Kannada (Wikipedia, Kannada Wikipedia) is one of the main Dravidian languages of southern India, and there’s an interesting history of Kannada literature online:

Kannada is the language predominant in the state of Karnataka in India. It is also the language that we, the Kamats are most familiar with. To mark the celebration of the World Millennium Kannada Conference (held in September 2000 in Houston), I asked my mother Dr. Jyotsna Kamat, a passionate student of ancient Kannada literature to trace the History of the Kannada Language for a special feature at Kamat’s Potpourri.

(Via Plep.)


  1. Yeah, I’m ashamed to say until Ilya Vinarsky told me the book by Anantha Murthy he was reading was written in Kannada originally, I was totally unaware of existence of this language.
    Which 45 million people speak…
    Shame, bloody shame!

  2. Cool link! Opening line: “Perhaps being the oldest language next to Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Tamil, Kannada country and language have a rich heritage.” Why do people from India always seem to talk about one language being “older” than another? I can’t imagine Europeans arguing over whether, say, French was older than Spanish, or German older than French, but this “Sanskrit is the oldest language! No, Tamil is the oldest language!” sort of rhetoric seems to come up often in Indian history/language forums.
    Of course, by “old” people must mean “relatively early texts are available” (although the dates of the earliest Dravidian literary texts are quite controversial and it’s always possible more texts will turn up–the whole Classical Tamil corpus was only “rediscovered” about a century ago) but it almost seems as though some laymen actually think Indian languages popped into existence in a historical sequence, or that Tamil is somehow “older” than Malayalam because Dravidian texts from the early centuries AD in South India are called “Old Tamil”–although everyone agrees Malayalam and Tamil split apart *after* the “Old Tamil” period, so “Old Tamil-Malayalam(-Irula, etc.)” would be a more linguistically accurate name.
    And what Kamat calls “Prakrit” actually subsumes various Indo-Aryan languages all over the subcontinent, many of which must have been, by the time of Christ, less mutually intelligible with each other than Tamil was from Kannada at that time. Names, names, but we know what she means.

  3. Actually, Europeans have been very fond of this ploy. My first LH entry was about one such claim, and to this day Lithuanians (to take one example) will tell you Lithuanian is the oldest language in Europe.

  4. The script is beautiful. I doubt I’ll ever learn Kannada (ಕನ್ನಡ), but it pleases me to be able use exotic scripts on my computer. Can you display Unicode Kannada? Like many of the Indic scripts, it’s only relatively recently that fonts capable of producing the complex ligatures required from a string of Unicode characters have been available. I’ve copied out a couple of the example phrases from the article. (It’s not an easy language to transcribe when you don’t know it, so my spelling may well be off.)
    ಸಾಧುಗೆ ಸಾಧು.
    ಮಾಧರ್ಯಂಗೆ ಮಾಧರ್ಯಂ
    ಮಧವನೀತನ್ ಪೆರನಲ್ಲ!
    (Set encoding to UTF-8.)

  5. What a coincidence – I was just reading an article on Kannada today!

  6. Thanks for posting this, LH. Kannada happens to be the language I speak at home.Here’s a link to some more Kannada resoures.

  7. Hi I am very much pond of kannada, but at the same time i am getting very hurted as kannada is getting declined and dominated by other languages and our own fellow kannadigas being proud of learning and speaking other languages.
    I am having a habit of observing and analysing kannada with other languages(espeically Tamil) in all aspects, but never find that those languages having great language pundits, and poets and having lot of wealth in it like kannada.
    Kannaada has given old literary icons like ranna, pampa, kumarvyasa harihara, raghavanka …
    and to list in recent centuries
    all Vachana Sahitya, by many sharanas,
    and recently by many of modern(navodaya and navya) kannada poets
    I am very proud of my mother language (kannada).
    I love it.
    Jaya hey karnataka maathe..
    Vinayak S K

  8. Well the oldest lanuages specially in europe I think is Albanian. On the year 77th An Romak Naturalist published a book with 33 pages and he writs that the first alphabet is created from Ilirians known now as Albanian. And he writed that the romans copied the alphabet from Ilirians. I think this is true because and in greek language lots of the words have Albanian meanin.

  9. this is very good information gave the commen peple, most use of the students.

