Marathi (मराठी, pronounced [məˈɾaːʈʰiː] ) is an Indo-Aryan language predominantly spoken by Marathi people in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the official language of Maharashtra, and an additional official language in the state of Goa used to reply provided the request is received in Marathi. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India, with 83 million speakers as of 2011. Marathi ranks 13th in the list of languages with most native speakers in the world. Marathi has the third largest number of native speakers in India, after Hindi and Bengali.[6] The language has some of the oldest literature of all modern Indian languages.[7] The major dialects of Marathi are Standard Marathi and the Varhadi dialect.[8]

Native toIndia
Native speakers
L1: 83 million (2011)[1]
L2: 17 million (2011)[1]
Early form
Indian Signing System
Official status
Official language in
Regulated byMinistry of Marathi Language and various other institutions
Language codes
ISO 639-1mr
ISO 639-2mar
ISO 639-3Either:
mar – Modern Marathi
omr – Old Marathi
omr Old Marathi
Glottologmara1378  Modern Marathi
oldm1244  Old Marathi
  regions where Marathi is the language of the majority or plurality
  regions where Marathi is the language of a significant minority
Map of Marathi language in India (district-wise). Darker shades imply a greater percentage of native speakers of Marathi in each district.

Marathi distinguishes inclusive and exclusive forms of 'we' and possesses three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. Its phonology contrasts apico-alveolar with alveopalatal affricates and alveolar with retroflex laterals ([l] and [ɭ] (Marathi letters and respectively).[9]


981 A.D. Prakrit inscription at the foot of Bahubali statue at Jain temple in Shravanabelagola It was derived from Prakrit language

Indian languages, including Marathi, that belong to the Indo-Aryan language family are derived from early forms of Prakrit. Marathi is one of several languages that further descend from Maharashtri Prakrit. Further changes led to the formation of Apabhraṃśa followed by Old Marathi.[10] However, this is challenged by Bloch (1970), who states that Apabhraṃśa was formed after Marathi had already separated from the Middle Indian dialect.[11]

The earliest example of Maharashtri as a separate language dates to approximately 1st century BCE: a stone inscription found in a cave at Naneghat, Junnar in Pune district had been written in Maharashtri using Brahmi script.[12][13][14] A committee appointed by the Maharashtra State Government to get the Classical status for Marathi has claimed that Marathi existed at least 1,500 - 2,000 years ago alongside Sanskrit as a sister language.[15] Marathi, a derivative of Maharashtri Prakrit language, is probably first attested in a 739 CE copper-plate inscription found in Satara. Several inscriptions dated to the second half of the 11th century feature Marathi, which is usually appended to Sanskrit or Kannada in these inscriptions.[16] The earliest Marathi-only inscriptions are the ones issued during the Shilahara rule, including a c. 1012 CE stone inscription from Akshi taluka of Raigad district, and a 1060 or 1086 CE copper-plate inscription from Dive that records a land grant (agrahara) to a Brahmin.[17] A 2-line 1118 CE Prakrit inscription at Shravanabelagola records a grant by the Hoysalas. These inscriptions suggest that Prakrit was a standard written language by the 12th century. However, there is no record of any literature produced in Marathi until the late 13th century.[18]

Yadava period


After 1187 CE, the use of Marathi grew substantially in the inscriptions of the Yadava kings, who earlier used Kannada and Sanskrit in their inscriptions.[17] Marathi became the dominant language of epigraphy during the last half century of the dynasty's rule (14th century), and may have been a result of the Yadava attempts to connect with their Marathi-speaking subjects and to distinguish themselves from the Kannada-speaking Hoysalas.[16][19]

Further growth and usage of the language was because of two religious sects – the Mahanubhava and Varkari panthans – who adopted Marathi as the medium for preaching their doctrines of devotion. Marathi was used in court life by the time of the Yadava kings. During the reign of the last three Yadava kings, a great deal of literature in verse and prose, on astrology, medicine, Puranas, Vedanta, kings and courtiers were created. Nalopakhyana, Rukminiswayamvara and Shripati's Jyotisharatnamala (1039) are a few examples.

