Kodava language: Some common misconceptions
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Kodava language: Some common misconceptions

October 5, 2021

Sir,

It was good to read the report in SOM dated 5th August 2021, titled “Kodava an Optional Language in Mangalore University.”

However, the statement in the report that “Kodava language is a mixture of all Dravidian languages. It has adopted words from Tulu, Kannada, Tamil and Malayalam. It has emerged into a separate linguistic identity now” is a common misconception.

Internationally reputed experts in linguistics, such as Prof. M.B. Emeneau of the Univ of California at Berkeley USA and Prof. P.S. Subrahmanyam of Annamalai University, who studied Dravidian languages in depth, have established that the Kodava language is an independent Dravidian language. It belongs to the Proto-South Dravidian group of languages from which it branched off, and has had a separate linguistic identity since about 1000 B.C.

It is closely related to old Tamil and Malayalam, which too branched off from that group. Other members that branched off from the group are Kannada, Tulu, Irula, Kota, Toda and Koraga. This has been explained in the Introduction to ‘Kodava Arivole’, the trilingual Kodava language dictionary, published by Mangalore University in 2016.

As is true for any living language, Kodava thakk continues to grow, borrowing from other languages, especially from the languages in the neighbouring regions — Tulu, Malayalam and Kannada.

Besides, Kannada has been the official and administrative language of Kodagu since 1600 A.D. when the Haleri kings from North Karnataka ruled over Kodagu, and continues to be so since 1956 when Kodagu became a district of the erstwhile Mysore State, since renamed as Karnataka. Therefore Kannada script is used for writing the Kodava language, and Kannada words are used extensively in official, administrative, legal and other such writings.

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Another common misconception is that it is a dialect, since it is an oral language with no script of its own. That makes many major languages of the world like English, French, Spanish, German and Hindi (to name a few) dialects since they too do not have their own script!

– Mrs. & Mr. Boverianda Chinnappa, Mysuru, 9.8.2021

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