Toda language

Last updated

Native to India
Region Nilgiri Hills
Native speakers
1,600 (2001 census) [1]
Tamil alphabet (Brahmic) [2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 tcx
Glottolog toda1252
ELP Toda

Toda is a Dravidian language noted for its many fricatives and trills. It is spoken by the Toda people, a population of about one thousand who live in the Nilgiri Hills of southern India. The Toda language originated from Toda-Kota subgroup of South Dravidian. Krishnamurti (2003) doesn't consider a single Toda-Kota branch and says Kota split first and later Toda did as Kota doesn't have the centralized vowels of other Tamil-Toda languages. [3]



Phonemic inventory


For a Dravidian language, Toda's sixteen vowels is an unusually large number. There are eight vowel qualities, each of which may occur long or short. There is little difference in quality between the long and short vowels, except for /e/, which occurs as [e] when short and as [æː] when long. [4]

Front Central Back
Close i 〈i, i·〉 y 〈ü, ü·〉 ɨ 〈ï, ï·〉 u 〈u, u·〉
Mid e 〈e〉 ɵ 〈ö, ö·〉 o 〈o, o·〉
Open æ 〈e·〉 ɑ 〈a, a·〉


Toda has an unusually large number of fricatives and trills. Its seven places of articulation are the most for any Dravidian language. The voiceless laterals are true fricatives, not voiceless approximants; the retroflex lateral is highly unusual among the world's languages. [4]

Voiceless fricatives are allophonically voiced intervocalically in Toda. There are also the invariably voiced fricatives /ʒ,ʐ,ɣ/, though the latter is marginal. The nasals and /r̠,ɽr,j/ are allophonically devoiced or partially devoiced in final position or next to voiceless consonants. [4]

Labial Denti-
Retroflex Palatal Velar
plain sib. plain pal. plainpal.plainpal.
Nasal m 〈m〉 〈n〉 ɳ 〈ṇ〉
voiceless p 〈p〉 〈t〉 t̪s̪ 〈c〉 〈ṯ〉 〈č〉 ʈ 〈ṭ〉 k 〈k〉
voiced b 〈b〉 〈d〉 d̪z̪ 〈ɀ〉 〈ḏ〉 〈j〉 ɖ 〈ḍ〉 ɡ 〈g〉
Fricative voiceless f 〈f〉 θ̪͆ 〈θ〉 〈s〉 〈s̠〉 ʃ 〈š〉 ʂ 〈ṣ〉 x 〈x〉
voiced ʒ 〈ž〉 ʐ 〈ẓ〉( ɣ ) 〈x〉
Lateral ɬ̪ 〈ɬ〉 ɭ̊˔ 〈ꞎ〉
Approximant 〈l〉 ɭ 〈ḷ〉 j 〈y〉 w 〈w〉
Trill 〈r〉 r̘ʲ 〈ṛy〉 〈ṟ〉 r̠ʲ 〈ṟy〉 ɽr 〈ṛ〉 ɽrʲ 〈ṛy〉

All of these consonants may occur in word-medial and word-final positions. However, only a restricted set occur word-initially. These are /p,t̪,k,f,s̪,m,n̠,r̘,l̪,j,w/, in boldface above.

Unlike the other dental consonants, /θ/ is interdental. Similarly, /f/ is labiodental whereas the other labials are bilabial.[ citation needed ]

The palatalized rhotics are only mentioned by Spajić and Ladefoged (1996), previous descriptions like of Emeneau (1984) and Krishnamurti (2003) only have the 3 plain ones as the rhotics.

Apical consonants are either alveolar or postalveolar. The actual feature that distinguishes /r̘/ and /r̠/ is uncertain. They have the same primary place of articulation. Spajić and colleagues have found that the rhotic that may occur word initially (erroneously called "dental" in previous literature, perhaps because Dravidian coronals tend to be dental by default) has a secondary articulation, which they have tentatively identified as advanced tongue root until further measurements can be made. This analysis is assumed in the transcription /r̘/.[ citation needed ]

Another difference between them is that /r̘/ is the least strongly trilled, most often occurring with a single contact. However, unlike a flap, multiple contacts are normal, if less common, and /r̘/ is easily distinguishable from the other trills when they are all produced with the same number of contacts.[ citation needed ]

The retroflex consonants are subapical. Retroflex /ɽr/ is more strongly trilled than the other rhotics. However, it is not purely retroflex. Although the tongue starts out in a sub-apical retroflex position, trilling involves the tip of the tongue, and this causes it to move forward toward the alveolar ridge. This means that the retroflex trill gives a preceding vowel retroflex coloration the way other retroflex consonants do, but that the vibration itself is not much different from the other trills.[ citation needed ]

The palatalization of the slided consonant ɽ͢rʲ does not affect on the initial retroflex articulation, ɽ is not simultaneously coarticulated with ʲ.


