Kodava (koDava) is the language spoken by the native inhabitants of Coorg which is now a small district of Karnataka. It was an independent state before its integration with Karnataka in 1956. The natives of Coorg have an indigenous culture of their own and their language is a repository of that culture. The language is known as ‘koDava takk’ by the native speakers. Some of the alternate names are kadagi, khurgi, kotagu and kurja. It is spoken by about 122000 people according to the 1997 census.
is spoken not only by the kodavas but also by other communities settled in
Coorg such as Airi, Male-Kudiya, Meda, Kembatti, Kapal,
Maringi, Heggade, Kavadi, Kolla, Thatta, Koleya, Koyava, Banna, Golla, Kanya, Ganiga
and Malaya. Kodava belongs to the
Dravidian family of languages, more specifically the South Dravidian sub group.
However Coorgis do not belong to the Dravidian ethnic group. This leads to the
conclusion that they must have relinquished their language at some point of
time and accepted some previous stage of Kodava language. The language does not
posses a script of its own, making it difficult to know the earlier stages of
the language. It bears a strong resemblance to the Beary (¨Áåj) language spoken in
Generally, Kodava resembles other Dravidian languages in terms of phonology and morphology. However it contains twelve vowels as against the usual ten in other languages. The additional vowels are /ï/ high central un rounded vowel and /ë/ mid central un rounded vowel which are also distinguished as short and long (Balakrishnan, 1976). Kodava does not have aspirated sounds in its spoken variety. Initial consonant clusters are found only in borrowed words. Verbs do not show any gender distinction even in the third person. The vocabulary consists of many words borrowed from Persian, Arabic, Urdu and the Dravidian languages.
terms of dialectical variety the language spoken in the
The literature of Coorg is essentially confined to the oral sources because of the paucity of a script. The Pattole Palame, a collection of Kodava folk songs and traditions compiled in the early 1900s by Nadikerianda Chinnappa, was first published in 1924. It is said to be one of the earliest, if not the earliest, collection of the folklore of a community in an Indian language. Nearly two thirds of the book consists of folk songs that were handed down orally through generations. Many of these songs are sung even today during marriage and death ceremonies, during festivals relating to the seasons and during festivals in honour of local deities and heroes.
Four plays by Appachchu Kavi (1968) and ‘Kuttumbolichchi’ a novel by B.D.Ganapathi are other important literary works.
of Kodagu with Vocabulary by R.Balakrishnan, 1974,
Grammar of Kodagu, R. Balakrishnan, 1978,
4. R A Cole, "An Elementary Grammar of the Coorg Language"
5. Kodava Speech Community:
An Ethnolingustic Study, K.S.Rajyashri, ‘Language In
Dravidian Languages’ by Bhadriraju Krishnamurthy, 2003,