BADAGA WORDS AND WRITINGS
Exclusive article by Dr. R.K.Haldorai
Family of languages is known as cognate languages, which means languages descended from common ancestor (origin). Because of the family relation, most of the words are formed in similar construction in cognate languages. Similarity is seen in grammar too.
The renowned Dravidian Etymological Dictionary, compiled by T.Burrow and M.B.Emeneau (available in internet too) gives the similar (cognate) words of Dravidian languages in one group. If we go through that we can notice the similarities of words within the family of languages. On etymological basis it grouped Dravidian words into 4572 entries. In that dictionary, to our dismay only thirteen Badaga words are included. Some twenty years back, I brought this to the notice of one of the editors, M.B.Emeneau. It is apparent that Badaga words are available for most of these entries. It is our ardent duty to collect words for these entries and make available with them. By this way one can find out the common origin of Badaga words. So, linguistically it is correct to uphold the common origin. The innovations and borrowings are to be dealt separately. Innovations are special features and in Badaga’s case the distinct language status is marked with its many such things. Usually language borrows vocabularies, mostly nouns; grammatical borrowing is near nil; verbs are borrowed very rarely.
The influence of neighboring languages on Badaga is to be seen with this background. And it is not right to conclude that a word or feature belongs to a dominant language when it is common in minor and dominant languages.
Basically language is spoken. Written language is nothing but the reflection of speech. Out of seven thousand languages spoken throughout the world only few hundred have scripts. On other hand, we cannot say that all the speakers of a language know its letters, which has written character. Among Dravidian languages only four are having their own scripts and Tulu and Kodagu adopted Kannada scripts. Anyhow script was vogue in Dravidian languages in their proto stage. That letter is called braami or tamizhi, from which letters of Indian languages, including Tamil and Kannada are derived. When we say Badaga is descended from Proto – Dravidian or Proto – South Dravidian, it is obvious that once it had letters. But because of long isolation in the Nilgiri plateau that had forgotten. Anyhow the words like bare (to write, letter, written document), baregaara (writer), bareyagaara (writer of our fate, god) , haNayal bare, nettiya bare (fate, written on ones fore – head), baretoDe (literacy), oodu (read), kallu (to study), ooleyakaara (messenger who brings documents written on palmyra leaf),etc., imply that writing was known to Badagas. Above all Badaga word muniya signifies as noble teacher and this is attested in one of the Badaga ballads. So, it is understood that teaching activities were also there and the word kallusu (make one to study, teach) makes known it.
( I must put on record my deep appreciation and gratitude to Dr.Haldorai for sending articles for publication in our websites. He is one of the original NATIVE researchers of our language and culture. Dr.Haldorai is being very proficient in Tamil also, some times I find some bias in his articles in favour of Tamil when he discusses certain issues. The difference between the articles of Dr.Haldorai and other ‘outsiders’ like Prof.Paul Hockings or M.B.Emeneau is that there is a definite authority and acceptance in what Haldorai says because he is a Badaga and obviously knows what he says. – Wg Cdr JP)