Tulu Basay ('Tulu language') in Tulu script
|Region||Tulu Nadu: Region of Karnataka and Kerala States
|Native speakers||1.7 million (2001 census)|
|Writing system||Tulu script (Historical)
Kannada script (Contemporary)
Distribution of native Tulu speakers in India
Tulu (IPA: [ˈt̪uɭu]; Tulu: , ತುಳು ಬಾಸೆ or തുളു ബാസെ  Tuḷu bāse, [ˈt̪uɭu ˈbɒːsæ] [?]) is a language spoken by around 2 million native speakers mainly in the southwest part of Indian state of Karnataka and a small part of northern Kerala, which is known as Tulu Nadu. It belongs to the Dravidian family of languages.
In India, circa 2 million people speak it as their native language (2011 estimation), they were 1,722,768 in 2001  increased by 10 percent over the 1991 census. According to one estimate reported in 2009, Tulu is currently spoken by three to five million native speakers in the world. Native speakers of Tulu are referred to as Tuluva or Tulu people.
Separated early from Proto-South Dravidian, Tulu has several features not found in Tamil–Kannada. For example, it has the pluperfect and the future perfect, like French or Spanish, but formed without an auxiliary verb.
Robert Caldwell, in his pioneering work A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian family of languages, called this language "peculiar and very interesting". According to him, "Tuḷu is one of the most highly developed languages of the Dravidian family. It looks as if it had been cultivated for its own sake." The language has a lot of written literature and a rich oral literature such as the Epic of Siri.
Tulu is the primary spoken language in Tulu Nadu, a region comprising the districts of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada in the west of the state of Karnataka and Kasaragod taluk of Kerala. Apart from Tulu Nadu, a significant emigrant population of Tuluva people is found in Maharashtra, Bangalore, Anglosphere, United States, and the Gulf countries.
Non-native speakers such as the Konkani-speaking Mangalorean Catholics, Gowda Saraswath Brahmins, Karhade Brahmins, Havyaka Brahmins and Daivajnas, as well as the Beary people in Tulu Nadu are generally well-versed in the language. The language was originally written using the Tulu script, which is an adaptation of Grantha script. At the beginning of the 20th century the original script was abandoned in favour of the Kannada script.
- 1 Classification
- 2 Etymology
- 3 History
- 4 Geographic distribution
- 5 Script
- 6 Dialects
- 7 Spoken characteristics
- 8 Written literature
- 9 Oral traditions
- 10 Theatre and films
- 11 Centres of Tulu study and research
- 12 Demand for a separate Tulunadu state
- 13 See also
- 14 Notes
- 15 References
- 16 External links
Tulu belongs to the southern branch of the family of Dravidian languages. It descends directly from Proto-Southern Dravidian, which in turn descends directly from Proto-Dravidian, the hypothesised mother language from which all Dravidian languages descend.
Linguists[who?] have suggested that the word "Tulu" means "that which is connected with water", based on words from Tulu, Kannada, Tamil, and Malayalam. "Tulave" (jack fruit) means "watery" in Tulu; and, other water-related words in Tulu include "talipu", "teli", "teLi", "teLpu", "tuLipu", "tulavu", and "tamel". In Kannada, there are words such as tuLuku and toLe. In Tamil, tuli means drop of water; and, tulli means the same in Malayalam.
Tulu is thus thought to be the language of the waters, as the traditional homeland of the Tulu-speaking people is the coastal region of modern Karnataka and parts of Northern Kerala.
The oldest available inscriptions in Tulu are from the period between 14th to 15th century AD. These inscriptions are in the Tulu script and are found in areas in and around Barkur which was the capital of Tulu Nadu during the Vijayanagar period. Another group of inscriptions are found in the Ullur Subrahmanya Temple near Kundapura. Many linguists like S.U. Panniyadi and L. V. Ramaswami Iyer as well as P.S. Subrahmanya suggested that Tulu is among the oldest languages in the Dravidian family which branched independently from its Proto-Dravidian roots nearly 2,000 years ago. This assertion is based on the fact that Tulu still preserves many aspects of the Proto-Dravidian language.
