Can you read Kannada?

Are you able to read Kannada? Yes? No? 

Ok, if you cannot read it, then you read this article. So at the end of it, you will realize, YES to learn Kannada is so.... easy. :) If you know Kannada then also continue reading. You will be amazed by knowing interesting aspects about your own language. Look at Kannada from my perspective. Let’s start first with scripts. At the end, we will see few aspects of spoken Kannada and a popular Kannada movie

1 Kannada Script

Kannada script has so many curves. Tamil is more of vertical and horizontal straight lines like symbol ‘L’. Kannada is totally different. So people say they are JALEBIs. JALEBI is a sweet with a spiral shape, a shape of round round round round and full stop in the middle.

1.1  Omega

However, if you just carefully observe these JALEBIs, you will find one symbol is repeated again and again in almost all characters. Do you know what is that? Yes, correct it is ‘w’ (English lower case w) or Greek lower case Omega ω . Yes, Omega. This small Omega means angular velocity in physics.  Add something to it, either at right hand side, left hand side, above it or below it, and you will find almost all Kannada characters. For example, just add English digit 7,2 or 9 at left hand side. It is ‘BA’. ‘BA’ for Bangalore. Sorry I mean Benglooru. You will find this symbol everywhere in our Benglooru. Now just add a Greek upper case Delta below it. Δ Delta is triangle. Even a vertical line will do, instead of triangle. Yes, now it is ‘BHA’ from ‘BA’. Put something at right hand side, you will get ‘CHA’. Add vertical Omega to right hand side. Total two Omegas. It is DA. . Add Delta (vertical line) below it. So it become 'DHHA'.   Now remove the horizontal one, only one vertical omega. It is ‘TA’ (‘THA’). In north India, ‘TA’ is common for ‘TA’ (as in Kavita कविता ) and ‘TA’ (as in Rita रीता ). In South, people write ‘THA’ for the former one. Even instead of ‘Gujarati’ गुजराती , they write it as ‘Gujarathi’ गुजराथी. ‘Vinod’ is ‘Vinodh’ विनोध here. ‘Divya’ is here ‘Dhivya’!! धिव्या :)

Anyway, coming back to Omega. After adding, something in all directions, now let’s hang it. Like we hang clothes after washing them. You just hang it from middle. It is ‘PA’. Add Delta (or vertical line) below it. Now it is ‘PHA’ or ‘FA’. Hang the Omega from both side. It is ‘DA’ (‘DHA’). Again add Delta. Where ? At bottom yaar. :) It is ‘dHA’ (‘dHHA’). Now, Let’s hang Omega from right hand side.   It is ‘VA’. Add Delta? Nothing. :) Hang it from left hand side. Again nothing :) Ok so hanging business is over too. Now cover it from right hand side.   It is ‘E’ .  Now cover with Omega. Just observe them, it seems like the Omega looking at itself in the mirror located on top of it. They both Omegas are singing the famous Gazal of late Jagjit Singh.


It means even the mirror can not recognized me, It asking me for my old face and a proof that I am myself only. Understood? No. Yes Gazals are sometimes difficult to understand.
Coming back to this Kannada character. It is ‘AI’. So yes, thus few characters have two Omegas,e.g AI and DA. ಐ ಡ   Still, Kannadiga like Omega so much they are not satisfied with just two Omegas. So ‘TA’ and ‘NA’ have total three Omega. Two verticals and one horizontal. For ‘TA’ the horizontal Omega is at bottom. The vertical omea is looking itself in the mirror and "AAYANA MUJA SE MERI....." :) Rotate this symbol, 180 degree and it becomes ‘NA’.  

1.2  ‘U’ symbol ()

How about ‘MA’ ? ‘MA’ for me, Manish. Obviously, it contains…. Yes Omega (hung on right side). It is actually, ‘VU’. वु A symbol for vowel ‘u’, is added to ‘VA’. So it is ‘VU’. But no.  In Kannada script, ‘VU’ is ‘MA’. Then how to write ‘VU’? Because, 'MA' has stolen symbol for 'VU'. Simple. Tweak little bit. Instead of right bottom corner, add ‘U’ symbol at bottom, middle to ‘VA’. ವು Yes, now it is ‘VU’. वु  And this symbol for vowel ‘u’ is a real confusing. They add it to ‘YA’ , still ‘YA’ remains ‘YA’ only not ‘YU’ यु !!! Here is Kannada YA For ‘YU’
यु it is added twice. ಯು For ‘ZA’ or ‘JHA’ , by default, it is twice. ಝ  So how to write ‘ZHU’  झु ? Simple, a circle then keep on adding ‘u’ till you are satisfied. If you have added more ‘U’ symbol then, Kannadiga will do auto-correction while reading it. Simple. ಝು Try to write Zunzunwala in Kannada. What'e fun ! :) And yes, don't forget to add a delta (vertical line) below ZA/JHA .

