|Kannada script, Coorgi-Cox alphabet|
The Kodava or Coorg language (Kannada script: ಕೊಡವ ತಕ್ಕ್ Kodava takk) is a Dravidian language and the original language of the Kodagu district in southern Karnataka, India. The number of speakers is estimated at up to about 500,000. It is the primary language of Kodavas, but a large portion of other communities and tribes in Kodagu also use Kodava. It is closely related to and influenced by Tulu, Kannada, Malayalam, and Tamil. A majority of the words are common between Kodava and Beary bashe, a dialect which is a mixture of Tulu and Malayalam spoken by the Beary and Belchada community.
Linguistically, it shows some deviations from other Dravidian languages. For instance, most Dravidian languages have 5 short and 5 long vowels. Kodava has two more vowels, namely the close central unrounded vowel /ɨ/ and the mid central unrounded vowel /ɘ̞/, which can likewise be short and long (Balakrishnan 1976).
These peculiarities and distinctness of the language had attracted the attention of scholars from the sixteenth century. However, they did not consider Kodava an independent language. It was always considered as a dialect of Kannada, closer to Tulu (Ellis 1816), or closely related to Malayalam and Tamil (Moegling 1855). It was in early 20th century that the philologists and linguists recognized it as an independent language.
Although Kodava is the language of the Kodavas, Kodava-Heggade and the Amma-Kodavas, it is also the native language of some other communities such as Airi, Male-Kudiya, Meda, Kembatti, Kapal, Maringi, Kavadi, Kolla, Thatta, Kodava Nair, Koleya, Koyava, Banna, Golla, Kanya, Ganiga, and Malay. Many of these communities have migrated into Kodagu from the Malabar Coast region during the period of Haleri Dynasty. There is no research done so far to find out the variation in Kodava language in terms of these communities.
Kodava has no significant written literature. When it is written, it is usually with Kannada script, sometimes with minor modifications. A new script, the Coorgi-Cox alphabet was developed for this language in 2005. It is being promoted, but has not yet been broadly adopted by speakers of the language.
- R A Cole, "An Elementary Grammar of the Coorg Language"