|Region||Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala (India)|
|190,000 (2001 census)|
|Saurashtra, Latin, Devanagari, Tamil|
Saurashtra, Palkar or Patkaris an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Saurashtrian community of Gujarat who migrated and settled in South India. Madurai in Tamil Nadu has the highest number of people belonging to this community and also remains as their cultural center.
The language is largely only in spoken form even though the language has its own script. The lack of schools teaching Saurashtra script and the language is often cited as a reason for the very few number of people who actually know to read and write in Saurashtra script. Latin, Devanagari or Tamil script is used as alternative for Saurashtra Script by many Saurashtrians.
The language has had its own script for centuries, the earliest one available from 1880. Dr. H.N. Randle has written an article 'An Indo-Aryan Language of South India—Saurashtra Bhasha' in the Bulletin of School of Oriental and African Studies (BSOAS) 11 Part 1 p. 104-121 and Part II p. 310-327 (1943–46)Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of School of Oriental and African Studies. This language is not taught in schools and hence had been confined to being merely a spoken language. But many great works like Bhagavath Gita and Tirukkural were translated into Sourashtram. It is now a literary language. Sahitya Akademi has recognized this language by conferring Bhasha Samman awards to Sourashtra Scholars.
Most Saurashtrians are bilingual in their mother tongue and Tamil and are more comfortable using their second language for all practical written communication though of late, some of them started writing in Sourashtram using Sourashtra script. There is an ongoing debate within the Saurashtra community regarding the use of the script for the Sourashtra language right from 1920 when a resolution was passed to adopt Devanagari Script for Sourashtra Language. Though some of the books were printed in Devanagari script, it failed to register the growth of the language.
But in practice because of lack of printing facilities, books are continued to be printed in Tamil Script with diacritic marks with superscript number for the consonants ka, ca, Ta, ta and pa and adding a colon to na, ma, ra, and la for aspirated forms, which are peculiar to the Sourashtra language. For writing Sourashtram using Devanagari Script, we require seven additional symbols to denote the short vowels 'e' and 'o' and four symbols for aspirated forms viz. nha, mha, rha and lha. We also require one more symbol to mark the sound of 'half yakara' which is peculiar to the Sourashtra language. The books printed in Devanagari Script were discarded because they did not represent the sounds properly.
The Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities, Allahabad by his letter No.123/5/1/62/1559 dated November 21, 1964 Communicated to Sourashtra Vidya Peetam, Madurai that the State Government were of the view that as only one book in Sourashtra Language had so far been submitted by Sourashtra Vidya Peetam for scrutiny, there was no point in examining the merits of only one book specially when the question regarding the usage of script - Hindi or Sourashtram, was still unsettled, and that the question of text books in Sourashtram might well lie over till a large number of books is available for scrutiny and for being prescribed as text books in Schools.
The Leaders in the Community could not realize the importance of teaching of mother tongue in schools and did not evince interest in production of textbooks in Sourashtram for class use. Now an awareness has arisen in the Community, and Sourashtra Vidya Peetam wants to teach the Sourashtra language through multimedia as suggested by Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities in his 42nd Report for the year (July 2003 to June 2004). Of late in internet, many Sourashtra Yahoo groups in their website use the Roman script for the Sourashtra language.
Now the Sourashtra font is available in computers and this enabled the supporters of Sourashtra Script to print books in its own script. An electronic journal, printed in the Sourashtra Script. One journal, Bhashabhimani, is published from Madurai, in Sourashtra Script. Another journal, 'Jaabaali', is also published by the same Editor of Bhashabhimani from Madurai. The 'Zeeg' Sourashtra script practice Magazine is also published from Madurai only. All the three journals support the Sourashtra script only. There is no journal in Devanagari.
The letter order of Saurashtra script is similar to other Brahmic Scripts. The letters are vowels, consonants, and the compound letters which are formed essentially by adding a vowel sound to a consonant.
Vowels and Consonants
The phoneme inventory of Saurashtra is similar to that of many other Indo-Aryan languages, especially that of the Konkani language. An IPA chart of all contrastive sounds in Saurashtra is provided below.
Loanwords in Saurashtra Language
The language itself is more similar to modern day Hindi and Marathi. However, in the course of migration to South India, the language was influenced by Dravidian Languages such as Telugu and Kannada and accumulated words from those language in its vocabulary as loanwords.
The speakers of the Saurashtra language, known as Saurashtrians, maintain a predominant presence in Madurai, a city, also known as 'Temple City' in the southern part of Tamil Nadu. Though official figures are hard to come by, it is believed that the Saurashtra population is anywhere between one-fifth and one-fourth of the city's total population. Other places with significant Saurashtra Population are Arni,Trichy, Ambur, Palayamkottai, Paramakudi, Salem, Tanjore, Kumbakonam, Dindigul, Chennai, Vellore, Walajapet, Kancheepuram, Kottar, Coimbatore, Tirupathi, Bangalore, Palakkad.Narayanavaram, Nellore, Nagari, Tirumala and Mangalam ( Tirumala Nagar )
In the course of migration, Saurashtra people moved in groups and settled in different regions of South India and that caused a slight dialect variation between each group and is noticeable by a Saurashtra speaker when interacting with another group. Saurashtra people have "Saurashtra Sabha" (or association) in each city with sizable Saurashtra population. People from Saurashtra Community meet regularly at Saurashtra Sabhas to discuss communal development and also promote linguistic and cultural activities among themselves. Saurashtra People in Tamil Nadu are called as "Pattunoolkaarar"(Silk weavers).
- Saurashtra at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Saurashtra". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- "Census of India 2001: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues". New Delhi, India: The Registrar General & Census Commissioner. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
- Colin Masica, 1993, The Indo-Aryan Languages
|English Equivalent||Saurashtra Loanword||Donor Language Word|
|"Rasam" (Thor Dhal Juice)||Pilchar||charu(Telugu)|
|Read / Study||Cheduvi||Chaduvu (Telugu)|
|Pressed rice||Adkul||Atukulu (Telugu)|
|Punch(blow with the first)||Gudhu||Guddu (Telugu)|
|Saurashtra language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|