Kannada Update

Last night I showed Satya and his parents some of the phrases from the ICC Kannada lesson.

One lesson was entitled, “Polite Phrases”, which from our perspective just teaches you how to apologize in many various situations.  The lesson has a clip art picture, the phrase written in English, phrase written in English characters, phrase written in Kannada.  The accented voice will read the phrase in English, and then read it in Kannada. 

Satya and his parents thought this was hilarious.  I asked, “Does anyone actually talk like this?”  His dad said, “Only people like you” meaning those who don’t know Kannada well.  They said the accent was all wrong and the phrases too bookish.  Satya was annoyed because the translations didn’t exactly match up. 

On the bright side, I now know how to say sorry in Kannada, “Kshamisi”.

Another error was in the Greetings section.  It had an example of someone saying “Goodmorning child” which they translated to “Namaskara _____” (forgot the word for child).  Anyway, Satya and his parents said that you never say that because it is giving too much respect to the child.  The child says Namaskara and adults say Namaskara to each other, but that is it.  What do others think about this?  Would you ever say “Namaskara” to a child?

My thinking is now that I will still use the program, but will have Satya sitting beside me to say what is right or what his family uses.  I am thinking I will also need to tape record him or his parents so I can copy  their accents.

I do think that from the program I can learn to decode signs and learn basic vocabulary.  I’d like to complete the ICC program and then complete the Mysore University online course, but know it will take a year or two and lots of discipline.

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ashwini
    Aug 14, 2008 @ 02:33:12

    Just a thought, Watch Malgudi Days (It was a TV Show of a south Indian family) And it is in english, You will learn a lot of south indian culture from it. More than you will enjoy watching it, it is very well done.


  2. Ashwini
    Aug 14, 2008 @ 02:39:47

    Another thought, Read S.L Byrappa’s (Famous kannada author) books. Most of his books are translated to english. You learn a lot of karnataka people’s values and principles. Let me know if you cannot find his books.


  3. minnesotameetskarnataka
    Aug 14, 2008 @ 13:33:23


    Thanks for the great tips! This is exactly what I’d like to know more about-culture, values, principles, etc.

    I found an episode or two of Malgudi days on youtube. For the books, it looks like I’ll have to get them shipped from India.


  4. Sanjay Kattimani
    Aug 19, 2008 @ 03:11:07

    Its wonderful to see so much of enthu to learn about kannada & culture inspite of being far away from India.
    Generally we dont say namaskara to kids or expect it from them. Its more commonly used among adults/elders.


  5. minnesotameetskarnataka
    Aug 27, 2008 @ 20:23:59

    Hi Sanjay,

    Thanks for your comment and encouragement!
    It is always good to know the context of the language.


  6. minnesotameetskarnataka
    Aug 27, 2008 @ 20:24:57

    Ashwini, I did track down a book copy of Narayan’s “Malgudi Days”. I hope to read it soon!


  7. quizman
    Sep 02, 2008 @ 23:57:06

    What a wonderful blog. Your positive and welcoming attitude offers an example to the rest of us.

    One of the interesting aspects about Kannada is the prevalence many variants of the language. Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli, Bijapur etc all have interesting variants of Kannada. Additionally, there are community/caste-based nuances. For example, the Karnataka Iyengar community speak a version of Kannada that isn’t understood by me at all.

    To add to the complexity, there are family traditions that play a role. For example, in most households parents are addressed by the formal “neevu” (respectful form of ‘you’). But a lot of folks also address their parents (particularly their moms), by the more familiar and informal “neenu” (casual form of ‘you’).

    But these are subtleties that you should not concern yourself with while you are learning the language. These will come to you automatically by a process of osmosis, if you will.

    Good luck with your efforts. Amazing work!


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