This dating of Tulu is also based on the fact that region where Tulu is natively spoken was known to the ancient Tamils as Tulu Nadu and the Tamil poet Mamular who belongs to the Sangam Age (200 AD) describes Tulu Nadu and its dancing beauties in one of his poems. In the Halmidi inscriptions one finds mention of the Tulu country as the kingdom of the Alupas. The region was also known to the Greeks of the 2nd century as Tolokoyra. The history of Tulu would not be complete without the mention of the Charition mime, a Greek play belonging to 2nd century BC. The play's plot centres around the coastal Karnataka, where Tulu is mainly spoken. The play is mostly in Greek, but the Indian characters in the play are seen speaking a language different from Greek.
There is considerable ambiguity regarding the Indian language in the play, though all scholars agree the Indian language is Dravidian, but there is considerable dispute over which one. Noted German Indologist Dr. E. Hultzsch was the first to suggest that the language was Dravidian. The dispute regarding the language in the play is yet to be settled, but scholars agree that the dispute arises from the fact that Old Kannada, Old Tamil and Tulu during the time when the play was written were perhaps dialectical variations of the same proto-language, and that over the years they evolved into their present forms as separate languages.
According to Malayalam works like Keralolpathi and Sangam literature in Tamil, the region stretching from the Chandragiri river, now part of the Kasaragod district of Kerala, to Gokarna, now part of Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka, was ruled by the Alupas and was known as Alva Kheda. This kingdom was the homeland of the Tulu speaking people.
However the present day Tulu linguistic majority area is confined to the region of Tulu Nadu, which comprises the districts of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada in the Indian state of Karnataka and the northern part of Kasaragod district of Kerala up to the river Payaswani also known as Chandragiri. The cities of Mangalore, Udupi and Kasaragod being the cultural centres of Tulu culture.
Tuluvas have a saying: "Oorudu nanji aanda paardh badkodu". A loose translation would be: "If it's tough at home; run away and survive". Tuluvas are true to this character and have migrated to other places in great numbers. Early migration was to neighbouring regions like Malabar (now Kerala), Mysore kingdom, Madras Presidency ( Tamil Nadu now - areas like salem, attur, chinnasalem, thiruvannamalai, villupuram, vellore, chennai and perambalur). The large scale migration of Tulu speaking people from undivided South Canara district to other provinces (regions) of India happened during World War I, but there is no concrete materialistic evidence to prove.
The reason being rationing of food grains by British who were ruling India then and spread of communicable diseases. The next wave of emigration was during World War II, now they settled in interior parts of Karnataka, coastal Andhra Pradesh and also far off cities like Mumbai and Chennai. They mostly ran restaurants serving Udupi cuisine. Mumbai and Thane in Maharashtra state has a sizable population of Tuluvas. Even today Tulu is widely spoken in the Dakshina Kannada, Udupi district of Karnataka state and Kasaragod of Kerala. Efforts are also being made to include Tulu in the list of Official languages of India.
Tulu was originally written using the Tulu script which is known as Arya elzuttu (is also used for writing Sanskrit literature). Towards the end of the 20th century the practice of writing Tulu in Tulu script faced a decline and was gradually abandoned in favour of the Kannada script. Karnataka Tulu Sahitya Academy prepared a standard Tulu Script by comparing different types of manuscripts. Dr Radhakrishna Bellur was appointed as the chairman and Dr. Venkataraja Puninchattaya and Dr. Vighnaraj S R were members in the script priparation committee. The standard Tulu Script is published by the Academy with the authorship of Dr. Radhakrishna Bellur titled "Tululipi Parichaya". After that, Tuluvere ayano samiti published "Parishkrutha Tululipi" and "Ganakeekrutha Tululipi" which were wrtten by Dr. Radhakrishna Bellur. This script is referred to as authentic and useful. The adoption of Kannada script for writing Tulu is mainly attributed to German missionaries who had established a printing press in Mangalore which used the Kannada script. These very missionaries used to publish literature in both Kannada and Tulu. While producing Tulu literature which included a dictionary, short stories as well the Tulu translation of the Bible, they made use of the Kannada script. Another important factor that worked in favour of the Kannada script was that most Tulu speakers if not all were bilingual in Kannada. Thus the new era of Tulu literary renaissance began with the Kannada script and today the script is the de facto script for Tulu, though many Tulu linguists and Tulu literary personalities have voiced their opinion in favour of reviving the original script of the language.
