top of page



Tanjore Marathi is not listed as a dialect of Marathi in any Government document or census reports. There is no Governmental recognition or support for the cause of Tanjore Marathi. No University or educational institution in India has any program for Tanjore Marathi.

The early TM speakers used the archaic Modi script as well as Devanagari script (of Sanskrit and Hindi) for writing. Modi is a cursive variant of Devanagari script. Usage of Modi and Devanagari scripts was given up gradually, until as of today, the dialect is left with no script. Without the benefit of a written reference standard and in the absence of  "script based pronunciation", each succeeding generation of TM speakers is being bequeathed a dialect with ever decreasing vocabulary with an increasing degeneration in pronunciation and inflection. There is a distinct tendency for the newer generations to shy away from the language spoken by their elders. TM has thus become an endangered language. There is an urgent need to reverse the trend.

Chambers 21st Century Dictionary defines a dialect as:-

“A form of a language spoken in a particular (geographical) region or a certain social group, differing from other forms in grammar, vocabulary and in some cases pronunciation”

Tanjore Marathi (TM)) as spoken by Madhwa and Smartha Desastha communities of Southern India qualifies to be called a dialect of Standard Marathi (SM) as it differs from SM in all the parameters highlighted in the above definition as explained in detail below.

i) Geographical:-
TM as spoken today by minuscule populations spread over almost all districts of Tamil Nadu and a few districts in the other Southern states and elsewhere, started out with it's base in Tanjore, Tamil Nadu, India. Standard Marathi is spoken in Maharashtra, a State situated in the western part of India. These two regions are not contiguous and are separated by over 1200 kilometers.

ii) Social Group:-
As a social group TM speakers have no linkages with their counterparts in Maharashtra. They form a distinct cultural group of their own. They find it comfortable to interact with the other linguistic groups of Southern India, rather than with the speakers of Marathi in Maharashtra. 

iii) Grammar and Syntax:-
As of now the dialect has no script. No attempt appears to have been made by anybody to compile a grammar of TM. If compiled, the rules of grammar of TM would appear to differ quite a bit from that of SM. There are plenty of examples of differing syntax between TM and SM.

iv) Vocabulary:-
Today TM has a considerably smaller vocabulary compared with SM. A quick estimate indicates that TM has only around 4000 to 5000, as compared to around 40,000 words in SM. It is very probable that two or three centuries back TM had a much larger vocabulary. Several words which disappeared from TM seem to have been replaced with words from Tamil (mostly) or other South Indian languages. The present day TM has many words which have since disappeared from or gone out of fashion/ usage or become archaic in SM. Yet, almost all original TM words currently in use in TM, exist in SM with differing inflections.

v) Pronunciation:-
Pronunciation, accent, diction, inflection and grammar of TM differs considerably from that of SM; to such an extent that an average SM and TM speaker would find each others language difficult to follow. A point of interest is that after putting in some effort an educated TM speaker would find it much easier to follow SM. The converse need not be true, primarily because TM is heavily influenced by the South Indian (read Tamil) languages and even an educated SM speaker would find the differences in pronunciation, diction, inflection and syntax beyond his easy comprehension.

The dialect came to be associated with Tanjavur (Tanjore) due to historical reasons and hence is called Tanjore Marathi. It is estimated that today less than 15% of this community live in and around Tanjavur; the largest group (30%) being in Chennai. Many others have no connection with Tanjavur and live all over Southern India and elsewhere. Because of these reasons, of late this dialect is increasingly being called Dakshini Marathi (DM). This name also gives the dialect a much larger canvas, unshackled from the comparatively restricted geographical connotation imposed by the prefix “Tanjore”. The word “Dakshini” means “belonging to the South”.

bottom of page