The Kannada script (IAST: Kannaḍa lipi) is an abugida of the Brahmic family, used primarily to write the Kannada language, one of the Dravidian languages of South India especially in the state of Karnataka, Kannada script is widely used for writing Sanskrit texts in Karnataka. Several minor languages, such as Tulu, Konkani, Kodava, Sanketi and Beary, also use alphabets based on the Kannada script. The Kannada and Telugu scripts share high mutual intellegibility with each other, and are often considered to be regional variants of single script. Other scripts similar to Kannada script are Sinhala script (which included some elements from the Kadamba script), and Old Peguan script (used in Burma).
The Kannada script (ಅಕ್ಷರಮಾಲೆ akṣaramāle or ವರ್ಣಮಾಲೆ varṇamāle) is a phonemic abugida of forty-nine letters, and is written from left to right. The character set is almost identical to that of other Brahmic scripts. Consonantal letters imply an inherent vowel. Letters representing consonants are combined to form digraphs (ಒತ್ತಕ್ಷರ ottakṣara) when there is no intervening vowel. Otherwise, each letter corresponds to a syllable.
The Kannada words for a letter of the script are ಅಕ್ಷರ akshara, ಅಕ್ಕರ akkara, and ವರ್ಣ varṇa. Each letter has its own form (ಆಕಾರ ākāra) and sound (ಶಬ್ದ śabda), providing the visible and audible representations, respectively. Kannada is written from left to right.
[a] The Semitic origin of the Brahmic scripts is not universally agreed upon.
The Kannada script derives from the Old Kannada script, which evolved around 10th century as the continuation of the Kadamba alphabet of the fourth century. This evolved from the ancient Brahmi script of the third century BCE.
This is debated as recent excavation has led to Talagunda inscription of 370 AD to be the oldest available. Over the centuries some changes have been made to the Kannada script. These changes consist of:
These changes have facilitated the use of the Kannada script for writing many of the literary Indic languages, including Sanskrit.
Kannada literary works employed the letters ಱ (transliterated 'ṟ' or 'rh') and ೞ (transliterated 'ḻ', 'lh' or 'zh'), whose manner of articulation most plausibly could be akin to those in present-day Malayalam and Tamil. The letters dropped out of use in the 12th and 18th centuries, respectively. Later Kannada works replaced 'rh' and 'lh' with ರ (ra) and ಳ (la) respectively.
Another letter (or unclassified vyanjana (consonant)) that has become extinct is 'nh' or 'inn'. Likewise, this has its equivalent in Telugu, where it is called Nakaara pollu. The usage of this consonant was observed until the 1980s in Kannada works from the mostly coastal areas of Karnataka (especially the Dakshina Kannada district). Now, hardly any mainstream works use this consonant. This letter has been replaced by ನ್ (consonant n).
The image below shows the evolution of Kannada script from prehistoric times to the modern period. The Kannada script evolved in stages:
Proto-Kannada → Pre–Old Kannada → Old Kannada → Modern Kannada.
The Proto-Kannada script has its root in ancient Brahmi and appeared around the 3rd century BC. The Pre-Old-Kannada script appeared around the 4th century AD. Old-Kannada script can be traced to around the 10th century AD, whereas Modern-Kannada script appeared around the 17th century AD.
There are thirteen vowel letters (ಸ್ವರ svara) (14, if we consider obsolete vowel ೠ).
|Letter||Diacritic||ISO notation||Letter||Diacritic||ISO notation|
When a vowel follows a consonant, it is written with a diacritic rather than as a separate letter.
The Yōgavāha (part-vowel, part consonant) include two letters:
Another two Yōgavāha used in Sanskrit, but present in Kannada script, are known as Ardhavisarga:
Two categories of consonant letters (ವ್ಯಂಜನ vyan̄jana) are defined in Kannada: the structured consonants and the unstructured consonants.
