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Kannada - The Language of India's Silicon Valley

With Bangalore being referred to as India's Silicon Valley, Kannada, the language of the state Bangalore is a capital to, has a special place in the annals of Information Technology. This article traces the evolution and the history of this beautiful language.
Kannada has been estimated to be over 2,500 years old, ranking as the 3rd oldest language after Sanskrit and Tamil. However, the Kannada alphabet evolved around 1,900 years ago. The initial development of Kannada language has followed that of other Dravidian languages, with the development of a vocal identity preceding the written system. During later centuries, Kannada has been highly influenced by Sanskrit vocabulary and literary styles.
The 'Kavirajamarga' written by King Nripatunga around the 9th century A.D. is believed to be the earliest literary work in Kannada. This treatise on poetry also served as an indicator Kannada was a fully developed literary language But from an epigraphical study, it has been surmised evidence it can be surmised that the spoken form of Kannada language evolved much earlier than the famed Halmidi inscription, which serves to be the first example of Kannada in the written form (circa 450 A.D.). Kannada has been categorized into the Proto-Dravidian group of languages on account of its close affinity with Tamil.
The history of Kannada can be studied under three phases: Hale Kannada (Old Kannada), Nadu Kannada (Middle Kannada) and Adhunika Kannada (Modern Kannada).
The Old Kannada period showed a marked influence of Jainism, both in language and literature. One of Kannada literature's greatest authors, Pampa, lived in this era and created the "Vikramarjuna Vijaya" and "Adipurana", both considered classics to this day. The Middle Kannada period showed considerable influence from both Hindu and Jain philosophies. A secular philosophy also developed in this time and this had a profound impact on several aspects of Kannada culture. This period also witnessed the birth of several genres in Kannada literature, with new forms of composition like "Ragale" and meters like the "Sangatya" and "Desi" being developed as well. The Modern Kannada period witnessed the rebirth of Kannada, both in terms of cultural consciousness and linguistic identity to the modern form found employed. This period was the consequence of the occupation of India by foreign powers, when the need to reaffirm an identity was thought to be necessary.
Kannada is a highly inflected language with three gender forms, masculine, feminine, neutral or common, and two number forms, singular and plural. The number forms interestingly shows inflection based on the gender, number and tense, of the commodity of reference, among other factors.
Kannada has 52 basic sounds / letters (known as phonemes) of which 49 letters are present in the script. These 49 letters are divided into 2 groups : "Swaragalu" (comprising of 15 letters) and "Vyanjanagalu" (comprising of 34 letters) akin to the distribution of vowels and consonants in English. The character set is almost identical to that of other Indian languages. The script itself, though derived from the Brahmi script like most other Dravidian languages, is fairly complicated owing to the occurrence of various combinations of "half-letters" or symbols that attach to various letters in a manner similar to diacritical marks. The number of written symbols, however, exceeds the 52 characters in the alphabet because of the fact that different characters can be combined to form compound characters, called "ottaksharas". Each written symbol in the Kannada script corresponds with one syllable, as opposed to one phoneme in languages like English. The script of Kannada is also used in other languages like Tulu, Kodava and Konkani.
Kannada literature has historically shown the adherence of every literary novelty that had developed over the ages. This characteristic has always ensured its primacy and popularity amongst the masses of the Kannada-speaking region throughout the ages. With the Kannada-speaking region's concurrence with one of the fastest growing areas harbouring new-age technologies, Kannada shows a tremendous promise as a language to gain currency in the Information Technology era.
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