Unlike Hindi, all Kannda vowels are three. Hindi we have two. like short 'U' and long 'OO'. Short 'I' and long 'EE'. Kannada has such vowels three. For third one they add '9' symbol . This symbol is added by that small kid of movie "Taare Zami Par". So it is vertically flipped. Once my friend did proof reading for my Kannada poem. He added vertically flipped '9' at many places. You too, after 'I' or 'U', if you feel and whenever you feel just add . Yes, now your Kannada script looks more like written by some Kannada literate person. :) So just Enjoy MAADI. And yes, Its width should be short. This same symbol you widen.  So it is 'la'. Now put circle below it. It is 'LA' ळ.

1.3  Greek and Hindi

Not only Omega and Delta, Kannada script has few more Greek characters. Like ‘Pai’ π  = 22/7 = 3.142. 
π It is ‘Ga’ ಗ  in Kannada.  Theta θ is ‘Th’  (‘Thha’) .
Not only Greek, Kannda script borrowed few symbols from Hindi also. Hindi ‘YA’ य  First the top vertical line, cap is removed. So now it is Gujarati 'YA'. Rotate it 90 degree, then it become Kannada ‘NA’. Whenever I came across this symbol, first I read it as rotated Hindi ‘YA’. Then I recall, Kannada ‘YA’ has circle (it is like a big tummy of a fat man) and it is actually ‘YU’. So this cannot be ‘YA’. Oh! Yes, it is ‘NA’. न. स  ‘SA’ is simple. No confusion. Just rotate Hindi ‘Sa’ 90 degree. That’s it !! :) Hindi SHA has one inclined 45 degree (it is -45 degree, let me be more specific :) ). So Kannada SHA also has this inclined line. For Hindi we add it to symbol 'PA' . For Kannada? Obiviously to Omega. Yes :) Look at it. . Hindi 'LA' is also directly copy pasted to Kannada. However here it is not 'LA' . In Kannada it is 'HA'. Anyway, Kannada 'LA' we just saw it, right? Add delta (vertical line) below HA. No sir. BEDAA. Everywhere this Delta logic is not applicable :)

1.4  Lucent Technologies

So now borrowing business from Greek and Hindi is also over. All kinds of operation on Omega is over. Adding Delta is over. Still first character of alphabet, that is ‘KA’ is pending. Right? ‘KA’ is for Kannada. And ‘KA’ is for….Yes, you all got it. Just for shake of Ekta Kapoor, all Kannadiga put sincere efforts to find suitable symbol for ‘KA’. Once they visited Lucent Technologies. Lucent is my ex-employer. They just gazed at the red circle.
Wow !! This circle is a nice symbol. Let’s hang it. A death punishment. So now it is ‘KA’. Gift it to Ekta Kappor. :) It is also English symbol I and O written vertically. In the universe, we find everything in pair. Isn’t it? Happy and Sad. Man and Woman. In our IT industry, Hardware and Software, Zero and One. So why death punishment to only one circle? (Lucent only? ) Let’s hang two such circles.(Alcatel and Lucent ) Now it is ‘HA’. 'HA' We have already visited as Hindi 'LA' . Let’s put on a horizontal cap (line) on circle. It is ‘RA’. Now put a line in the middle of circle. It is Greek Theta  θ means Kannada ‘THA’ (‘THHA’). ThaAlready covered. Let's extend this middle horizontal line on both side, add a hook to right hand side. This hook will prevent this line to come out from left hand side of the circle. :) This symbol is 'EE'