  10. Raghunandan says

    That Kannada is the oldest next to Tamil is just a myth. It is as old as Tamil if not older.

  11. Harri_Kosova says

    The ancient Albanians called Illirians lived in territory of Ex -Yougoslavia and Albania.The albanian language is one of oldiest Indo-europian Language and protected his originality from hard influence from LAtin,Slavic and Greek language.The language was protected but not the Ilirian Territory.

  12. Is it just me, or are people wilfully missing the point that the “oldest language” idea is essentially meaningless?

  13. I’ve made that point so many times I’m tired of making it, but no, it’s not just you.

  14. Ravi.Siror says

    KANNADAkkaagi janana
    KANNADAkkaagi marana
    Jai Karnataka maathe.

  15. i know that kannada got derived from Tamil which is the oldest and originated in india but aryans(sankrits) migrated to india and settled down here. so we should not make any distinction between Tamil and Kannada and we are Dravidians and Indians and get rid out these Arayans(north indians, Brahmins from country) from india who are dominating us and they don’t have any patriotism that is the reason why many north Indians and especially Brahmins settled down in foriegn countries like US, UK etc,..

  16. Prashant JS says

    KANNADA is THE BEST LANGUAGE in world certainly not born from TAMIL. TAMIL borned from KANNADA

  17. *sigh*

  18. Kalashayana Prabhu says

    Idhu nanna dhyeya vaakya.
    Neevu nimma mssg kooda yaake kannadadhalli kalisabaradhu.
    Endhendhigu kannadiganaagiru.

  19. Prashant JS says

    Kannada Ve Satya, Kannada Ve Nitya.
    No language can match KANNADA, the true classical language of India

  20. Oldest language? Why fuss?? But it makes no sense at all whatsoever to claim that Kannada is derived from Tamil. Kannada is a beautiful language ,kannada literature is the richest in India. The script is the queen of all the scripts.
    No comparisons to Tamil , please.

  21. Hemavathi Rajaram says

    The most attractive language. Its a real shame that some kannadigas are yet to understand this and feel proud to learn and speak other languages instead. Teach your mother tongue to others, thats the least you can do to save Kannada .

  22. Praveen D says

    Hello Friends
    Last month i came to know that our kannada sahithya parishath as released “sankshiptha padakhosha” and kannada dictionary in CD ROM for Rs. 100/- and i was a lucky person to purchase it, and the response from public was very poor and even my friends didn’t showed interest to have their own copy or or make a copy from my disk when i offered them. As i have understood kannada is the mother toungue of all languages, simple to speak, easy to understand and our karnataka is the place choosen by chandra gupta maurya to spend his last days, even today karnataka is the host for many languages like konkani, kodava, and others.

  23. Kannadana Ulsi bangaloralli

  24. Shiva Sharan says

    hello friends,
    A language is a tool used to communicate..why justifying…the oldest??Kannada is a beautiful language in which “U can write what u speak and read what is written”.It is easy to learn atleast easy to speak..compared to other south indian languages…It is a shame that we kannadigas are more interested in learning other languages and speaking in languages other than kannada…Banni kannadadalli matadona..namma bhasheyannu ulisona….

  25. Blerim Cenaj says

    Albanians are a old civilization. They are good people. Illyria is the true Albania. But the slavs, terrorized them. They killed, expelled, demolished the illyrians. Territories still left from ancient illyria include some of montenegro, some of Serbia,half of Macedonia (contains 40-50% albanians) and a part of Greece. These facts are denied by the world. Even the books deny these facts as if they never happened. The truth is that the world knows this but lives in denial. Italy is prime example for this belief. In world war 2 when Italy invaded Albania, it conquered a part of Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, and Montenegro.
    Albania has a chance to be a world power. It has everything, and all it needs is a good leader. In my opinion the leader needs to be a dictator because the country has so much corruption in its parliment. It needs a leader that understands Albania and the knowledge that shows how great Albania is and what it means. In my opinion I hold this position, and I shall soon run up for presidency in Albania. People will change their opinion about this amazing country. And if Albania or Illyria thrived in the past it will thrive in the future!
    RRoft Shqiperia!!!!!!

