The Kannada alphabet (ಕನ್ನಡ ಲಿಪಿ) developed from the Kadamba and Cālukya scripts, descendents of Brahmi which were used between the 5th and 7th centuries AD. These scripts developed into the Old Kannada script, which by about 1500 had morphed into the Kannada and Telugu scripts. Under the influence of Christian missionary organizations, Kannada and Telugu scripts were standardized at the beginning of the 19th century.
- Type of writing system: alphasyllabary in which all consonants have an inherent vowel. Other vowels are indicated with diacritics, which can appear above, below, before or after the consonants.
- When they appear the the beginning of a syllable, vowels are written as independent letters.
- When consonants appear together without intervening vowels, the second consonant is written as a special conjunt symbol, usually below the first.
- Direction of writing: left to right in horizontal lines
Used to write:
Kannada (ಕನ್ನಡ) or Canarese, the official language of the southern Indian state of Karnataka. Kannada is a Dravidian language spoken by about 44 million people in the Indian states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
Konkani (कोंकणी / Konknni / ಕೊಂಕಣಿ / കൊങ്കണി / كونكڼى), an Indo-Aryan language spoken in the Indian states of Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra by about 2.5 million people.
Sankethi (ಸಂಕೇತಿ), a dialect of Tamil spoken in the Indian state of Karnataka.
Tulu (ತುಳು ಬಾಸೆ), a Southern Dravidian language spoken mainly in the Indian states of Karnataka and Kerala by between 3 and 5 million people.
Vowels and vowel diacritics with ka
Hear a recording of these letters by ಚೇತನ್ (Chethan)
A recording of these letters by ಚೇತನ್ (Chethan)
A selection of conjunct consonants
A recording of these numbers by ಚೇತನ್ (Chethan)
Download a chart of the Kannada alphabet (Excel)
How to write and pronounced Kannada letters
Sample text in Kannada
Ellā mānavarū svatantrarāgiyē janisiddāre. Hāgū ghanate mattu hakku gaḷalli samānarāgiddāre. Vivēka mattu antaḥkaraṇagaḷannu paḍedavarāddarinda avaru paraspara sahōdara bhāvadinda vartisabēku.
A recording of this text by ಚೇತನ್ (Chethan)
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Thanks to Arvind Iyengar for providing the sample text.
Sample video in Kannada
Information about Kannada | Phrases | Numbers | Tower of Babel
Information about the Kannada language
Information about the Kannada alphabet
Online Kannada lessons
Online Kannada dictionary
Free Kannada fonts
Online news in Kannada
Languages written with the Kannada alphabet
Badaga, Brahui, Gondi, Jatapu, Kannada, Kodava, Kolam, Konda, Koya, Kurukh, Malayalam, Mukha Dora, Sankethi, Savara, Sunuwar, Suriyani Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Tulu, Yerukula
Syllabic alphabets / abugidas
- Baybayin (Tagalog),
- Dehong Dai,
- Dives Akuru,
- Evēla Akuru,
- Lota Ende,
- Mongolian Horizontal Square Script,
- Pahawh Hmong,
- Satera Jontal,
- Sorang Sompeng,
- Syloti Nagri,
- Tigalari (Tulu),
- Tolong Siki,
- Varang Kshiti
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Kannada language, also called Kanarese or Kannana, member of the Dravidian language family and the official language of the state of Karnataka in southern India. Kannada is also spoken in the states that border Karnataka. Early 21st-century census data indicated that some 38 million individuals spoke Kannada as their first language; another 9 to 10 million were thought to speak it as a secondary language. In 2008 the government of India granted Kannada classical-language status.
Kannada is the second oldest of the four major Dravidian languages with a literary tradition. The oldest Kannada inscription was discovered at the small community of Halmidi and dates to about 450 ce. The Kannada script evolved from southern varieties of the Ashokan Brahmi script. The Kannada script is closely related to the Telugu script; both emerged from an Old Kannarese (Karnataka) script. Three historical stages are recognised: Old Kannada (450–1200 ce), Middle Kannada (1200–1700 ce), and Modern Kannada (1700 ce–present).
The word order is subject–object–verb, as in the other Dravidian languages. Verbs are marked for person, number, and gender. The case-marking pattern is nominative-accusative, with experiencer subjects taking the dative inflection. Most inflection is rendered through affixation, especially of suffixes. The language uses typical Dravidian retroflex consonants (sounds pronounced with the tip of the tongue curled back against the roof of the mouth), such as /ḍ/, /ṇ/, and /ṭ/, as well as a series of voiced and voiceless aspirates borrowed from the Indo-Aryan language family.
Three regional varieties of Kannada are identifiable. The southern variety is associated with the cities of Mysore and Bangalore, the northern with Hubli-Dharwad, and the coastal with Mangalore. The prestige varieties are based on the Mysore-Bangalore variety. Social varieties are currently characterized by education and class or caste, resulting in at least three distinct social dialects: Brahman, non-Brahman, and Dalit (formerly untouchable). A diglossia or dichotomy also exists between formal literary varieties and spoken varieties.
Kannada literature began with the Kavirajamarga of Nripatunga (9th century ce) and was followed by Pampa’s Bharata (941 ce). The earliest extant grammar is by Nagavarma and dates to the early 12th century; the grammar of Keshiraja (1260 ce) is still respected. Kannada literature was influenced by the Lingayat (Virasaiva) and the Haridasa movements. In the 16th century the Haridasa movement of vernacular devotional song reached its zenith with Purandaradasa and Kanakadasa, the former considered the father of Karnatak music, the classical music of southern India.