Marathi is the official language of the state of Maharashtra in India, and one of the 22 official "scheduled" languages according to the Indian constitution. Marathi is written in the Devanagari script, like Hindi and some other Indian languages. It is the 4th most widely-spoken language in India, after Hindi, Bengali and Telugu. Regional literature in Marathi dates back to around 1000 AD.
Marathi grammar is largely based on Sanskrit and Pali. Around 60% or more of the nouns in Marathi are derived directly from Sanskrit. Also, Marathi shares many words with Hindi. Unlike Hindi but like Sanskrit, Marathi has not 2 but 3 genders: masculine, feminine and neutral. Figuring out the gender of a word can sometimes be difficult, especially for English speakers.
Goa was a Portuguese colony from the 16th to the 20th century, as a result of which Marathi has had influence from the Portuguese language. बटाटा (ba-tA-tA, potato) is a common example used in everyday speech.
See Learning Devanagari for detailed information on the subject. Marathi is nearly 100% phonetic, so pronunciation is not as much of a problem as it may seem at first glance. Anglophones tend to pronounce आ as in cat or bat. This sound is non-existent in Marathi, and you will not be easily understood if you pronounce it this way. Vowels are added to consonants, similar to other Devanagari languages, but picking up the Devanagari script is not that essential. You will manage fine with the romanization used in this phrasebook.
In Marathi, vowels are added to consonants. Most of them are easy to pronounce, ऋ and ॠ are slightly challenging. Marathi vowels retain much of their original Sanskrit pronunciation making some of them different from their Hindi counterparts. A notable example is औ (au), pronounced as owl in Marathi but as Oxford in Hindi. ऑ (Ao) is a special vowel used for loan English words, and is pronounced as in doctor.
Many Marathi consonants come in three different forms: aspirated, unaspirated and retroflex.
Aspiration means with a puff of air, and is the difference between the sound of the letter p in English pin (aspirated) and spit (unaspirated). Retroflex consonants, on the other hand, are not really found in English. They should be pronounced with the tongue tip curled back. Practice with a native speaker, or just pronounce as usual — you'll usually still get the message across.
as in skip.
as in sinkhole.
as in go.
as in doghouse.
as in sing. Used only in Sanskrit loan words, does not occur independently.
as in church.
as in pinchhit.
as in jump.
as in dodge her.
as in canyon. Used only in Sanskrit loan words, does not occur independently.
as in tick. Retroflex, but still a hard t sound similar to English.
as in lighthouse. Retroflex
as in doom. Retroflex
as in mudhut. Retroflex
retroflex n, as in grand.
does not exist in English. more dental t, with a bit of a th sound. Softer than an English t.
aspirated version of the previous letter, not as in thanks or the.
aspirated version of the above.
as in spin.
as in uphill.
as in be.
as in abhor.
as in mere.
as in yet.
as in Spanish pero, a tongue trip. Don't roll as in Spanish rr, German or Scottish English.
as in ready. slightly different from the above.
as in lean.
as in Norwegian farlig. Retroflex lateral approximent
as in Spanish vaca, between English v and w, but without the lip rounding of an English w.
as in shoot.
almost indistinguishable retroflex of the above. slightly more aspirated.