Sankethi (ಸಂಕೇತಿ)

Sankethi is spoken in the Indian state of Karnataka by the descendants of people who immigrated from Madurai and Sengottai in Tamil Nadu in the 15th century. Its vocabulary includes many words borrowed from Kannada and Malayalam, as well as from Telugu and Sanskrit. Many consider Sankethi to be a distinct language, while others classify if as a dialect of Madurai Tamil.

There are two main dialects of Sankethi: Kaushika and Bettadpura, which are named after the places where most Sankethi speakers live. These dialects differ mainly in pronunciation and vocabulary, and are mutually intelligible.

Sankethi is written with a version of the Kannada script, and songs, prose and poetry has been written in the Sankethi, however it is mainly an oral language.

Sankethi alphabet


Sankethi consonants

Sankethi does not differentiate between aspirated consonants and non-aspirated consonants, especially by speakers who speak Tamil as a second language after Sankethi. Second language speakers of Kannada, however, tend to make a meaningful difference between them. [h] is often dropped in colloquial speech to shorten words

Some conjunct consonants

Sankethi conjunct consonants


Sankethi vowels

*Pronounced [u] as a non-terminal vowel and [?] as non-terminal vowel.
**Treated as vowels in traditional writing. Found only in loanwords from Kannada, particularly those that come from Sanskrit.
***Weak, unstressed, or short vowels are sometimes omitted in speech, in a similar fashion to Kannada.

Numerals and numbers

Sankethi numerals and numbers

Download a speadsheet of the Sankethi alphabet (Excel)

Sample text in Sankethi

Ellā manuśyangaḷū svatantramayiṭe huṭṭanḍā. Avhāḷukkume āntahkaraṇū ghanate hakku renḍū unḍū. Vivēkū antaḥkaraṇū ikartaṇṇū avhālūme vattarū kottarū tamayūṃ tambyānyu pōle naḍandhgaṇū.


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Information about Sankethi provided by Shashank Rao


Information about Sankethi

Dravidian languages

Badaga, Brahui, Dhundari, Gondi, Irula, Jatapu, Kannada, Kodava, Kolam, Konda, Koya, Kurukh, Malayalam, Malto, Mukha Dora, Ravula, Sankethi, Savara, Sunuwar, Suriyani Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Toda, Tulu, Yerukula

Languages written with the Kannada alphabet

Kannada, Kodava, Konkani, Lambadi, Sankethi, Tulu

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