The oldest book in prose form in Marathi, Vivēkasindhu (विवेकसिंधु), was written by Mukundaraja, a Nath yogi and arch-poet of Marathi. Mukundaraja bases his exposition of the basic tenets of the Hindu philosophy and the yoga marga on the utterances or teachings of Shankaracharya. Mukundaraja's other work, Paramamrta, is considered the first systematic attempt to explain the Vedanta in the Marathi language

Notable examples of Marathi prose are "Līḷācarītra" (लीळाचरित्र), events and anecdotes from the miracle-filled the life of Chakradhar Swami of the Mahanubhava sect compiled by his close disciple, Mahimbhatta, in 1238. The Līḷācarītra is thought to be the first biography written in the Marathi language. Mahimbhatta's second important literary work is the Shri Govindaprabhucharitra or Ruddhipurcharitra, a biography of Shri Chakradhar Swami's guru, Shri Govind Prabhu. This was probably written in 1288. The Mahanubhava sect made Marathi a vehicle for the propagation of religion and culture. Mahanubhava literature generally comprises works that describe the incarnations of gods, the history of the sect, commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita, poetical works narrating the stories of the life of Krishna and grammatical and etymological works that are deemed useful to explain the philosophy of sect.

Medieval and Deccan Sultanate period


The 13th century Varkari saint Dnyaneshwar (1275–1296) wrote a treatise in Marathi on Bhagawat Gita popularly called Dnyaneshwari and Amrutanubhava.[20][21]

Mukund Raj was a poet who lived in the 13th century and is said to be the first poet who composed in Marathi.[22] He is known for the Viveka-Siddhi and Parammruta which are metaphysical, pantheistic works connected with orthodox Vedantism.

The 16th century saint-poet Eknath (1528–1599) is well known for composing the Eknāthī Bhāgavat, a commentary on Bhagavat Purana and the devotional songs called Bharud.[23] Mukteshwar translated the Mahabharata into Marathi; Tukaram (1608–49) transformed Marathi into a rich literary language. His poetry contained his inspirations. Tukaram wrote over 3000 abhangs or devotional songs.[24]

Marathi was widely used during the Sultanate period. Although the rulers were Muslims, the local feudal landlords and the revenue collectors were Hindus and so was the majority of the population. To simplify administration and revenue collection, the sultans promoted use of Marathi in official documents. However, the Marathi language from the era is heavily Persianised in its vocabulary.[25] The Persian influence continues to this day with many Persian derived words used in everyday speech such as bāg (Garden), kārkhānā (factory), shahar (city), bāzār (market), dukān (shop), hushār (clever), kāḡaḏ (paper), khurchi (chair), jamin (land), jāhirāt (advertisement), and hazār (thousand)[26][27] Marathi also became language of administration during the Ahmadnagar Sultanate.[28] Adilshahi of Bijapur also used Marathi for administration and record keeping.[29]

Maratha Empire


Marathi gained prominence with the rise of the Maratha Empire beginning with the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. In his court, Shivaji Maharaj replaced Persian, the common courtly language in the region, with Marathi.The Marathi language used in administrative documents also became less persianised. Whereas in 1630, 80% of the vocabulary was Persian, it dropped to 37% by 1677.[30] His reign stimulated the deployment of Marathi as a tool of systematic description and understanding.[31] Shivaji Maharaj commissioned one of his officials, Balaji Avaji Chitnis, to make a comprehensive lexicon to replace Persian and Arabic terms with their Sanskrit equivalents. This led to production of 'Rājavyavahārakośa', the thesaurus of state usage in 1677.[32]

Subsequent Maratha rulers extended the empire northwards to Peshawar, eastwards to Odisha, and southwards to Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. These excursions by the Marathas helped to spread Marathi over broader geographical regions. This period also saw the use of Marathi in transactions involving land and other business. Documents from this period, therefore, give a better picture of the life of common people. There are a number of Bakhars (journals or narratives of historical events) written in Marathi and Modi script from this period.

Marathi inscription inside Brihadisvara temple complex, Thanjavur

In the 18th century during Peshwa rule, some well-known works such as Yatharthadeepika by Vaman Pandit, Naladamayanti Swayamvara by Raghunath Pandit, Pandava Pratap, Harivijay, Ramvijay by Shridhar Pandit and Mahabharata by Moropant were produced. Krishnadayarnava and Sridhar were poets during the Peshwa period. New literary forms were successfully experimented with during the period and classical styles were revived, especially the Mahakavya and Prabandha forms. The most important hagiographies of Varkari Bhakti saints were written by Mahipati in the 18th century.[33][24] Other well known literary scholars of the 17th century were Mukteshwar and Shridhar.[34] Mukteshwar was the grandson of Eknath and is the most distinguished poet in the Ovi meter. He is most known for translating the Mahabharata and the Ramayana in Marathi but only a part of the Mahabharata translation is available and the entire Ramayana translation is lost. Shridhar Kulkarni came from the Pandharpur area and his works are said to have superseded the Sanskrit epics to a certain extent. This period also saw the development of Powada (ballads sung in honour of warriors), and Lavani (romantic songs presented with dance and instruments like tabla). Major poet composers of Powada and Lavani songs of the 17th and the 18th century were Anant Phandi, Ram Joshi and Honaji Bala.[34]

