Badaga language

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Native to India
Region Tamil Nadu, The Nilgiris
Ethnicity Badaga
Native speakers
140,000 (2001 census)[1]
400,000  (1998)[2]
Kannada alphabet[citation needed]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 bfq
Glottolog bada1257[4]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Badaga (Tamil: படகா) is a southern Dravidian language 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 has now been identified as an independent language by a French linguistic scholar, Christiane Pilot-Raichoor.[5] The word Badaga refers to the Badaga language as well as the Badaga indigenous people who speak it.


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[edit]

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 [Badaga_script-_Vowels_and_Consonants_(jeeva_Swara_and_Dheha_Swara)]



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. ISBN 978-0-415-10023-6. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Badaga". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  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.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

External links[edit]