1.5  Practice MAADI

Now let’s read something. As you know, practices makes man perfect and women are born perfect. At least they believe so :) . So let’s read. ‘Benglooru’. No need to read individual character. You can remember it as single word’s single bitmap image. Where? Everywhere. At Railway station, airport, City-bus stop, etc. etc. So you can never forget how to write ‘BA’. Just Remember ‘Benglooru’. Add delta to 'BA' make it ‘BHA’. Ok, now other most popular symbol is ‘Shree’. Shree means wealth. Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth. In my parents’ time, kids were starting their study with this symbol. Hey, what is written behind auto-rickshaw? Without reading, say ‘Tande Tai Aashirwada’ (I mean ‘Thande Thai Ashirwadha’ ). 99 % of times, you are correct. It means blessings of parents. Even I found parent's blessing on Taxi too (a car with yellow number plate). Other vehicles? ‘Shree _________ Prasanna’. Now you know symbol for ‘Shree’. It is first word. Middle word, just read few characters and other assume it. The candidate Gods/Goddess for middle words are ‘Vinayaka’, ‘Manjunath’, 'Venkateshwar', 'Balaji' some xyz swami etc. Last one will be always ‘Prasanna’. OK now let’s read those yellow colors, low height address board. The number is already in English. So PARAVAH GILLA. Don't worry. After that, it can be either ‘main road’ or ‘cross road’. Why to read whole word? Just read first character. If it is ‘A’ then it is ‘Adda Rasthe’ means ‘Cross road’. If ‘MA’ then ‘Mukhya Rasthe’ means ‘main road’.

Have you noticed? For SAMYUKTA characters, Kannadigas write half character as full and full character as half. Say for example, ...let me think. HINDUSTAAN (HINDUSTHAAN). In Hindi, Gujarati SA is half so it is S and TAA (THAA) is full. Here different. It is HINDUSAATHN (HINDUSAATHN). AA will be added to S. So it is SAA. At the right bottom corner, small TA (THA) will be added.

1.6 Language Discrimination

Before I forget, we need to add vertically flipped L (upper case English L) to all symbol. Like Hindi, all have cap, here all have cap + one vertical feather on top, left corner. The last character of any English word is exceptional. It has symbol 6 at top left corner, instead of vertical line. So just by looking any word written in Kannada, you can easily say, weather it is native Kannada or English. Now turn comes for Telugu people. They first remove this vertical feather from the top. Then they approve all such symbols. How? They just add one tick mark above to all of them, saying yes, this is correct, yes this is also correct. So now, after adding tick mark, all Kannada characters becomes Telugu characters. So Congratulations. You started reading this article to learn Kannada script. But, you learn to read Telugu also. One + One free.  Just Enjoy MAADI.

So now you learnt so much right? What to read and how to read by identifying minimum characters, consuming less CPU cycles. Wait. First, how you will identify, it is written in Kannada? If it does not have curves. Then Tamil. Else, if it has curves and tick mark above character then Telugu. You can read Telugu as Kannada, just ignore this turban or feather. And over the above all, if you can read it very fast, then it is not Kannada, Tamil or Telugu. Either it is English or it is your mother tongue language :) .  Yes, nothing to laugh. It really happens with me :). Once , from the city bus window, I was struggling to decode all the boarding of shops, written in Kannada. Suddenly, I could able to read very fluently! Miracle ! Then I realize, it was written in Gujarati. :)

Once I had one more funny experience with Urdu language. I saw a name written in Urdu language at Airport road. I learnt Urdu with my own interest in my school days. It has total three alphabets. Character at the beginning of word has different symbol, same in the middle of word is different and at the end of word it is full like capital/upper case character. Still I can recall few characters. So coming back to Airport road. I tried to read that Urdu board. I read it from right to left. So first character was ALIF. Second, I could not decode. Third was NUN. So it is a four character name, start with A and one middle character is NA. What it can be? Confused. Then, after some time, I came across, same board. Oh! it was English only. I thought it is ALIF (first), it was I, last character. English is from left to right. So first is last and last is first. And the second (or third ?) character, that I thought NUN, it was U. It was written SUFI. :)
How nice it would be, if we have XML tags. All text should be enclosed with XML tag, to indicate its language. Like This is English. यह हिंदी है | And off course these XML tags must be in English :)

2        Spoken Kannada

Anyway, so do you agree, Kannada script is simple? So you can read it. Yes. But what does it mean, that you are reading? Good question. Let me share with you, my experience.

