Marathi (English: ; मराठी Marāṭhī; Marathi: [məˈɾaʈʰi] ( listen)) is an Indian language spoken predominantly by the Marathi people of Maharashtra. 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 Indo-Aryan languages, dating from about 900 AD. The major dialects of Marathi are Standard Marathi and the Varhadi dialect. 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, alveolarwith retroflex laterals ([l] and [ɭ], Marathi letters ल and ळ respectively).