Tulu Language

Tulu is a native language of people inhabiting the land called as “Tulunad” since ancient times. In the year 1945, Robert Caldwell mentioned tulu as the language of Dravidian origin along with tamil, telugu, kannada and malayalam. Later researchers noted a total of 27 languages to be of Dravidian origin. Furthermore, with the identification of these languages the previous belief that Dravidian language is of south Indian origin has been changed. Apart from India, countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan also had these languages of dravidian origin. Among those languages Brahui is identified to be the most prominent by language experts. Several languages of dravidian origin still exist as spoken languages also in various parts of northern India. A place near Afghanistan named as “Prak” originating from the tulu word “prak” translates itself to “prayer” in Sanskrit language. Existence of these places named over by the words in tulu clearly proves the existence of dravidian languages outside India and their usage as spoken languages in various parts of the world. “Tulu” as the name suggests is the most soft-spoken language. The name “tulu” originates as it is widely spoken by the people of Tulunad. There is least usage of aspirated consonants in this language. However, “Anunasika swaras” or vowel nasalization are tremendously used. Tulu is known to directly originate from Dravidian base and is not a sublanguage of any of the Dravidian languages. According to language experts, its history dates back to 2600 years. Squadron leader P. S Rai in his works noted several Tulu words in 2000 year old Greek scriptures at the museum of Oxyrhynchus , Egypt. These words were noted in a humorous play named “Chaurison “written on papira pages. Notable polymath Dr. Shivaram Karanth also agreed with the same. This play has an instance of an incident at place Malpe of Udupi and uses several old tulu words in its conversations. A Greek lady named Sariti is the leading character of this play. It was mentioned in an encyclopedia called “Encyclopedia of Britannica” that there were nearly 1.19 crore tulu speaking people in the world. However, this number has decreased with time. Decline in these numbers are majorly due to factors such as lack of written literary works, monarchies, lack of support from the government and spread of people speaking other languages in Tulunad. Until recently, people were unaware of the written script of tulu language. However, tulu language inevitably had a script since ancient times. All existing languages do not possess its own script, languages including Sanskrit and other north Indian languages uses a common Devanagari script. European languages including English make use of Roman scripts. Languages of Tibet, Burma, China, and Japan use similar scripts. Furthermore, Urdu, Persian and Arabic languages possess similar scripts as well. Tulu characters were originally taken from thousands of ancient scriptures written on papira pages. These scriptures are worshiped till now in several vedic households. The Deacon of Dharmastala Dr. Virendra Heggade has preserved thousands of these scriptures under the surveillance of Dr. Vignaraj. Dr. Venkataraj Puninchittaya has conducted transcriptions of several such scriptures. Important among them are Tulu bhagavatha written by Vishnutunga, Tulu Mahabharato written by Aarunabhja of Udupi Kodavoor, prose of Devi Mahatme, Kaveri, and Karna Parva of 13 th and 14 th century. Nearly 45 inscriptions of tulu, kannada and Sanskrit languages written in tulu scripts have been found which dates back from 7 th century BC to 14 th century BC. Tulunad has witnessed immigrants from various parts of the world. Arabs as traders were major among them. They were here for its major crop-rice known as “Arishi” in ancient dravidian language. The same is derived into “Ari” in Tulu, “voraisa” in Arabian language, “rice “in English and “raiees” in French. Hence, Tuluvas were the people who introduced rice to the people of Europe through Arabs. Similar to rice several other words derived from tulu were introduced by the Arabs into European languages. However, Tulu also received several words of Sanskrit, English and other Indian languages. In turn Tulu has also contributed its words to Sanskrit and other Indian languages. In 18 th century BC, German protestant missionaries came to Tulunad. They learnt tulu in the view of spreading Christianity and wrote several texts in tulu. They also made use of kannada scripts to write tulu texts. In 1886, first text printed in Tulu which was a collection of “Paddanas” or song constituting of an important aspect of the folklore of coastal Karnataka by Rev.August Maenner. Several such works include tulu grammar by Reverend Brigel, Tulu-English dictionary by Rev Maenner and missionary bible songs. These missionaries also started tulu medium primary schools. In 1892, first Tulu textbooks for standard One was also published. However, due to unwillingness of people to send their children to a tulu medium school these classes were made to end at standard third.