Karnataka State Tribal Research Institute (KSTRI) will soon take up a study of the culture and language of Chenchu and Kathodi Katkari tribals. Both being nomadic tribes, their main occupation is cutting trees for firewood and being employed as labourers.
The Institute will record their language and bring out a dictionary in Kannada and English. The main objective of this study is to protect and preserve a dying language and culture for the next generations.
The research is expected to begin in January, 2015. A language expert, and a translator with the help of both the tribal community heads will be documenting their language for about eight months.
The Chenchu tribals who originally migrated from Andhra Pradesh to Karnataka, have today spread over Gulbarga, Bidar, Yadgir, Belgaum, Bijapur and some parts of Raichur and Hyderabad Karnataka. They speak Chenchu language and their population is very less consisting about 943 members in the State, as per the 2011 population census.
While, the Kathodi Katkari tribe migrated from Maharastra and North India, have settled in Belgaum, Jardhar, Karwar and some parts of Gadag and Dharwad district. They speak their native Kathodi language whose dialect is influenced by Marathi as they are settled in the areas bordering Maharastra and Karnataka. Their population is 274.
KSTRI Director Dr TT Basavanagouda said: “We came to know they speak their own distinct language through literature. As they are nomads we have to follow them to study their behaviour, language and culture. Till today we have not traced their language, which made us to do a research on their language.”
Continuing he said, dictionary of of two tribal languages spoken by Hakki Pikki and Dungri Garasia tribes has been compiled with the help of CIIL and will be published by the end of his month. Tribal languages are becoming extinct and it is the need of the hour to preserve them, he added.