British colonial period


The British colonial period starting in early 1800s saw standardisation of Marathi grammar through the efforts of the Christian missionary William Carey. Carey's dictionary had fewer entries and Marathi words were in Devanagari. Translations of the Bible were the first books to be printed in Marathi. These translations by William Carey, the American Marathi mission and the Scottish missionaries led to the development of a peculiar pidginised Marathi called "Missionary Marathi" in the early 1800s.[35] The most comprehensive Marathi-English dictionary was compiled by Captain James Thomas Molesworth and Major Thomas Candy in 1831. The book is still in print nearly two centuries after its publication.[36] The colonial authorities also worked on standardising Marathi under the leadership of Molesworth and Candy. They consulted Brahmins of Pune for this task and adopted the Sanskrit dominated dialect spoken by the elite in the city as the standard dialect for Marathi.[37][38][39][40]

The first Marathi translation of the New Testament was published in 1811 by the Serampore press of William Carey.[41] The first Marathi newspaper called Durpan was started by Balshastri Jambhekar in 1832.[42] Newspapers provided a platform for sharing literary views, and many books on social reforms were written. The First Marathi periodical Dirghadarshan was started in 1840. The Marathi language flourished, as Marathi drama gained popularity. Musicals known as Sangeet Natak also evolved.[43] Keshavasut, the father of modern Marathi poetry published his first poem in 1885. The late-19th century in Maharashtra saw the rise of essayist Vishnushastri Chiplunkar with his periodical, Nibandhmala that had essays that criticised social reformers like Phule and Gopal Hari Deshmukh. He also founded the popular Marathi periodical of that era called Kesari in 1881.[44] Later under the editorship of Lokmanya Tilak, the newspaper was instrumental in spreading Tilak's nationalist and social views.[45][46][47] Phule and Deshmukh also started their periodicals, Deenbandhu and Prabhakar, that criticised the prevailing Hindu culture of the day.[48] The 19th century and early 20th century saw several books published on Marathi grammar. Notable grammarians of this period were Tarkhadkar, A.K.Kher, Moro Keshav Damle, and R.Joshi[49]

The first half of the 20th century was marked by new enthusiasm in literary pursuits, and socio-political activism helped achieve major milestones in Marathi literature, drama, music and film. Modern Marathi prose flourished: for example, N.C.Kelkar's biographical writings, novels of Hari Narayan Apte, Narayan Sitaram Phadke and V. S. Khandekar, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar's nationalist literature and plays of Mama Varerkar and Kirloskar. In folk arts, Patthe Bapurao wrote many lavani songs during the late colonial period.

Marathi since Indian independence

The popular Marathi language newspapers at a newsstand in Mumbai, 2006

After Indian independence, Marathi was accorded the status of a scheduled language on the national level. In 1956, the then Bombay state was reorganised, which brought most Marathi and Gujarati speaking areas under one state. Further re-organization of the Bombay state on 1 May 1960, created the Marathi speaking Maharashtra and Gujarati speaking Gujarat state respectively. With state and cultural protection, Marathi made great strides by the 1990s. A literary event called Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan (All-India Marathi Literature Meet) is held every year. In addition, the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Natya Sammelan (All-India Marathi Theatre Convention) is also held annually. Both events are very popular among Marathi speakers.

Notable works in Marathi in the latter half of the 20th century include Khandekar's Yayati, which won him the Jnanpith Award. Also Vijay Tendulkar's plays in Marathi have earned him a reputation beyond Maharashtra. P.L. Deshpande (popularly known as PuLa), Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar, P.K. Atre, Prabodhankar Thackeray and Vishwas Patil are known for their writings in Marathi in the fields of drama, comedy and social commentary. Bashir Momin Kavathekar wrote Lavani's and folk songs for Tamasha artists.[50][51]

In 1958 the term "Dalit literature" was used for the first time, when the first conference of Maharashtra Dalit Sahitya Sangha (Maharashtra Dalit Literature Society) was held at Mumbai, a movement inspired by 19th century social reformer, Jyotiba Phule and eminent dalit leader, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar.[52] Baburao Bagul (1930–2008) was a pioneer of Dalit writings in Marathi.[53] His first collection of stories, Jevha Mi Jat Chorali (जेव्हा मी जात चोरली, "When I Stole My Caste"), published in 1963, created a stir in Marathi literature with its passionate depiction of a cruel society and thus brought in new momentum to Dalit literature in Marathi.[54][55] Gradually with other writers like Namdeo Dhasal (who founded Dalit Panther), these Dalit writings paved way for the strengthening of Dalit movement.[56] Notable Dalit authors writing in Marathi include Arun Kamble, Shantabai Kamble, Raja Dhale, Namdev Dhasal, Daya Pawar, Annabhau Sathe, Laxman Mane, Laxman Gaikwad, Sharankumar Limbale, Bhau Panchbhai, Kishor Shantabai Kale, Narendra Jadhav, Keshav Meshram, Urmila Pawar, Vinay Dharwadkar, Gangadhar Pantawane, Kumud Pawde and Jyoti Lanjewar.[57][58][59][60]

