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Tulu
ತುಳು
തുളു
Tulubaase4.png
Tulu Baase written in Tigalari script
Native to India
Region Tulu Nadu region
(Dakshina Kannada and Udupi District of Karnataka and a part of Kasaragod district of Kerala)
Ethnicity Tuluvas
Native speakers 1.85 million  (2011 census)
Language family
Dravidian
Writing system Tigalari script
Kannada script
Official status
Recognised minority language in  India (Karnataka and Kerala)
Regulated by Karnataka Tulu Sahitya Academy
Kerala Tulu Academy
Tuluspeakers.PNG
Distribution of native Tulu speakers in India

Tulu (Tulu bāse) is an endangered Dravidian language whose speakers are concentrated in two coastal districts of Karnataka in Southwestern India and in a part of the Kasaragod district of Kerala. The native speakers of Tulu are referred to as Tuluva or Tulu people and the geographical area is unofficially called Tulu Nadu.

The Indian census report of 2011 reported a total of 1,846,427 native Tulu speakers in India. The 2001 census had reported a total of 1,722,768 native speakers, According to one estimate reported in 2009, Tulu is spoken by 3 to 5 million speakers in the world. There is some difficulty in counting Tulu speakers who have migrated from their native region as they often get counted as Kannada speakers in Indian census reports.

Separated early from Proto-South Dravidian, Tulu has several features not found in Tamil–Kannada. For example, it has the pluperfect and the future perfect, like French or Spanish, but formed without an auxiliary verb.

Tulu is the primary spoken language in Tulu Nadu consisting of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi district of Karnataka and a part of Kasaragod district of Kerala. Significant number of native tulu speakers are found in Kalasa and Mudigere taluks of Chikkamagaluru district. Non-native speakers of Tulu include those who speak the Beary language, Havyaka and Gowda dialects of Kannada as also Konkani, Koraga resident in the Tulunadu region. Apart from Tulunadu, a significant emigrant population of Tulu speaking people is found in Maharashtra, Bangalore, Chennai, the English-speaking world, and the Gulf countries.

The various medieval inscriptions of Tulu from the 15th century are in the Tulu script. Two Tulu epics named Sri Bhagavato and Kaveri from the 17th century were also written in the same script. However, in modern times the Tulu language is mostly written using the Kannada script. The Tulu language is known for its oral literature in the form of epic poems called Paddana. The Epic of Siri and the legend of Koti and Chennayya belong to this category of Tulu literature.

Dialects

There are various dialects. The most important are:

  • Brahmin dialect: Spoken by Tulu Brahmins.
  • Jain dialect: Spoken by the Jains in the northern part of Tulu Nadu.
  • Common dialect: Spoken by the majority of people of Tulu Nadu; the dialect of commerce, entertainment and art.
  • Tribal dialect: Spoken by tribal people; closely resembles the Common dialect.

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