  26. Manjunath says

    Hi I am a kannadiga and proud of it but there is no pointing in fighting with tamil language which is no doubt a superior and one of the most powerful languages of the world. (as per berlin university, berkeley university and university of california where the tamil head of the dept professors are westerners) we have to accept the fact, but nevertheless if tamil is a superior language, no doubt kannada is also a superb and powerful language. How tamil became one of the national languages of singapore, malaysia, srilanka and mauritius, if it is really not very old. can any one explain.
    Jai karanataka
    Manjunath, Dubai

  27. Raajkumar says

    We all love to claim whatever is ours as the best, the oldest, the gratest etc. But the point is are we contributing to its greatness? If a language is old, then it is old. Nobody could do to change that. But enriching the language, propagating it, and enriching it by contributing to its literature is what one could do. But most of us fail to do so. Instead we dwell in petty quarrels like ” Which langauge is the oldest”.
    I wish instead we could contribute in one of two ways.
    1. To help in scientific investigation and research that could provide irrefutable proof that either Kanada or Tamil or any language is the oldest and put a stop to this. ( Even if we find one is the oldest that does not mean other languages are rotten )
    2. To study and highlight the finnese and greatness of your language and spread the beauty as much as you can.
    I like the stand Manjunath has taken. He is trying to go with the available fact of history and evidence. But unfortuantely to proe his point he has to mention the fact that the western universities headed by western ( what he missed mentioning is ‘white’) professors has proven beyond doubt that tamil is older than kannada or whatever. the point is we are not ready or mature enough to study, investigate, research, and analyse our own languages. Also we are not ready or mature enough to accept the findings of any study conducted by a kanadga or a tamilian.
    We all should note that no westerner looks for an asian or mongol to pass judgement about his history. So let us break this mould and try to divert our energy in finding the truth.

  28. hi there,i am a malaysian of indian origions,we speak in tamil at home,i am sure as dravidians,we should be proud to be part of all four languages that is kannada, malayalam ,tamil and telegus our ancesters were very inteligent to create scripts for allthese dialects and promoted dialects to language status.anyway i would love to learn more about all these languages beautiful ancient languages still in use .thanks

  29. Nagendra says

    kannada na karnatakadalli ulisi!!!!!!

  30. outside_observer says

    Wow, this thread seems to have become a political forum…”this language is older/better/more refined than that one”. Everyone posting such things, while I can understand their (nationalistic? ethnocentric?) fervor, are missing the point entirely…

  31. raraddy said – “That Kannada is the oldest next to Tamil is just a myth. It is as old as Tamil if not older”
    Congrats you have made a great discoverey and you will awarded a Nobel prize for that. where are proof of documents for this my friend.
    Tamil is well known to be much older that Kannada and don’t F**kin put forth such statements without know what you are saying. No surprise your kinds are dwindled

  32. Guys, I’ve left this thread open because people seem to enjoy leaving a statement to mark their love for their native language, but if you start flaming each other I’m closing it and deleting your comments. So don’t.

  33. Hi All,
    i have seen many blogs posted by kannadigas,those who are really enjoying compare thier language with tamil always. more than 2000 years tamil is surviving with its own ability and rich dialects..by comparing ur language to that just u can relax at that time.but can’t hide any truth…think broadly always..don’t compare tamil and kannada. if u guys happy to compare tamil with ur language…so we came to know that the real worth in the language….earlier days tamil was growing with classic,songs,drama from the kings…now a days it still growing with technically(science and engineering )…please compare ur language hereafter with hindi. Because both are derived from tamil…tamil people learning kannda and they are speaking in bangalore..but i never seen any north indians learning or speaking kannada in bangalore…i think u guys should think that…don’t fallen their color or glamourous girls or anties….because of their color and money only u people cannot do anything them…ha..haa…if u have real guts make them aware of learning kannada is must…don’t always take/compare topic with tamil…..

  34. Venu, your usage of the language here describes the heritage of your own language…mind you kannada is 2300 old language!!

  35. thanig, you should know, the carnatic classical music was invented by Sri Purandara Dasa, called PITAMAHA of carnatic music and he existed atleast 500 years before any of the earliest Tamil classical composers were even born…
    Kannada has won as many as 7 jnanapita awards, which NO other language has won yet.
    to be called a classicial language, the criteria is that a language has tobe atleast 1000years old, and Kannada is 2300 years old and will soon get its credit!