In recent decades there has been a trend among Marathi speaking parents of all social classes in major urban areas of sending their children to English medium schools. There is some concern that this may lead to the marginalisation of the language.[61]

Geographic distribution


Marathi is primarily spoken in Maharashtra[62] and parts of neighbouring states of Gujarat (majorly in Vadodara, and amongst a small number of population in Surat), Madhya Pradesh (in the districts of Burhanpur, Betul, Chhindwara and Balaghat), Goa, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu (in Thanjavur) and Karnataka (in the districts of Belagavi, Karwar, Bagalkote, Vijayapura, Kalaburagi and Bidar), Telangana, union-territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.[63][64] The former Maratha ruled cities of Baroda, Indore, Gwalior, Jabalpur, and Tanjore have had sizeable Marathi-speaking populations for centuries.[citation needed] Marathi is also spoken by Maharashtrian migrants to other parts of India and overseas.[62] For instance, the people from western India who emigrated to Mauritius in the early 19th century also speak Marathi.[65]

Poster showcasing comparison of Marathi language speakers with Germany and Netherlands.

There were 83 million native Marathi speakers in India, according to the 2011 census, making it the third most spoken native language after Hindi and Bengali. Native Marathi speakers form 6.86% of India's population. Native speakers of Marathi formed 70.34% of the population in Maharashtra, 10.89% in Goa, 7.01% in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, 4.53% in Daman and Diu, 3.38% in Karnataka, 1.7% in Madhya Pradesh, and 1.52% in Gujarat.[6]



The following table is a list of the geographic distribution of Marathi speakers as it appears in the 2019 edition of Ethnologue, a language reference published by SIL International, which is based in the United States.[66]

International geographic distribution as per Ethnologue.[67]
Country Speaker population Notes
  Australia 13,100 2016 census
  Canada 8,300 2016 census
  Israel 23,000 Leclerc 2018a
  Mauritius 17,000 Leclerc 2018c
  New Zealand 2,900 2013 census
  UK 6,410 2011 census
  USA 73,600 2015 census



Marathi is the official language of Maharashtra and additional official language in the state of Goa.[4] In Goa, Konkani is the sole official language; however, Marathi may also be used for any or all official purposes in case any request is received in Marathi. [5] Marathi is included among the languages that are part of the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India, thus granting it the status of a "scheduled language".[68] The Government of Maharashtra has applied to the Ministry of Culture to grant classical language status to Marathi.[69]

The contemporary grammatical rules described by Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad and endorsed by the Government of Maharashtra are supposed to take precedence in standard written Marathi.[citation needed] Traditions of Marathi Linguistics and the above-mentioned rules give special status to tatsamas, words adapted from Sanskrit. This special status expects the rules for tatsamas to be followed as in Sanskrit. This practice provides Marathi with a large corpus of Sanskrit words to cope with the demands of new technical words whenever needed.

In addition to all universities in Maharashtra, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in Vadodara,[70] Osmania University in Hyderabad,[71] Karnataka University in Dharwad,[72] Gulbarga University in Kalaburagi,[73] Devi Ahilya University in Indore[74] and Goa University in Goa[75] have special departments for higher studies in Marathi linguistics. Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi) has announced plans to establish a special department for Marathi.[76]

Marathi Day is celebrated on 27 February, the birthday of the poet Kusumagraj (Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar).[77]



Standard Marathi is based on dialects used by academics and the print media.

Indic scholars distinguish 42 dialects of spoken Marathi. Dialects bordering other major language areas have many properties in common with those languages, further differentiating them from standard spoken Marathi. The bulk of the variation within these dialects is primarily lexical and phonological (e.g. accent placement and pronunciation). Although the number of dialects is considerable, the degree of intelligibility within these dialects is relatively high.[78]



Varhadi (Varhādi) (वऱ्हाडि) or Vaidarbhi (वैदर्भि) is spoken in the Western Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. In Marathi, the retroflex lateral approximant [ɭ] is common, while sometimes in the Varhadii dialect, it corresponds to the palatal approximant y (IPA: [j]), making this dialect quite distinct. Such phonetic shifts are common in spoken Marathi and, as such, the spoken dialects vary from one region of Maharashtra to another.

