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Tulu fit to be included in Eighth Schedule

By M.Raghuram

MANGALORE JULY 15. The people of Dakshina Kannada hope that Tulu will be included in the Eighth Schedule to give it the Official Language status, as they have appealed to the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K.Advani, who in his capacity as Home Minister formed a committee to identify languages to be included in the Schedule in 2000.

The move to get Tulu included in the Eighth Schedule was though made a year ago by a joint committee of scholars, headed by the former Chief Minister, M.Veerappa Moily, and Tulu scholars, nothing has come up so far. The Cabinet approved it eight months ago and the papers are pending with the Union Home Ministry.

Scholars, academicians, linguists, writers, poets, folklorists and socio-political leaders feel that Tulu has the attributes of an independent language, so it can be included in the Eighth Schedule. A memorandum and an appendix containing 300 pages of supporting material have been handed over to the Government to be sent to the Union Government to be scrutinised by the special committee formed by the Home Ministry.

Tulu is one of the most widely spoken languages in South India and it stands alongside mainline languages such as Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Konkani. As per estimates, Tulu is used by over 70 lakh people centred around community-based families, while people belonging to other linguistic groups mainly in South Karnataka use Tulu as an additional means of communication. Scholars estimate that nearly one crore people directly or indirectly use Tulu for communication.

Belonging to the Dravidian family of languages, Tulu has been commended by Victorian linguists such as Robert Caldwell (1856). He observes, "Tulu is one of the most highly-developed languages of the Dravidian family, its equivalent in Germanic languages being Spanish, which more or less has the same level of usage and diction.''

The background paper prepared by the Tulu scholars, which runs into 300 pages, states that on the basis of past excavations, historians have observed that the Tulu-speaking area was inhabited by people of the old stone age. Axes belonging to the New Stone Age were found in the region. Tools of the Copper Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age were also discovered here. The Tulu-speaking people also find a mention in the Tamil Sangam literature of the Second Century AD. A Greek drama of the age records Tulu words spoken by local characters from Coastal Karnataka.

Other historical studies show that Chinese merchants, who visited the Barkuru Rajya of the Vijayanagar Empire, learnt Tulu and took with them samples of the Tulu script drawn in Indian ink on silk cloth. P.S.Subramanyam, a senior linguist from Annamalai University, says that Tulu was the first off shoot of the Proto-South Dravidian language family 2,000 years ago.

Tulu being an independent language, it has derivations only from highly developed languages such as Sanskrit, Kannada and Malayalam. Linguists show that Tulu had a rich vocabulary and diction as early as the 14th Century, and scholars and writers were able to write complex epics such as the Mahabharatha then followed by the Bhagavatha, Kaveri and Devi Mahatme in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Palm leaf inscriptions of the great ``Odyssey'' of the Tulu language have been preserved in Dharmasthala, Mangalore University, and some religious institutions in South India. Tulu literature began to be published more or less at the same time as other languages in India.

In 1830, German missionaries published over 200 books of Tulu grammar, a dictionary, textbooks, translations, and folklore collections. However, the script used was Kannada (Canarese) for better acceptance. Other monumental works published in Tulu include the ``Mandara Ramayana'', by Mandara Keshava Bhat, the Tulu lexicon project of the Rashtrakavi Govinda Pai Samshodhana Kendra in Udupi and a translation of a Tulu folk epic ``Siri'' by the Nordic linguo-folklorist expert, Lauri Honko of Turku University in Finland, which is only four lines short of Homer's Iliad, the world's longest poem.

Foreign funding has been made available for research in Tulu from the Ford Foundation, Fulbright Scholarships, the Tubingen University of Germany, and the Kalevala Institute in Finland. Scholars such as Peter J.Claus and Martha Aeshton from the U.S. and Heidrun Bruckner from Germany have created opportunities in their universities to learn Tulu and Tulu folklore.

Mr. Moily, who has projected various cultural facets of Tulu in his novels, ``Kotta'' and ``Tembere'' has said that Tulu should be included in the Eighth Schedule. Mangaloreans now feel that the chances of Tulu being included in the Eighth schedule are brighter.

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