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Shukla Kannada.svg
The word "Kannada" in Kannada script
Native toIndia
Native speakers
43.6 million (2011)[1]
L2 speakers: 15 million[1]
Early form
Kannada script
Kannada Braille
Official status
Official language in
Idioma kannada.png
Distribution of Kannada native speakers, majority regions in dark blue and minority regions in light blue.[4]
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Constitutionally recognised languages of India
22 Official Languages of the Indian Republic

Assamese  · Bengali  ·

 · Dogri  · Gujarati
Hindi  · Kannada  · Kashmiri  · Konkani  · Maithili
Malayalam  · Marathi  · Meitei (Manipuri)  · Nepali  · Odia
Punjabi  · Sanskrit  · Santali  · Sindhi  · Tamil
Telugu  · Urdu


Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India
Official Languages Commission
List of languages by number of native speakers in India


Kannada (/ˈkɑːnədə, ˈkæn-/;[5][6] ಕನ್ನಡ, [ˈkɐnːɐɖa]), originally romanised Canarese,[7] is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by the people of Karnataka in southwestern India, with minorities in all neighbouring states. It has around 47 million native speakers, and was additionally a second or third language for around 13 million non-native speakers in Karnataka.

Kannada was the court language of some of the most powerful dynasties of

designated classical languages.[10][11]

The Kannada language is written using the

Rashtrakuta Dynasty.[13][14] Kannada has an unbroken literary history of over a thousand years.[15] Kannada literature has been presented with 8 Jnanapith awards, the most for any Dravidian language and the second highest for any Indian language.[16][17][18] In July 2011, a center for the study of classical Kannada was established as part of the Central Institute of Indian Languages in Mysore to facilitate research related to the language.[19]

Geographic distribution

Kannada had 43.5 million native speakers in India at the time of the 2011 census. It is the main language of the state of Karnataka, where it is spoken natively by 40.6 million people, or about two thirds of the state's population. There are native Kannada speakers in the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu (1,140,000 speakers), Maharashtra (993,000), Andhra Pradesh (533,000), Kerala (78,100) and Goa (67,800).[20] It is also spoken as a second and third language by over 12.9 million non-native speakers in Karnataka.[21]

Kannadigas form Tamil Nadu's 3rd biggest linguistic group and add up to about 1.23 million which is 2.2% of Tamil Nadu's total population.[22][23]

The Malayalam spoken by people of Lakshadweep has many Kannada words.[24]

In the United States, there were 35,900 speakers in 2006–2008,

better source needed


Kannada is a Southern Dravidian language and according to Sanford B. Steever, its history can be conventionally divided into three stages: Old Kannada (Haḷegannaḍa) from 450 to 1200 AD, Middle Kannada (Naḍugannaḍa) from 1200 to 1700 and Modern Kannada (Hosagannaḍa) from 1700 to the present.[26] Kannada was influenced to a considerable degree by Sanskrit and Prakrit. The scholar Iravatham Mahadevan indicated that Kannada was already a language of rich spoken tradition earlier than the 3rd century BC and based on the native Kannada words found in Prakrit inscriptions of that period, Kannada must have been spoken by a broad and stable population.[27][28][29] The scholar K. V. Narayana claims that many tribal languages which are now designated as Kannada dialects could be nearer to the earlier form of the language, with lesser influence from other languages.[27]

Sanskrit and Prakrit influence

The sources of influence on literary Kannada grammar appear to be three-fold: Pāṇini's grammar, non-Pāṇinian schools of Sanskrit grammar, particularly Katantra and Sakatayana schools, and Prakrit grammar.[30] Literary Prakrit seems to have prevailed in Karnataka since ancient times. The vernacular Prakrit speaking people may have come into contact with Kannada speakers, thus influencing their language, even before Kannada was used for administrative or liturgical purposes. Kannada phonetics, morphology, vocabulary, grammar and syntax show significant influence from these languages.[30][31]

Some naturalised (tadbhava) words of Prakrit origin in Kannada are: baṇṇa (colour) derived from vaṇṇa, huṇṇime (full moon) from puṇṇivā. Examples of naturalised Sanskrit words in Kannada are: varṇa (colour), pūrṇime, and rāya from rāja (king).[32]

Kannada also has borrowed (Tatsama) words such as dina (day), kōpa (anger), sūrya (sun), mukha (face), nimiṣa (minute).[33]


Early traces

Kadamba Dynasty
Western Ganga Dynasty
Rashtrakuta Dynasty) at Durga Devi temple in Hampi
, Karnataka
Rashtrakutas over the Chola dynasty in the famous battle of Takkolam