मराठीच्या बोलींचे सर्वेक्षण

Survey of Dialects of the Marathi Language

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Previous Dialect Surveys of Marathi

Some important surveys of the Marathi Language

Marathi belongs to the Indo-Aryan language family. Konkani, Gujarati, Bangla, etc. are her sister languages. The following are some of the important surveys of the Marathi language.

The first important systematic survey of languages in India was carried out by an officer in the British colonial government, Sir George Grierson. The findings of the survey which included about 364 languages were published in the form of nineteen volumes of the Linguistic Survey of India (LSI, 1903 - 1928 https://dsal.uchicago.edu/books/lsi/). The survey of Marathi is presented in volume VII of the LSI. Grierson observes that Konkani is the only true dialect of Marathi. Besides Konkani, he also noted that there were transitional varieties of Marathi at the Dravidian border which he refers to as ‘broken dialects’ of Marathi. Ahirani / Khandeshi spoken to the north-west of Maharashtra today is a transitional speech variety between Gujarati / Bhili and Marathi. Ahirani (Khandeshi) is not classified as a dialect of Marathi by Grierson, but as belonging to the central NIA group along with Bhili, Banjārī or Labhānī, Bahrūpiā, etc. included in volume nine of the LSI (Kulkarni-Joshi 2023).

The relationship between Marathi and Konkani was much debated both among linguists and laypersons and it remains a controversial issue. A doyen of Indian Linguistics, Dr. Sumitra Mangesh Katre (former director of Deccan College, Pune) presented his findings of a survey of six regional varieties of Konkani in his book, The Formation of Konkani (1966). Katre concludes his survey by observing that Konkani and Marathi both belong to the southern branch of the Indo-Aryan language family; however, Konkani is an independent language and not a dialect of Marathi. Katre’s successor at Deccan College, Dr. Amrit Ghatage carried out the project A Survey of Marathi Dialects (1963 – 1976). Book-length descriptions of nine dialects were

published under the aegis of this project by the Maharashtra State Board for Literature and Culture: Konkani of South Kanara (1963), Kudali (1965), Kunbi of Mahad (1966), Cochin (1967), Konkani of Kankon (1968), Varli of Thana (1969), Marati of Kasargod (1970), Gawdi of Goa (1972), and Bhili of Dangs (1976) (http://surl.li/bzxhx) It can be inferred from the varieties listed as dialects of Marathi in this survey that Ghatage (like Grierson) regarded Konkani to be the main dialect of the Marathi language.

Dr. Ramesh Dhongde of Deccan College, Pune and Rajya Marathi Vikas Sanstha, Mumbai conducted a dialect survey in Maharashtra (1995): Maharashtracha Bhashik Nakasha: Purvatayari. Lexical data were collected in eight centres in the state which were pre-identified. Geographical variation in the use of 2900 lexical items divided into thirty-five semantic domains was examined.

The most recent survey of non-standard speech varieties in Maharashtra was conducted under the aegis of Dr. Ganesh Devy’s People’s Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI), 2013. The survey is based on the popular understanding of a dialect (boli); the Maharashtra volume of PLSI includes speech varieties which are traditionally recognised to be the dialects of Marathi (e.g. Agri, Ahirani, etc.) as well as non-Indo-Aryan languages (e.g. Korku, Gondi, etc.) and the language isolate, Nihali. The volume includes linguistic sketches (a few basic lexical items, some grammatical paradigms, representative texts and their reproduction in standard Marathi) of about fifty-four such speech varieties used in Maharashtra, not all of which are dialects of Marathi.