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Marathi: Language from the land of bollywood

Brief Description

It is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people of western India (Maharashtrians). It serves as the official language of the state of Maharashtra, with roughly ninety million fluent speakers worldwide. Marathi ranks 4th in India with respect to the number of people who claim it as their primary language. Along with Bengali, Marathi is the oldest of the regional literatures in Indo-Aryan languages, dating from about AD 1000. Marathi is at least 1500 years old and derives its grammar and syntax from Pali and Prakrit. The Marathi language was earlier known as Maharashtri, Maharathi, Malhatee or Marthi in ancient times.

Regions where spoken

Marathi is primarily spoken in Maharashtra and, to a lesser extent, in the neighbouring states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, union-territories of Daman-Diu and Dadra Nagar Haveli. The cities of Baroda and Ahmedabad (Daxini) in Gujarat, Belgaum, Hubli, Dharwad and Bidar in Karnataka, Indore and Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh have a sizable number of Marathi-speaking communities. Marathi is also spoken by Maharashtrian migrs in North America and Europe. The Ethnologue states that Marathi is even spoken in Israel and Mauritius.

Development & Spread

Marathi started on its own quite early, but began its literary career only in 13 AD. Marathi can be traced back far beyond the 10th century. It descends from Sanskrit through Pali, Maharashtri and Maharashtra - Apabhramsa. Maharashtri Prakrit was most popular amongst Prakrit languages and widely spoken in western and southern India. Persian (Farsi) has also left a strong influence on the modern day Marathi language. Today's Marathi and Kannada speaking parts were speaking Maharashtri from centuries. A gradual process of change and modification in the spoken language has led to the rise of the present Marathi.

The first half of the 20th century was marked by new enthusiasm in literary pursuits, and socio-political activism helped achieve major milestones in Marathi literature, drama, music and film. Post-independence, Marathi was accorded the status of a scheduled language on the national level. By May 1, 1960, Maharashtra state emerged re-organised on linguistic lines adding Vidarbha and Marathwada region in its fold and bringing major chunks of Marathi population socio-politically together. With state and cultural protection, Marathi made great strides by the 1990s.


Marathi was written in Modi script - a cursive script designed for minimising the lifting of pen from paper while writing in the ancient times. All writings of Maratha Empire are in Modi script. However, with the advent of large-scale printing, Modi script fell into disuse, as it proved very difficult for type-setting. However, with the curiosity of youngsters and availability of Modi fonts, the script is far from being vanished.

Important Writers or Works

Tukaram, Vaman Pandit ("Yathartha Dipika"), Raghunath Pandit ("Nala Damayanti Swayamvara") and Shridhar Pandit ("Pandavpratap", "Harivijay" and "Ramvijay"). Morapanta, Raja of Tanjore, Bal Shastri Jambhekar, Lokahitavadi and Jyotiba Phule

Other details

Some of the peculiar features of Marathi linguistic culture include Marathi drama with its unique flavour of 'Sangeet Natak' (musical dramas), scholarly discourses called 'Vasant Vyakhyanmala' (Lectures in Spring), Marathi folk dance called 'Lavani', and special editions of magazines for Diwali called 'Diwali anka'. There are variety of popular fonts used in Hindi typing; Unicode, Sarasvah fonts etc.

Source: www.marathiworld.com, www.bhasahindia.com , Encyclopedia Britannica

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