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Thanjavur Marathi, also commonly spelled Tanjore Marathi, is a community language of Maharashtrians who migrated south, along with Shivaji's half brother Venkoji, to the areas surrounding the city of Thanjavurmarker in Indiamarker back in the 1600s. The history of Maratha rulers in South India possibly begins with Shahaji's attempt at setting up an independent kingdom in the Deccan plateaumarker and his subsequent defeat in battle by Shahjahan around 1636. Shahaji made peace with Shahjahan and was posted in the deep south so as not to pose any challenge to Mughals. He finally became one of the top generals in the Adilshah's army, accepting a Jahagir in his court, being based in Bangalurmarker (Present day Bangaloremarker in Karnataka). Shahaji had two sons by Jijabai, Sambhaji and Shivaji. He also had one son Venkoji (aka Vyankoji or Ekoji) by his second wife. Venkoji later ruled over the independent Maratha kingdom of Thanjavur.

The language spoken by this community, also known as "Thanjavur Marathi", is a scholarly dialect far removed from the present day Marathi. There are an estimated 100,000 people who speak the dialect. The various dialects of the language since its establishment are Kumbakonam and Namdev, each mutually intelligible with the other. There is heavy admixture of Tamil, almost all speakers are fluent in Tamil. Recent mass migration of people to major cities has diluted the language and it is now mostly spoken exclusively at home or with older generations.

It's deceptive similarity to the Saurashtra language suggests a common Indo-Iranian root. The people's eventual assimilation into the Tamil community resulted in a unique culture which retains elements of both cultures and religious beliefs. Although members of this community have spread around the world today, the vast majority are still scattered throughout India with a concentration in and around South India, in Tamil Nadumarker and Karnatakamarker. Most people of this community can trace their lineage back to the 17th century Maratha Empire.

Tanjavur Marathi (TM) as spoken today can at best be described as a dialect of Marathi.It has a considerably smaller vocabulary. A quick estimate indicates that TM has around 4,000 words, as compared to over 40,000 words in Marathi. TM has several words which have since disappeared from or gone out of fashion/ usage in Marathi. In addition, several words and usages from the major languages of the Southern India, (mostly Tamil) have got into TM. Despite these changes, almost all the words of TM exist as it is in Marathi. The major differences between TM and Marathi can be traced to pronunciation, inflection, syntax and grammar. Historically, TM took a totally different route in its evolution over the past 250 years, influenced by the Dravidian languages and customs. TM had hardly used devanagari script. Instead the archaic modi script was used by the early TM speakers. Usage of modi script was given up gradually, until as of today, the dialect is left with no script. Without the benefit of a written reference standard, each succeeding generation of TM speakers is being bequeathed a dialect with ever increasing degeneration in pronunciation and inflection. There is an urgent need to arrest this trend by introducing devanagari script and standardizing the dialect.

The community or the social group which speaks this dialect is now spread all over Southern India and elsewhere. Tanjavur District in Tamil Nadu can no longer lay claim to having the largest number of the community with it. It is estimated that less than 15% of the TM speaking poputaion now lives in Tanjavur. The vast majority of TM speakers who live elsewhere have no connection with Tanjavur. The dialect is, therefore, now increasingly being called as Dakshini Marathi, (DM), to serve the purpose of inclusiveness of this diaspora and give it a much larger canvas, unshackled from the comparatively restrictive geographical connotation imposed by the prefix “Tanjavur”.

Basic Phrases


Namashkar- "hello/greetings"

Kasha aahet?- "how are you?"

Mee besh aahe - "I am fine".

Tumcha naav kaay? - "What is your name?"

Maja naav ______ . - "My name is _____."

Tumi kon? - "Who are you?"

Hoye - "Yes"

Boro - "Okay"

Nahi/Noko - "No"

Ek - "One"

Don - "Two"

Tumal kaay paije?-"what do you want"

Daahvah patees-"Left side"

Ujvah patees-"Right side"

Yeja mol kevda?-"How much does this cost?"







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