Kannada phrasebook

Kannada (ಕನ್ನಡ "kannaḍa"), a Dravidian language with some 50 million speakers, is an official language of India and the state language of Karnataka. It is also the language which you will encounter in Bangalore, a city you might have heard of quite a bit recently. It is also the language you will encounter if you visit the historically significant cities of Mysore and Hampi, so arming yourself with rudimentary knowledge of Kannada is a good idea if you wish to visit those places.

Kannada is a Dravidian language, which means that it belongs to the same family as the other South Indian languages Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Tulu. These languages share many words, sentence structures and even expressions, which means that if you pick up any one, your path to learning the others is considerably eased.

Contemporary Kannada literature is the most successful in India, with India's highest literary honor, the Jnanpith awards, having been conferred eight times upon Kannada writers, which is the highest for any language in India.

It is a commonly-held belief that because Kannada is more accepting of Sanskrit loan words, learning conversational Hindi (Hindi language owes most of its vocabulary to Sanskrit) will help you pick up Kannada. This is false. Though Kannada literature has over the years accepted many Sanskrit and Prakrit languages words, the conversational(colloquial) Kannada has very little influence from Sanskrit or any other Indo-european language.

In plain and simple words, knowing conversational Hindi, conversational Marathi" or Sanskrit might not help learning/speaking day-2-day conversational Kannada with the native speakers, unless a native speaker to whom you are speaking has prior knowledge of Hindi/Marathi.

Though the Dravidian languages like Telugu and Tamil share lot of words with Kannada, the grammatical structure (colloquial speech) of these languages are quite similar. A person with prior knowledge of conversational Telugu or conversational Tamil may find it easier to learn Kannada. But when it comes to conversing, the pronunciation of Kannada compared to the other Dravidian languages like Tamil and Telugu is quite different, and the words and sentences shared between these sister languages are often mutually unintelligible.

source : Wikivoyage

Pronounciation Guide and Phrase List

  • Vowels

    · The key distinction is the difference between short and long vowels. In this phrase book, the short vowels are noted with small letters e, i, o, u and long vowels are noted with capital letters E, I, O, U. You will often come across non-standard romanizations, noted in table below when applicable.

  • Consonants

    · Many Kannada 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). In this phrasebook, aspirated sounds are spelled with an h (so English "pin" would be "phin") and unaspirated sounds without it (so "spit" is still "spit"). Kannada aspiration is quite forceful and it's OK to emphasize the puff.

    · Kannada retroflex consonants, on the other hand, are not really found in English. They should be pronounced with the tongue tip curled back.

  • Cultural Notes

    · Greetings: There are no time elemental greetings in Kannada such as good morning, good afternoon, etc. And each language has its own greetings. It is considered very gracious to address a person by "their" respective greetings. In India, "Namaskāra" is the most ubiquitous greeting, and though of Sanskrit origin is now mostly used all across India. It is said with hands folded and a small gesture of bowing. "Namaskāra" literally means "I bow to you." "Namaste" has the same meaning, but is used less often in Kannada. After meeting someone for the first time "nimmanna kaNDu bahaLa khushi āyitu [ನಿಮ್ಮನ್ನ ಕಂಡು ಬಹಳ ಖುಶಿ’ಆಯಿತು]" may be said, meaning "I am delighted/happy to see you"

    · Civilities: In Western cultures saying phrases like "please", "thank you", "you're welcome", "excuse me", "sorry", etc. are so ingrained into them from a young age that they use these phrases without a second thought. Not so for Indians. In India, saying such phrases in an inappropriate circumstance might even embarrass the person, or cheapen the gravity of the phrase itself. These phrases are only said in a sincere sense. For example, don't say "dhanyavāda [ಧನ್ಯವಾದ]" / "nimminda bahaLa upakāra vāyitu [ನಿಮ್ಮಿಂದ ಬಹಳ ಉಪಕಾರವಾಯಿತು]" (thank you) after a clerk hands you your grocery bag, but don't forget to use it when someone goes out of their way to do something nice for you. Sometimes English words themselves are used; due to the British colonial influence, especially in urban areas and among the upper class. In this case use them as you would in English. In India, a majority of times these kind of phrases/sentiments are merely communicated through body language rather than verbally. To show your thanks, a simple smile will do the trick. Other common gestures include the infamous "head bobble"; and a hand gesture made by swiftly swinging the wrist so your palm is facing the sky and your forefingers slightly elongated.

