stated, in Prakrit the genitive is employed instead of the dative, and thus forms the basis of the Marathi dative singular. The genitive plural is not used as a dative plural in Marathi, but it is the basis of the plural general oblique case. The Marathi singular general oblique case is really the same as the Marathi dative singular, but in the standard form of speech when so used the final s is dropped, gharas, as a general oblique case, being only found in dialects. This general oblique case is the result of the confusion of the various oblique cases originally distinguished in Sanskrit and in literary Prakrit. In Apabhrarimsa the genitive began to usurp the function of all the other cases. It is obvious that if it were regularly employed in so indeterminate a sense, it would give rise to great confusion. Hence when it was intended to show clearly what particular case was meant, it became usual to add, to this indeterminate genitive, defining particles corresponding to the English "of," " "?, to, rom, y, &c., which,as in all Indo-Aryan languages they follow the main word, are called" postpositions."Before dealing with these, it will be convenient to give the modern Marathi synthetic declension of the commoner forms of nouns. The only synthetic case which is now employed in prose is the dative, and this can always be formed from the general oblique case by adding an s to the end of the word. It is therefore not given in the following table.

The accusative is usually the same as the nominative, but when definiteness is required the dative is employed instead. The termination ne, with its plural ni, is, as explained in the article Gujarati, really the oblique form, by origin a locative, of the na or nõ, employed in Gujarati to form the genitive. The suffix net of the dative plural is derived from the same word. Here it is probably a corruption of the Apabhrarn s a nau or naho. The postposition la is probably a corruption of the Sanskrit labhe, Apabhrarhsa lahi, for the benefit (of). As regards the ablative, we have in old Marathi poetry a form corresponding to gharahu-niya, which explains the derivation. Gharahu is a by-form of the Prakrit synthetic ablative gharau, to which niya, another oblique form of na. is added to define the meaning. The locative termination"'t is a contraction of the Pr. anto, Skr. antar, within.

The genitive gharatsa is really an adjective meaning "belonging to the house," and agrees in gender, number and case with the noun which is possessed. Thus: malyatsa ghoda, the gardener's horse. malyace ghode, the gardener's horses.

malyaci ghodi, the gardener's mare. malyacya ghodya, the gardener's mares.

malyace ghode, the gardener's horse (neut.). malyaci ghodi, the gardener's horses (neut.).

Maharastri Prakrit.

Apabhrain s a.



Nominative. .




Dative.. .

gharassa (genitive)

gharaho (genitive)

gharas (dative)

Locative .


gharahi (- hi)

ghari, ghara

General oblique

gharassa (genitive)

gharaho (genitive)

gharas, ghara


Nominative .




Locative .


gharahi (-hi)


General oblique

gharana (genitive)

gharaha (genitive)


























Gen. obl





















Gen. obl

kan a










The suffix tsa, ci, ce, is derived from the Sanskrit suffix tyakas, Pr. cad, which is used in much the same sense. In Sanskrit it may be added either to the locative or to the unmodified base of the word to which it is attached, thus, ghotake-tyakas or ghotaka-tyakas. Similarly in Marathi, while it is usually added to the general oblique base, it may also be added to the unmodified noun, in which case it has a more distinctly adjectival force. The use of tsa has been influenced by the fact that the Sanskrit word krtyas, Pr. kiccao, also takes the same form in Marathi. As explained in the article Hindostani, synonyms of this word are used in other Indo-Aryan languages to form suffixes of the genitive.' Strong adjectives, including genitives, can be declined like substantives, and agree with the qualified noun in gender, number and case. When the substantive is in an oblique case, the adjective is put into the general oblique form without any defining postposition, which is added to the substantive alone. Weak adjectives are not inflected in modern prose, but are inflected in poetry. As in other The usual postpositions are: Instrumental: ne, plural ni, by. Dative: lc - t, plural also na, to or for. Ablative: Iran, un, from. Genitive: tsa, of. Locative:'t, in. We thus get the following complete modern declension of ghar, a house (neut.) Plur. ghare ghare gharani ghar¢s, gharala, gharana gharahun gharatsa ghara t 17 Indo-Aryan languages, comparison is effected by putting the noun with which comparison is made in the ablative case.

