Badaga, the language

Dear Wing-Commander,
 I was looking through your website (lots of fascinating stuff!) and noticed there is still discussion of a script for Badaga, an idea that has been around amongst Badagas for at least 70 years to my knowledge. Of course I am in no position to dictate anything on this topic, though I can point out that in “Counsel from the Ancients” and the “Badaga-English Dictionary” we have found a phonetically accurate way to write the language. In the days before computers I always thought it important that people should be able to write Badaga on a regular qwerty typewriter, and printers could easily print from such text too.
But I did want to bring up a word of caution. The Caucasus Mountains, which are an awful long way from the Nilgiris, have dozens of local languages. When this area was in the USSR Stalin and his chief linguistic adviser encouraged people in that region to develop scripts for each of their many different languages. The end result was that, very quickly, it became difficult to communicate with one’s ethnic neighbours now that their language could no longer easily be read by everyone. End result: they had to adopt Russian to talk and write to each other — which was the long-term plan anyway, we think. As for Badaga, the Kannada script reflects it fairly accurately, and the Tamil script less so. QWERTY is the third option which we have been able to use quite successfully. Perhaps three options is enough.
 My new book, “So Long a Saga: Four Centuries of Badaga History”, should be out in a couple of months, and I will let you know details. It is just over 400 pp. long, and has already been priced by the publisher, Manohar, at Rs. 1295. (The “Badaga-English Dictionary”, by the way, was so costly because all the production, including typesetting, was done by union workers in Berlin.)
Best wishes,
Paul Hockings

Dear Professor,

It is always a pleasure and honour to receive emails from you. It is gratifying to note that you, whom I consider to be the ‘original’ researcher on and of Badaga, visit my website. Thank you for mentioning that you find in the website lots of fascinating stuff.

I am in agreement with you about Badaga Script. Unless we follow the principle of KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid/Sweety – we are bound to create confusion.

Saddest part is that Badaga is slowly but surely losing out its originality with too much of Tamil and English getting mixed up in everyday conversation.

I am, along with plenty of your ‘fans’, looking forward to the publication of your new book “So Long a Saga: Four Centuries of Badaga History” . How I wish that “The Badaga-English Dictionary” is available at an affordable price for I am convinced that it deserves to be in every Badaga household.

With warm regards,


One response to “Badaga, the language

  1. krishnan rajkumar

    Eagerly awaiting prof’s book. What about overseas sales options? Will it be available online at Amazon?


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