Kannada is one of the oldest Dravadian languages and it has got its own place in the galaxy of languages. It has been spoken 2,500 years ago and it has a written history going back 1,900 years.
Kannada is also the third oldest language in
after Sanskrit and Tamil. India
Kannada is spoken by more than 40 million people and it is classified as among the top 40 languages in the world. There are about 20 dialects of Kannada, that includes Kundagannada, Nadavarkannada, Havigannada, Are Bhashe, Soliga, Gulbarga Kannada, Dharwad Kannada and a few more.
However even among the dialects, Urali (Mala Malasar) and Hoya or Holiya are distinct enough to be frequently considered separate languages. These two dialects along with another dialect Badaga are spoken outside Karnataka and all of them bear very close resemblance to Kannada.
The Holiya is spoken about by tribal people of
Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh
and their numbers are believed to be less than five hundred.
This dialect is slowly disappearing and the people who speak then are mainly hunters and people living in forests. These people follow the Hindi culture but the language resembles Kannada. The script is Hindi though.
The dialect is also called Holar, Hole, Holu and Golari-Kannada latest census figures estimate that 500 people in
Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh speak this
Another dialect, Badaga, was earlier considered as a sub language of Kannada, but many linguists claim that it should be studied and also classified as a separate branch emerging out of the south Dravidian language group.
There is no possibility of this dialect becoming extinct as it is spoken by more than 2.5 lakh people. These speakers primarily reside in villages spread across the Nilgiris or the
Blue mountains in Tamil Nadu. They had settled at the
place where the eastern and western Ghats converge in the southern . peninsula of India
The region where they stay is known as Badaganadu or the
. The Badaga language resembles
Kannada a lot. During earlier times, Kannada script was used but now educated
Badagas prefer Tamil or English scripts. land of Badagas
According to legends, the Badagas were Kannada speaking people and they migrated from Badagahalli, a village near
and settled among in the Nilgiris more than a thousand years ago. They never
came back. Nor did the villagers of Badagahalli contact them again. Due to the
lack of contact with their erstwhile habitat, the Badagas developed a unique
language form. Mysore
Like the Holar, the Badagas too are primarily hunters and live in forests. In the last few decades, they have taken to agriculture.
Another dialect is Urali and it is spoken about by tribals living in Idduki in Kerala.
Urali too is an almost extinct language and there is no exact figure ion how many speak in it. Almost all the Urali speakers are primarily found in Idukki district.
They belong to a scheduled tribe and the speakers are mostly the elder members of the tribe. The younger members are mostly educated in Malayalam and communicate in the same language. Urali shares many features with Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and also with Irula.The Urali speaking tribals follow a traditional religion and now they have taken to agriculture. Interestingly, there are very few speakers of these dialects in Karnataka and outside the State, their numbers are decreasing and their link with Kannada is getting strenuous day by day.