The pronouns closely follow the Prakrit originals. The origin of all these is discussed in the article Hindostani, and the account need not be repeated here. As usual in these languages, there is no pronoun of the third person, its place being supplied by the demonstratives. The following are the principal pronominal forms: - r Fuller information regarding all the above postpositions will be found in G. A. Grierson's article "On Certain Suffixes in the Modern Indo-Aryan Vernaculars," on pp. 473 seq. of the Zeitschrift fur vergleichende Sprachforschung for 1903.

XVII. 22 Sing. ghar ghar gharane gharas, gharala gharahun,gharun gharatsa ghar¢t Nom. Acc. Instr. Dat. Abl. Gen. Loc.

mi, I, instr. mi, snya, dat. maid, obl. madz; amhi, we, instr. amhi, obl. amha; madzha, my, of me; amtsa, our, of us.

ti, thou, instr. tu, twa, dat. tula, obl. tudz; tumhi, you, instr. tumhi, obl. tumha; tudzha, thy, of thee; tumtsa, your, of you.

apa t i, self, obl. ap a na, gen. ap a la. This is also employed as an honorific pronoun of the second person, and, in addition, to mean "we including you." ha, this, fem. hi, neut. he; to, he, that, fern. ti, neut. te; dzo, who, fem. ji, neut. je. kol,a, who? kay, what? obl. kasa; koni, any one; kahi, anything. In all these the plural is employed honorifically instead of the singular.


In Prakrit (q.v.) the complicated system of Sanskrit conjugation had already disappeared, and all verbs fell into two classes, the first, or a-, conjugation, and the second, or e-, conjugation, in which the e represents the aya of the Sanskrit tenth conjugation and of causal and denominative verbs. Marathi follows Prakrit in this respect and has two conjugations. The first, corresponding to the Prakrit a-class, as a rule consists of intransitive verbs, and the second, corresponding to the e- or causal class, of transitive verbs, but there are numerous exceptions. Verbs whose roots end in vowels or in h belong partly to one and partly to the other conjugation. These conjugations differ only in the present and past participles and in the tenses formed from them. Here, in the first conjugation an a, and in the second conjugation an i, is inserted between the base and the termination.

The only original Prakrit tenses which have survived in Marathi are the present and the imperative. The present has lost its original meaning and is now a habitual past. It is also the base of the Marathi future. These three tenses, the habitual past, the imperative and the future, are conjugated as follows. They should be compared with the corresponding forms in the article Prakrit. The verb selected is the root uth, rise, of the first conjugation.


Habitual past

(old present),

I used to rise.


Let me rise.


I shall rise.























uth a sil





As in Rajasthani, Bihari and the Indo-Aryan language of Nepal (see Pahari), the future is formed by adding 1, or in the first person singular n, to the old present. In the second person singular the 1 has been added to a form derived from the Pr. utthasi, which is also the origin of the old present uthes. Some scholars, however, see in uthasi a derivation of the Prakrit future utthihisi, thou shalt arise, and a confusion of the Prakrit present and future is quite possible.



Conj ugation).







Verbal Noun. .


utha zk, the act

of rising.

mar a n'e, the act

of killing.

Infinitive .


uthu, to rise.

maru, to kill.

Present Participle



uthat, uth a ta,


marit, marila,


Past Participle .


uthala, risen.

marila, killed.

Future Participle


uthanar, about



to rise.

to kill.

Future Participle


uthawa, about

marawa, about


to be risen.

to be killed.

Conjunctive Par-


uthun, having

marlin, having




The remaining tenses are modern forms derived from the participles. The verbal nouns, participles and infinitives are as follows The only form that requires notice is that of the conjunctive participle. It is derived from the Apabhrarnsa form utthiu, to which the dative suffix n (old Marathi ni, niya) has been added.



Present, I rise.

Past, I rose.

















Various tenses are formed by adding personal suffixes to the present, past or future passive participle. When the subject of the verb is in the nominative the tense so formed agrees with it in gender, number and person. We may note four such tenses: a present, uth a to, I rise; a past, uth a lo, I rose; past conditional, uth a to, had I risen; and a subjunctive, uthawa, I should rise. In the present, the terminations are relics of the verb substantive, and in the other tenses of the personal pronouns. In these latter, as there is no pronoun of the third person, the third persons have no termination, but are simply the unmodified participle. We thus get the present and the past conjugated as follows, with a masculine subject: - The feminine and neuter forms differ from the above: thus, uth a tes, thou (fern.) risest; uth a lis, thou (fern.) didst rise; and so on for the other persons and for the neuter.

