BILIGIRI H.S., 1925-1996


            Hemmige Srinivasarangachar Biligiri (ಹೆಮ್ಮಿಗೆ ಶ್ರೀನಿವಾಸರಂಗಾಚಾರ್ ಬಿಳಿಗಿರಿ) (hemmige srInivAsarangacAr biLigiri) was a linguist and a creative writer of repute who has contributed handsomely to the fields of ancient Kannada grammar and prosody. His parents were from Bhadravati in Shivamogga district. Biligiri studied engineering for about four years and later shifted his priorities and obtained B.A. (Hons.)(1952) and M.A. (1953) degrees in Kannada from the University of Mysore. He secured his Ph.D. degree from the Deccan College, Poona in 1961 for his dissertation on the ‘Descriptive Grammar of Kharia Language’. He received special training in linguistics from the Deccan College, Poona and the Berkley University of California. He served as a reader in linguistics at the Deccan college and as Deputy Director of the Central Institute of Indian Languages (C.I.I.L.) at Mysore. He was a professor of linguistics at the University of Bombay at the time of his retirement.

            A part of his writings is devoted to Kannada language. ‘AlOka-1’ (1969) is a seminal work on ‘Shabdamanidarpana’ an ancient Kannada grammar written by Keshiraja. This is a pioneering attempt in the context of Kannada. Biligiri studies this thirteenth century text in the light of modern descriptive and historical linguistics. He is analytical and non Judgemental. This commentary is confined to the first 81 stanzas of the text and does not cover the whole range of topics covered by the original author. This was a precursor of the foundational work carried out later by D.N.Shankarabhat.

            ‘Varnanatmaka Vyakaranada Moola Tatvagalu’ (Fundamental Principles of Descriptive Linguistics’) is another pioneering effort. This slim volume delineates the elements of phonetics, phonemics and morphology in a very lucid and transparent Kannada. ‘Varasegalu’ (1995) is a collection of eleven articles and research papers on language and prosody. The papers on ‘Gamaka Samaasa’ and ‘Sri Haricharite’ are particularly illuminating.

            His Doctoral thesis is a descriptive grammar of the ‘Khadiaya’ language which is spoken in the Chota nagapur region of Bihar. ‘Papers and Talks’ is a collection of articles written in English. However many of them deal with Kannada grammar. ‘Nasal phonemes of Kannada’, ‘Kannada Verbs’ and the ‘Conjugational System of Kannada’ are a few of those topics.

            Biligiri’s scholarship was a combination of the traditional and the modern. This helped him in throwing new light on the subjects of his choice. However one is left with feeling that his contribution could have been much more substantial in view of his brilliance and erudition. A short list of his publications is appended to this note.



a.      Kannada:   1. ‘AlOka’, Bhaaga-1, 1969, Akshara Prakashana, Heggodu

                       2. ‘varNanAtmaka vyAkaraNada mUla tatvagaLu’, 1970, Bangalore University, Bangalore.

                       3. ‘varasegaLu’, 1995, Kannada Sangha, Christ College, Bangalore

                       4. ‘Nandana’, (Collection of Poems)

                       5. ‘Nayikode’, (Collection of Poems)

                       6. ‘Samagra Kavya’ (Collected Poems), Kamadhenu Prakashana’, Bangalore.

b.  English:

                       1. ‘Papers and Talks’, 1971, Central Institute of Indian languages, Mysore.

                       2. Kharia: phonology, grammar, and vocabulary. (Deccan College building centenary and silver jubilee series, 3.) Poona: Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute, 1965.


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