Gondi language

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Gondi (Koytor)
𑵶𑶓𑶕𑶂𑶌 (𑵲𑶔𑵢𑵳𑶔𑵵𑶍)
𑴎𑴽𑵀𑴘𑴳 (𑴍𑴿𑴂𑴛𑴿𑴧𑴴)
గోండీ (ఖౌఇతౌలు)
गोंडी (खौइ़तौल़ु)
gōnḍī (khauïtaul̈u) written in Gunjala & Masaram Scripts
Native toIndia
Native speakers
2.98 million (2011 census)[1]
Gunjala Gondi Lipi
Gondi script
Devanagari, Telugu script (used in conjunction)
Language codes
ISO 639-2gon
ISO 639-3gon – inclusive code
Individual codes:
gno – Northern Gondi
esg – Aheri Gondi
wsg – Adilabad Gondi
Gondi map.png
Areas where Gondi is spoken

Gondi (Gōndi) (𑵶𑶓𑶕𑶂𑶌, 𑴎𑴽𑵀𑴘𑴳, గోండీ, गोंडी i)s a South-Central Dravidian language, spoken by about two million Gondi people,[3] chiefly in the Indian states of Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, and by small minorities in neighbouring states. Although it is the language of the Gond people, only one fifth of Gonds can speak the language, making it vulnerable to extinction. Gondi has a rich folk literature, examples of which are marriage songs and narrations.


Although almost 13 million people returned themselves as Gonds on the last census, only 3 million recorded themselves as speakers of Gondi. This is the result of a language shift from Gondi to regional languages in the majority of the Gondi population, especially those in the northern portion of their range. The true number, however, is estimated to be several times higher, with some putting the figure as high as 20 million, because many Gondi speakers live in remote, Naxal-affected areas not reached by the census.[4] In the present-day, large communities of Gondi speakers can be found in southeastern Madhya Pradesh (Betul, Chhindwara, Mandla, Seoni and Balaghat districts), Nagpur division of Maharashtra, northern Telangana (Adilabad, Komaram Bheem, and Bhadradi Kothagudem districts), Bastar division of Chhattisgarh and Nabarangpur district of Odisha.[1]


Gondi has a two-gender system, substantives being either masculine or nonmasculine. Gondi has developed aspirated stops, distancing itself from its ancestor Proto-Dravidian.



Labial Dental/
Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
voiceless p t ʈ k
aspirated ʈʰ tʃʰ
voiced b d ɖ ɡ
breathy ɖʱ dʒʱ ɡʱ
Fricative v s (ʂ) h
Nasal m n (ɳ) (ɲ) ŋ
Lateral l
Tap ɾ ɽ
Approximant (w) j
  • Sounds /tʃ tʃʰ dʒ dʒʱ/ can be heard as alveo-palatal [tɕ tɕʰ dʑ dʑʱ] before non-front vowels in some dialects.
  • /s/ is realized as a retroflex sibilant [ʂ] before a retroflex stop /ʈ/.
  • An alveolar tap sound /ɾ/ can vary freely with a trill sound [r].
  • /n/ is realized as a dental nasal [n̪] before a dental stop sound, a palatal nasal [ɲ] before a palatal affricate, and a retroflex nasal [ɳ] before a retroflex stop. Elsewhere, it is articulated as an alveolar nasal [n].
  • /v/ is realized as an approximant [w] when occurring before back vowels.[5]


Front Central Back
short long short long short long
High i u
Mid e o
Low a


Most of the Gondi dialects are still inadequately recorded and described. The more important dialects are Dorla, Koya, Madiya, Muria, and Raj Gond. Some basic phonologic features separate the northwestern dialects from the southeastern. One is the treatment of the original initial s, which is preserved in northern and western Gondi, while farther to the south and east it has been changed to h; in some other dialects it has been lost completely. Other dialectal variations in the Gondi language are the alteration of initial r with initial l and a change of e and o to a.

In 2015, the ISO 639 code for the "Southern Gondi language", "ggo", was deprecated and split into two codes, Aheri Gondi (esg) and Adilabad Gondi (wsg).[6][7]


Gondi writing can be split into two categories: that using its own writing systems and that using writing systems also used for other languages.

For lack of a widespread native script, Gondi is often written in Devanagari and Telugu scripts.

In 1928, Munshi Mangal Singh Masaram designed a native script based on Brahmi characters and in the same format of an Indian alphasyllabary. This script did not become widely used,[citation needed] although it is being encoded in Unicode.[8] Most Gonds remain illiterate.[citation needed]

A native script that dates up to 1750 has been discovered by a group of researchers from the University of Hyderabad. It's usually named Gunjala Gondi Lipi, after the place where it was found. According to Maharashtra Oriental Manuscripts Library and Research Centre of India, a dozen manuscripts were found in this script. Programs to create awareness and promotion of this script among the Gondi people are in development stage. The Gunjala Gondi Lipi has witnessed a surge in prominence, and well-supported efforts are being undertaken in villages of northern Andhra Pradesh to widen its usage.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Census of India Website : Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India". www.censusindia.gov.in. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Northwest Gondi". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Beine, David K. 1994. A Sociolinguistic Survey of the Gondi-speaking Communities of Central India. M.A. thesis. San Diego State University. chpt. 1
  4. ^ "Gondi language: victim of government neglect". www.downtoearth.org.in. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  5. ^ Subrahmanyam, P. S. (1968). A descriptive grammar of Gondi. Annamalainagar, India: Annamalainagar: Annamalai Univ.
  6. ^ "2015-062 | ISO 639-3". iso639-3.sil.org. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  7. ^ Penny, Mark (24 August 2015). "ISO 639-3 Registration AuthorityRequest for Change toISO 639-3 Language CodeChange Request Number: 2015-062(completed by Registration authority)" (PDF).
  8. ^ "Preliminary Proposal to Encode the Gondi Script in the UCS" (PDF).

Further reading[edit]

  • Beine, David K. 1994. A Sociolinguistic Survey of the Gondi-speaking Communities of Central India. M.A. thesis. San Diego State University. 516 p.
  • Chenevix Trench, Charles. Grammar of Gondi: As Spoken in the Betul District, Central Provinces, India; with Vocabulary, Folk-Tales, Stories and Songs of the Gonds / Volume 1 - Grammar. Madras: Government Press, 1919.
  • Hivale, Shamrao, and Verrier Elwin. Songs of the Forest; The Folk Poetry of the Gonds. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd, 1935.
  • Moss, Clement F. An Introduction to the Grammar of the Gondi Language. [Jubbalpore?]: Literature Committee of the Evangelical National Missionary Society of Sweden, 1950.
  • Pagdi, Setumadhava Rao. A Grammar of the Gondi Language. [Hyderabad-Dn: s.n, 1954.
  • Subrahmanyam, P. S. Descriptive Grammar of Gondi Annamalainagar: Annamalai University, 1968.

External links[edit]