  36. Dear All,
    Every language having its own uncomparable heritage and unique rich set of values present.
    Any language should have the following list of values/unique features then we can say that language is excellent/great (don’t compare)
    1. Day-to-day Art of Life living / improvement methods/techniques
    2. High values of Poems, prose, or any other form will give the entire history/ancient details
    Mother tongue is your “Eye/Vision”,
    Any other language is a “Mirror”,
    You can look/view/ see their values thru Mirror.
    Please Don’t look whether its ancient/old or how much famous.
    I learnt Kanada, Hindi, Malayalam.
    Please try to see in-depth of any language, then you will get some real values.
    I learnt Kanada, Hindi, Malayalam.
    This is my real experience in my life, I have experienced really and enjoyed very much.
    I read some translated books from other languages,
    Then I realized and understood, Lot of values and many more things are present in other languages. I believe everyone knows “Thirukkural” is one of the excellent literature in Tamil translated to all other languages (compare to Bible).
    So, All languages are having its own unique feature, don’t compare.
    Some important quotes – Thirukkura
    [I have deleted a huge collection of quotes and replaced them with a link to the webpage where they can be found. Please do not abuse my comment section by copying and pasting large amounts of text from elsewhere; if you have something to say, say it. Thank you. –LH]

  37. Preetiya kannadigare,
    kannada belayabekendra cinema ondu olleya astra.
    olle cinema kannadalli barali

  38. Yes the only way Kannada can survive is through Good Films .Producers/Directors should make films that could pull the crowd in masses and should rock the Indian Film Industry ..
    I support Kannada and Kannadidgas!!!
    Jai Kannada!!!

  39. World_philospher says

    If a person is born in Tamil nadu he knows tamil if he a person is born Karnataka he knows kannada. That ‘s all the information I going to say. I think you all know that India has separated states because of the lingustic problems and based on the language they created the states in 1950s. So no need to argue or trigger a dispute over the which is the oldest language? or richest language?. But a tamil poet said something, if something is rich in poetry or literature, study the language and convert or translate the same thing into your language. Since a tamil poet has said a good thing, I cannot declare tamil is great. The same thing might have said by a kannda poet or any other poet in any other language. One big joke is we are all communcating in english and not in tamil or kannda. Anyone of the users of site can tell me which is best language?. Give the good things in your lanugage to the world. Finally, the language is for communication and not for contemplation.
    One cannot find the source of water and source of energy.

  40. world_philospher says

    We are peace loving people.
    One cannot talk pure kannda, only kana_glish (kannada + english)
    one cannot talk pure tamil, only tang_lish (tamil + english)
    one cannot talk pure hindi, only hind_lish (hindi + english)
    So! Give good news from your language let the world enjoy it.

  41. world_philospher says

    to compare is not to prove -Einstein

  42. bhojappa.k.kallihala says

    dear friends,
    I want tell about kannada longuage what I felt.Kannada is a sweet longuage for kannadigas.
    becouse thire longuage as like everybody in the
    world.but here one important is standing literature of kannada diperant frome other longuages literature.”vachan literature” exept
    Kannada we dont have seen in all longuage of the world.therefore we have to considerd as rich longu
    age and has rich literature. therefore i love kannada.therefore i will taka kannada as an optional subject for IAS examination.
    Bholo Bharth Mathaki,
    Bholo Karnataka Mataki,
    (BA-III,Krnataka arts college,DWD)
    AT/POST- Havanuru
    DI/TQ- Haveri
    Pin no- 581133

