kannada phrasebook - travel guide

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    Kannada phrasebook

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    Kannada ( kannaa), a Dravidian language with some 50 million speakers, is anofficial language of India and the state language of Karnataka. It is also the languagewhich you will encounter in Bangalore, a city you might have heard of quite a bitrecently. It is also the language you will encounter if you visit the historically significantcities of Mysore and Hampi, so arming yourself with rudimentary knowledge ofKannada 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 asthe other South Indian languages Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Tulu. Theselanguages share many words, sentence structures and even expressions, whichmeans that if you pick up any one, your path to learning the others is considerablyeased.

    Contemporary Kannada literature is the most successful in India, with India's highestliterary honor, the Jnanpith awards, having been conferred seven times uponKannada writers, which is the highest for any language in India. Based on the recommendations of the Committee of Linguistic Experts,appointed by the Ministry of Culture, the Government of India officially recognised Kannada as a classical language.

    It is commonly held belief that Kannada is more accepting of Sanskrit loan words, learning conversational Hindi (Hindi language owes majorityof its vocabulary to Sanskrit) will help you pick up Kannada. This is just not true. Though Kannada literature has over the years accepted manySanskrit[/Prakrit languages] words, The conversational(colloquial) Kannada has a insignificant Sanskrit(/any other Indo-european language)influence.

    In plain and simple words, knowing "Conversational Hindi" / "Conversational Marathi" OR "Knowledge of Sanskrit" might not helplearning/speaking day-2-day conversational Kannada with the native speakers, unless a native speaker whom you are speaking to has priorknowledge of Hindi/Marathi.

    Though the Dravidian languages like Telugu and Tamil share lot of words with Kannada. The grammatical structure (colloquial speech) ofthese languages are quite similar. A person with prior knowledge of "Conversational Telugu" or "Conversational Tamil" may find it easier tolearn Kannada. But, when it comes to conversing, the pronounciation of Kannada w.r.t the other dravidian languages like Tamil and Telugu isquite different and the words/sentences shared between these sister languages are often mutually unintelligible.

    PronunciationMost English speakers find Kannada pronunciation rather challenging, as there are 10 vowels, 2 diphthongs and 34 consonants, employing alarge number of distinctions not found in English.

    Kannada AlphabetsVowels (i) (i:) (e) (e:) (a) (a:) (o) (o:) (u) (u:) (ai) (au)

    Transliteration i I, ii e E, ee, ae, yA a A, aa o O, oo, aw, wA u U, uu ai, ay au, av

    ISO notation i e a o u ai au

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  • voiceless voicelessaspirate

    voiced voicedaspirate


    Velars [=ka] Transliteration: ka

    [=kha] Transliteration: Ka, kha

    [=ga] Transliteration: ga

    [=gha] Transliteration: Ga, gha

    [=nga] Transliteration: ~ga

    Palatals [=ca] Transliteration: ca, cha

    [=cha] Transliteration: Ca, Cha

    [=ja] Transliteration: ja

    [=jha] Transliteration: Ja, jha

    [=a, nja] Transliteration: ~ja

    Retroflex [=a] Transliteration: Ta

    [=ha] Transliteration: Tha

    [=a] Transliteration: Da

    [=ha] Transliteration: Dha

    [=a] Transliteration: Na

    Dentals [=ta] Transliteration: ta

    [=tha] Transliteration: tha

    [=da] Transliteration: da

    [=dha] Transliteration: dha

    [=na] Transliteration: na

    Labials [=pa] Transliteration: pa

    [=pha] Transliteration: Pa, pha

    [=ba] Transliteration: ba

    [=bha] Transliteration: Ba, bha

    [=ma] Transliteration: ma

    Glides/Laterals/Approximants [=ya] Transcribed: ya

    [=ra] Transcribed: ra

    [=a] Transcribed: La

    [=la] Transcribed: la

    [=va] Transcribe: va,wa

    Fricatives [=a] Transcribe: Sa,sha

    [=sa] Transcribed: sa

    [=a] Transcribed: Sha

    [=ha] Transcribed: ha

    [-] Transcribed: -

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

    Letter 00 Pronunciation Pronunciation with Template:IPA

    IAST equiv.

