Badaga language

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Native toIndia
RegionTamil Nadu, The Nilgiris
Native speakers
133,500 (2011 census)[1]
Kannada script Tamil script[citation needed]
Language codes
ISO 639-3bfq
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For a guide to IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Badaga is a southern Dravidian language spoken by approximately 135,000 people in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu.[3] It is known for its retroflex vowels. It has similarities with neighbouring Kannada language as Hale Kannada, and has now been identified as an independent language by a French linguistic scholar, Christiane Pilot-Raichoor.[4] The word Badaga, meaning "northerner", refers to the Badaga language as well as the Badaga indigenous people who speak it.[5]


Badaga has five vowels qualities, /i e a o u/, each of which may be long or short and until 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.

Bilabial Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar
Stop voiceless p t ʈ c k
voiced b d ɖ ɟ g
Fricative v s
Nasal m n ɳ
Approximant l ɻ j
Trill r

Badaga script[edit]

Several attempts were made at constructing an orthography based on English and Kannada. The earliest printed book using Kannada script was a Christian work, "Anga Kartagibba Yesu Kristana Olleya Suddiya Pustaka" by Basel Mission Press of Mangaluru in 1890.[9]

Usage of vowels and consonats of Tamil script resp. Kannanda script to create Badaga script
Usage of Tamil script resp. Kannanda script to create Badaga script

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

The Badaga language is also written in the Tamil script.


The Badaga language is well studied and several Badaga-English Dictionaries have been produced since the latter part of the nineteenth century.[11]


  1. ^ "Statement 1: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues - 2011". Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Badaga". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Steever, Sanford B. (1998). The Dravidian languages. Taylor & Francis. pp. 6–7. ISBN 978-0-415-10023-6.
  4. ^ Thiagarajan, Shantha (4 December 2012). "Badaga language not a dialect of Kannada, claims French linguistic scholar". The Times of India. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  5. ^ Hockings, Paul; Pilot-Raichoor, Christiane (1992). A Badada-English Dictionary. Mouton de Gruyter. p. 391. ISBN 978-3110126778.
  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 (1992). A Badaga-English Dictionary (Reprint ed.). Mouton de Gruyter. Retrieved 6 February 2013.

External links[edit]