Zadi Boli


Zaadi Boli or Zhaadiboli[79] (झाडिबोलि) is spoken in Zaadipranta (a forest rich region) of far eastern Maharashtra or eastern Vidarbha or western-central Gondwana comprising Gondia, Bhandara, Chandrapur, Gadchiroli and some parts of Nagpur of Maharashtra.[80][81]

Zaadi Boli Sahitya Mandal and many literary figures are working for the conservation of this dialect of Marathi.

Southern Indian Marathi


Thanjavur Marathi तञ्जावूर् मराठि, Namadeva Shimpi Marathi, Arey Marathi (Telangana), Kasaragod (north Kerala) and Bhavsar Marathi are some of the dialects of Marathi spoken by many descendants of Maharashtrians who migrated to Southern India. These dialects retain the 17th-century basic form of Marathi and have been considerably influenced by the Dravidian languages[82] after the migration. These dialects have speakers in various parts of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.[83]



Other Marathi–Konkani languages and dialects spoken in Maharashtra include Maharashtrian Konkani, Malvani, Sangameshwari, Agri, Andh, Warli, Vadvali and Samavedi.




Modi script was used to write Marathi
An effort to conserve the "Modi Script" under India Post's My Stamp scheme. Here, the word 'Marathi' is printed in the "Modi Script".

The Kadamba script and its variants have been historically used to write Marathi in the form of inscriptions on stones and copper plates.[84] The Marathi version of Devanagari, called Balbodh, is similar to the Hindi Devanagari alphabet except for its use for certain words. Some words in Marathi preserve the schwa, which has been omitted in other languages which use Devanagari. For example, the word 'रंग' (colour) is pronounced as 'ranga' in Marathi & 'rang' in other languages using Devanagari, and 'खरं' (true), despite the anuswara, is pronounced as 'khara'. The anuswara in this case is used to avoid schwa deletion in pronunciation; most other languages using Devanagari show schwa deletion in pronunciation despite the presence of schwa in the written spelling. From the 13th century until the beginning of British rule in the 19th century, Marathi was written in the Modi script for administrative purposes but in Devanagari for literature. Since 1950 it has been written in the Balbodh style of Devanagari. Except for Father Thomas Stephens' Krista Purana in the Latin script in the 1600s, Marathi has mainly been printed in Devanagari because William Carey, the pioneer of printing in Indian languages, was only able to print in Devanagari. He later tried printing in Modi but by that time, Balbodh Devanagari had been accepted for printing.[85]



Marathi is usually written in the Balbodh[86][87][88][89] version of Devanagari script, an abugida consisting of 36 consonant letters and 16 initial-vowel letters. It is written from left to right. The Devanagari alphabet used to write Marathi is slightly different from the Devanagari alphabets of Hindi and other languages: there are additional letters in the Marathi alphabet and Western punctuation is used.

William Carey in 1807 Observed that as with other parts of India, a traditional duality existed in script usage between Devanagari for religious texts, and Modi for commerce and administration.

Although in the Mahratta country the Devanagari character is well known to men of education, yet a character is current among the men of business which is much smaller, and varies considerably in form from the Nagari, though the number and power of the letters nearly correspond.[90]


Devanagari Transliterated IPA Pronunciation
a /ə/
ā /a(ː)/
i /i/
ī /i(ː)/
u /u/
ū /u(ː)/
e /e/
ai /əi/
o /o/
au /əu/
अं aṃ /əm/
अः aḥ /əɦə/


ca, ċa
/t͡ɕə/ or /t͡sə/
ja, j̈a
/d͡ʑə/ or /d͡zə/
jha, j̈ha
/d͡ʑʱə/ or /d͡zʱə/
/pʰə/ or /fə/
क्ष ज्ञ

It is written from left to right. Devanagari used to write Marathi is slightly different from that of Hindi or other languages. It uses additional vowels and consonants that are not found in other languages that also use Devanagari.

Example of consonant–vowel combination


Combination of the vowels with K:

Script Pronunciation (IPA)
का /kaː/
कि /ki/
की /kiː/
कु /ku/
कू /kuː/
कृ /kru/
के /ke/
कै /kəi̯/
को /ko/
कौ /kəu̯/
कं /kəm/
कः /kəɦ(ə)/

The Modi alphabet


From the thirteenth century until 1950, Marathi, especially for business use, was written in the Modi alphabet, a cursive script designed for minimising the lifting of pen from paper while writing.[91]

Consonant clusters in Devanagari


In Devanagari, consonant letters by default come with an inherent schwa. Therefore, तयाचे will be 'təyāche', not 'tyāche'. To form 'tyāche', you will have to write it as त् + याचे, giving त्याचे.

