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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Maharashtra’s Korlai Village: A Unique Blend of a Portuguese-Marathi Speaking Village

The Portuguese arrived in this area around four centuries ago for business and quickly established themselves

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Suman Bajpai
Suman Bajpai
Freelance writer, journalist, editor, translator and travel writer, Worked with different magazines as an editor. Writing for past 33 years

INDIA. Maharashtra: This is the story of Korlai village, which is situated at the Kundalika River’s confluence in the Raigad district. Surprisingly, the village’s language is a unique blend of Marathi and Portuguese. The Portuguese arrived in this area around four centuries ago for business and quickly established themselves. 

Octagonal Bastion in Korlai. Photo Credit: Maharashtra Tourism

Korlai’s language, food, and cultural lifestyle gradually absorbed Portuguese influences, resulting in the development of Korlai Creole Portuguese, also known as Noling.

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The vowels in Korlai Portuguese are identical to those in Middle Portuguese, which was largely spoken by Portuguese soldiers who arrived in the region. However, it has a Marathi accent, and nasal vowels have declined in both Marathi and Korlai Creole Portuguese. 

The borrowing of Marathi lexical elements has also increased among the younger generation of Korlai Creole Portuguese.

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The Portuguese initially came to Chaul, a major trading centre near Korlai, in 1505. Between 1520 to 1740, the Portuguese governed this region for about two centuries. 

Later Chimaji Appa dutifully liberated the region from the Portuguese but some Portuguese soldiers swam across the bay to Korlai, only four or five families like Vegas and Rosaria came to this village and settled there. The congregation first began to speak Latin, later Portuguese, which steadily formed a local blend of Marathi and Portuguese. 

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The conveniently formed Noling language is still used today for communication in the village of Korlai. Korlaikars sing their Noling language songs mainly on the occasion of planting turf, especially in the fields, while cutting grass, on wedding occasions, especially during the ceremony of Haldi, Korlaikar sings songs in their Noling language.

The Noling language used by over 1000 inhabitants of Korlai village is lagging far behind in time. The main reason for this is that Noling is only a dialect but the script of this language is not available to pass on to the next generation. Korlaikars have to rely on Marathi to communicate with others as soon as they cross the village gate. 

As a result, Marathi is the official language of government and business in Korlai today. Not only that but the Bible is also taught in Marathi in the church here. Due to this, the influence of Marathi is mainly seen in various words in the Noling language.

Korlai Creole Portuguese called Noling, like other dialects such as Malvani and Konkani, is attempting to gain respect and recognition as a language. 

If you enjoy languages, a vacation to Korlai will provide you with many surprises and fresh learning opportunities.

Also Read: Kerala Tourism Holds Roadshows in Europe To Promote Tourism

Author

  • Suman Bajpai

    Freelance writer, journalist, editor, translator and travel writer, Worked with different magazines as an editor. Writing for past 33 years

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