Dr D N Shankara Bhat

Dr. D. N. Shankara Bhat is a world-renowned linguist. Having obtained his Masters in Sanskrit from Madras University and Ph.D. in linguistics from Pune University, he has served in various roles and positions in some of the prestigious universities and institutions of the world, like Stanford University (USA), Max Planck University (Germany), La Trobe University (Australia), Antwerp University (Belgium), Central Institute of Indian Languages (Mysore) etc. He has authored several books and research papers on linguistics that have earned appreciation from the linguistics community across the globe.

Having conducted several years of intense research on Kannada linguistics, Dr Shankara Bhat has written several books on the subject. His thoughts and observations on the development of Kannada, the true grammatical composition of the language, and its word structure have been revolutionary. They have not only uprooted several misconceptions on the subject that were unquestioned and accepted for more than a millennium, but have also shown how this knowledge, if effectively utilized can help in the development of the language and its community of speakers.

Dr. Shankara Bhat’s ‘Ellara Kannada’, a proposal to minimize the wide gap between spoken and written forms of Kannada has been a topic of discussion in the Kannada media for some years now. It has grabbed the attention of linguists, journalists, intellectuals, and commoners alike. As per Dr Bhat, the gap between spoken and written forms of the language has lead to so much confusion and difficulties for a commoner that it has become an obstruction to effectively utilize the benefits of literacy and education. He proposes dropping some extraneous letters in the alphabet, including all the aspirates (mahapranas), that are not part of Kannada speech and hence have always been a source of confusion and hardship to the average Kannadiga. He has uncovered issues with relying heavily on Sanskrit for vocabulary, especially when constructing new terms in science and technology, and has showed how the usage of native Kannada words can address such issues owing to their easy comprehensibility and grammatical compatibility.

In recognition of his contribution to the field of Kannada linguistics, Hampi University has conferred on him the prestigious title ‘Nadoja’, and the Karnataka Government has honoured him with the Pampa Award, the highest literary honour issued by the state, for the year 2013. Dr Bhat now lives in a small village in Shivamogga district of Karnataka, far from the hustle-bustle of the city, and even at the ripe age of 80, quietly continues his work on Kannada linguistics.


15 July 1935
Puttur, Karnataka, India


  • Nadoja, Kannada University, Hampi, 2010
  • Fellow, British Council, England,1966.
  • Ph.D (Linguistics), Pune University, 1962
  • MA (Sanskrit), Madras University, 1960


  • Visiting Scientist, Max Planck Institute, Leipzig, Germany, January – July 2001
  • Visiting Fellow, Center for Technological Studies, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, August – October 2000
  • Visiting Scholar, Antwerp University, Belgium, July – December 1997
  • Research Scientist, UGC, Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, 1988-95
  • Linguistics Professor, Manipur University, Imphal, 1985-88
  • Linguistics Professor, ISDL, Tiruvanantapuram, 1979-85
  • Tibeto-Burman Reader, Deccan College, Pune, 1965-79
  • Research Associate, Language Universals Project, Stanford University, USA, 1973-75
  • Research Assistant, Survey of Marathi Dialects, Deccan College, Pune, 1963
  • Lecturer, Dravidian Languages, Pune University, 1963

