Monthly Archives: August 2019

Ailing Nilgiris Small Tea Growers

 Hubbathalai N SIVAN, Founder President of NSFT writes to Tea Board

We, the ailing Nilgiris Small Tea Growers, submit this letter for kind consideration and necessary actions immediately.

As you are aware, The Nilgiris District has been under severe Drought since November, 2018 due to heavy frost till February, 2019 and extended Summer till July, 2019 without normal monsoons and rainfall. The entire standing Tea Crops had completely dried up and affected by many diseases, particularly, the red mite attacks. Around 40000 acres of tea gardens of Nilgiris Small Tea Growers had crop loss around 35-40% during this period.
More over, the recent Ghost Rains of August, 2019  measuring approximately 3000mm+ (three years total rainfall of Nilgiris-rained I  one week) had completely taken fertile soils of small farmers’ tea gardens from their fields, thereby making  most of their tea gardens barren and non- productive. The Nilgiris Small Tea Growers are in severe distress and direction–less now. 
More over, many Small Tea Growers had already left /sold their tea gardens and migrated to other places in search of their livelihoods. It should not be followed by the remaining Nilgiris Small Tea Growers. Hence, we request Tea Board to intervene in this matter immediately and help The Nilgiris Small Tea Growers for their Sustainable Development and Inclusive Growth through their small holding Tea gardens. 
Hence, we kindly request you to look into this, and sanction appropriate crop compensations to the Nilgiris Small Tea Growers on war footing basis and save Nilgiris Tea Economy for its Sustainability. 


A Script for Badaga

(This post was originally written in 2008. Now the script developed by Kadasolai Yogesh is widely followed)


It has always been felt that for a language to survive, it should have its own script. It cannot remain only as a spoken language for long. But of course, the script need not be peculiar and specific one pertaining to that particular language.

So too is the necessity of a script for Badaga. Many have attempted to achieve this objective with various degrees of success. But unfortunately, to my knowledge, no records exists, if any. I am no expert on phonetics or languages or much less innovating an unique script. But the urge to have a separate script has convinced me that it is very much possible to ‘ADOPT’ an existing script and ‘ADAPT’ it to Badaga language.

Three scripts come to mind straight away – Tamil, English and Kannada.Tamil – because a majority of us know how to speak and write due to the simple fact that we belong to Tamil Nadu, English – since most of us choose to learn as well as put our children in English medium schools and Kannada – due to the fact that Badaga is more akin to Kannada than any other language [though I firmly beleive that Badaga is a separate language on its own merit and not a dialect of Kannada].

But when trying to choose a script for Badaga, Kannada script is ruled out for the basic reason that most of us do not know the language or familiar with the script and no scope to learn it in our schools in the Nilgiris. Hence the choice between Tamil and English. Badaga ,like many other Indian languages, has very definitive and distinctive sounds/words [I do not know the exact English equivalent] that distinguishes one word from another. Even a small change in pronunciation could result in an entirely different meaning in Badaga. For example,a subtle change in context of the word ‘BAE [bay]’ could mean mouth, bangle, lentil, crop etc. Bella [jaggery] or BeLLa [ a male name] are two entirely different things. So are ‘kallu – stone’ and ‘KaLLu – a drink’. So, what could or should be the choice?

In Tamil script we cannot differentiate ‘K’ from ‘G’ or ‘T’ from ‘D’. This makes a huge impact when Badaga words are written in Tamil script. ‘Gaasu – potato’ is totally different from ‘Kaasu – coin, remove’. Or ‘Ettu – eight’ and ‘Eddu – getup’. Another drawback could be the absence of ‘Ha’ in classical Tamil. On the other hand, in English, we cannot clearly bring out the difference of ‘na’ from ‘Na’ [anna – food, aNNa- elder brother] or ‘halli – lizard’ from ‘haLLi – name, village’. ‘Kalla – a male name’ sounds the same as ‘ kaLLa – a thief.

Yes, it is indeed a little tricky to choose between Tamil and English. But, taking into consideration the younger generation who are going to be the future hope and the irrefutable fact that they are all more familiar with English than Tamil, the choice is English. Keeping in mind the successful adaptation of English script for Malay language (Malaysia) I would plump in for English. With a few minor modifications to overcome the grey areas mentioned above, English script can be easily used in Badaga.

