Kurukh language

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Kurux, Oraon
Native to India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan
Region Odisha
Ethnicity Kurukh people
Native speakers
2.0 million (2001 census)[1]
Tolong Siki, Devanagari script
Language codes
ISO 639-2 kru
ISO 639-3 Variously:
kru – Kurukh
kxl – Nepali Kurux (Dhangar)
xis – Kisan
Glottolog kuru1301[2]

Kurukh /ˈkʊrʊx/[3] (also Kurux and Oraon or Uranw;[4] Devanagari: कुड़ुख़) is a Dravidian language spoken by nearly two million Oraon and Kisan tribal peoples of Odisha and surrounding areas of India (Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and West Bengal), as well as by 50,000 in northern Bangladesh, 28,600 a dialect called Dhangar in Nepal, and about 5,000 in Bhutan. 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.[5]


Kurukh belongs to the Northern Dravidian group of the Dravidian family of languages,[6] and is closely related to Sauria Paharia and Kumarbhag Paharia, which are often together referred to as Malto.[7]

Kurukh is written in Devanagari, a script also used to write Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi, Nepali and other Indo-Aryan languages. Narayan Oraon, a medical 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.


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.[8] The governments of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have introduced the Kurukh language in schools with a majority of Kurukhars or Oraon students.

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.


Kurukh contrasts oral and nasal vowels.[9]


Kurukh languages is taught as a subject in the schools of Jharkhand.[10]


  1. ^ Kurukh at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Nepali Kurux (Dhangar) at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Kisan at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Kurux". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ "Kurukh". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ http://glottolog.org/resource/languoid/id/nepa1253
  5. ^ Evans, Lisa. "Endangered Languages: The Full List". The Guardian. 
  6. ^ Stassen, Leon (1997). Intransitive Predication. Oxford Studies in Typology and Linguistic Theory. Oxford University Press. p. 220. ISBN 978-0199258932. 
  7. ^ PS Subrahmanyam, "Kurukh", in ELL2. Ethnologue assigns Nepali Kurux a separate iso code, kxl.
  8. ^ Daniel Nettle and Suzanne Romaine. Vanishing Voices: The Extinction of the World's Languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Page 9.
  9. ^ Masica, Colin P. (2003). "South Asian Languages". International Encyclopedia of Linguistics. Oxford Reference. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 17 May 2013. 
  10. ^ Revitalising a language - The Hindu

External links[edit]