  43. Hey guys, I apologise for my earlier tone, nevertheless its irritating to respond to a stupid Kannadiga (mind you, i said a stupid kannadiga not kannadigas are stupid, gosh) who keeps popping up ones in a while and makes some audacious statements likes these.
    Everyone is provoked when their language is questioned, agreed, but don’t bring in comparisons to Tamil please. I’ll bet you have no idea what Tamil language and culture truly is in its entirity…. bekku, kannu muchchi haalu kudithanthe! Go ahead with an open mind and study the language/culture if you have time… you have richness guaranteed ahead. Every Indian culture and language is good only this time you’ll be bumping unto a very original culture unlike others like Kannada or for that matter many other Indian languages which are heavenly influened by Sanskrit. Unlike these languages for which old literature means you might very well end up in the zone of sanskrit, the parent language, Tamil had literature written in Tamil in those times, admittedly in an older dialect of Tamil. You will find this old tamil written all over the walls of Tirupathi temple and in palm scriptures of Tanjavur. I saw a few writings in Kannada too that had the word “Kannada”, albeit these were in chalkpiece :D, what does that say?
    Essentially am responding to statements like Kannada is older than Tamil, I can give a number of links (to documents by foreigners) to prove its wrong, how many can you give? :S
    I’ll tell you kannada is a good language but this foolish/idiotic/mindless comparisons to Tamil gotta stop!!!
    Am stressing this point:
    Tamil is definetely older than Kannada.
    Some Links: http://tamil.berkeley.edu/Tamil%20Chair/TamilClassicalLanguage/TamilClassicalLgeLtr.html
    In the above link, professor Hart of berkeley university, california says thus:
    ‘there is a fear that if Tamil is selected as a classical language, other Indian languages may claim similar status. This is an unnecessary worry.’
    Well it does say something about the mentality of some kannadigas (not all) who will be the first (and only ones) to say: ‘we too want classical language status’ like saying we too want a lollypop!! 😀 I hope they know what it means, look here:
    I like Kannada the way it is. Some destructive catalytic elements attempting to question something else outta blind faith will end up spoiling the reputation of their otherwise good culture!
    This can happen anywhere not just with Kannada or Tamil
    Thank you

  44. thanig, my earlier post was cent percent correct, harsh yes but not wrong and stupidity defenitely deserve such responses, right?
    btw, I really don’t need your certificate on the heritage of my language, thx. Well a number of prominent non-Tamilians and linguistic personalities think otherwise
    Can you please “think” and post so I know am talking to a sane person 🙂 which is what i like, else i’ll not waste my time with you and evoke childish and incorrect critisim on an ancient culture

  45. Hello Mr.Venu,
    There is no need me to post my view on your opinion,as most of people will have there own,but I still want to clarify your doubt as Kannadiga.
    *) why we are (Kannadigaru) mainly comparing Kannada with Tamil, I believe you people due to politics declared Tamil as Classsical Language not the other Language did thatO(Tamil may be old with good litreture,but why a special status,as all other language have great culture and history than Tamil). so we are comparing our language with ur’s because The great cetral govrnement due to ur politician pressure’s announced the status classsical Language.
    *)the links whatever u have provided are available about all languages including Kannada and no need to provide any extra link where u have to search greatness of language.
    *)U said we have to read Tamil litreture, did you started reading Kannada Litreture,since Kannada has recieved highest Jhanapeetha Awards, given to best litreture in any language in India.
    we got 7 and ur’s is 2 (why only two dont you think panel of Jahnapeetha awardees also preffer Kannada over Tamil)
    I am comparing these awards since u will justify ur language and me mine, but such awards will realy dicides which is better over other as those peoples are nuetral.(Don’t say that announcement classical langue also done by nuetral people,as you also now that is ur 40 MP seats which helped you to do so)
    I can give you lots of exmples,quotes,reasons why Kannada is better than Tamil, but agian you will say why you are comparing with Tamil,then again I have to upload above words,
    We Kannada people respected all languages as much as our’s but these Tamil people and there politicians made us more shrot minded.
    Be true Indian respect all language,save all languages, as our’s is the only country where such beuatiful lauages still alive.
    We as Kannadiga,Marathi,Telug,Bengali,Malayali,Gujarathi,Asamees,Orissi,Punjabi should live as Bharateey.
    Vandanegalondige.(with regards)

  46. Mr.Venu,
    A link of greatness of Kannada films
    (Great Director of Indian Cinema, Adoor GopalKrishnan,selected best films of India, made ever,please go through it give ur comment)

  47. OK, I’ve enjoyed this thread, but it’s turning into a venue for people to argue, so I’m going to close it. Too bad.

  48. A true and honest answer for this question is: Unknown! Those who say either yes or no are those who just assume things and who are non-linguists.

    Why the answer is not “No”?
    People who say “no” are those who say both Tamil and Kannada are the offshoots of the so-called Proto-Dravidian language. There is no solid documentation on the grammar, syntax, vocabulary for that hypothetical language. Not even a single trace of the existence of that language had been found till date!