The structured consonants are classified according to where the tongue touches the palate of the mouth and are classified accordingly into five structured groups. These consonants are shown here with their IAST transcriptions.
|voiceless||voiceless aspirate||voiced||voiced aspirate||nasal|
|Velars||ಕ (ka)||ಖ (kha)||ಗ (ga)||ಘ (gha)||ಙ (ṅa)|
|Palatals||ಚ (ca)||ಛ (cha)||ಜ (ja)||ಝ (jha)||ಞ (ña)|
|Retroflex||ಟ (ṭa)||ಠ (ṭha)||ಡ (ḍa)||ಢ (ḍha)||ಣ (ṇa)|
|Dentals||ತ (ta)||ಥ (tha)||ದ (da)||ಧ (dha)||ನ (na)|
|Labials||ಪ (pa)||ಫ (pha)||ಬ (ba)||ಭ (bha)||ಮ (ma)|
See place of articulation for more information on tongue positions.
The unstructured consonants are consonants that do not fall into any of the above structures:
ಯ (ya), ರ (ra), ಱ (ṟa) (obsolete), ಲ (la), ವ (va), ಶ (śa), ಷ (ṣa), ಸ (sa), ಹ (ha), ಳ (ḷa), ೞ (ḻ) (obsolete).
The Kannada script is rich in conjunct consonant clusters, with most consonants having a standard subjoined form and few true ligature clusters. A table of consonant conjuncts follows, although the forms of individual conjuncts may differ according to font.
Written Kannada is composed of akshara or kagunita, corresponding to syllables. The letters for consonants combine with diacritics for vowels. The consonant letter without any diacritic, such as ಕ ka, has the inherent vowel a ಅ. This is called ದೀರ್ಘ dīrgha. A consonant without a vowel is marked with a 'killer' stroke, such as ಕ್ k. This is known as ಹ್ರಸ್ವ hrasva.
|Diacritic||Vowel letter||d with vowel diacritic||Pronunciation|
|ಿ||(ಇ, i)||ದಿ[note 1]||/di/|
The formations shown boldface above are seldom used in the normal course of the language.
The decimal numerals in the script are:
|Kannada numerals||English numerals|
Several transliteration schemes/tools are used to type Kannada characters using a standard keyboard. These include Baraha (based on ITRANS), Pada Software and several internet tools like Google transliteration, Quillpad (predictive transliterator). Nudi, the Government of Karnataka's standard for Kannada Input, is a phonetic layout loosely based on transliteration.
Due to its resemblance to an eye and an eyebrow, the Kannada letter ಠ ṭha is used in a popular emoticon called the "look of disapproval" (displayed as "ಠ_ಠ") used to convey disapproval or contempt. Similarly, the akshara ರೃ rr̥a has been used in emoticons to represent a monocle, while ಥ tha has been used to represent a tearing eye.
Kannada script was added to the Unicode Standard in October, 1991 with the release of version 1.0.
The Unicode block for Kannada is U+0C80–U+0CFF:
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
Badaga is a southern Dravidian language spoken by approximately 135,000 people in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu. It is known for its retroflex vowels. It is a dialect of neighbouring Kannada language.The word Badaga, meaning "northerner", refers to the Badaga language as well as the Badaga indigenous people who speak it.Coorgi–Cox alphabet
The Coorgi–Cox alphabet is an abugida developed by the linguist Gregg M. Cox that is used by a number of individuals within Kodagu district of India to write the endangered Dravidian language of Kodava, also known sometimes as Coorgi.The script uses a combination of 26 consonants, five vowel diacritics and a diphthong marker. Each letter represents a single sound and there are no capital letters. A computer-based font has been created.The script was developed out of the request by a group of Kodava individuals to have a distinct script for Kodava Takk, to distinguish the language. Kodava Takk is generally written in the Kannada script, but can also be found written in the Malayalam script, especially along the borders with Kerala. The new script is intended as a unified writing system for all Kodava Takk speakers.In order to introduce the script, 10,000 CD booklets and 25,000 post cards with various scenes from the region were produced and distributed throughout the Coorg area in March and April 2005. Several books are being planned including a phrase book and dictionary.Gudikatti
Gudikatti is a village in Belgaum district in the southern state of Karnataka, India.There is an old Kannada script written on a stone, which is placed in the village temple..Halmidi
Halmidi is a small village in the Hassan district of Karnataka state, India, near the temple town of Belur. Halmidi is best known as the place where the oldest known inscription exclusively in Kannada language, the Halmidi inscription, was discovered. Anterior to this, many inscriptions with Kannada words have been discovered, such as Brahmagiri edict of 230 BCE of Emperor Ashoka. However, this is the first full length inscription in Kannada. This inscription is generally known as the Halmidi inscription and consists of sixteen lines carved on a sandstone slab. It has been dated to 450 CE and demonstrates that Kannada was used as a language of administration at that time. The inscription is in primitive Kannada with distinctive characteristics attributed to those of Proto-Kannada and uses Kannada script similar to Brahmi characters.Halmidi village is located between Chikmagalur city and Belur town. In recognition of the cultural importance of the inscription, and the role played by the village of Halmidi in its preservation, the Government of Karnataka has spent INR 2.5 million on developing infrastructural facilities in the village, and on building a mantapa to house a fibreglass replica of the original inscription. The Government has also begun to promote the village as a place of historical interest.Halmidi inscription
The Halmidi inscription is the oldest known Kannada language inscription in the Kannada script. While estimates vary slightly, the inscription is often dated to between 450 CE - 500 CE. The inscription was discovered in 1936 by Dr. M. H. Krishna, the Director of Archaeology of the (princely) State of Mysore (present-day Karnataka region of India), in Halmidi, a village in the Hassan district.
