Marathi & Me

Since arriving in India, I have been completely lost in translation. Sitting in a room of people, all of them laughing, except me, sitting there in silence, having no idea what the joke was. I have been picking up a couple of words of Hindi and Marathi here and there but I feel the time has come when I actively try to learn my husbands mother tongue. So out comes my dictionary and my book of Marathi tales (for my study breaks).


Marathi is the official language of the state of Maharashtra, this state is surrounded by the Arabian Sea to the west, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh to the north, Chattisgarh to the east and the states Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka to the south. Marathi has many regional dialects, especially close to the borders where there are linguistic influences from Gujarati, Hindi to the north and Telugu and Kannada to the south. It is one of the twenty-three official languages of India and with 73 million speakers it is one of the top twenty most widely spoken languages in the world.

Marathi evolved from the philosophical language of Hinduism, the language of the Vedas, Sanskrit  (just like Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi etc.). The first traces of the the language date back to the 11th century. During the reign of Muslim Mughals (from the 13th century), Maharashtra was home to the Hindu insurgents who passionately fought against the Islamic invaders. Under King Shivaji, during the period of 1646 to 1680, the Marathi people founded a stable and powerful stronghold and defended their Hindu heritage against the Muslims and later against the British. This is why, even today, the Arabic and Persian influences are less apparent in Marathi compared with other north Indian languages. This is the reason, some call Marathi the living granddaughter of Sanskrit.

Learning Marathi with stories and phrasebook / dictionary

So here it goes, the studying begins here. I have to try and get my head around the subject-object-verb structure and learn the gender of nouns. I have to try to understand the different forms for the plural and how to modify adjectives before the nouns according to the gender but it seems that this not the case for all adjectives, especially those which end in an consonant.

Oh gosh, I think it is already time to read one of those Marathi tales.


    • Aww you are so thoughtful! Thank you!
      I have found some in a supermarket! I have even found my favorite McVities chocolate digestives!

      I am doing well, my stomach has settled and I feel more comfortable every day! I hope you both are well! I just wondered, on you twitter picture is the polo shirt your husband wearing Ralph Lauren? If so, I bought the same one for my husband 😀 x


      • So glad that you found some tea and some McVities too 🙂 and that your stomach has settled! Are you learning how to cook lots of delicious Indian dishes from the family?

        LOL – I had to actually look at our twitter photo because I couldn’t even remember what shirt he was wearing. And to be honest, I can’t even remember where we bought it from & I can’t even check because. It was one of his old shirts that we ended up ditching while in the USA otherwise we would’ve had excess baggage after all the shopping we had done 😉


      • Unfortunately, the maids do all the cooking (but I cook for myself) and I do not like their cooking and even if I did, I cannot speak Marathi to talk with them. 😦

        I love anything with paneer in. I might have to find some recipes online and try some new Indian dishes! We will soon get an oven (Indian kitchens tend not to have them) so I can make some the dishes I miss!

        Oh no… I always have the fear of having to ditch stuff when I travel!
        It does seem to be the same one though, if not similar haha!


      • Yum – paneer!!! Love dosas too…. Most dishes are vegetarian, right?! Just love the smell of all the spices!! Can you handle really spicy foods or have they cooked mild for you?


  1. Good move. Studying the language more in my eyes is showing more commitment to your journey and shows your family just how much you are trying. My first wife was Vietnamese and I never learned the language. I knew a few words here and there. But she was so happy when I did learn those words. Looking back I think I should have learned the language even though were here in the U.S.
    Peace and Blessings


  2. Lol I can imagine sitting around with people telling jokes in some other language and you look stupid when all bu you would laugh 😛 Best Of Luck for your Marathi ! Hugs xx


  3. Good luck Lauren! It makes SUCH a difference being able to haggle over taxi fares and what have you. And people are usually dead chuffed you’re making the effort in India, which is all the encouragement and positive reinforcement you need! I’ve been away for a while – and missed your blogging! Hope all’s good with you guys. K xx


    • Thank you so much, K. Yes, people are really happy even if I say ‘yes’ in Marathi. I hope to be able to bust out some phrases at our wedding in 2 months!

      Where have you been? I hope all it well with you guys!! Are you back in Istanbul yet? I am about to read your post ‘Surviving intercultural relationships: what are YOUR top tips?’

      Take care xxx


  4. Yes. 😀 I’m glad you brought your books out! We both have a lot of studying to do.
    I’m eager to see updates about what you are learning. 😀
    Now that you’ve described its history, I’m curious to hear Marathi spoken. I’ll look into it.. 🙂
    I was wondering… Does your mum ever send you care packages? I thought about this the other day, when I saw English Breakfast tea at a coffee shop. Haha 😀
    Well anyway, have fun and good luck with Marathi. 🙂


    • Definitely a lot of studying!
      Marathi is nice, sounds a bit like Hindi but a little more gritty ‘Yes’ is HO instead of HA lol. My mum has just become an expat herself in Kuwait so no packages, but I have found *almost* everything I crave in supermarkets!!