    · Prefixes & Suffixes: While referring to a person For majority of words "rī" (ರೀ) may be added as a suffix to give it a more polite tone. The "rī" word itself could be used to refer a person. For Example, "Mr. Murray please come over here" may be said as "ರೀ Murray ಬರ್ರಿ ಇಲ್ಲಿ [ rI Murray barri illi]. The suffix "avaru" is used with a person's name as a sign of respect. For Example: Mr. Murray is often referred to as Murray avaru. Few more suffixes which are indispensable are "avanu [ಅವನು] " "avaLu [ಅವಳು] " and "avaru [ಅವರು]". With nouns it gives the meaning "the person(he, she) that does" and with verbs, it indicates something is happening. Examples:

    · English Loan Words: The British colonial influence spread into the language itself, and this continues today with American culture being exported throughout the world. So, an English word or phrase may almost always be inserted into any Kannada sentence. You will often hear Indians, whom while talking in their native languages, pepper their sentences with English words. English loan words are particularly used for modern inventions/technologies, so words like TV, computer and microwave are the same as in English apart from the slight change of accent. However; this is mostly in the cities, and learning Kannada will have been all the more rewarding when in rural or non-tourist areas, as well as allowing you to communicate with a wider variety of people in the cities.

  • Numbers

    · The numerals used to write in decimal are called Indo-Arabic numerals. Developed in India, they were borrowed by the Arabs, and gradually spread to Europe. The similarities are hard to miss. Here are their respective numerals.

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  • Ordinals

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  • Multiplication

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  • Frequency

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  • Time

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  • Clock time

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  • Duration

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  • Days

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    · The Hindu days of the week are each ruled by a planet, and corresponding exactly to ancient cultures in the West, i.e. Sunday = bhānu-vāra (Lord Sun's day time or period). Thursday/O.N. Þorsdagr, Thor's day = Guru-vāra (Lord Jupiter's day), Saturday/Saturn's day = Śani's day = Shani-vāra(Lord Saturn's day), etc.

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  • Months

    · India has two main calendars in use. The Western (Gregorian) calendar is used for day to day and business affairs, and the Hindu calendar is used by religious authorities for deciding any religious/cultural events.

  • Writing the time and date

    · The Time is written exactly as in English, that is hours followed by minutes.

    · 12:45 p.m. will thus be ಬೆಳಗ್ಗೆ, 12[ಹನ್ನೆರಡು] ಗಂಟೆ 45[ನಲವತ್ತೈದು] ನಿಮಿಷ("beLagge, 12gaNTe 45[nalavattaidu nimiSha"),

    · 12:45 a.m. will thus be ರಾತ್ರಿ, 12[ಹನ್ನೆರಡು] ಗಂಟೆ 45[ನಲವತ್ತೈದು] ನಿಮಿಷ("rAtri, 12gaNTe 45[nalavattaidu nimiSha"),

    · Note: ಗಂಟೆ ("gaNTe") would indicate something like "o'clock" in English . ನಿಮಿಷ ("nimiSha") would indicate "minutes." in English.

    · The Date is also written exactly as in English

    · For example: "Date: 03-06-2010" would be written as "ದಿನಾಂಕ: 03-06-2010" would be read as 03ನೇ ತಾರೀಖು - 6ನೇ ತಿಂಗಳು - 2010ನೇ ಇಸವಿ tArIkhu-6nE tingaLu-2010nE isavi.

    · Note: ತಾರೀಖು("tArIkhu") would indicate something like "Date" in English; ತಿಂಗಳು("tingaLu") would indicate "Month" in English; ಇಸವಿ("isavi") would indicate something like ("A.D") in English.

  • Fruits

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  • Bars

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  • On the phone

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  • Shopping

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  • Driving

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  • Authority

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  • Typical Kannada formal expressions

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  • Family

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