The original inscription is kept in the Office of the Director of Archaeology and Museums, Govt. of Karnataka, Mysore, and a fibreglass replica has been installed in Halmidi.Kadamba script
The Kadamba script (known as Pre-Old Kannada script) marks the birth of a dedicated script for writing Kannada. It is a descendant of the Brahmi script, an abugida visually close to the Kalinga alphabet. The Kadamba script was developed during the reign of the Kadamba dynasty in the 4th–6th centuries. The Kadamba script is also known as Pre-Old-Kannada script. This script later became popular in what is today the state of Goa and was used to write Sanskrit, Kannada
The Kadamba script is one of the oldest of the southern group of South Asian scripts that evolved from the Brahmi script. By 5th century CE it became different from other Brahmi variants and was used in southern Indian states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It evolved into the Old Kannada script by the 10th century CE and was used to write Kannada and Telugu. Many scripts were derived from the Kadamba script, including the Pyu script.Kannada
Kannada (; Kannada: ಕನ್ನಡ, [ˈkɐnnɐɖaː]; also known as Kanarese) is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Kannada people in India, mainly in the state of Karnataka and by significant linguistic minorities in the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala and abroad. The language has roughly 45 million native speakers, who are called Kannadigas. Kannada is also spoken as a second and third language by over 12.9 million non-Kannada speakers living in Karnataka, which adds up to 56.6 million speakers. It is one of the scheduled languages of India and the official and administrative language of the state of Karnataka.The Kannada language is written using the Kannada script, which evolved from the 5th-century Kadamba script. Kannada is attested epigraphically for about one and a half millennia, and literary Old Kannada flourished in the 6th-century Ganga dynasty and during the 9th-century Rashtrakuta Dynasty. Kannada has an unbroken literary history of over a thousand years. Kannada literature has been presented with 8 Jnanapith awards, the most for any Dravidian language and the second highest for any Indian language.Based on the recommendations of the Committee of Linguistic Experts, appointed by the ministry of culture, the government of India designated Kannada a classical language of India. In July 2011, a center for the study of classical Kannada was established as part of the Central Institute of Indian Languages at Mysore to facilitate research related to the language.Kannada inscriptions
About 25,000 inscriptions found in Karnataka belongs to Kannada rulers like Kadambas, Western Ganga Dynasty, Rashtrakuta, Chalukya, Hoysala and Vijayanagara Empire. Many inscriptions related to Buddhism and Jainism are unearthed. The inscriptions generally found are on stone (Shilashasana) or copper plates (Tamarashasana). The Kannada inscriptions (Old Kannada, Kadamba script) found on historical Hero Stone, coin and temple wall, piller, tablet and rock edict. These Inscription have contributed towards Kannada literature and helped to classify as Proto Kannada, Pre Old Kannada, Old Kannada, Middle Kannada and New KannadaInscriptions depicts culture, tradition and prosperity of those era. The world wide recognized literature Ramayana and Mahabharata are transferred through generation by these Inscription Hazara Rama Temple and Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple are the best example.Kappe Arabhatta
Kappe Arabhatta (Kannada: ಕಪ್ಪೆ ಆರಭಟ್ಟ) was a Chalukya warrior of the 8th century who is known from a Kannada verse inscription, dated to c. 700 CE, and carved on a cliff overlooking the northeast end of the artificial lake in Badami, Karnataka, India. The inscription consists of five stanzas written out in ten lines in the Kannada script. Stanza 2 (Lines 3 and 4) consists of a Sanskrit śloka. Of the remaining stanzas, all except the first are in the tripadi, a Kannada verse metre.Stanza 3 (lines 5 and 6), which consists of twelve words of which nine are Sanskrit loan-words in Kannada, is well known in a condensed version, and is sometimes cited as the earliest example of the tripadi metre in Kannada. However, neither stanza 3 nor stanza 4 strictly conform to the precise rules of the tripadi metre; they each have more than 18 moras in line two, in excess of the allowed 17.Kodava language