      I hope your preparations are going well, take care x


  5. Hi Lauren! I’m also learning a less commonly-taught language (Bengali) and it is often hard to find materials! There’s no Pimsleur courses like in Hindi – seems everyone’s learning Hindi these days. The thing I’ve found the most helpful is to find a language learning community – other people who are learning your target language, with contacts to a few native speakers (who are not family) that you can ask questions to.


    • Hi Andrea!!
      Yes, there are so so many Hindi resources but languages like ours do not have so much of a following. There are a few though, my niece is half Bangladeshi and she will learn Bengali one day!

      I really want to find some native speakers to converse with, I have to get over the embarrassment of my pronunciation- Marathi in an English accent sounds so weird haha.

      Good luck with learning Bengali, I have heard some beautiful songs in Bengali 😀 x


      • I love Bengali songs – you have any recommendations? 🙂

        Don’t worry about pronunciation at first. It will take time to learn the rules. But you’ll get it! If you can find someone who is a linguist who can walk you through it, all the better. Sometimes native speakers just do what they do; they don’t always know why they do it.


  6. Hey All the best Lauren!! 🙂 I wish to see you speak fluent Marathi.. n I’m really glad to see how much attention n inquisitive you are to know about Indian Culture n language 😀 May God bless u n ur family… 😀


  7. Hi Lauren, keep talking and making blunders, it is fine, you will learn fast that way. Your presumably reluctant in laws will soon convert to teachers once they realize you are sincere. Use the words in sentences on a daily basis during the time when they arent too busy


  8. You can always approach me for any Hindi language help you need. I have helped many of my friends in US to understand Hindi, also Marathi if you want, but my command on Marathi is not that great, My native language is Gujarati.


  9. I’m also an English speaker who has been working on learning Marathi. I can sympathize with sitting and trying to pick out words and also being embarrassed to try speaking!

    It definitely is a challenge to find good resources! One I would suggest is the Marathi Online textbook produced by the University of Chicago. I’ll be curious to see how you get on.


  10. Namaskar! Two months after you posted this, I have found it, and wonder how you are doing with learning it? I share your trials; I’m an English husband…we’re not in India, but I’m still hoping to learn my wife’s family’s language! Have you found any particularly useful resources? I picked up a “Learn Marathi in 30 days” book in Toronto. It started off by teaching me the script…I haven’t learned Marathi yet, and it has been much more than 30 days…but I’m still trying!


    • Namaskar, Martin!
      I hope you and your wife are well! I have found Marathi very difficult, I am not linguist, that is for sure!

      I have decided to learn Hindi first as it will have more use to me living in India (what if we move to another area?), there are many many more resources, I already know a bit of Hindi and it is similar to Marathi so it will help me learn that language too.

      I think my struggle is that two different sounds sound the same to my ears, have you had that problem? I cannot hear the difference between some of the sounds.

      Keep trying!! I am certain your in-laws will appreciate it so much!!

      Good Luck!!!



      • Namaskar, Lauren!
        I know exactly the trouble you’re having! I have been working on saying “donde” (mouth) for months now, and every time, my wife has corrected me! I also don’t hear the difference. But, apparently I’m getting better at it.
        I was actually thinking of learning Hindi first, as well, but was unsure if it would help me at all. I think I’m going to try learning the Marathi script, and building up from there. I’ll let you know how that goes! 🙂
        On a different note, Utsav (clothing company) is having a fashion fair nearby in the next week, so my wife and I will be heading to that, which should be quite fun!


  11. Hi,
    I am marathi. You can feel free to ask any help you need regarding marathi. I am from Kolhapur in Maharadhtra.
    I recently shifted to Chennai and I am also having same language problem here. I am planning to learn tamil. People here talk with me in tamil and I am like clueless. Anyway all the best with learning Marathi.


  12. mam but some of your facts are wrong marathi is not known as grandaughter of sanskrit , hindi is the direct lineage from sanskrit and very close to it , marathi has some dravidian undertone and hence a distinct relative of sanskrit. .


  13. 🙂 I am an Indo (south indian)-Canadian who married a wonderful North Indian man who speaks Hindi. I don’t speak the language and very poor with my understanding it as well. It was definitely overwhelming for me to meet the family in India when I didn’t know the language and sat there not knowing what was being said 🙂 Still in the process of learning….it’s difficult when I am not in the country though! 🙂


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