It will be observed that, in the case of transitive verbs, while the present participle is active, the past and future passive participles are passive in meaning. The same is the case with the future passive participle of the intransitive verb. In tenses, therefore, formed from these participles the sentence must be construed passively. The subject must be put into the instrumental case, and the participle inflected to agree with the object. If the object is not expressed, or, as is sometimes the case, is expressed in the guise of a kind of ethic dative, the participle is construed impersonally, and is employed in the neuter form. Thus (present tense) mul a ga (nom. masc.) pothi vacito, the boy reads a book, but (past tense) mul a gyane (instrumental pothi (nom. fem.) vacili (fem.) the boy read a book, literally, by-theboy a-book was-read; or mul a gyane pothila (dative) vacire (neuter), the boy read the book, literally, by-the-boy, with-reference-tothe-book, it-(impersonal)-was-read. Similarly in the subjunctive formed from the future passive participle, mul a gyane pothi vacawi, the boy should read a book (by-the-boy a-book is-to-be-read) or mul a gyane pothila vacawe, the boy should read the book [by-the-boy with-reference-to-the-book, it (impersonal)-is-to-be-read]. As an example of the subjunctive of an intransitive verb, we have twd uthawa, by-thee it-is-to-be-risen, thou shouldst rise. As in intransitive verbs the passive sense is not so strong, in their case the tense may also be used actively, as in tu uthawas, thou shouldst rise, lit., thou (art) to-be-risen. It will be noted that when a participle is used passively it takes no personal suffix.


Present, I am.

Past, I as (masc).










ah et







We have seen that the present tense is formed by compounding the present participle with the verb substantive. Further tenses are similarly made by suffixing, without compounding, various tenses of the verb substantive to the various participles. Thus mi uthat CIO, I am rising; mi uthat holh, I was rising; mya uthave hote (impersonal construction), I should have risen. In the case of tenses formed from the past participle, the auxiliary is appended, not to the participle, but to the past tense, as in mi uth a lo ahe, I have risen; mya marila ahe (personal passive construction) or mya marila ahe impersonal passive construction), I have killed. Similarly mi uthalo hoto (active construction), I had risen. The usual forms of the present and past of the verb substantive are: - The past changes for gender, but the present is immutable in this respect. Ahe is usually considered to be a descendant of the Sanskrit asmi, I am,' while hoto is derived from the Pr. homtao, the present participle of what corresponds to the Skr. root bhu, become.

A potential passive and a causal are formed by adding av to the root of a simple verb. The former follows the first, or intransitive, and the latter the second or transitive conjugation. The potential passive of a neuter verb is necessarily construed impersonally. The causal verb denotes indirect agency; thus, kar a ne, to do, karavane, to cause a person to do; tyacya-kadun mya te karavile, I caused him to do that, literally, by-means-of-him by-me that was-caused-to-bedone. The potential, being passive, has the subject in the dative (cf. Latin mihi est ludendum) or in the instrumental of the genitive, as in maid (dative), or majhyane (instr. of madzha, of me), uth a vate, I can rise, literally, for-me, or by-my-(action), rising-can-be-done. So, Ramala, or Ramacyane, pothi vac a vali, Ram could read a book (by R. a book could be read).

Several verbs are irregular. These must be learnt from the grammars. Here we may mention hone, to become, past participle dzhala; yene, to come, past participle Old; and dzane, to go, past participle geld. There are also numerous compound verbs. One of these, making a passive, is formed by conjugating the verb dzane, to go, with the past participle of the principal verb. Thus, marila dzato, he is being killed, literally, he goes killed.

' See, however, Hoernle, Comparative Grammar, p. 364.