Select Books

  • Samskṛta Padagaḷige Kannaḍaddē Padagaḷu (Kannada), D.N.Shankara Bhat, B.Manchaale, Sagara, 2017
  • Kannaḍakke Mahāprāṇa Yāke Bēḍa? (Kannada), D.N.Shankara Bhat, B.Manchaale, Sagara, 2017
  • Havyaka Kannaḍa (Kannada), D.N.Shankara Bhat, B.Manchaale, Sagara, 2017
  • Kannaḍa Nuḍiya Hinnaḍavaḷi (Kannada), D.N.Shankara Bhat, B.Manchale, Sagara, 2017
  • Kannaḍada Sollarime – Idu Kannaḍaddē Vyākaraṇa (Kannada), D.N.Shankara Bhat, B.Manchaale, Sagara, 2017
  • Kannaḍa vyākaraṇavannu kalisuvudu hēge? (Kannada), Sapna Book House, 2016
  • Inglish-Kannaḍa Padanerake (Kannada), D.N.Shankara Bhat, Bhimana kone, Sagara, 2015
  • Kannaḍa Barahada Sollarime-5 (Kannada), D.N.Shankara Bhat, Heggodu, Sagara, 2015
  • Kannaḍadallē Hosapadagaḷannu Kaṭṭuva Bage (Kannada), Mungaravalli, Sagara, 2014
  • Kannaḍa Barahada Sollarime – 4 (Kannada), D.N.Shankara Bhat, Heggodu, Sagara, 2013
  • Kannaḍa Barahada Sollarime – 3 (Kannada), Basha Prakashana, Heggodu, Sagara, 2012
  • Kannaḍa Barahada Sollarime-2 (Kannada), Basha Prakashana, Huncha, Hosanagara, 2011
  • Mātu Mattu Barahada Naduvina Gondala (Kannada), Basha Prakashana, Saraga, Thirthahalli, 2011
  • Kannaḍa Barahada Sollarime-1 (Kannada), Basha Prakashana, Heggodu, Sagara, 2010
  • English padagaḷige Kannaḍadde padagaḷu (Kannada), Bhasha Prakashana, Heggodu, 2009
  • Matina oḷaguttu (Kannada), Bhasha Prakashana, Heggodu, 2009
  • Kannaḍa nuḍi naḍedu banda dari (Kannada), Bhasha Prakashana, Heggodu, 2007
  • Kannaḍa barahavannu saripaḍisoṇa (Kannada) Bhasha Prakashana, Mysore, 2005
  • Nijakkoo haḷegannaḍa vyakaraṇa entahudu? (Kannada), Bhasha Prakashana, Mysore, 2005
  • Pronouns: A Cross Linguistic Study, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004
  • Kannada vakyagaḷa oḷarachane (Kannada), Bhasha Prakashana, Mysore, 2004
  • Kannaḍa sarvanamagaḷu (Kannada), Bhasaha Prakashana, Mysore, 2003
  • Kannaḍakke beku Kannaḍadde vyakaraṇa (Kannada), Mysore, 2000
  • Introducing grammatical notions, University of Pune, Pune, 2000
  • The prominence of tense, aspect and Mood: a new basis for language typology, John Benjamins, Amsterdam, 1999.
  • Kannaḍa Shabdarachane (Kannada), Christ College, Kannada Sangha, Bangalore 1999. Revised edition: Kannaḍa padagaḷa oḷarachane, Bhasha Prakashana, Mysore, 2002
  • Manipuri grammar (written jointly with M.S. Ningomba), Lincom Europa, Munich, 1997
  • The adjectival category, John Benjamins, Amsterdam, 1994
  • Grammatical relations, Routledge, London, 1991. Reprinted by Bejing World Publishers, Bejing in 1992.
  • An introduction to linguistics, Teachers’ Forum, Imphal. 1986
  • Identification, Dravidian Linguistics Association, Trivandrum, 1981
  • Referents of noun phrases, Deccan College, Pune, 1979
  • Kannaḍa vakyagaḷu (Kannada), Geeta Book House, Mysore, 1978
  • Pronominalization, Deccan College, Pune, 1978
  • Sound change, Bhasha Prakashan, Pune, 1972, Revised edition, published by Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi, 1999.
  • The Koraga language, Deccan College, Pune, 1971
  • Outline grammar of Havyaka, Deccan College, Pune, 1971
  • Bhasheya bagege neevenu balliri? (Kannada), Bhasha Prakashana, Pune, 1970; Revised Second Edition published by Kannada Sangha, Puttur, 1998; Revised Third Edition: published by Bhasha Prakashana, 2002.
  • Kannaḍa bhasheya sankshipta charitre (Kannada), Bhasha Prakashana, Pune, 1970; Revised Edition: Kannaḍa bhasheya kalpita charitre, Kannada University, Hampi, 1995
  • Tankhur Naga vocabulary, Deccan College, Pune, 1969
  • Boro grammar and vocabulary, Deccan College, Pune, 1968
  • Descriptive analysis of Tulu, Deccan College, Pune, 1967.

Scientific Papers (a select few from about 150)

  • “The Indefinite-interrogative puzzle”, Linguistic Typology, 4, 2000.
  • “Lexical suppletion in baby talk”, Anthropological Linguistics 1962-3
  • “Adjectives”. (Jointly with R. Pustet). Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft: Morphology. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin.2000
    “Havyaka Kannada: Modality and negation” (jointly with van der Auwera, J.) Indian Linguistics, 2000.
  • “Functional constraints on word-formation rules”. The yearbook of South Asian languages and linguistics, 2000. New Delhi: Sage
  • Review article on Stassen, L. 1997, Intransitive predication, and Wetzer, H. 1996, The typology of adjectival predication. Linguistic Typology, 3.1, 1999
  • “Word classes and sentential functions”. In Comrie, B., and Vogel, P.M. (eds.), An anthology of word classes, Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin, 1999
  • “Indefinite pronouns in Kannada”. In The life of Language: Papers in Linguistics in honor of W.Bright, 369-83. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1998.
  • “Tulu”. In Steever, S. (ed.), The Dravidian Languages, (158-177), Routledge, London, 1997.
  • “Need for a dualistic theory of language”, IJDL 14, 1985
  • “Word and its meaning in the Indian Grammatical Tradition”, IJDL 14, 1985
  • “Physical identification in Kannada”, Studies in Linguistic Sciences 11, 1982
  • “A general study of palatalization”, in Greenberg et al (eds.) Universals of Human Language, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1978
  • “Multiple case roles”, Lingua 42, 1977
  • “Ambiguity in negative sentences”, Glossa 11, 1977
  • “Dichotomy in phonological change”, Lingua 39, 1976
  • “A semantic constraint on neg-raising rule”, Papers in Linguistics 8, 1975
  • “The basis of comparative method”, Language Sciences 35, 1975
  • “Two studies on nasalization”, Nasalfest 1975
  • “Retroflection and retraction”, Journal of Phonetics 2, 1975
  • “The Phonology of liquid consonants”, Working Papers in Language Universals 16, 73-104.
  • “Kudux indicatives”, Indo-Iranian Journal 12, 1970
  • “Age grading and sound change”, Word 26, 1970
  • “Is sound change gradual?”, Linguistics 40, 1968
  • “The rate of language change”, Linguistics 39, 1968.