Tulu language has four dialects, which are broadly similar, with slight variations.
The four dialects are:
- Common Tulu: Spoken by the majority includes the Bunts, Billava, Mogaveera communities and others. This is the dialect of commerce, trade and entertainment and is mainly used for inter-community communication. It is further subdivided into five groups:
- Brahmin Tulu: Spoken by the Tulu Brahmins who are subdivided into Shivalli Brahmins, Sthanika Brahmins and Tuluva Hebbars. It is slightly influenced by Sanskrit.
- Jain Dialect: Spoken by the Tulu Jains. It is a dialect where the initial letters 'T' and 'S' have been replaced by the letter 'H'. For example, the word Tare is pronounced as Hare, Saadi is pronounced as Haadi.
- Harijan Dialect: Spoken by the Mera, Mansa, Harijan and Tribal classes.
Five short and five long vowels (a, ā, e, ē, u, ū, i, ī, o, ō) are common in Dravidian languages. Like Kodava Takk (and also like Konkani and Sinhala), Tulu also has an [ɛ]- or [æ]-like vowel, generally occurring word-finally. Neither Kannada script nor Tulu script has a symbol to specifically represent this vowel, which is often written as a normal e. For example, the first person singular form and the third person singular masculine form of a verb are spelled identically in all tenses, both ending in e, but are pronounced differently: the terminating e in the former sounds nearly like ‘a’ in the English word ‘man’ (ಮಳ್ಪುವೆ maḷpuve /maɭpuvæ/, “I make”), while that in the latter like ‘e’ in ‘men’ (ಮಳ್ಪುವೆ maḷpuve /maɭpuve/, “he makes”). Paniyadi in his 1932 grammar used a special vowel sign to denote Tulu /ɛ/ in the Kannada script: according to Bhat, he used two telakaṭṭus for this purpose (usually, a telakaṭṭu means the crest that a Kannada character like ಕ, ತ, ನ has), and the same convention was adopted by Upadhyaya in his 1988 Tulu Lexicon. The long counterpart of this vowel occurs in some words. In all dialects, the pair /e/ and /ɛ/ contrasts.
Additionally, like Kodava Takk and Toda, and especially like Malayalam saṁvr̥tōkāram, Tulu has an [ɯ]-like vowel (or schwa /ə/) as a phoneme, which is romanized as ŭ (ISO), ɯ, or u̥. Both J. Brigel and A. Männer say that it is pronounced like e in the French je. If so, its phonetic value may be [œ]. However, if it is like Malayalam “half-u”, [ə] or [ɨ] may be a better description. Bhat describes this phoneme as /ɯ/. In the Kannada script, Brigel and Männer used a virama (halant), ್, to denote this vowel. Bhat says a telakaṭṭu is used for this purpose, but apparently he too means a virama.
|Open||ɛ (æ)||ɛː (æː)||ɒ||ɒː|
The following are consonant phonemes in Tulu:
|Lateral||l||( ɭ )|
The contrast between /l/ and /ɭ/ is preserved in the South Common dialect and in the Brahmin dialect, but is lost in several dialects. Additionally, the Brahmin dialect has /ʂ/ and /ɦ/. Aspirated consonants are sometimes used in the Brahmin dialect, but are not phonemic. In the Koraga and Holeya dialects, s /s/ and ś /ʃ/ merge with c /t͡ʃ/ (the Koraga dialect of the Tulu language is different from the Koraga language). Word-initial consonant clusters are rare and occur mainly in Sanskrit loanwords.
