(Last Updated on : 16/01/2015)
Badaga language is a popular southern Dravidian language. It belongs to the Tamil-Kannada branch of the Dravidian language
family. Badaga language is hugely spoken by more than 400,000 people, who are known as the Badagas, of the Nilgiri Hills
region in Southern part of the country. Badaga language is mostly known for its retroflex vowels. The term 'Badaga' actually refers to Badaga tribal community. This language is popularly known as Badugu by the native speakers of this language. The people in the community/tribe are called Badugu or Baduguru by native speakers.
Among the tribal languages spoken in the Nilgiri Hills area of Tamil Nadu, such as Toda, Kota, Kurumba and Irula, Badaga holds a special and significant status. Due to its historical background it has been considered for long as a dialect of Kannada language. The linguistic features specific to Kannada language, support the fact that it has long been a dialect of Kannada language
. Nevertheless the varieties of speech of the people who originally formed the Badaga community, their long stay in the Nilgiri hills and their close connection, economically and culturally, with the other inhabitants of the hills made their speech evolve in a very peculiar way, so much so that the present speech forms of the Badagas have been deeply influenced by the neighbouring languages and cannot any more be said to be dialect of Kannada language.
Some aspects of the verbal system, namely structural similarities which belong exclusively to the Nilgiri languages or are shared by them and not by Kannada language, is taken as examples of the influence of Badaga tribal language. The actual history of the present-future forms of Badaga language is not exactly known. There are two significant points associated with Badaga language. The first fact is that the present day Badaga verbal paradigms do not have any direct parallel with any other language. Secondly, the comparison of Badaga language with Kannada language points out that the characteristics of the Nilgiri languages is not as isolated and as erratic as considered. There are a few basic facts about the syntactic structure of Badaga and the relation between predication and assertion. There are several syntactic patterns of both verbal and non-verbal sentences.
Badaga language like other languages of India has very definitive as well as distinctive words, which distinguishes one sound or term from the other one. Interestingly, even a small change in the pronunciation may result in a different meaning in this language. Thus, it can be said that the deviant facts observed in Badaga language often act as good indicators of archaisms that are unexpressed from the main language group.