Marathi (English: /məˈrɑːti/; मराठी Marāṭhī; Marathi: [məˈɾaʈʰi] (About this sound listen)) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken predominantly by the Marathi people of Maharashtra, India. It is the official language and co-official language in the Maharashtra and Goa states of Western India, respectively, and is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India. There were 73 million speakers in 2007; Marathi ranks 19th in the list of most spoken languages in the world. Marathi has the fourth largest number of native speakers in India, after Hindi, Bengali and Telugu, in that order. Marathi has some of the oldest literature of all modern Indian languages, dating from about 900 AD. The major dialects of Marathi are Standard Marathi and the Varhadi dialect. Koli, Malvani Konkani has been heavily influenced by Marathi varieties. The earliest example of the existence of Marathi as an independent language dates back to more than 2,000 years
Marathi distinguishes inclusive and exclusive forms of ‘we’ and possesses a three-way gender system that features the neuter in addition to the masculine and the feminine. In its phonology it contrasts apico-alveolar with alveopalatal affricates and, in common with Gujarati, alveolar with retroflex laterals ([l] and [ɭ], Marathi letters ल and ळ respectively).
Marathi is primarily spoken in Maharashtra (India) and parts of neighbouring states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Tamil Nadu Karnataka (Particularly the bordering districts of Belgaum, Bidar, Gulbarga and Uttara Kannada), Telangana, Chhattisgarh, union-territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The former Maratha ruled cities of Baroda, Indore, Gwalior, and Tanjore have had sizable Marathi speaking populations for centuries. Marathi is also spoken by Maharashtrian emigrants to other parts of India and overseas.
Marathi is the official language of Maharashtra and co-official language in the union territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. In Goa, Konkani is the sole official language; however, Marathi may also be used for some official purposes in some case. Marathi is included among the languages which stand a part of the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India, thus granting it the status of a “scheduled language”. The Government of Maharashtra has submitted an application to the Ministry of Culture to grant classical language status to Marathi.
The contemporary grammatical rules described by Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad and endorsed by the Government of Maharashtra are supposed to take precedence in standard written Marathi. Traditions of Marathi Linguistics and the above-mentioned rules give special status to tatsamas, words adapted from Sanskrit. This special status expects the rules for tatsamas to be followed as in Sanskrit. This practice provides Marathi with a large treasure of Sanskrit words to cope with demands of new technical words whenever needed.