Substantives have three grammatical genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter), two numbers (singular and plural), and eight cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, locative, ablative or instrumental, communicative, and vocative). According to Bhat, Tulu has two distinct locative cases. The communicative case is used with verbs like “tell”, “speak”, “ask”, “beseech”, “inquire”, and denotes at whom a message, an inquiry, or a request is aimed, as in “I told him.” or “I speak to them.” It is also used to denote relationship with whom it is about, in a context like “I am on good terms with him.” or “I have nothing against him.” Bhat calls it the sociative case. It is somewhat similar to the comitative case, but different in that it denotes communication or relationship, not physical companionship. The plural suffix is -rŭ, -ḷu, -kuḷu, or -āḍḷu; as, mēji (“table”), mējiḷu (“tables”). The nominative case is unmarked, while the remaining cases are expressed by different suffixes.
The following table shows the declension of a noun, based on Brigel and Bhat (u̥ used by Brigel and ɯ used by Bhat are both shown as ŭ for clarity): when two forms are given, the one in parentheses is by Bhat, and the other is by Brigel. Some of these differences may be dialectal variations.
|Nominative||mara||a tree||marokuḷu (marakulu)||trees|
|Genitive||marata||of a tree||marokuḷe (marakulena)||of trees|
|Dative||maroku (marakŭ)||to a tree||marokuḷegŭ (marakulegŭ)||to trees|
|Accusative||maronu (maranŭ)||a tree (object)||marokuḷenŭ (marakulenŭ)||trees (object)|
|Locative||maroṭu (maraṭŭ)||in a tree||marokuḷeḍŭ (marakuleḍŭ)||in trees|
|Locative 2||— (maraṭɛ)||at or through a tree||— (marakuleḍɛ)||at or through trees|
|Ablative||maroḍŭdu (maraḍdŭ)||from, by, or through a tree||marokuḷeḍŭdŭ (marakuleḍdŭ)||from, by, or through trees|
|Communicative||maraṭa||to a tree||marokuḷeḍa (marakuleḍa)||to trees|
|Vocative||marā||O tree!||marokuḷē (marakulɛ̄)||O trees!|
The personal pronouns are irregularly inflected: yānŭ “I” becomes yen- in oblique cases. Tulu makes the distinction between the inclusive and exclusive “we” (See Clusivity: Dravidian languages): nama “we (including you)” as opposed to yenkuḷu “we (not including you)”. For verbs, this distinction does not exist. The personal pronouns of the second person are ī (oblique: nin-) “you (singular)” and nikuḷu “you (plural)”. Three genders are distinguished in the third person, as well as proximate and remote forms. For example, imbe “he (proximate)”, āye “he (remote)”. The suffix -rŭ makes a polite form of personal pronouns, as in īrŭ “you (respectfully)”, ārŭ “he (remote; respectfully)”. Postpositions are used usually with a noun in the genitive case, as in guḍḍe-da mittŭ “on the hill”.
Tulu verbs have three forms: active, causative, and reflexive (or middle voice). They conjugate for person, number, gender, tense (present, past, pluperfect, future, and future perfect), mood (indicative, imperative, conditional, infinitive, potential, and subjunctive), and polarity (positive and negative).