2.1  Basic rule

Before that, first rule, spoken Kannada is very slow or say lazy language. People fully pronounce each character. NIDHANAVAGI means slowly, peacefully. The last character ends with ‘Aa’, unless it is English. Like say, ‘Namaskar’ is in Hindi too. But in Kannada it is ‘Namaskara’. There is one recent musical Kannada movie hit is ‘Milan’ मिलन  They write it as ‘Milan’ in Kannada. But read it as  ‘Milana’ मिलना. Here people feel, if they do not end word with ‘aa’, then it is incomplete.  Then what to do if already word ends with ‘aa’? Does it become ‘aaaaaaaa……..’ ? No it is reverse way. It becomes ‘a’ only!! Say for example, my एक्स employer name is ‘Airvana
एरवाना It is written in Kannada as ‘Airvan’ एरवान , read as ‘Airvana’ एरवाना .  :)

2.2 Lessons from my mistakes

I tried to talk in Kannada. Once I told to driver that I was absent on first day. ‘Mungaru dine nanu Bandidilla’ (Mungaru dhine nany bandhidhilla). There is popular movie ‘Mungaru Male’ It means ‘The First Rain’ and Male means rain. So obviously, ‘Munagru’ means First. But no!! Mungaru is a type of rain. So by listening to my statement the driver was so confused. What does I mean by saying ‘rain day, I did not come’ !!! So in short, Mungaru word only comes with Male. One more such confusion happened. At the end of the day, evening time my colleague was living for the day to home, so told me ‘Bye’. I replied, in Kannada, with full enthusiasm. It is my Kannada. I told, ‘ok bye and Hogi Bartini’ (Hogi Barthini). My friend got confused. She corrected me that yes she is going and she will come back. While, I was not going or coming back, I was still in the office only. ‘Hogi Bartini’ means ‘I am going and I will be back’. I should tell her ‘Hogi Banni’ means ‘Go and come back’.

2.3  My creation

All the time, I do not confuse people with my Kannada. Once I made a correct and innovative statement. Happy Birthday is simple. ‘HuTTu Habbada Shubhashay gaLu’. How to wish ‘Belated Happy Birthday’? Simple, ‘HuTTu Habbada Aadmele Nidhanvagi Shubhashay Galu’. I wrote a nice SuPrabhatam in Kannada.

" Bangalore Road Nalli Beligge Traffic Kammi Ide, Sarva Junction Nalli Hasiru Singnal Ide...

  Uthishta Banglorian Bega Office Ge Drive Madi.

  Nidhaanavagi Ellaakade Traffic Jam Suruvagide., Uthishta Traffic Police, Bangaluroo Ge Mangalam Kuru...

  Sree Ellaru Banglaorians Ge Thava SUPRABHATAM."

It means

"At the morning, in the Bangalore , there is less traffic. All junctions have Green signal. So all Bangalorians wake up and drive towards office. Slowly, traffic jams start. Wake up traffic police and do welfare for Bangalore city. To all Bangalorians, Good Morning.!"


This SuPrabhatam was broadcasted on Bangalore Radio City 91.9 FM at 'Bangalore Talkies' programme. Listen MAADI the edited conversation with R. J. Vasanthi. Presented the same at Hidi Kavi Samlen by 'Shabd Sahityik Sanstha' Wath MAADI

And yes, here is one more. "Din Huva Begin"  - My poem translated in Kannada
. Also read the orginal Gujarati version.

2.4  Simple tricks

So yes, with practices, you can speak better Kannada. You can attend weekend class at Hosmat Hospital. Contact Mr. Raghavan 9448878569 or Mr Natarajan 9845680958. You can organize Kannada class at your organization. Kannada Kali will provide all kind of help.

Still, if you feel difficult, then let me share few simple tricks. Learn Kannada in five minutes :) . It is very very simple. Just Listen. Whatever they says, you reply, ‘Hauda(Haudha)…?’. They may reply back ‘Haudu(Haudhu)’ and continue. If some serious topic, you become serious and say ‘HAUDA…?’ If other party laughs, you also laugh and say ‘Hauda…? :)) ’  ‘Hauda’ means ‘Aisa Kya?’ in Hindi, ‘Is it so?’ in English and ‘Eppadiyo’ in Tamil.( Eppadiyo is famous word. It comes in ‘Ek Duje Ke Liye’ movie songs also) How long, you can manage with just saying ‘Hauda…?’ They may ask you something. Again simple. Only one answer for all the questions. ‘Ondu Nimisha’. Whatever they ask, give same reply. It is correct. It means. ‘Just please wait for one minute’. After one minute they may repeat the quesiton. No problem, you also repeat the same answer. "Ondu Nimisha". got it ? :) What'e fun!

