IDENTIFICATION OF BADAGA
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The word Badaga at the outset reflects the Badaga language speaker. The speaker’s loyalty and solidarity are intrinsically involved in it. It expresses a historically transmitted perception by which the Badaga speech community develops itself. The cultural elaboration of the word seems to be unassailable.
Badaga signifies the speech community and the participant membership of an individual. In another sense, there is a very close link between the word and the homeland, the Nilgiri District. Often it is used as a synonym to the nativity. It is used in accordance with inclination of its people with the homeland. Presumably, there is something more to being a Badaga than simply living in the Nilgiri District. Not all living in the Nilgiri district are Badaga speakers. But clearly the word reflects not only the nativity but also the linguistic identity. This applies in equal measure to the inner and outer identities.
With the ethnic entity, the Badaga speech community depends on fundamental unity, shared culture, shared values, shared ideals and shared attitudes, which are reflected in the shared language. The word Badaga embraces the inheritance of cultural landscapes. It is a cultural laden symbol. This is a very sensitive index of the Badaga culture. The meanings of self and other are involved in it. It reflects traditional self image with an emphasis on linguistic and native sensibility. Both are inseparable to the people of the Nilgiri District who have the credit of Badaga inheritance. So it is an attachment to their home land and language, and they feel pride in it. It is by which outsiders identify them.
As for as Badaga studies concern we have to deduce more from language information about historical contacts, social structure, religious beliefs and practices, folklore and so on. To our dismay the language part was not analyzed properly by scholars and its importance was not understood by the native speakers for a long period. However during the closing decades of the twentieth century two scholars, one from Annamalai University (Dr.R.Balakrishnan) and another from French (Dr.Christiane Pilot Raichoor) had done extensive study on Badaga and analyzed its distinctive characters. Through that they established its independent language status. Following them I analyzed Badaga language and described its independent language status with more such details.
I am in total agreement with Dr.Haldorai. We have not given due importance to Dr.C.P.Raichoor and may be to Dr.R.Balakrishnan. Dr.Raichoor is the co – author of Badaga – English Dictionary along with Prof.Paul Hockings.
The more I go through Dr.Haldorai’s books, especially on Badaga Language, it is clear that he has put in a lot of efforts. I feel we should encourage his efforts by buying his books. – Wg Cdr JP