The written literature of Tulu is not as large as the literature of other literary Dravidian languages like Tamil. Nevertheless Tulu is one of only five literary Dravidian languages, the other four being Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam. The earliest available Tulu literature that survives to this date is the Tulu Translation of the great Sanskrit epic of Mahabharata called Tulu Mahabharato. It was written by Arunabja, a poet who lived in Kodavur near Udupi around late 14th to early 15th century AD. Other important literary works in Tulu are:
- Sri Bhagavata
- Devi Mahatmyam's Tulu Translation
Until the middle of the 19th century, “a modification of the Malayalam alphabet” was used to write Tulu. More specifically, up to about 1600, the Tulu and Malayalam alphabets were identical and hardly differed from the Tulu hand in the 19th century. This script was used to write Sanskrit, and had seldom, if ever, been applied to write the vernacular language. According to Ethnologue (2009), philosophical texts and religious verses are sometimes written in this script. The Kannada script, on the other hand, was introduced by the Basel Mission Press. Even today the official script of the eight Tulu monasteries (Ashta Mathas of Udupi) founded by Madhvacharya in Udupi is Tulu. The pontiffs of the monasteries write their names using this script when they are appointed.
Modern day Tulu literature is written using the Kannada script. Mandara Ramayana is the most notable piece of modern Tulu literature. Written by Mandara Keshava Bhatt, it received the Sahitya Academy award for best poetry. Madipu, Mogaveera,Saphala and Samparka are popular Tulu periodicals published from Mangalore. Tulu Sahitya Academy established by the state government of Karnataka in 1994 as also the Kerala Tulu academy established by the Indian State Government of Kerala in Manjeshwaram in 2007 are important governmental organisations that promote Tulu literature. Nevertheless there are numerous organisations spread all over the world with significant Tulu migrated populations that contribute to Tulu literature. Some notable contributors of Tulu literature are Kayyar Kinhanna Rai, Amruta Someshwara, B. A. Viveka Rai, Kedambadi Jattappa Rai, Venkataraja Puninchattaya, Paltadi Ramakrishna Achar, Dr. Sunitha M. Shetty, Dr. Vamana Nandavara, Sri. Balakrishna Shetty Polali.
The oral traditions of Tulu are one of the major traditions that greatly show the finer aspects of the language. The following are various forms of Tulu oral tradition and literature.
- Paddanas :A form of oral Epic poem sung in a highly stylised manner during the Hindu rituals of Bhuta Kola and Nagaradhane, which are peculiar to the Tulu people. These paddanas are mostly legends about gods or historical personalities among the people. The longest of them being Siri Paddana, which is about a woman called Siri who shows strength and integrity during adverse times and in turn attains divinity. The paddana greatly depicts the independent nature of the Tulu womenfolk. The entire paddana was written down by Finnish scholar Lauri Honko of Turku University and it falls four lines short of Homer's Iliad.
- Riddles: They are another important aspect of Tulu oral traditions. These riddles are largely tongue twisting and mostly deal with kinship and agriculture.
- Bhajans: Bhajans sung in numerous temples across the Tulu region are varied and are dedicated to various gods and goddesses. Most of them being of Hindu tradition, others being Jain. They are sung in both the Carnatic style as well a style similar to what is used in Yakshagana
- Kabitol: Sung during cultivation of crops, the traditional occupation of the people.O Bele being the finest among them.
Theatre and films
Theatre in form of the Traditional Yakshagana, prevalent in coastal Karnataka and northern Kerala has greatly preserved the finer aspects of the Tulu language. Yakshagana which is conducted in Tulu is pretty popular among the Tuluva people. It can also been seen as a form of temple art, as there are many Yakshagana groups that are attached to temples namely that of Kateel Durga Parameshwari Temple as also the Udupi Krishna Temple.
At present eight professional Yakshagana troupes perform only Tulu Yakshagana not only during the Yakshagana season but also during the off season in various places of Karnataka and outside. In Mumbai Tulu Yakshagana is very popular among the Tulu people there. More than 2000 Yakshagana artists take part in the performance in various places in Mumbai annually. Notable performers of Tulu Yakshagana include Kalladi Koraga Shetty Pundur Venkatraja Puninchathaya, Guru Bannanje Sanjiva Suvarna and Pathala Venkatramana Bhat.