So Happy learning Kannada. It is nice and rich language. Kannada literature has won maximum JyanpiThh award so far. (We write Gyanpith). And all Kannadigas are so sweet, so emotional and they love Kannada so much that if they know, you are learning Kannada, they will support you. They become your nice friends. And feel very happy, even if you put effort to make even one statement in Kannada. Even once Sonu Nigam spoke that, local people VJ Rubi Bhatiya feel very happy, when he speak anything in Kannada. He is a playback singer for 'Mungaru Male'

So enjoy learning Kannada.  

3        Mungaru Male

Recently I watched a popular hit Kannada movie. "Mungaru Male". Enjoyed. It was copy of Hindi DDLJ. Except the end. Overall the movie was too good. Love Stories are simple to understand. No logic. Natural scene, waterfalls are too good, that you can enjoy only on the wide screen of cinema. The whole movie was with full fun by the Hero Ganesha (Pritam, Pritham).

Starting was so simple. Heor's mother was asking "AAMELE?" means next? The hero was describing, how he met her, how he fall in gutter. "AAMELE?". She took out him out of gutter. Wow!! Kannada movie is so simple to understand. Just one word "AAMELE?" The whole movie was not so simple.
In the whole movie, me and the father of heroine. ERADU ONDE. We both had same situation. He was using the hearing aids. The hero always removes it and says whatever he wants to say. The poor father cannot understand. I have limited Kannada vocabulary. So even I can hear, I cannot understand fully. He can not hear. I can not listen to. So we both were inferring from the facial expressions, tone, gestures etc, what others are talking.

The heroine's parents assigned responsibility for successful marriage of their daughter to hero Ganesha. And do you know, what? When the heroine slapped him twice, he was wrenching in rain, the heroine had an umbrella for her. Then she threw the umbrella and ran away. Instead of pick up it, the hero sat in VAJRAASAN.What was the need of doing such VAJRAASAN? at the time? in rain? when the free umbrella was lying down just next to him? ( If I could enter in the picture, I would have gone there, collected it and come back. :) )Her parents asked only for safe, successful marriage not asked for not take her umbrella, if she forget. But anyway, as I mentioned, love stories have no logic. Even to know her name, he put his 100% and catches her handkerchief. Fight with villain. Finally on the handkerchief, her name was written "Nandini" (Nandhini). In Bangalore, you just go to any street corner, you will find one milk selling outlet with this name: "Nandini". What was the need to catch that handkerchief, run behind it for such a common and popular name? Again the love stories have no logic. :)

The end fully disappointed me. The poor hero, twice took bath with gutter water, bitted by villain, his mother slapped him, the heroine slapped him. That too for twice. And after all these also, he could not marry her! So sad. :( At last, I was waiting, that he will get call on her mobile, he will return and marry her. But no. The end. "Priti Madhura, Tyaag Amar" ("Prithi Madhhura, Thyaag Amara"). (by the way, there was no mobile tower in that hilly area, where he was driving. No coverage. So if someone call him back then also, "This mobile is not reachable!" ) It was not DDLJ. And like almost all Hindi love story, there was no last moment running towards airport also. Like the movie 'Ashiqui' or 'Chalate Chalate' or many such movies.

My Kannada friend argued, how can you say the end is sad? Who knows in the movie Ganesha was not hero, but he who married with her was hero!! Lateral Thinking.

Disclaimer : All the thoughts and ideas presented in articles are author’s own. The sole purpose of writing this is just to have fun with learning. This is not written at all to hurt feelings of anyone, or to promote racism or any kind of discrimination based on language, caste, state or culture. Yet, if any reader feels hurt, then I am sorry for it. Please let me know any feedback, I will correct it.


Anonymous said...

mungare male and copy of DDLJ...
haha ha ha ha.. either u have not watched DDLJ or u might have watch sum other movie n not mungaru male.. in short u r one retard!!!

Chiro-kun said...

Naanuu Kannada kalithaidhini.
Bangalooruge mooru vaara aayithu.

When I reached Bangalore, the first thing I did was learn the script too!

How did you learn spoken Kannada, though?
It would be great if you could outline your method in one of your future blog posts!

Manish Panchmatia said...

Hi Chiro-Kun

Thanks, for your comments. Welcome to Bangalore.

You can attend weekend class at Hosmat Hospital, Near Garuda Mall, MGRaod. Contact Mr. Raghavan 9448878569 or Mr Natarajan 9845680958

Who am I said...

Hats off to you and your visual imagination skills!!!

you made my life easy!!! you are awesome!

thanks for the sincere and grat efforts!

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