Kannada (Southern India)


Kannada is the official and extensively spoken language of this state. It is also considered a classical language in India. Throughout its history, Kannada has influenced and been influenced by a variety of languages, mainly of Dravidian and Indo-European stock. The name of the language most likely comes from the word skaru 'black' and naclu 'country, land'; hence, '(language spoken in the) country of the black soil'. Modern Kannada has four main geographically based dialects. Social dialects in Kannada reflect the historical fact that traditional social and economic interaction respected the caste structures of Hindu society. However, under the influence of modernization, which includes universal education, social dialect differences are shifting from a caste to a class basis. Kannada exhibits two registers between informal and formal. The informal variety is used in face-to-face communication, while the formal variety appears in writing and formal occasions such as political oratory and radio broadcasts.

Basic Phonology





Morphology / Syntax

In contrast to English which uses subject-verb-object structure, Kannada uses a subject-object-verb sentence structure.  

Considerations for the SLP

Note, these are  generalizations, so remember to treat each client on an individual basis as they may have various levels of acculturation.

General Etiquette

  • Let elderly and children pass through the doorway first
  • Take extra care of children, the elderly and disabled
  • Please offer your seat to children, pregnant women and the elderly

Etiquette Around Food and Considerations for Dysphagia  

  • Indian people commonly eat with their hands; if food is soup consistency, spoons are allowed
  • The plate is not to be touched or held by the left hand while eating
  • Playing with food, or in any way distorting the food is unacceptable
  • Eating at a medium pace is important as eating too slow may imply that you dislike the food, whereas eating too quickly is rude
  • It is considered rude and unhygienic to offer someone food contaminated with saliva
  • People are expected to always eat the food that is served
  • Hands are expected to be washed before and after eating

Possible Errors / Linguistic Transfers 



Syllable Structure

- final obstruent devoicing

“cab - cap”

- interdental fricative to stop

“this - dat”

- r to trill “car - carrrr”

- retroflexing

- vowel shortening, ie. dipthongs become monothongs

- vowel raising, ie. no shwa

- liquid deletion “ball  - ba”


Kannada Assessments

  • Kannada version of the Western Aphasia Battery (K-WAB) contains the same test contents and structure as the original WAB


    Originally contributed by Abby Moreno and Morgan Jameson, June 2014.