Remember Devanagiri (Hindi) is the script for Nepali. The ‘minor’ modifications that can be undertaken to overcome the drawbacks I referred above could be by using an extra ‘a’ – thus milk can be written as ‘haalu’; ‘dhadi – stick’ can be different from ‘dhaadi – beard’. So on and so forth. We may use ‘capital’ letters to differentiate between ‘bella and beLLa’ as I have done above.What if a complete sentence is in capital letters ? – We may use ‘bold’ letters or underline the words to give the emphasis. Innovative use of – ‘ – [apostrophe] can bring out the difference between “soppu – green ” and “so’ppu – soap” or “kodi – flag” and “ko’di – crore”.

It is said that Indians [read Badagas] will reject 50% of anything without even hearing it, another 50% without understanding it; and if ‘anything is left behind they reject it just for the sake of rejecting it. Like what is happening in many hattis with ‘young gowdas’ ruling the roost.



Badaga in English Script


How the numbers are mentioned in various South Indian Languages is given below. This is from the :WWW -> NET : What I am trying to highlight is the use of English script !?

numbers.jpg For numbers in more than 5000 languages go to

Another Interesting Link -> Badaga language Totally Explained


BELLE BENGUVE – GARLIC [in whatever language you say, is always good for health – though may not be for “LOVE”]

Notice : belle[white] is written as be!!e at the end
Sanskrit लशुन laśuna yields Hindi लहसन lahsan,
Urdu لہسن lahsan (but also سیر sīr from Persian), Nepali लसुन lasun, Marathi लसूण lasūṇ,
Bengali রসুন rasuna, Gujarati લસણ lasaṇa,
Oriya ରସୁଣ rasuṇa, Punjabi ਲਸਣ lasaṇ, Konkani लोसुण losuṇa.
Tamil has வெள்ளைப்பூண்டு veḷḷaippūṇṭu ‘white herb’, less commonly வெள்ளுள்ளி veḷuḷḷi,
like Malayalam വെളുത്തുള്ളി veḷuththuḷḷi and
Kannada ಬೆಳ್ಳುಳ್ಳಿ beḷḷuḷḷi ‘white onion’, and வெள்வெங்காயம veḷvengkāyam,
like Badaga beḷḷe benguve ‘white onion’.

Sanskrit लशुन laśuna yields Hindi लहसन lahsan, Urdu لہسن lahsan (but also سیر sīr from Persian), Nepali लसुन lasun, Marathi लसूण lasūṇ, Bengali রসুন rasuna, Gujarati લસણ lasaṇa, Oriya ରସୁଣ rasuṇa, Punjabi ਲਸਣ lasaṇ, Konkani लोसुण losuṇa. I wanted to include a choice quote from The Bower Manuscript (better description in this review of Hoernle‘s publication) on the Origin (and folk etymology) of Garlic (quoted in English in The Book of Garlic from an article by von Strubing in Ernährungsforschung), but even the inexpensive Indian edition is a bit steep. So if I manage to track it down, it can be part of the next garlic post. Tamil has வெள்ளைப்பூண்டு veḷḷaippūṇṭu ‘white herb’, less commonly வெள்ளுள்ளி veḷuḷḷi, like Malayalam വെളുത്തുള്ളി veḷuththuḷḷi and Kannada ಬೆಳ್ಳುಳ್ಳಿ beḷḷuḷḷi ‘white onion’, and வெள்வெங்காயம veḷvengkāyam, like Badaga beḷḷe benguve (வெள்ளெவெஙுவெ?) ‘white onion’.
The above interesting piece is taken from ->
As far as the English script used to show Badaga, I am giving below two examples of 1) the UCLA Phonetics Laboratory [for over half a century, has collected recordings of hundreds of languages from around the world, providing source materials for phonetic and phonological research] and 2) Prof.P Hockings ,From the UCLA Phonetics Lab Archive

(The unicode entry tool was developed by the Linguist List. To obtain it for use in other web pages click here)

