Languages of Goa - The Pearl of The Orient

While being known for its exquisite beaches, forts, churches, and cuisine, Goa also offers a range of languages. Let's dig into some history to find the root cause. The Portuguese rule in Goa lasted for as long as 450 years and Goa being a major trade centre in India, always attracted the influential dynasties, seafarers, merchants, traders, monks and missionaries since its earliest. Since then, the state has undergone a continual transformation, leaving an indelible impression on various aspects of its cultural and socio-economic development, making Goa a multi-lingual state. Thanks to its varied history, the state hosts people of various regions, ethnic races, and religions from India and abroad. Hindi and English would always suffice but it's always better to know about the local languages too. So, here are the languages in Goa.

Languages Of Goa

1. Konkani - The Local Language of Goa

Konkani is the official language of Goa and is spoken on the south coast of the country. It is also the mother-tongue of all Goans. According to research, 57% of Goans speak Konkani. If interacting with the locals is your thing, learning the language would definitely be an added bonus. You never know if talking in the local language might get you a good bargain in local shops, and cab drivers and get the hands-on information you might be unaware of. Or if you don't have the time to learn the whole language try mugging up a few phrases which might come in handy. Just so you know, "maka Goemcho mog asa" translates to "I love Goa."

2. Marathi

If not official, Marathi is still a major spoken language in Goa. It sounds very similar to Konkani as both these languages belong to the Indo-Aryan group. Interestingly, there have been clashes between Marathi and Konkani. Supporters of Marathi consider Konkani to be one of its dialects, and the state of Goa to be a part of Maharashtra. After independence, Konkani speakers had to fight their way for recognition of their language. This resulted in a struggle, leading to chaos, even clashes, and deaths. Finally, Konkani won the place as the official language. Intense, right?

3. Hindi

Though Konkani and Marathi are the major languages, you won't find any trouble in communicating in Hindi as it is a widely written and spoken language in Goa.

4. English

Though people don't speak English in village areas, English is a popular language in Goa amongst tourists and people in the urban localities. Goa attracts a plethora of visitors from abroad who are only fluent in English. It is surprising to know that even the locals have tried their hand on English to help them run their business (tourism) effectively.

5. Portuguese

Portuguese used to be the official language in Goa during the colonial. In fact, it was made compulsory to learn the language amongst the locals. Every effort was made to promote only Portuguese. Thanks for the love of the country and immense patriotism within, both Konkani and Marathi survived as parents secretly taught these languages to their children at home. Once the colonists left, Portuguese was no more used.

Languages spoken in Goa
Now, it will seldom be to spot people speaking and writing in Portuguese. Although, the language is not extinct as some of the older generations are still familiar with it (assuming most of them to be born before 1961, when Goa got independence). You will also find the language being taught in educational institutions as a third language.

6. Urdu

Nearly 5% of Goa is housed by a minority community practising Islam and communicating in Urdu. Goa is known for being a hip and happening place but there is part of it which speaks chivalry with its language. Since the language is poetic in nature, it is adored by the tourists of Goa. In recent times, it has been an integral part of the art and literature festivals of Goa. It may not be a widely spoken language in Goa but one can always find people conversing in Urdu in the nooks and crannies of the city.

7. Kannada

Goa shares its borders with Karnataka and people from Karnataka moved to Goa for trade and business. The early settlers moved in the late 1800s. Therefore about 5% of the people in Goa speak Kannada. 

Common Phrases in Konkani

Since you'll be negotiating with vendors and drivers who are locals, the best way to make a good impression is by speaking their language. This may not only impress them but also help you when it comes to bargaining. Here are some common phrases and terms that might be helpful while in Goa.

EnglishKonkani Translation
I speak a little Konkani      Aoo thodee Konkani ooloyta
Can you help me?Mhojem modot korshi?
I come from (place)Mau zo gao ( place)
How do I go there?Thuim hao kosso vossoonk
How much to (place)?Vossoonk kitley pot ollay
Where can I make a phone call?Maka phone karonc khuim meltolem
PleaseUpkar koroonc
What is the charge per day?Eke dissak kitley poi shay?
Thank youDeu borem Korum

These are the spoken languages in Goa. As a tourist, you will do just fine if you are fluent in Hindi and English. And if you do come across a situation where language becomes a barrier to communication, don't worry. Google translate is always an option, but it won't assist you as good as the people here, who by the way are as friendly as puppies and will surely help you out if you're in a fix.

This post was published by Yash Saboo

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