The Socio-Linguistic Paradox of Goa

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Abstract

This article sets out to explore the socio-linguistic situation of Goa, a small territory corresponding to the former district of Goa of the Portuguese Estado da Índia, occupied and annexed by India in 1961. Goa had to choose between local language, Konkani, and the language of the neighbouring state of Maharashtra, i. e., Marathi, which was traditionally used as a cultural language by the Hindus of Goa, who nowadays form the large majority of the population. Even if virtually every Goan is able to speak Konkani, this was, according to recent statistics, the mother tongue of only 61 % of the population of the state, the rest being forms by people from other parts of India, who migrated here. This phenomenon explains the feeble proportion of Konkani speakers in the total population of the state, which favours the resort to English as a means of communication and explains why Konkani only keeps an elevated status in churches, where it is currently used for praying and preaching. Drawing upon historical facts, but also on socio-linguistic consideration, we will try to explain this paradox.

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