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Vikas Kamat
 Vikas Kamat is a programmer- entrepreneur living in Birmingham AL. This blog is a complex mix of Indian culture, life in southern USA, computer sciences, and sports. Opinions are his own.
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Amma's Konkani Book Durable Link to this BLOG
Amma's New Book in Konkani

In the article, Origins of Konkani Language, dad has written that the Konkani language has been fragmented and its pieces thrown throughout western India due to the "tumultuous events of history". As I helped Amma with a new book in Konkani language about wedding songs of Konkani community, the tragedy was obvious to me like never before.

Question How on earth do you write a book in a language that has no script?

Answer Either you don't write a book, or write in a different language. That's like using Chinese language write a Spanish book.

I have been helping with the book, and as I sweated in Mangalore heat, I told her Amma, "There is not going to be another book like this in my life-time".

Perhaps we were wrong to choose different scripts -- Kannada so people in Karnataka state could read it, and Devanagari, so people in Goa could read it. The project was further complicated because some friends (Jayashri Shanbhag specifically, who toiled to use native Goan dialect), felt that it was best to use native phrases and expressions which I did not know!

My Tips to Writers of Konkani Language

  • Use the native dialect. The language is too fragile and too fragmented to write in correct grammar and using correct words. If it feels right, it probably is right.
  • On numerous occasions you will reach spots where as a writer you have to take a stance. If you choose a wrong path, you might hurt the sentiments of a lot of people, so consult with a reputed authority.
  • Do not attempt to write a book that can be read by a wide range of Konkani readers. The reason why this book is published in Kannada and Nagari scripts is that Konkanis who are familiar with at least one of them can read it, but the problem with it is that there are none who will read both, but who have been asked to buy parts that they do not need. Wiser thing perhaps would have been to bring out two books, one written in Kannada script with domesticated language, and another in Devanagari script, tailored for readers in Goa.

Some Fascinating Things I Learnt About Konkani

  • The Konkanis have always regarded themselves as "Vishwa Kuntumbis" or family spread throughout the world. Even then, I was surprised that the word for world in Goa is same as the word for family. So something like "This brings joy to my family" translates as "This brings joy to the world".
  • In general, the Konkani people have a sheep mentality -- they will follow the leader, but will not lead themselves, the centuries of oppression might have something to do with it. So the leaders, typically pontiffs of old Konkani monasteries have to the bear the burden of initiating even the smallest of changes. For example, this book of my mother -- a kind of a new experiment -- had to be blessed by the holy-men (swamijis), and those letters of blessings had to be the very first pages of the book. We even had lengthy discussion on the script in which the blessings had to be in, and instead carried it in facsimile. I bet that no other writer in the world has to face this dilemma.
  • You know how everybody in India belongs to a caste (see: Every Man His Place)? In Goan Konkani we have a caste for animals too! It is called the ''caste of the mute'' (monnajati).

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Last Modified: 7/30/2005 2:39:34 PM

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