Tulu plays are among the major entertainment for admirers of art and culture in the Tulu Nadu. Tulu plays generally centered on the comic genre are very popular in Mumbai and Bangalore outside Tulu Nadu Tulu film industry is pretty small; it produces 2 to 3 films annually. The first film, Enna Thangadi, was released in 1971. List of Tulu-Language Films. Usually these films are released in theatres across the Tulu Nadu region and on DVD. The critically acclaimed Tulu Film Suddha, won the award for the best Indian Film at the Osian film festival held at New Delhi in 2006. Oriyardori Asal released in 2011 is the most successful Tulu film till date.
Centres of Tulu study and research
Tulu as a language continues to thrive in coastal Karnataka and Kasaragod in Kerala. Tulu Sahitya Academy, an institute established by the state government of Karnataka, has introduced Tulu as a language in schools around coastal Karnataka, including Alva's High School, Moodbidri; Dattanjaneya High School, Odiyoor; Ramakunjeshwara English-medium High School, Ramakunja; and Vani Composite Pre-University College, Belthangady. The Academy is awaiting government permission to add more schools.
Tulu is also taught as a language at the post graduate level in Mangalore University, and there is a dedicated department for Tulu studies, Translation and Research at Dravidian University in Kuppam Andhra Pradesh.The Government Degree College at Kasaragod in Kerala has also introduced a certificate course in Tulu for the academic year 2009-2010. It has also introduced Tulu as an optional subject in its Kannada post-graduation course. It has adopted syllabi from the books published by the Tulu Sahitya Academy.
German missionaries Revs. Kammerer and Männer were the first people to conduct research on the language. Rev. Krammer collected about 3,000 words and their meanings until he died. Later his work was carried on by Rev. Männer, who completed the research and published the first dictionary of the Tulu language in 1886 with the help of the then Madras government. The effort was incomplete, as it did not cover all aspects of the language. The Govinda Pai Research Centre at MGM College, Udupi started an 18-year Tulu lexicon project in the year 1979.
Different dialects, special vocabularies used for different occupational activities, rituals, and folk literature in the forms of Paād-danāas were included in this project. The Centre has also released a six-volume, trilingual, modestly priced Tulu-Kannada-English lexicon. The Tulu lexicon was awarded the Gundert Award for the best dictionary in the country in 1996. In September 2011, the Academic Council of Mangalore University accepted a proposal, to allow the university and the colleges affiliated to it to offer certificates, diplomas and postgraduate diploma courses in Tulu, both in regular and correspondence modes
Demand for a separate Tulunadu state
Tulu speakers of Southern India are a separate culture from the Kannadigas within India. From India's independence and following the reorganization of states, Tuluvas have been demanding official language status for Tulu and a separate state. Though a bit subdued in between, this demand has grown stronger in recent years. Several organizations like the Tulu Rajya Horata Samiti have taken up the cause of the Tuluvas, and frequent meetings and demonstrations are held across towns in Tulunadu (like Mangalore, Udupi etc.) to voice their demands.
It is not surprising that the Tulu speakers demand for the status of scheduled language. In India, Tulu is one of the most-spoken non-scheduled languages; the general tendency is that if the speakers of the language are in a geographically contiguous place, they seek a separate state and then seek the status of official language in the concerned state. The 44th report of the National Commissioner Linguistic Minorities, presented to the President in 2007, recognizes newly-born websites on the Internet for linguistic minorities, including www.boloji.com for Tulu, and according to their 41st report, Tulu Academy is fairly active. However, it is unclear how intense their demands for separation actually are. Since 2010 Tulu will be taught as a subject at the higher primary level of education in Coastal Karnataka.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tulu language.|
|Tulu language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
- Official Website of Karnataka Government's Tulu Academy
- Online Tulu Dictionary
- Proposed Tulu Unicode
- The Tulu Script www.yakshagana.com
- Tulu Language: Its Script and Dialects www.boloji.com
- Common Kannada, Tulu and Konkani phrases www.mangalore.com
- Tulu Literature