As elsewhere in India, the modern vernacular literature of the Maratha country arose under the influence of the religious reformation inaugurated by Ramanuja early in the 12th century. He and his followers taught devotion to a personal deity instead of the pantheism hitherto prevalent. The earliest writer of whom we have any record is Namdev (13th century), whose hymns in honour of Vithoba, a personal form of Vishnu, have travelled far beyond the home of their writer, and are even found in the Sikh Adi Granth. Dnyanoba, a younger contemporary, wrote a paraphrase of the Sanskrit Bhagavad Gita, which is still much admired. Passing over several intermediate writers we come to the period of the warrior Sivaji, the opponent of Aurangzeb. He was a disciple of Ramdas (1608-1681), who exercised great influence over him, and whose Dasbodh, a work on religious duty, is a classic. Contemporary with Ramdas and Sivaji was Tukaram (1608-1649), a Sudra by caste, and yet the greatest writer in the language. He began life as a petty shopkeeper, and being unsuccessful both in his business and in his family relations, he abandoned the world and became a wandering ascetic. His Abhangs or "unbroken" hymns, probably so called from their indefinite length and loose, flowing metre, are famous in the country of his birth. They are fervent, but though abounding in excellent morality, do not rise to any great height as poetry. Other Marathi poets who may be mentioned are Sridhar (1678-1728), the most copious of all, who translated the Bhagavata Purana, and the learned Mayura or Moropant (1729-1794), whose works smell too much of the lamp to satisfy European standards of criticism. Mahipati (1715-1790) was an imitator of Tukaram, but his chief importance rests on the fact that he collected the popular traditions about national saints, and was thus the author of the Acta sanctorum of the Marathas. Lavanis, or erotic lyrics, by various writers, are popular, but are often more passignate than decent. Another branch of Marathi literature is composed of Pawadas or war-ballads, mostly by nameless poets, which are sung everywhere throughout the country. There is a small prose literature, consisting of narratives of historical events (the so-called Bakhars), moral maxims and popular tales.

In the 19th century the facilities of the printing press are responsible for a great mass of published matter. Most of the best works have been written in English by learned natives, upon whom the methods of European scholarship have exercised more influence than elsewhere in India, and have given rise to a happy combination of western science with Oriental lore. No vernacular authors of outstanding merit have appeared during the last century.

Konkani once had a literature of its own, which is said to have been destroyed by the Inquisition at Goa. Temples and manuscripts were burnt wholesale. Under Roman Catholic auspices a new literature arose, the earliest writer being an Englishman, Thomas Stephens (Thomaz Estevao), who came to Goa in 1579, wrote the first Konkani grammar, and died there in 1619. Amongst other works, he was the author of a Konkani paraphrase of the New Testament in metrical form, which has been several times reprinted and is still a favourite work with the native Christians. Since his time there has grown up a considerable body of Christian literature from the pens of Portuguese missionaries and native converts.


- Marathi is fortunate in possessing the best dictionary of any modern Indian language, J. T. Molesworth's (2nd ed., Bombay, 1857). Navalkar's (3rd ed., Bombay, 1894) is the best grammar. The earliest students of Marathi were the Portuguese, who were familiar only with the language as spoken on the coast, i.e. with the standard dialect of the northern Konkan and with Konkani. They have since devoted themselves to these two forms of speech. For the former, reference may be made to the Grammatica da lingua Concani no dialecto do norte, by J. F. da Cunha Rivara (Goa, 1858). For Konkani proper, see A. F. X. Maffei's Grammar (Mangalore, 1882) and Dictionaries (ibid., 1883). These are in English. Monsenhor S. R. Dalgado is the author of a Konkan-Portuguese Dictionary (Bombay, 1893).

For further information regarding Marathi in general, see the list of authorities under INDO-ARYAN LANGUAGES. For accounts of Marathi literature, see the preface to Molesworth's Dictionary; also J. Murray Mitchell's "The Chief Marathi Poets" in Transactions .of the Congress of Orientalists, London, 1892, i. 282 sqq., and ch. viii. of M. G. Ranade's Rise of the Maratha Power (Bombay, 1900). For Konkani literature, see J. Gerson da Cunha's "Materials for the History of Oriental Studies among the Portuguese," in the Proceedings of the Fourth International Congress of Orientalists, ii. 179 sqq. (Florence, 1881). A full account of Marathi, given in great detail, will be found in vol. vii. of the Linguistic Survey of India (Calcutta, 1905). (G. A. GR.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

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Proper noun




  1. Language spoken in the state of Maharashtra, India.
  2. The people of this state.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


Marathi (not comparable)


not comparable

none (absolute)

  1. Pertaining to Maharashtra or its language.


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  • Notes:
  1. ^ McGregor, R.S, ed. The Oxford Hindi-English Dictionary, Oxford university press. 1993
  2. ^ McGregor, R.S, ed. The Oxford Hindi-English Dictionary, Oxford university press. 1993
  3. ^ McGregor, R.S, ed. The Oxford Hindi-English Dictionary, Oxford university press. 1993


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection


Marathi language

Marathi is the main language spoken in Maharashtra, India. It is the mother tongue of about 90 million people. Marathi is believed to have evolved from Apabhransha and Maahaarashtri languages, which were derivatives of Prakrit.

