Portuguese Changed Goa But The Language Never Reached Goans, Why?

Vasco Da Gama

Vasco Da Gama | Image Resource : wikimedia.org

Vasco da Gama reached India in 1498. Portuguese were the first European country to reach India. They established their colonies for trade and collaborated with Indian kings. Indian spices, diamonds, coal, garments were amongst their interests. There were some disagreements between the Indian rulers and Portuguese so they started conquering Indian lands. Slowly the Portuguese Empire flourished in India and Goa became their capital.

The Creation of Indo-Portuguese Culture:

By the end of the 16th century, Goa was developed into a Portuguese city. It was home to the largest Indo-Portuguese society in India. During this time, many Portuguese soldiers and sailors married Indian native women.

Old Map of the City and Portuguese Port of Goa

Old Map of the City and Portuguese Port of Goa | Image Resource : 1st-art-gallery.com

Goan Portuguese Villa

Goan Portuguese Villa | Image Resource : wikimedia.org

Portuguese administration also shipped countless Portuguese orphans to India. These orphans were all girls. They were known as “Orfas del Rei” which means orphans of the king in Portuguese. These women were married to Portuguese settlers or natives with popular stature and power.

Goan’s Love for their Mother Tongue:

Even though many Goans are descendants of Portuguese, the Portuguese language could never become the official language of Portuguese in India. This is because it takes centuries for a language to dominate a particular region.

When the Portuguese sailors reached India, languages like Konkani, Marathi, Kannada, Hindi and Urdu already existed. These languages existed in India for thousands of years. Therefore, even though they lived in a Portuguese Empire they preferred to talk in their mother tongue. Luso-Indians in Goa did know Portuguese but not that fluently.

“It was mainly their refusal to integrate, their disdain for local culture and practice, their apparently cruel ways, their insistence on people converting and their pathological refusal to learn any local tongue. They even planned to eliminate the local languages and substitute it with Portuguese, such was their gall!! The saving grace was when the papacy in Rome made it very clear that any priest had to know the local language, rightfully so” – Res

The Portuguese rule was often threatened by other rulers. This may be the reason why Portuguese never flourished in Goa or any other part of India.

“A tiny fraction of the people of Goa speak Portuguese..The most common language spoken at home is Konkani. However some families speak Marathi or English at home. The church in Goa has thousands of schools in the state..it is here that English is the medium of instruction..people of different faiths send their children to these schools.
The importance of English as a link language is stressed.
Also a number of GOANS have family members who live abroad or on cruise liners…it is their skill sets and the knowledge of English that helps them earn a living…Most Goan families have a decent knowledge of English…but a majority of them speak Konkani at home..” – Res

Read Quote of Aaron Paul Fernandes’ answer to Goa, India: Why a lot of Goan people speak English at home, despite the Portugese influence? on Quora




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