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By: devid jakson

Kannada, Badaga, Holiya and Urali belong to the Dravidian group of languages; it is the same group of which Tamil is also a member. All these languages have a common and mostly a single ancestral source. Let us have a brief review of these group languages based on the information provided in Ethnologue and some linguistic research made on Dravidian languages.


Kannada is the principal and administrative language in Karnataka, India. It is also spoken in the neighboring states of Maharastra, Goa, Andra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. There are a considerable number of Kannada speakers in the UK, USA, UAE and Canada and in Australia too; the number is estimated to reach nearly 50 million. It is one of the 30 languages in the world in terms of the largest user base. The script is also known as Kannada which seems to have been derived from Kharosti and Brahmi, the ancient Indian scripts.

The speakers are primarily Hindus, a lot of Muslims and Christians in the state use Kannada at least as their secondary language. The language has a diversified usage and is spoken in at least 20 different identified dialects within Karnataka. The accent and style differs a lot when we move from one place to the other. The literary language is fairly uniform through out the state and used mostly in formal activities.

The language has a great antiquity of not less than 2000 years, a rich legacy of literature that is at least 1500 years old. There are references in history that Kannada speakers had settled and dominated in the areas between the river basins of Godavari in the north and Kaveri in the south. The language is very much advanced and is phonetic in nature.


Badaga was considered as a sub language of Kannada earlier, but linguists claim that it should be studied as a separate branch emerging out of the south Dravidian language group. The speakers amount up to 250000 in number, primarily residing in scattered villages among the hilly regions of Nilgiris or the Blue mountains where the eastern and western ghats converge in the southern peninsula of India. The region is also known as Badaganadu (the land of Badagas). The language has a lot of resemblance with Kannada and Kannada script was used in the earlier times, now the literates primarily use Tamil or English scripts.

Folklores relate that Badagas had migrated from Badagahalli, a village near Mysore and settled among the hilly regions of Nilgiris about 1000 years ago. Due to the lack of contact with their erstwhile habitat, they developed a unique language form. The Badagas are primarily hunters and forest gatherers, they also practice shifting agriculture.


Holiya shares a lot of characters with Kannada, as a language it is almost extinct and only about a few hundred indigenous speakers exists to this date. They are primarily a scheduled caste having a scattered existence in Madhya Pradesh. These people are primarily hunters and forest gatherers and follow a traditional lifestyle seemingly based on ancient Hindu culture. Literates are very few in number and the script is usually Hindi.


Urali too is an extinct language; no exact estimation is available on the number of speakers.They are primarily found in Idukki district of Kerala state. They belong to a scheduled tribe and the speakers are mostly the elder members of the tribe. The younger are mostly educated in Malayalam and communicate in the same language.Urali shares features with Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and also with Irula.They follow a traditional religion, they are primarily hunters and forest gatherers, now they mostly practice settled type of agriculture.

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