Kurukh language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Kurux, Oraon
Native toIndia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan
RegionOdisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Andaman Nicobar
EthnicityKurukh people, Kisan people
Native speakers
2.28 million (2002-2011)[1][2][3]
  • Northern Dravidian
    • Kurukh–Malto
      • Kurukh
Tolong Siki
Malayalam script
Official status
Official language in
 India (Jharkhand, West Bengal)
Language codes
ISO 639-2kru
ISO 639-3Variously:
kru – Kurukh
kxl – Nepali Kurux (Dhangar)
xis – Kisan

Kurukh /ˈkʊrʊx/[5] (also Kurux and Oraon or Uranw;[6] Devanagari: कुड़ुख़) is a Dravidian language spoken by nearly two million Oraon and Kisan tribespeople of Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and West Bengal, as well as by 65,000 in northern Bangladesh, 28,600 a dialect called Dhangar in Nepal, and about 5,000 in Bhutan. Some Kurukh speakers are in South India. It is most closely related to Brahui and Malto (Paharia). The language is marked as being in a "vulnerable" state in UNESCO's list of endangered languages.[7] The Kisan dialect has 206,100 speakers as of 2011.


Kurukh belongs to the Northern Dravidian group of the Dravidian family of languages,[8] and is closely related to Sauria Paharia and Kumarbhag Paharia, which are often together referred to as Malto.[9]

Kurukh is written in Devanagari, a script also used to write Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi, Nepali and other Indo-Aryan languages. Narayan Oraon, a doctor, invented the Tolong Siki script specifically for Kurukh. Many books and magazines have been published in Tolong Siki script. The Kurukh Literary Society of India has been instrumental in spreading the Tolong Siki script for Kurukh literature.

Geographical distribution[edit]

Kurukh language spoken mostly in Raigarh, Surguja of Chhattisgarh, Gumla, Ranchi, Simdega of Jharkhand, Jharsuguda and Sundargarh of Odisha. It is also spoken in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal, Assam, Bihar and Tripura states.[10]


It is spoken by 2,053,000 people from the Oraon and Kisan tribes, with 1,834,000 and 219,000 speakers respectively. The literacy rate is 23% in Oraon and 17% in Kisan. Despite the large number of speakers, the language is considered to be endangered.[11] The governments of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have introduced the Kurukh language in schools with majority Kurukhar students. Jharkhand and West Bengal both list Kurukh as an official language of their respective states.[12] Bangladesh also has some speakers.



Kurukh has five cardinal vowels. Each vowel has long, short nasalized and long nasalized counterparts.[13]

Kurukh simple vowels
Front Back
High /i/ /u/
Mid /e/ /o/
Low /a/


The table below illustrates the articulation of the consonants.[13]

Kurukh consonants
Bilabial Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
plain aspirated plain aspirated plain aspirated plain aspirated plain aspirated
Stop voiceless p t ʈ ʈʰ c k ʔ
voiced b d ɖ ɖʱ ɟ ɟʱ g
Fricative s ʃ x h
Nasal m n ɳ ɲ ŋ
Approximant l j w
Trill r
Flap ɽ ɽʰ


Kurukh languages is taught as a subject in the schools of Jharkhand, Chhattishgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and Assam.[14]

Sample phrases[edit]

Phrases English Translation
Nighai ender name hike? What is your Name ?
Nin ekase raadeen? How are you? (Girl)
Nin ekase raadai? How are you? (Boy)
En kodam radas. I am fine.
Ikya kaalgadeen ? Where are you going? (Girl)
Ikya Kaalgadai ? Where are you going? (Boy)
Endra manja? What happened?
Hae Yes
Mala No
En Onna Lagdan. I am eating.
Neen Mookha. You eat.
Aar onna lagnar. They are eating.

Alternative names and dialects[edit]

Kurukh has a number of alternative names such as Uraon, Kurux, Kunrukh, Kunna, Urang, Morva, and Birhor. Two dialects, Oraon and Kisan, have 73% intelligibility between them. Oraon but not Kisan is currently being standardised. Kisan is currently endangered, with a decline rate of 12.3% from 1991-2001.[15]


  1. ^ "Statement 1: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues - 2011". www.censusindia.gov.in. Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  2. ^ "Kurux". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
  3. ^ "Kurux, Nepali". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
  4. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kurux". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  5. ^ "Kurukh". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  6. ^ http://glottolog.org/resource/languoid/id/nepa1253
  7. ^ Evans, Lisa. "Endangered Languages: The Full List". The Guardian.
  8. ^ Stassen, Leon (1997). Intransitive Predication. Oxford Studies in Typology and Linguistic Theory. Oxford University Press. p. 220. ISBN 978-0199258932.
  9. ^ PS Subrahmanyam, "Kurukh", in ELL2. Ethnologue assigns Nepali Kurux a separate iso code, kxl.
  10. ^ "Kurux". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
  11. ^ Daniel Nettle and Suzanne Romaine. Vanishing Voices: The Extinction of the World's Languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Page 9.
  12. ^ "Kurukh given official language status in West Bengal". Jagranjosh.com. 2017-03-06. Retrieved 2019-05-12.
  13. ^ a b 1970-, Kobayashi, Masato. The Kurux language : grammar, texts and lexicon. Leiden. ISBN 9789004347663. OCLC 1000447436.
  14. ^ Revitalising a language - The Hindu
  15. ^ ORGI. "Census of India: Growth of Non-Scheduled Languages-1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001". www.censusindia.gov.in. Retrieved 2017-10-15.

External links[edit]