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Badaga language

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Title: Badaga language  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Dravidian languages, Kannada Language, Tamil script, Ketti, Kannada dialects
Collection: Endangered Diaspora Languages, Kannada Language, Languages of Tamil Nadu
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Badaga language

Native to India
Region Tamil Nadu, The Nilgiris
Ethnicity Badaga
Native speakers
140,000 (2001 census)[1]
400,000  (1998)[2]
Kannada script[3]
Kannada alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3 bfq
Glottolog bada1257[4]

Badaga (Tamil: படகா, Kannada: ಬಡಗ ) is a southern Dravidian language (Old Kannada language branch) spoken by approximately 400,000 people in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu.[2] It is known for its retroflex vowels. It has similarities with neighbouring Kannada language and it was earlier considered as a dialect of Kannada and now identified as an independent language.[5] The word Badaga refers to the Badaga language as well as the Badaga indigenous people who speak it.


  • Sounds 1
  • Badaga script 2
    • Dictionary 2.1
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Badaga has five vowels qualities, /i e a o u/, all of which may be long or short and in the 1930s were contrastively half and fully retroflexed, for a total of 30 vowel phonemes.[6] Current speakers only distinguish retroflection for a few vowels.[7]

Example words[8]
IPA Gloss
/noː/ disease
/po˞˞ː/ scar
/mo˞e˞/ sprout
/a˞e˞/ tiger's den
/ha˞ːsu/ to spread out
/ka˞˞ːʃu/ to remove
/i˞ːu˞˞/ seven
/hu˞˞ːj/ tamarind
/be˞ː/ bangle
/be˞˞ː/ banana
/huj/ to strike
/hu˞j/ tamarind
/u˞˞j/ chisel

Note on transcription: rhoticity ◌˞ indicates half-retroflexion; doubled ◌˞˞ it indicates full retroflexion.

Badaga script

Several attempts were made at constructing an orthography based on English and Kannada. The earliest printed book using Kannada script was "Anga Kartagibba Yesu Kristana Olleya Suddiya Pustaka" by Basel Mission Press of Mangaluru in 1890.[9]

List of Books in Kannada Script:[10]

  1. Anga Kartagibba Yesu Kristana Olleya Suddiya Pustaka
  2. Jonah
  3. Mana Kannadi
  4. Marka Bareda Loka ratchagana kade
  5. Zion

Attempt made for a badaga script


The Badaga language is well studied, mainly by missionaries, and several Badaga-English Dictionaries have been produced since the latter part of the nineteenth century.[11]


  1. ^ Badaga at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ a b Steever, Sanford B. (1998). The Dravidian languages. Taylor & Francis. pp. 6–7.  
  3. ^
  4. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Badaga".  
  5. ^ Thiagarajan, Shantha (4 December 2012). "Badaga language not a dialect of Kannada, claims French linguistic scholar". The Times of India. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  6. ^ Emenau (1931) reports no tokens of /i˞˞/, but suggests this is an accidental gap.
  7. ^ "Badaga". UCLA Phonetics Lab. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  8. ^ "Word List for Badaga". UCLA Phonetics Lab. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Paul Hockings, Christiane Pilot-Raichoor (Reprint 1992). Badaga-English Dictionary. Walter de Gruyter. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 

External links

  • Badaga Social Web Site
  • Online community of Badagas worldwide
  • Badaga Literature
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