The Kodava (Kannada script: ಕೊಡವ ತಕ್ಕ್ Kodava takk, meaning 'speech of Kodavas', in the Kodava language) is an endangered Dravidian language and the original language of the Kodagu district in southern Karnataka, India. The term Kodava has two related usages. Firstly, it is the name of the Kodava language and culture followed by a number of communities from Kodagu. Secondly, within the Kodava-speaking communities and region (Kodagu) it describes the dominant Kodava people. Hence, the Kodava language is not only the primary language of the Kodavas but also of a large number of other castes and tribes in Kodagu. The language has two dialects: Mendele (spoken in Northern and Central Kodagu, i.e. outside Kodagu's Kiggat naadu) and Kiggat (spoken in Kiggat naadu, in Southern Kodagu).Konkani language
Konkani (Kōṅkaṇī) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by Konkani people along the western coast of India. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages mentioned in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution and the official language of the Indian state of Goa. The first Konkani inscription is dated 1187 A.D. It is a minority language in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu.
Konkani is a member of the southern Indo-Aryan language group. It retains elements of Vedic structures and shows similarities with both western and eastern Indo-Aryan languages.There are many fractured Konkani dialects, most of which are not mutually intelligible with one another.Lambadi
Lambadi or Gor-bol, also called Banjari, is a language spoken by the Banjara people across India and it belongs to Indo-Aryan group of languages. The language does not have a native script.The language is known by various other names, including Lamani, Lamadi, Lambani, Labhani, Lambara, Lavani, Lemadi, Lumadale, Labhani Muka and variants, Banjara, Banjari, Bangala, Banjori, Banjuri, Brinjari, and variants, Gohar-Herkeri, Goola, Gurmarti, Gormati, Kora, Singali, Sugali, Sukali, Tanda.
Regional dialects are divided between the Banjara of
Maharashtra (written in Devanagari), Karnataka (written in the Kannada script) Tamil Nadu and Telangana (written in the Telugu script). Speakers are bilingual in either Telugu, Kannada, or Marathi.List of languages by writing system
Below is a list of languages sorted by writing system (by alphabetical order).Mahakuta group of temples
The Mahakuta group of temples is located in Mahakuta, a village in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka state, India. It is an important place of worship for Hindus and the location of a well-known Shaiva monastery. The temples are dated to the 6th or 7th century CE and were constructed by the early kings of the Chalukya dynasty of Badami. The dating of the temples is based on the style of architecture which is similar to that of the temples in nearby Aihole and the information in two notable inscriptions in the complex: the Mahakuta Pillar inscription dated between 595–602 CE (written in the Sanskrit language and Kannada script); and an inscription of Vinapoti, a concubine of king Vijayaditya, dated between 696–733 CE and written in the Kannada language and script.Pyu script
The Pyu script is a writing system used to write the Pyu language, an extinct Sino-Tibetan language that was mainly spoken in present-day central Burma. It was based on the Brahmi-based scripts of both north and south India. The best available evidence suggests that the Pyu script gradually developed between the 2nd and 6th centuries CE. The Pyu script's immediate precursor appears to be the Kadamba script of southwest India. The early period Pyu inscriptions always included interlinear Brahmi scripts. It was not until the 7th and 8th centuries that Sri Ksetra's inscriptions appeared all in the Pyu script, without any interlinear Brahmi.Many of the important inscriptions were written in Sanskrit and Pali, alongside the Pyu script. The Pyu sites have yielded a wide variety of Indian scripts from King Ashoka's edicts written in north Indian Brahmi and Tamil Sangam literature, both dated to the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE, to the Gupta script and Kannada script dated to the 4th to 6th centuries CE.The Pyu script is presently not in Unicode. Its inclusion was proposed in 2010, and has tentative placement in the Unicode Consortium's roadmap.Shravanabelagola inscription of Nandisena