    Archaeologists who found stone inscriptions so far were either in Tamil or in Kannada. Proto-Dravidian still remains an unproven idea. So, saying no for this question based on the unproven Proto-Dravidian is unacceptable.

    Moreover, there is no proof for Tamil having a parent language. Many oldest stone inscriptions found in Egypt and China are the fully qualified Tamil language – not that imaginary Proto-Dravidan language. If Tamil itself is old, how old is Proto-Dravidian? Why the Proto-Dravidian people never left any trace of their belongings for the world to see, like the ancient Tamils, Greeks, Romans and Chinese did?

    Tamil Brahmi script in Egypt
    Tamil Inscription Of China

    Why the answer is not “Yes”?
    Well, no linguistic experts examined both the languages side by side and concluded which language came from which. As far as I know, there is no authentic research paper specialized in this topic. So, we cannot just assume the lingual similarities and conclude an answer. So, as of now, the answer should not be yes unless proven with valid justifications.

    Why the answer is “Unknown”?
    Tamil is the only Dravidian language which retains all of its “Dravidianness” with it. Even today, Tamil can fully avoid Sanskrit words and write a literature on any topic. Hence, Tamil is a linguistically independent and self-sufficient language.

    All other Dravidian languages have a huge “irreplaceable” Sanskrit loanwords. Kannada and Telugu require Sanskrit words and phoneme to be “complete”. There were two movements which happened in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. That is to remove Sanskrit words in Tamil (Thani Thamizh) and Malayalam (Thani Malayalam). They demonstrated how their language can be “complete” without a need of a donor language (i.e. Sanskrit).

    Considering all this, we can say Tamil may be the 100% replica of the so-called Proto-Dravidian. Or, Tamil is a mother language. But still there are many uncertainties as we don’t have solid proofs. Hence, it will remain unknown.

  49. David Marjanović says

    Moreover, there is no proof for Tamil having a parent language. Many oldest stone inscriptions found in Egypt and China are the fully qualified Tamil language –

    What have you smoked, and can I get it legally in the Netherlands? I’ll go there in a few months, after all, and perhaps I shouldn’t miss all the fun.

  50. What have you smoked, and can I get it legally in the Netherlands?

    Rather in China and Egypt:) But the claim is accurate:

    – A broken storage jar with inscriptions in Tamizh script in Quseir-al-Qadim, (Leukos Limen) Egypt, 1st century BCE. Two earlier Tamizh inscription discoveries at the same site, 1st century BCE.[37]
    The inscribed text is ???????????????? ???????????? paanai oRi “pot suspended in a rope net” (which would be பானை ஒறி in the modern Tamil script)[38]
    – An inscribed amphora fragment in Tamil at the ancient Ptolemic-Roman settlement of Berenice Troglodytica, Egypt, 1st century BCE[37]
    – Potsherd with Tamizh script found in Oman, 1st century BCE[39]

    (Wiki, Tamil_inscriptions).

  51. But the claim is accurate

    In principle, yes. But first of all it was not stone but pottery; second, it was not the oldest, but quite late; third, it was not China but Oman; and fourth none of it has anything to do with Tamil having a parent language.

  52. No, it is not “many [of the] oldest inscriptions in Egypt”. Perhaps, the exact wording “many oldest stone inscriptions” can indicate that the scope of “oldest” is undetermined (“very-very old”) rather than local (“oldest in Egypt”). But i was not thinking about the exact wording when writing it.

    The East Asian (including China) inscriptions are medieval.

  53. But i was not thinking about the exact wording when writing it.

    I know, but I couldn’t resist a Radio Yerevan joke.

  54. The Times of India in a recent article (link 1, link 2) says that a young lady (“KiKi Zhang, alias Niraimadi, a lecturer from Yunnan Minzu university in China”) found another medieval Tamil inscription. The guys she contacted for translation are Tamil history enthusiasts (with diverse interests including sea turtles and searching for local Atlantis). As I understand, they in turn contacted the Times of India.

    I do not read Tamil, sadly, but looks real (not unlike the inscription found in 1956 “in the residential are of Wupan street”, John S. Guy, The lost temples of Nagapattinam and Quanzhou: a study in Sino-Indian relations’, Silk Road Art and Archaeology, vol. 3, 1994: 291-310., p 298).

    (This is why I did not add “China” part to the above comment.)

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