I Didn’t Know Kannada


Whenever my parents talked to each other in Kannada, it meant that I wasn’t supposed to know what they were talking about. I called it their ‘secret talk’. Perks of a multilingual environment, one might say. I’m not a very curious person by nature but the handicap of not knowing Kannada was kind of traumatic. I wanted to be able to understand all what was being discussed about whenever my parents talked in that language. I wanted to learn Kannada.

When I was 13 or so I asked my mother, who speaks awesome Kannada, to teach me Kannada. She was oblivious to the reason why I wanted to learn it. She was very happy, and she taught me a few basic sentences of Kannada. I learnt it, but I wanted to learn more. I asked my mother to teach me to read Kannada. She taught me and I learnt it within a week. We were in Mumbai but we had them deliver Kannada newspapers to our house daily. I read the Kannada papers. I got too zealous and started watching Kannada TV shows and Kannada songs and Kannada news and Kannada everything.

As luck would have it, we shifted to Bengaluru the next year. I could learn more Kannada. I heard people around me talk in Kannada all the time. I heard friends talk to each other in Kannada. I picked up basic Kannada fast. I continued to watch Kannada TV shows, Kannada movies, Kannada songs, Kannada everything. I could differentiate between the Mangalore Kannada dialect spoken by my parents and the Bengaluru Kannada spoken by the local people. I could see myself getting better at understanding Kannada.

In a few months we shifted to Udupi. Kannada there too. By this time I got pretty good at understanding Kannada. I understood what the bus conductor said. I understood what the shopkeeper said. I understood what the fat temple priests said. I understood what women gossiped about. I understood Kannada announcements. I understood Kannada notices when I read them. I understood Kannada!


Now I just had to sit quietly and listen attentively to what my parents spoke when they used Kannada, and I would understand. I waited eagerly for the next time they began their ‘secret talk’. One day they did.

They used Tulu.
My Next Mission
'nuff said


  1. Karnataka is a state of polyglots.As far as I know,a typical bangalorean can speak in English,kannada,telugu,tamil and hindi.In case of mangalorean,it is English,Tulu,konkani,malayalam,kannada,hindi,sometimes Tamil and marathi too.

    And coming to the topic,

    ???????? ???? !!!

    • Aye, then it’s pretty shameful for me that I know only two of the languages(english and konkani) a typical mangalorean should know!

      Thanks a lot! πŸ™‚

  2. in south canara,several oder languages are also used..havyaka kannada,karada kannada etc etc… dey r born from kannada itself..bt,dey r diff.. being brot up in dz place i kno kannada,havyaka kannada…f course,i can understand tulu n malayalam..:) yeyeyyyeee..aftr cming 2 manipal,i relaized dt its betr f u kno hw to speak hindi fluenlty!!!haha..:)

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