In an attempt to document the regional variations in Marathi language, linguists at Deccan College are creating a digital corpus and dialect atlas.
The Rajya Marathi Vikas Sanstha of the Maharashtra government has entrusted a team from Deccan College, led by Sonal Kulkarni-Joshi of the Linguistics Department, to study the language and preserve its dialects.
“The effort is to study the Marathi language and try to preserve its dialects, some of which are facing extinction. Also, we hope to trace the factors that influenced the language,” said Vasant Shinde, Vice-Chancellor, Deccan College.
The study, finalised in April this year, is only the second major one, after Professor A M Ghatage’s work, also from Deccan College. Ghatage’s study had focused on Konkani as one of the main dialects of Marathi and included linguistic descriptions of varieties of Konkani largely spoken in Goa, Karnataka and coastal Maharashtra.
On the significance of this project, one of the members of Kulkarni-Joshi’s team said, “There is no proper documentation available about the language, which is widely spoken and has large variations noted within Maharashtra itself. The basic idea is to map these differences and create a new database that will be handy for future researchers.”
As part of the project, funded by Rajya Marathi Vikas Sanstha, the team will be collecting speech samples after conducting interviews over the next few months of people from diverse age groups, backgrounds and locations in Maharashtra.
They hope this will lead to the identification and mapping of major dialectal regions of Marathi language.
On the basis of these details, the city language experts will study and analyse all information at grammatical and lexical levels.
The project will be executed in phases. The team hopes to gather all required information by the end of 2019 and present an encyclopaedia by April 2020.
The linguistically annotated data will be made available in the form of a digital corpus to researchers of Marathi language.