Entry Badaga English
(Note on transcriptions: rhoticity (e.g. i˞, e˞, etc. ) indicates half-retroflexion; underdot (e.g. ị, ẹ, etc. indicates full retroflexion)
1 noː disease
2 pọː scar
3 tọː buffalo pen / cattle pen
4 mo˞e˞ sprout, shoot of plant
5 ho˞e˞ water course
6 ko˞e˞ carrion
7 ka˞e˞ weed
8 a˞e˞ tiger’s den
9 kọːga a type of measure
10 ạːe to measure
11 kaːsu coin
12 ha˞ːsu to spread out
13 kạːʃu to remove
14 beː mouth
15 be˞ː bangle
16 bẹː banana plant
17 i˞ːụ seven
18 to drag
19 hu: flower
20 hụ worm
21 hụːy tamarind
22 ụy chisel
23 huy to strike
24 kae unripe fruit
25 paːi mat
26 beː mouth
27 be˞ː (pharyngealized) bangle
28 bẹː (retroflexion) banana
29 kaːsu coin
30 háːsu (pharyngealized) spread out
31 kạːʃu (pharyngealized) take off clothes
32 aːe to measure
33 a˞e˞ tiger’s den
34 no˞ː sickness
35 poː scar
36 tọː buffalo pen
37 ko˞e˞ dead body
38 huː flower
39 hu˞ː worm
40 huy to strike
41 hu˞y tamarind
42 ụy chisel

See for more details :

Research on Badaga

I found this interesting article – research by Prof: Peter Ladefoged in the net. Is it not fascinating that so much research has been done on our language ?

Peter Ladefoged Languages index

Badaga is a Southern Dravidian Language (Tamil-Kannada branch) spoken by approximately 250,000 people in the Nilgiris hills in Southern India. There are several dialects, only the most conservative having the complete set of contrasts illustrated here.

>Badaga has five vowels /i e a o u/ , all of which can be contrastively half and fully retroflexed.

Half retroflexed vowels are indicated by the diacritic for rhotocity :[a~], fully retroflexed vowels with a subscript dot [a]

This is how Prof: P Hockings depicts the Badaga Words in English script,M1

Some more thoughts on adopting English script for Badaga

Picking up from what Prof.Paul Hockings has mentioned – rather the unicode[?] used – in the example shown here from his book Counsel from the Ancients: Study of Badoga Proverbs, Prayers, Omens and Curses (page 54. Outline of Badaga Language – 2.1.2 Vowel Contrasts ) , I am suggesting a simple and straight forward work around.


The words ‘to stand’ & ‘paddy’ are written as ‘nillu & nellu’ . No problems with that.

But ‘whistling’ & ‘to cook’ are written as ‘bi:su & be:su’ . My suggestion is use ‘beesu & baesu’ as they are pronounced.

(FootBall is FUTBAL and Photo is Foto in some languages that go by the pronounciation and thus making it easy).

‘To wander’ ‘suttu’ is used. But to me ‘suttu’ sounds more like ‘to burn’ . I would suggest ‘suthu’ for wandering. [ ‘SUTHUGAL or SUTHUKAL’ sounds familiar, is it not?]. Same thing for ‘property’ ‘sothu’ ‘ instead of ‘sottu’ which sounds more like ‘sottu’ ‘drop’ .

To blow ‘oodu’ – udu’ sounds and looks better than ‘u:du’ and ‘odhu’ instead of ‘o:du’ which to a novice like me is ‘run’ or ’tile’ ‘odu’ .

‘To shine’ – it could be ‘michu’ instead of ‘miccu and ‘muchu’ instead of ‘muccu’ for covering. ‘Muccu’ sounds or looks more like ‘mukku’ – to gobble or swallow .

‘hennu’ [ ‘girl’ ] could be written as ‘heNNu’ [girl] and ‘hannu’ as ‘haNNu’ to bring out the emphasis on ‘N’.

‘nadu’ for ‘middle’ or plant is OK but for ‘country’ it could be ‘ naadu ‘ than ‘na:du’ .

Similarly, my suggestion : – for ‘now’ – ‘ ‘eega’ , ‘bamboo’ ‘oede’ , ‘village’ ‘ooru’

The main and only creteria should be the ease of use and understanding and yes, without the use of , what I would like to term as, ‘dots’ and ‘quotes’.

(I would like to repeat that I am no expert on languages and no intention is implied to hurt the purists and followers of UNICODE etc]


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Wing Commander Bellie Jayaprakash B.E.(GCT,Madras Univ).,M.B.A (FMS, Delhi Univ)
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