Tuesday, Sep 27, 2022
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Tongue In A Twist

Kannada or Devanagari? The dialect-rich Konkani sets off furious debate on the choice of script in Karnataka.

Tongue In A Twist Sandeep Adhwaryu

On April 13, the destructive rage of language activists burnt down the Central Library in Imphal, giving a shocking new twist to the controversy surrounding the script for the Manipuri language. Manipuri nationalists, since the state was integrated into the Indian Union in 1949, have demanded that the ancient indigenous script of the language, Meitei Mayek, be restored and the Bengali script, adopted two-and-a-half centuries ago, be abandoned.

A similar controversy is raging in a diagonally opposite end of India, in the Konkan region, and this is about choosing an appropriate script for the Konkani language in Karnataka. A rough estimate puts Konkani speakers at 37 lakh in Karnataka, spread across three coastal districts. Konkani has been the mother-tongue of some very famous Indians, like filmmakers Guru Dutt and Shyam Benegal, writer Girish Karnad, badminton ace Prakash Padukone and Nandan Nilekani of Infosys.

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