    ITRANS equiv.

    English equivalent

    1 Template:IPA Template:IPA i i short close front unrounded vowel: e in england

    1 Template:IPA Template:IPA I long close front unrounded vowel: ee in feet

    3 Template:IPA Template:IPA e e short close-mid front unrounded vowel: e in bed

    3 Template:IPA Template:IPA E long close-mid front unrounded vowel: a in bane (some speakers)

    Template:IPA Template:IPA a a short near-open central vowel: u in bunny

    4 Template:IPA Template:IPA A long open back unrounded vowel: a in father

    36 Template:IPA Template:IPA o o short close-mid back rounded vowel: o in no (some speakers)

    36 Template:IPA Template:IPA O long close-mid back rounded vowel: o in bone (some speakers)

    7 Template:IPA Template:IPA u u short close back rounded vowel: oo in foot

    6 Template:IPA Template:IPA U long close back rounded vowel: oo in cool

    3 Template:IPA Template:IPA ai ai a long diphthong: i in ice, i in kite (Canadian and Scottish English)

    4 Template:IPA Template:IPA au au a long diphthong: Similar to the ou in house (Canadian English)

    DiphthongsLetter Transliteration English equivalent

    ai, ay as in idea.

    au, av as in out.

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  • ConsonantsMany 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 stillspit). 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.

    Letter Transliteration English equivalent

    :, k, ka as in skip.

    ;, kh, kha as in sinkhole.

    , , a as in sing. Rarely used.

    ?, c, ca as in church.

    @, ch, cha as in pinchhit.

    A, j, ja as in jump.

    B, jh, jha as in dodge her.

    C, , a as in canyon. Rarely used.

    D, a as in tick. Retroflex, but still a "hard" t sound similar to English.

    E, ha as in lighthouse. Retroflex

    F, a as in doom. Retroflex

    G, ha as in mudhut. Retroflex

    H, a retroflex n. Retroflex

    I, t, ta does not exist in English. more dental t, with a bit of a th sound. Softer than an English t.

    J, th, tha aspirated version of the previous letter, not as in thanks or the.

    K, d, da dental d.

    L, dh, dha aspirated version of the above.

    M, n, na dental n.

    0, p, pa as in spin.

    N, ph, pha as in u'ph'ill.

    O, b, ba as in be.

    P, bh, bha as in abhor.

    Q, m. ma as in mere.

    R, y, ya as in yet.

    S, r, ra as in Spanish pero, a tongue trip. Don't roll as in Spanish rr, German or Scottish English.

    T, l, la as in lean.

    U, v, va as in Spanish vaca, between English v and w, but without the lip rounding of an English w. (IPA: ).

    V, a as in shoot.

    W, a almost indistinguishable retroflex of the above. slightly more aspirated. Used only in Sanskrit loan words.

    X, s, sa as in see.

    Y, h, ha as in him.

    Z, ; , a Retroflex l.

    Kannada syllables:: ;; > ?? ?? AA BB CC DD EE FF GG HH II JJ KK LL MM 00 NN OO PP QQ

    k kh g gh ~g c ch j jh ~j T Th D Dh N t th d dh n p ph b bh m

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  • i [ \ ] ^ ` a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1 n o p q

    i: [ \ ] ^ ` a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1 n o p q

    e r s t u w x y z { | } ~ 3

    e: r s t u w x y z { | } ~ 3


    a: 4

    o r s t u w x y z { | } ~ 36 6

    o: r s t u w x y z { | } ~ 36 6

    u 7 7

    u: 6 6

    ai r s t u w x y z { | } ~ 3

    au 4

    Kannada syllables ContinuedRR SS ZZ TT UU WW VV XX YY

    y r L l v Sh sh s h







    o 6

    o: 6

    u 7

    u: 6



    Kannada conjunctsSuccessive consonants lacking a vowel in between them may physically join together as a conjunct or ligature.

    Consonantal conjunct examples>> CC HH MM QQ

    ~g ~j N n m

    : k : ? c ? D T D I t I 0