Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why abrupt changes in Roman script Konkani?


Why abrupt changes in Roman script Konkani?


The Portuguese arrived in Goa in 1510 and in 1556 a printing press, despatched from Portugal to Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) to help missionary work there, landed in Goa. But circumstances prevented it from leaving India, and, consequently, printing was initiated in Goa. The printing press was attached to St. Paul College, Goa. It is believed that Konkani was written and printed from this printing press.
The 17th century saw the beginning of a large-scale book-printing in Goa, egged on massively by the need to print Christian texts for the benefit of the newly converted Christians. This time also saw a shift from the use of coercion to that of religious education for conversions. Thus, a number of books were printed in Konkani due to the initiative of, among others, Father Thomas Stephens who, in 1640, produced the first Konkani Grammar – the Arte de Lingua Canarim.

In 2006, the ‘Holy Bible – Old and new Testament’ was translated into Konkani – ‘Povitr Pustok – Adlo ani Novo Korar’ .It is indeed the most near-perfect Konkani translation, and I salute the Konkani veteran writers and editors who toiled hard to give us the best translated ‘Povitr Pustok’.
To me and many other like-minded people, the Konkani translation of the Holy Bible is not only ‘Bible Truth’ but the Konkani version used in it is also ‘Bible Truth’. Since most of the translators/editors belong to the Portuguese era, they had the knowledge and experience of the language; hence, they were able to translate it to near-perfection.
Domnic PF Fernandes,
Author of "Domnic's Goa"
& "Mapusa Yesterday & Today" Books".
Before I proceed to write further, I would like to point out that the Konkani in Roman Script is based on Portuguese alphabet and not the English one. The Portuguese alphabet goes like this:

A [ah], B [beh], C [seh], D [deh], E [ay], F [ehf], G [geh], H [a-gah], I [ee], J [jota], K [cahpah], L [éhl], M [éhme], N [éhne], O [óhr], P [peh], Q [qay], R [éh-rre], S [éh-sse], T [têh], U [oo], V [vay], W [dublioo], X [shish], Y [ipsilon or i grego] and Z [zay].

The letters K, W and Y are normally not used in Portuguese native words, except for scientific terms and abbreviations for distances (Km) or weights (Kg).

In the entire ‘Povitr Pustok’, I have not found the use of the letter ‘y’ because, as mentioned above, it is not used in Portuguese native speaking words on which Konkani in Roman script is based, and neither does it make sense because by using it we tend to destroy the Konkani language, which has a substantially long tradition. And traditions and customs are respected generally even while drafting laws and legislation.

Around five years ago, I remember it was announced that if two vowels came together, the letter ‘y’ could be inserted in between them. But, if one knows and follows the Portuguese alphabet, there is no need to do it.

Presently, several Konkani writers have begun using the letter ‘y’ indiscriminately without any rhyme or reason. I have come across the following words (out of many), with their new version:

bebdikai – bebdikay
boddai – bodday
girestkai - girestkay
Julai (month) – Julay
kortai - kortay
khuxalkai – khuxalkay
mai - may
osmitai – osmitay
pai - pay
purai - puray
sahitai - sahitay
sovostkai - sovostkay
Sosnnikai - sosnnikay
Somudai – somuday
Vattai – vattay

In all these words, the last two letters are pronounced as (ah-ee) e.g. Aitar (ah-ee-têh- éh-rre);

Moriadik - moryadik – we don’t have to add a ‘y’ because the sound of ia is ee-ah.

Here are some more examples with their new version:
avoi-bapui - avoy-bapuy
avoi-bapain - avoy-bapayn
doia – doya
ezmanponn - yezmanponn
ieo – yeo
ieta – yeta
eukar – yeukar
ievun - yevun
gaionn - gayonn
gheiat - gheyat
kariavoll - karyavoll
kednaim – kednay
paim - pay
proitn – proytn
niall – niyall

In view of the above observation, I strongly suggest that we stop using the letter ‘y’ in Konkani because it will neither serve nor suit any useful purpose. If at all, we are bent on using the letter ‘y’, then we could as well shift to the English alphabet, and consequently take into serious consideration ‘but’, ‘put’, ‘foot’, etc. Because by merely adding ‘y’, we are, by no means, standardising or improving the orthography of Konkani in the Roman script. And, what about the diacritic marks? BTW, I am for change but not for mixture of alphabets from different languages.

The process of standardising Konkani began after Liberation and the language and a large mass of the text including the Holy Bible in Konkani, has come to an appreciable standard. Hence, the abrupt changes, probably suited to the Mangalorean version, can only lead to confusion unlimited. The opinion has been doing the rounds among Konkani readers, many of whom are irritated with the unnecessary changes. But they have not gathered the courage to voice their preference, apprehensive of hurting sentiments.

Moreover, Konkani in Roman script is already facing several vexing hurdles, and it has to be ensured that those who have still adhered to it faithfully are not compelled to give it up altogether. The younger set of readers would then rather opt for literature in the Devanagari script or be content with English. We are already a confused lot - let us not confuse the Konkani language lovers any further.

I am sending out this message now so it reaches the right people before the daily newspaper “Amcho Avaz” begins to circulate among Goans. I am copying this message to Konkani Institutions.

"Mapusa Yesterday & Today" Book Released in Kuwait on
November 16, 2012 by Gaspar Almeida (seen right)

Domnic Fernandes
Anjuna, Goa
Mob: 8805237604/9420979201
Email: domvalden@hotmail.com


[Archived by gaspar almeida, as received from the writer, Domnic Fernandes on 20 Nov. 2012]

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