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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


  1. Dr.R.K.Haldorai

    According to modern linguistics a language does not descend from another one. Linguistics elucidates the theory of Proto language. In this background it is wrong to say Badaga descended from Kannada. Instead we can say both Kannada and Badaga descended from Proto Kannada-Badaga. Badaga, as a Tribal language of the Dravidian family preserved more of its archaic features. At the same time its long duration of isolation gave room to more innovations.

    Script is nothing to do with the position of a language. It is entirely a prerogative of the speakers of the language concern. However with the usage of ‘oole’(palmyra leaf, mentioning written document in ‘oola kattuva’‘ ritual) one can adduce the literary knowledge of ancient Badagas. Once Badaga married women were adorning ‘oole muukkutti’, which had written identification of their husbands. Similarly married men had written identification of their wives of ‘oole’ in their possession. On death of a spouse the other had to return that written identification. After that ceremony the living is free enough to have new spouse.

    Earlier scholars expressed their views superficially on Badaga language with their little collected materials. Due to this, once Badaga was relegated to the position of dialect of Kannada. However, during the recent past scholars studied Badaga language thoroughly and exposed its independent status. The Nilgiri gazette mentions about the Badaga language’s far away position from Kannada. Dr.S.Swaminathan,a Dravidian scholar, mentioned Badaga language’s independent status in his paper presented at All India Conference of Dravidian Linguistics(1971). The Kannada encyclopaedia mentions about Badaga’s distinct language status. Dr.R.Balakrishnan, Annamalai University professor gave detail explanation to consider Badaga, Kodagu and Tamil in one group. Dr. Paul Hockings, an American scholar found six dialects in Badaga. It shows the vast usage of Badaga language. Of course these findings are known due to the prolong research and further research is required to have more such details.

    I would like to emphasis Badaga language’s independent status with following lines. “Infact that the present day Badaga verbal paradigms do not have any direct parallel with any other language is an important to confirm its status as an independent language”(Pilot Raichoor 1997:197)


  2. Don’t you think it is bad to over’ Romanticize’ the origin of Badaga ? Simple logic explains that the language descended from Kannada and since it remained in isolation in the Nilgiri district, it retained a certain ‘flavour’ and ‘rhythm’. If it were to precede other Dravidian languages as some so called researchers have pointed out, there would definitely been a script for the language. Over a period of time, the language has acquired several characteristics from Tamil. Simple as that. At least for a proud Badaga like me.

    Associate Editor
    The Masterbuilder
    Best Journalist Award Winner 2012 from CIDC


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