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Kodava language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Native toIndia
RegionKodagu, Karnataka
Native speakers
113,857 (2011 census)[1]
Kannada script, Coorgi–Cox alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3kfa

The Kodava (Kannada script: ಕೊಡವ ತಕ್ಕ್ Kodava takk, meaning 'speech of Kodavas', in the Kodava language) is an endangered Dravidian language and the original language of the Kodagu district in southern Karnataka, India. The term Kodava has two related usages. Firstly, it is the name of the Kodava language and culture followed by a number of communities from Kodagu. Secondly, within the Kodava-speaking communities and region (Kodagu) it describes the dominant Kodava people. Hence, the Kodava language is not only the primary language of the Kodavas but also of many other castes and tribes in Kodagu. The language has two dialects: Mendele (spoken in Northern and Central Kodagu, i.e. outside Kodagu's Kiggat naadu) and Kiggat (spoken in Kiggat naadu, in Southern Kodagu).



Kodava has 14 vowels. 7 of these, i, e, ɛ, a, ɑ, o, u, have long equivalents.[3]

Front Central Back
unrounded rounded
Close i ɨ ɯ u
Near-close ɪ ʊ
Close-mid e
Mid ə
Open-mid ɛ ʌ ɔ
Open a ɑ


Kodava has 25 consonants.

Bilabial Dental Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop voiceless p ʈ k
voiced b ɖ g
Fricative ð s ʂ ç h
Nasal m n ɳ ɲ ŋ
Approximant l ɭ j
Trill r
Flap ɽ


Proto Tamil-Kodagu, Origin of Kodagu language (Kodava takk)
Proto Tamil-Kodagu, Origin of Kodagu language (Kodava takk)

Linguistically, Kodava language shows some deviations from other Dravidian languages. It is closely related to and influenced by Tamil, Tulu, Kannada, and Malayalam. A majority of the words are common between Kodava and Beary bashe, a dialect which is a mixture of Tulu and Malayalam spoken by the Beary and Belchada community.


Family histories, rituals and other records were scripted on palm leaves called Pattole (patt=palm, ole=leaf) by astrologers in the ancient times. When Kodava was written, it was usually with Kannada script, sometimes with minor modifications. The folk songs of the Kodavas, called the Palame (also known as the Balo Patt or Dudi Patt), were orally transmitted across several generations. The language had no significant written literature until the twentieth century. Appachcha Kavi, a playwright, and Nadikerianda Chinnappa, a folk compiler, are the two important poets and writers of the Kodava language. Other important writers in the language were B D Ganapathy and I M Muthanna.

The Coorgi-Cox alphabet
The Coorgi-Cox alphabet

In 2005, after requests from the Kodagu community, German linguist Gerard Cox created a script unique to Kodava called the Coorgi-Cox script. It uses straight lines for 5 vowels, and has circles for diphthongs.[4]

The Pattole Palame, a collection of Kodava folksongs and traditions compiled in the early 1900s by Nadikerianda Chinnappa, was first published in 1924. The most important Kodava literature, it is said to be one of the earliest, if not the earliest, collection of folklore of a community in an Indian language. Nearly two thirds of the book consists of folksongs that were handed down orally through generations, sung even today during marriage and death ceremonies and during festivals relating to the seasons and in honour of local deities and heroes. Traditionally known as Balo Pat, these songs are sung by four men who beat dudis (drums) as they sing. Kodava folk dances are performed to the beat of many of these songs. The Pattole Palame was written using the Kannada script originally; it has been translated into English by Boverianda Nanjamma and Chinnappa, grandchildren of Nadikerianda Chinnappa, and has been published by Rupa & Co., New Delhi.[5]


The Kodava Cinema industry is very small. A few movies portraying the native culture and traditions of the Kodavas have been produced in this language. The first Kodava film 'Nada Mann Nada Kool' was directed by S.R.Rajan and produced in the year 1972.

Words for family members

Mother Amma/ Avvo
Father Appa/ Ayya/ Pappo/ Appayya
Grandfather Thatha / Daddappayya
Grandmother Avvayya / Avva / Thaayi /Thathi
Maternal Uncle / Paternal Aunt's husband Mamo / Manvo
Maternal Uncle's wife / Paternal Aunt Manvi / Manyi
Eldest Paternal Uncle / Eldest Maternal Aunt's husband Baliappo / Doddappo
Eldest Paternal Uncle's wife / Eldest Maternal Aunt Baliavvo / Doddavvo
Elder Paternal Uncle / Elder Maternal Aunt's husband Bojappo
Elder Paternal Uncle's wife / Elder Maternal Aunt Bojavvo / Bojammo
Younger Paternal Uncle / Younger Maternal Aunt's husband Kunjappo
Younger Paternal Uncle's wife/ Younger Maternal Aunt Kunjavvo / Kunjammo
Youngest Paternal Uncle / Youngest Maternal Aunt's husband Cheriappo
Youngest Paternal Uncle's wife/ Youngest Maternal Aunt Cheriavvo / Cheriammo
Father-in-law Manvo
Mother-in-law Manvi / Manyi
brother-in-law (elder) / cross-cousin (elder, brother) / lineal cousin (elder, sister)'s husband Bavo
sister-in-law (elder)/ cross-cousin (elder, sister) / lineal-cousin (elder, brother)'s wife Mommo
brother (elder) / lineal cousin (elder brother) / cross-cousin (elder, sister)'s husband Annaiah
sister (elder) / lineal-cousin (elder, sister) / cross-cousin (elder, brother)'s wife Akkaiah
brother (younger) Thammo
sister (younger) Thange
Wife Ponne
Husband Wadiyye
Son Movonvo
Daughter Mova

Kodava words

Kodava Kannada English
Kinha Huduga Boy
Poyi Hogu Go
Karri Saaru Curry (English origin from Tamil Karri)
Koole Akki Rice
Ide Ide Keep
Thimbake Tinnakke To Eat
Koolli Snana To Bathe
Und Ide Is There
Bappi Bartini I will Come (Farewell Greeting)
Ullo Iddene Am There
Bandan Ullo Baruta iddene Am coming
Yenne Ulliya? Hege iddiya? How are you?
Māṅge Maavu Mango (English origin from Malayalam Māṅge)
Kaḷḷa Kaḷla Thief
Sooroole Modalu First
Kere Pamb Kere Haavu Rat Snake
Mūle Mūle Corner
Āme Āme Tortoise
Bēli Bēli Fence
Bithe Beeja Seed
Bādege Bādige Rent
Chatte Sante Market
Ēni Ēni Ladder
Puḷi Huli Tamarind
Gaali Gaali Wind
Tha Kodi give
Kaapi Kaapi Coffee
Paado Haadu to sing


  1. ^ "Census of India Website : Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India". Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kodava". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ "PHOIBLE Online -". Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  4. ^ Merritt, Anne (1 April 2015). "Easiest written languages for English speakers". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  5. ^ "– Official Website of Kodava Community". Retrieved 1 June 2012.


  • R A Cole, "An Elementary Grammar of the Coorg Language"

External links

This page was last edited on 22 December 2019, at 16:39
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