It is written in Devanagari script, which is also used to write Hindi and Sanskrit. Marathi is similar to Hindi in structure and grammar.

The earliest documented use of Marathi goes back to the 13th century, though the language may have existed for some time before that.

Marathi words for Family Relationships

Mother - आई (Aai)

Father - बाबा (Baba/Vadil)

Sister - बहिण (Bahin)

Brother - भाऊ (Bhau)

Grandfather - आजोबा (Aajoba)

Grandmother - आजी (Aaji)

Maternal Uncle - मामा (Mama)

Maternal Uncle's wife - मामी (Mami)

Maternal Aunt - मावशी (Mavshi)

Paternal Uncle - काका (Kaka)

Paternal Uncle's wife - काकी (Kaki) or काकू (Kaku)

Paternal Aunt - आत्या (Aatya)

Marathi words for Numbers

1 - एक (Ek)

2 - दोन (Don)

3 - तीन (Teen)

4 - चार (Chaar)

5 - पाच (Paach)

6 - सहा (Sahaa)

7 - सात (Saat)

8 - आठ (Aath)

9 - नऊ (Nau)

10 - दहा (Dahaa)

100 - शंभर (Shambhar)

1,000 - हजार (Hazaar)

10,000 - दहा हजार (Dahaa Hazaar)

1,00,000 - लाख (Laakh)

10,00,000 - दहा लाख (Dahaa Laakh/Dasha-Laksha)

1,00,00,000 - कोटी Kotee)

10,00,00,000 - दहा कोटी (Dahaa Kotee/Dasha-Kotee)

1,00,00,00,000 - अब्ज (Abja)

10,00,00,00,000 - खर्व (Kharva)

1,00,00,00,00,000 - निखर्व (Nikharva)

10,00,00,00,00,000 - महापद्म (MahaaPadma)

1,00,00,00,00,00,000 - शंकु (Shanku)

10,00,00,00,00,00,000 - जलधि (Jaladhi)

1,00,00,00,00,00,00,000 - अंत्य (Antya)

10,00,00,00,00,00,00,000 - मध्य (Madhya)

1,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,000 - परार्ध (Paraardha)

Marathi words for Days

सोमवार (Somvaar) - Monday

मंगळवार (Mangalvaar) - Tuesday

बुधवार (Budhvaar) - Wednesday

गुरुवार (Guruvaar) - Thursday

शुक्रवार (Shukravaar) - Friday

शनिवार (Shanivaar) - Saturday

रविवार (Ravivaar) - Sunday

Common Expressions in Marathi

नमस्कार Namaskar: Hello, Hi, Good Morning, Good Afternoon

शुभ रात्री Shubh Ratri: Good Night

आपण कसे आहात ? Apan kase aahat?: How are you?

आपले नाव काय? Aapale naav kay? : What is your name?

माझे नाव केदार Maaze naav Kedar. : My name is Kedar.

हो Ho : Yes

नाही Naahi : No

किती वाजले ? Kiti Vajale? : What time is it?

छान आहे Chhan Aahe.: It's nice.

मी मजेत आहे Mi Majaet Aahe.: I am fine.

जेवण झाले का ? Jevan Zale Kaa? : Did you have your meal?

क्षमा करा / माफ करा Kshama kara /Maaph kara. : Sorry.

मी आपली क्षमा मागतो / मागते Mi Kshama maagato/maagate. : I apologize.

कृपया जरा सावकाश बोलाल का? Krupaya jaraa saavakaash bolal ka? : Will you please speak a bit slowly?

बस थांबा कुठे आहे ? Bus thaamba kuthe aahe?: Where is the Bus stop?

Translation Phrase Pronunciation
Marathi मराठी Marāṭhī
hello नमस्कार namaskār
good-bye अच्छा achhā
please कृपया kripayā
thank you आभार ābhār, dhanyawād
how much? किती? kitī?
yes हो ho, hoya
no नाही nāhī
forgive me माफ करा maaf karā
English इंग्रजी iṅgrajī
Where is _____? _____ कुठे आहे? _____ kuthe āhe?

write your name in marathi language

English Sentence marathi sentence insert your name inthis template page.
My name is John जॉन माझे नाव John जॉन आहे. नाव
English Sentence My name is John जॉन insert your name inthis template page.
marathi sentence माझे नाव John जॉन आहे. यापानात आपले नाव भरा.



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