When two or more consecutive consonants are followed by a vowel then a jodakshar (consonant cluster) is formed. Some examples of consonant clusters are shown below:

  • त्याचेtyāche – "his"
  • प्रस्ताprastāva – "proposal"
  • विद्याvidyā – "knowledge"
  • म्याmyān – "Sheath/scabbard"
  • त्वराtvarā – "immediate/Quick"
  • महत्त्वmahattva – "importance"
  • क्तphakta – "only"
  • बाहुल्याbāhulyā – "dolls"
  • ण्हेरी – kaṇherī – "oleander" (known for its flowers)
  • न्हाणे – nhāṇe – "bathing"
  • म्हणून – mhaṇūna – "therefore"
  • ऱ्हाtaṟhā – "different way of behaving"
  • कोल्हाkolhā – "fox"
  • केव्हाkevhā – "when"

In writing, Marathi has a few digraphs that are rarely seen in the world's languages, including those denoting the so-called "nasal aspirates" (ṇh (ण्ह), nh (न्ह) and mh (म्ह)) and liquid aspirates (rh, ṟh, lh (ल्ह), and vh व्ह). Some examples are given above.

Eyelash reph/raphar


The eyelash reph/raphar (रेफ/ रफार) (र्‍) exists in Marathi as well as Nepali. The eyelash reph/raphar (र्‍) is produced in Unicode by the sequence [ra] + [virāma ्] + [ZWJ] and [rra]+ [virāma ्] + [ZWJ].[92] In Marathi, when 'र' is the first consonant of a consonant cluster and occurs at the beginning of a syllable, it is written as an eyelash reph/raphar.[93]


Minimal pairs[94]

Using the (Simple) Reph/Raphar Using the Eyelash Reph/Raphar
आचार्यास (to the teacher) आचार्‍यास (to the cook)
दर्या (ocean) दर्‍या (valleys)



In February 2008, Swagat Thorat published India's first Braille newspaper, the Marathi Sparshdnyan, a news, politics and current affairs fort nightly magazine.[95]



Marathi grammar shares similarities with other modern Indo-Aryan languages. Jain Acharya Hemachandra is the grammarian of Maharashtri Prakrit. The first modern book exclusively concerning Marathi grammar was printed in 1805 by William Carey.

Marathi employs agglutinative, inflectional and analytical forms.[96] Unlike most other Indo-Aryan languages, Marathi has kept three grammatical genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. The primary word order of Marathi is subject–object–verb[97] Marathi follows a split-ergative pattern of verb agreement and case marking: it is ergative in constructions with either perfective transitive verbs or with the obligative ("should", "have to") and it is nominative elsewhere.[98] An unusual feature of Marathi, as compared to other Indo-European languages, is that it displays inclusive and exclusive we, common to the Austroasiatic and Dravidian languages. Other similarities to Dravidian include the extensive use of participial constructions[96] and also to a certain extent the use of the two anaphoric pronouns swətah and apəṇ.[99] Numerous scholars have noted the existence of Dravidian linguistic patterns in the Marathi language.[100]

Sharing of linguistic resources with other languages

Marathi neon signboard at Maharashtra Police headquarters in Mumbai.

Marathi is primarily influenced by Prakrit, Maharashtri, and Apabhraṃśa. Formal Marathi draws literary and technical vocabulary from Sanskrit.[101] Marathi has also shared directions, vocabulary, and grammar with languages such as Indian Dravidian languages.[101] Over a period of many centuries, the Marathi language and people have also come into contact with foreign languages such as Persian,[26] Arabic, English, and European romance languages such as French, Spanish, Portuguese and other European languages.[101]

Dravidian Influence


Spoken in the historically active region of the Deccan Plateau, the language has been subject to contact and mostly one-way influence with the surrounding Dravidian languages. Up to 5% of Marathi's basic vocabulary is of a Dravidian origin.[102] According to various scholars like Bloch (1970) and Southworth (1971), Marathi's very origins can be traced to a pidgin or a substratum origin with surrounding Dravidian language.[103][104]

Morphology and etymology


Spoken Marathi contains a high number of Sanskrit-derived (tatsama) words. [citation needed] Such words are for example nantar (from nantara or after), pūrṇa (pūrṇa or complete, full, or full measure of something), ola (ola or damp), kāraṇ (kāraṇa or cause), puṣkaḷ (puṣkala or much, many), satat (satata or always), vichitra (vichitra or strange), svatah (svatah or himself/herself), prayatna (prayatna or effort, attempt), bhītī (from bhīti, or fear) and bhāṇḍe (bhāṇḍa or vessel for cooking or storing food). Other words ("tadbhavas") have undergone phonological changes from their Sanskrit roots, for example dār (dwāra or door), ghar (gṛha or house), vāgh (vyāghra or tiger), paḷaṇe (palāyate or to run away), kiti (kati or how many) have undergone more modification. Examples of words borrowed from other Indian and foreign languages include:

