Interesting Facts of Tulu

Tulu: ತುಳು ಬಾಸೆ or തുളു ബാസെ  Tuḷu bāse is a language spoken by 10 million native speakers   mainly in the southwest part of Indian state of Karnataka and a small part of northern Kerala, which is known as Tulu Nadu. It belongs to the Dravidian family of languages. The Tulu people, or Tuluva (plural Tuluver), are an ethno linguistic group native to the Tulu Nadu region of India, presently divided amongst the Dakshina Kannada and Udupi district of Karnataka and the Kasaragod taluk of Kerala. They are the native speakers of the Tulu language. There is a sizable emigrant Tuluva population in Mumbai, the Middle East, and in several countries of the Anglo sphere. In India, 7.5 million people speak it as their native language, increased by 10 percent over the 1991 census. According to one estimate reported in 2009, Tulu is currently spoken by three to five million native speakers in the world. Native speakers of Tulu are referred to as Tuluva or Tulu people.

Robert Caldwell, in his pioneering work A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian family of languages, called this language "peculiar and very interesting". According to him, "Tuḷu is one of the most highly developed languages of the Dravidian family. It looks as if it had been cultivated for its own sake." The language has a lot of written literature and a rich oral literature such as the Epic of Siri.

Tulu has five parts of speech: nouns (substantives and adjectives), pronouns, numerals, verbs, and particles. Substantives have three gram (masculine, feminine, and neuter), two numbers (singular and plural), and eight cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, locative, ablative or instrumental, communicative, and vocative). According to Bhat, Tulu has two distinct locative cases. The communicative case is used with verbs like "tell", "speak", "ask", "beseech", "inquire", and denotes at whom a message, an inquiry, or a request is aimed, as in "I told him." or "I speak to them." It is also used to denote relationship with whom it is about, in a context like "I am on good terms with him." or "I have nothing against him." Bhat calls it the sociative case. It is somewhat similar to the comitative case, but different in that it denotes communication or relationship, not physical companionship. The plural suffix is -rŭ, -ḷu, -kuḷu, or -āḍḷu; as, mēji ("table"), mējiḷu ("tables"). The nominative case is unmarked, while the remaining cases are expressed by different suffixes.

The following table shows the declension of a noun, based on Brigel and Bhat (u̥ used by Brigel and ɯ used by Bhat are both shown as ŭ for clarity): when two forms are given, the one in parentheses is by Bhat, and the other is by Brigel. Some of these differences may be dialectal variations.

Declension of substantives: example mara (“a tree”)








a tree

marokuḷu (marakulu)




of a tree

marokuḷe (marakulena)

of trees


maroku (marakŭ)

to a tree

marokuḷegŭ (marakulegŭ)

to trees


maronu (maranŭ)

a tree (object)

marokuḷenŭ (marakulenŭ)

trees (object)


maroṭu (maraṭŭ)

in a tree

marokuḷeḍŭ (marakuleḍŭ)

in trees

Locative 2

— (maraṭɛ)

at or through a tree

— (marakuleḍɛ)

at or through trees


maroḍŭdu (maraḍdŭ)

from, by, or through a tree

marokuḷeḍŭdŭ (marakuleḍdŭ)

from, by, or through trees



to a tree

marokuḷeḍa (marakuleḍa)

to trees



O tree!

marokuḷē (marakulɛ̄)

O trees!

The personal pronouns are irregularly inflected: yānŭ "I" becomes yen- in oblique cases. Tulu makes the distinction between the inclusive and exclusive "we" (See Clusivity: Dravidian languages): nama "we (including you)" as opposed to yenkuḷu "we (not including you)". For verbs, this distinction does not exist. The personal pronouns of the second person are ī (oblique: nin-) "you (singular)" and nikuḷu "you (plural)". Three genders are distinguished in the third person, as well as proximate and remote forms. For example, imbe "he (proximate)", āye "he (remote)". The suffix -rŭ makes a polite form of personal pronouns, as in īrŭ "you (respectfully)", ārŭ "he (remote; respectfully)". Postpositions are used usually with a noun in the genitive case, as in guḍḍe-da mittŭ "on the hill".

Tulu verbs have three forms: active, causative, and reflexive (or middle voice). They conjugate for person, number, gender, tense (present, past, pluperfect, future, and future perfect), mood (indicative, imperative, conditional, infinitive, potential, and subjunctive), and polarity (positive and negative).



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