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.
Kodava 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
language spoken in
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.
In 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,
of Kodagu, R. Balakrishnan, 1978,
<![endif]>R A Cole, "An Elementary Grammar of the Coorg Language"
Speech Community: An Ethnolingustic Study, K.S.Rajyashri, ‘Language In
Dravidian Languages’ by Bhadriraju Krishnamurthy, 2003,
Links: 1. K S Rajyashree, Kodava speech community : An ethnolinguistic study