  • Hawā: "air" directly borrowed from Arabic hawa
  • Jamin: "land" borrowed from Persian zamin
  • Kaydā: "law" borrowed from Arabic qaeda
  • "Mahiti" : "information" borrowed from Arabic "Mahiyya"
  • Jāhirāt: "advertisement" is derived from Arabic zaahiraat
  • Marjī: "wish" is derived from Persian marzi
  • Shiphāras: "recommendation" is derived from Persian sefaresh
  • Hajērī: "attendance" from Urdu haziri
  • Aṇṇā: "father", "grandfather" or "elder brother" borrowed from Dravidian languages
  • Undir: "rat" borrowed from Munda languages

A lot of English words are commonly used in conversation and are considered to be assimilated into the Marathi vocabulary. These include words like "pen" (पेन, pen) and "shirt" (शर्ट, sharṭa) whose native Marathi counterparts are lekhaṇī (लेखणी) and sadarā (सदरा) respectively.



Marathi uses many morphological processes to join words together, forming compounds. For example, ati + uttam gives the word atyuttam, Ganesh + Utsav = Ganeshotsav, miith-bhaakar ("salt-bread"), udyog-patii ("businessman"), ashṭa-bhujaa ("eight-hands", name of a Hindu goddess).



Like many other languages, Marathi uses distinct names for the numbers 1 to 20 and each multiple of 10, and composite ones for those greater than 20.

As with other Indic languages, there are distinct names for the fractions 14, 12, and 34. They are pāva, ardhā, and pāuṇa, respectively. For most fractions greater than 1, the prefixes savvā-, sāḍē-, pāvaṇe- are used. There are special names for 32 (dīḍ), 52 (aḍīch), and 72 (aut).

Powers of ten are denoted by separate specific words as depicted in the table below.

Number power to 10 Marathi Number name[105][106] In Devanagari
100 Eka, Ekaka एक/एकक
101 Daha, Dashaka दहा/दशक
102 Shambhara, Shataka शंभर/शतक
103 Hajara, Sahasra, हजार/सहस्र
104 Dasha Hajara, Dasha Sahasra दशहजार/दशसहस्र
105 Lakha, Laksha लाख/लक्ष
106 Daha Lakha, Dasha Laksha दहा लाख (दशलक्ष)
107 Koti कोटी
108 Dasha Koti दशकोटी
109 Abja, Arbuda अब्ज/अर्बुद
1010 Dasha-Abja दशाब्ज
1011 Vrunda वृंद
1012 Kharva (Kharab) खर्व
1013 Nikharva निखर्व
1014 Sashastra सशस्त्र
1015 Mahapadma, Padma महापद्म/पद्म
1016 Kamala कमळ
1017 Shanku, Shankha शंकू/शंक
1017 Skanda स्कंद
1018 Suvachya सुवाच्य
1019 Jaladhi, Samudra जलधी/समुद्र
1020 Krutya कृत्य
1021 Antya अंत्य
1022 Ajanma आजन्म
1023 Madhya मध्य
1024 Lakshmi लक्ष्मी
1025 Parardha परार्ध

A positive integer is read by breaking it up from the tens digit leftwards, into parts each containing two digits, the only exception being the hundreds place containing only one digit instead of two. For example, 1,234,567 is written as 12,34,567 and read as 12 lakh 34 Hazara 5 she 67 (१२ लाख ३४ हजार ५ शे ६७).

Every two-digit number after 18 (11 to 18 are predefined) is read backward. For example, 21 is read एक-वीस (1-twenty). Also, a two digit number that ends with a 9 is considered to be the next tens place minus one. For example, 29 is एकोणतीस (एक-उणे-तीस) (thirty minus one). Two digit numbers used before Hazara are written in the same way.

Marathi on computers and the Internet


Shrilipee, Shivaji, kothare 2,4,6, Kiran fonts KF-Kiran[107] and many more (about 48) are clip fonts that were used prior to the introduction of Unicode standard for Devanagari script. Clip fonts are in vogue on PCs even today since most computers use English keyboards. Even today a large number of printed publications such as books, newspapers and magazines are prepared using these ASCII based fonts. However, clip fonts cannot be used on internet since those did not have Unicode compatibility.