The Shravanabelagola inscription of Nandisena, dated to the 7th century, is one of the early poetic inscriptions in the Kannada language. The inscription extols saint Nandisena of Shravanabelagola (a prominent place of Jain religious power and worship) and his journey to heaven ("world of gods", lit, devaloka). According to the "Institute for Classical Kannada Studies", the inscription, which it dates to 700 A.D., is suffused with literary characteristics and figure of speech. It is therefore important to the study of the development of Kannada literature. According to the scholar D.R. Nagaraj, exalting the "individual as the hero of the community" is the commonality the Nandisena inscription has with the other metrical Kannada inscriptions of the period; the Halmidi inscription and the Kappe Arabhatta inscription.Telugu-Kannada alphabet
The Telugu-Kannada alphabet is a writing system used in southern India. Despite, some differences, the scripts used for the Telugu and Kannada languages remain quite similar.Tigalari script
Tigalari (Tigaḷāri lipi) is a southern Brahmic script used in the Coastal region of Karnataka, also prevalent in Kasaragod district of Kerala. It evolved from the Grantha script. It bears high similarity and relationship to its sister script Malayalam, which also evolved from the Grantha.
It was used by Tulu-speaking Brahmins like Shivalli Brahmins and Kannada speaking Havyaka Brahmins and Kota Brahmins to write Vedic mantras and other Sanskrit religious texts. Although the script is primarily used to write Sanskrit, some Kannada and Tulu works are also written with Tigalari. It is currently not used to write the Kannada and Tulu languages as they use the Kannada script for documentation. However, there has been a renewed interest among Tulu speakers to revive the script as it was formerly used in the Tulu speaking region. The Karnataka Tulu Sahitya Academy, a cultural wing of the Government of Karnataka, has introduced Tuḷu language (written in Kannada script) and Tigalari-Tulu script in schools across the Mangalore and Udupi districts. The Academy provides instructional manuals to learn this script and conducts workshops to teach it. Tigalari-Tulu was proposed for inclusion in Unicode in 2011. as well as in 2017Tulu language
Tulu (Tulu: ತುಳು ಭಾಷೆ Tulu bāse [ˈt̪ulu ˈbɒːsæ]) is a Dravidian language spoken mainly in the south west part of the Indian state of Karnataka and also in the Kasaragod district of Kerala. The Tulu speaking region is often referred to as Tulu Nadu. The native speakers of Tulu are referred to as Tuluva or Tulu people.
The Indian census report of 2011 reported a total of 1,846,427 native Tulu speakers in India. The 2001 census had reported a total of 1,722,768 native speakers, According to one estimate reported in 2009, Tulu is currently spoken by 3 to 5 million speakers in the world. There is some difficulty in counting Tulu speakers who have migrated from their native region as they often get counted as Kannada speakers in Indian Census reportsSeparated early from Proto-South Dravidian, Tulu has several features not found in Tamil–Kannada. For example, it has the pluperfect and the future perfect, like French or Spanish, but formed without an auxiliary verb.
Robert Caldwell, in his pioneering work A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian family of languages, called this language "peculiar and very interesting". According to him, "Tulu is one of the most highly developed languages of the Dravidian family. It looks as if it had been cultivated for its own sake."Tulu is the primary spoken language in Tulu Nadu, a region comprising the districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi, in the west of the state of Karnataka and the Kasaragod taluk. Non-native speakers of Tulu include those who speak the Beary language, Havyaka and Gowda dialects of Kannada as also Konkani, Koraga and Malayalam speakers resident in the Tulu Nadu region. Apart from Tulu Nadu, a significant emigrant population of Tulu speaking people is found in Maharashtra, Bangalore, Chennai, the English-speaking world, and the Gulf countries.The various medieval inscriptions of Tulu from the 15th century are in the Tigalari alphabet script. Two Tulu epics named Sri Bhagavato and Kaveri from the 17th century were also written in the same script. However, in modern times the Tulu language is mostly written using the Kannada script. The Tulu language is known for its oral literature in the form of epic poems called Paddana .The Epic of Siri and the legend of Koti and Chennayya belong to this category of Tulu literature.