Earlier Marathi suffered from weak support by computer operating systems and Internet services, as have other Indian languages. But recently, with the introduction of language localisation projects and new technologies, various software and Internet applications have been introduced. Marathi typing software is widely used and display interface packages are now available on Windows, Linux and macOS. Many Marathi websites, including Marathi newspapers, have become popular especially with Maharashtrians outside India. Online projects such as the Marathi language Wikipedia, with 76,000+ articles, the Marathi blogroll, and Marathi blogs have gained immense popularity.[108]

Natural language processing for Marathi


More recent attention has focused on developing natural language processing tools for Marathi. Some studies proposed a couple of text corpora for Marathi. L3CubeMahaSent[109] is the first major publicly available Marathi dataset for sentiment analysis. It contains about 16,000 distinct tweets classified into three broad classes, such as positive, negative, and neutral. L3Cube-MahaNER [110] is a dataset for named-entity recognition consisting of 25,000 manually tagged sentences categorised according to the eight entity classes. There are at least two public available datasets for hate speech detection in Marathi: L3Cube-MahaHate [111] and HASOC2021.[112]

The HASOC2021 dataset was proposed for conducting a machine learning competition on hate, offensive, and profane content identification in Marathi collocated with Forum for Information Retrieval Evaluation (FIRE 2021). The participants of the competition presented 25 solutions based on supervised learning. The winning teams[113][114] used pre-trained language models (XLM-RoBERTa, Language Agnostic BERT Sentence Embeddings (LaBSE)) fine-tuned on the HASOC2021 dataset proposed by the organisers. The participants also experimented with the joint use of multilingual data for fine-tuning.

Corpus Development in Marathi


Text Corpus and Corpus Linguistics show how texts, sentences, or words from written or spoken language have changed over time or how they have been used in an organised way. The Volume VII: 'Indo-Aryan Languages (Southern Group) of the 'Linguistic Survey of India' by George Abraham Grierson describes first systematic and structured attempt to create documentation of Marathi language data.

Corpora in Marathi

Attempts have been made to create Corpus of Marathi. One of the first efforts to make a corpus with Indian text was the Kolhapur Corpus of Indian English[115] (Shastri, 1986). The corpus was developed at the University in Maharastra, but Indian English was studied. The IIT Bombay WordNet[116] (IndoWordNet; Bhattacharya, 2010) project in Indian languages includes Marathi. WordNet do not give word counts for further useful data analysis. The raw text based corpus in Marathi[117] (Ramamoorthy et al., 2019a) is based on sampled pages from different select books. This work is carried out at Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore. A corpus-based linguistic study at the University of Mumbai explores the language contact between English and Marathi by compiling and analyzing an over-arching corpus of English loan-words in Marathi existing between the years 2001 and 2020. The study also investigates the attitudes of Marathi speakers towards English loan-words in contemporary Marathi, attempting to understand their motivations for borrowing English words (Doibale, 2022).[118]

The work at University of Mumbai by Belhekar and Bhargava (2023)[119] provided the first Marathi word count collection (Marathi WordCorp). The bag-of-words (BoW) model was used to make 1-gram (single-word) Marathi WordCorp. They used more than 700 complete works of literature.

The Google Books Ngram Viewer (Michel et al., 2011)[120] is a relatively new and advanced method that shows how the frequency of n-grams has changed over a specific period. There is no database of Indian languages in the Google Books Ngram viewer. The Indian Languages Word Corpus[121] (ILWC) WebApp, which was made by Belhekar and Bhargava,[119] shows how often words are used by decade from before 1920 to 2020. The limitation with the method is that it only gives researchers the raw OCR data to "combine and collapse frequencies of correctly and incorrectly recognised words" (p. 2).[119]

Statistical Models for Marathi Corpora

Attempts to evaluate statistical models for Marathi language Corpuses and text-collections have been carried out. For the Marathi corpus (Marathi WordCorp), the y-intercept of Zipf's law is reported as 12.49, and the coefficient is 0.89 and these numbers show that Zipf's law is applicable for Marathi language.[119] The coefficients show that the number of words and texts used in the corpus metadata is enough. Heaps' law intercept for the Marathi word corpora is 2.48, and the coefficient is 0.73.[119] The coefficient values show that there are more unique words in Marathi writings than would be expected. The higher number of unique words could be due to the number of alphabets (36 consonant letters and 16 initial-vowel letters, with each consonant taking 14 forms with vowel pairs), the orthographic features of the Devanagari script (for example, the same word can be written in different ways), the use of consonant clusters (jodakshar), the number of suffixes a word can have, etc.

Marathi Language Day


Marathi Language Day (मराठी दिन/मराठी दिवस transl. Marathi Din/Marathi Diwas is celebrated on 27 February every year across the Indian states of Maharashtra and Goa. This day is regulated by the Ministry of Marathi Language. It is celebrated on the Birthday of eminent Marathi Poet V.V. Shirwadkar, popularly known as Kusumagraj.[122][123]

Essay competitions and seminars are arranged in schools and colleges, and government officials are asked to conduct various events.[124]

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