Verbal Morphology

As described by Murray B. Emeneau, in his "Toda Grammar and Texts," [5] the entire Toda verbal system is based on the addition of many suffixes to the two base verb stems, stem 1 (henceforth, S1) and stem 2 (henceforth, S2). There are fifteen classes of verbs in Toda, each of which uses one of four suffixes to form its S2 from its S1. A short summary is given below:

Toda Verb Classes
Iako·ṭ- "to show"-y-ko·ṭy-
Ibkoc- "to bite"-y- (c- > č-)koč-
Icoɀ- "to fear"-y- (ɀ- > j-)oj-
IIanen- "to think of"-θ-nenθ-
IIbkïy- "to do"-θ- (-y > -s)kïs-
IIcïr- "to sit"-θ- (-r > -θ)ïθ-
IIIakwïṛ- "to give (to 3rd)"-t-kwïṛt-
IIIbko·y- "to bear fruit"-t- (-y > -c)ko·c-
IIIcsoy- "to die"-t- (-y > -t)sot-
IIIdkaɬ- "to learn"-t- (-ɬ > -ṯ)1kaṯ-
IIIewïṟ- "to undertake"-t- (-ṟ/-l > -t-)wït-
IVakwïḷ- "to hatch"-d-kwïḷd-
IVbmi·y- "to bathe"-d- (-y > -d)mi·d-
IVcsal- "to belong to"-d- (-l > -d)sad-
V (irregular)pï·x- "to go," o·x- "to become"-pi·-, o·y-

1Emeneau lists the rule "S1 -ṟ/-ɬ/-ṛ/-ꞎ/-ḍ/-x + -t- = S2 -ṯ/-ṯ/-ṭ/-ṭ/-ṭ/-k; S1 -r/-l/-n/-s̠/-ḷ/-ṇ + -t- = S1 -d/-ḏ/-ḏ/-ḏ/-ḍ/-ḍ" for this class.

To each of these stems, further suffixes may be added to create verb forms indicating different tenses and moods. The following table summarizes them:

Toda Verbal Inflection
Function1sg.1pl. excl.1pl. incl.2sg.2pl.3
Present-future IS2-penS2-pemS2-pumS2-pyS2-tšS2-t
Present-future IIS2-nS2-mS2-mS2-tyS2-tšS2-u
Past IS2-špenS2-špemS2-špumS2-špyS2S2
Past IIS2-šnS2-šmS2-šmS2S2S2-šk
TenselessS2-en (Class I: S1-nen)S2-em (Class I: S1-nem)S2-um (Class I: S1-num)S2-y (Class I: S1-ny)S2-š (Class I: S1-nš) ?
Negative voluntativeS1-šnS1-šmS1-šmS1S1S1-šk
Negative imperative---S2-oṭS2-oṭṣ-

See also


  1. Toda at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. Toda language and script, Omniglot.
  3. Krishnamurti (2003).
  4. 1 2 3 Spajić, Ladefoged & Bhaskararao (1994).
  5. Emeneau (1984)
  6. Walsh, R R (15 April 1953). "Ernest Speight - A Portrait". The Sunday Statesman. During his retirement he lived alone, devoting himself to the care of his fascinating library and extensive collection of Japanese art treasures and antiques. and the study of the language and customs and mythology of the Nilgiri hill tribes, the Badagas. He was compiling a Toda grammar when he died


Related Research Articles

Approximants are speech sounds that involve the articulators approaching each other but not narrowly enough nor with enough articulatory precision to create turbulent airflow. Therefore, approximants fall between fricatives, which do produce a turbulent airstream, and vowels, which produce no turbulence. This class is composed of sounds like and semivowels like and, as well as lateral approximants like.

In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract, except for the h, which is pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Examples are and [b], pronounced with the lips; and [d], pronounced with the front of the tongue; and [g], pronounced with the back of the tongue;, pronounced throughout the vocal tract;, [v], and, pronounced by forcing air through a narrow channel (fricatives); and and, which have air flowing through the nose (nasals). Contrasting with consonants are vowels.

A fricative is a consonant produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the back of the tongue against the soft palate in the case of German ; or the side of the tongue against the molars, in the case of Welsh. This turbulent airflow is called frication.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Manner of articulation</span> Configuration and interaction of the articulators when making a speech sound

In articulatory phonetics, the manner of articulation is the configuration and interaction of the articulators when making a speech sound. One parameter of manner is stricture, that is, how closely the speech organs approach one another. Others include those involved in the r-like sounds, and the sibilancy of fricatives.

In phonetics, rhotic consonants, or "R-like" sounds, are liquid consonants that are traditionally represented orthographically by symbols derived from the Greek letter rho, including ⟨R⟩, ⟨r⟩ in the Latin script and ⟨Р⟩, ⟨p⟩ in the Cyrillic script. They are transcribed in the International Phonetic Alphabet by upper- or lower-case variants of Roman ⟨R⟩, ⟨r⟩: r, ɾ, ɹ, ɻ, ʀ, ʁ, ɽ, and ɺ. Transcriptions for vocalic or semivocalic realisations of underlying rhotics include the ə̯ and ɐ̯.

Uvulars are consonants articulated with the back of the tongue against or near the uvula, that is, further back in the mouth than velar consonants. Uvulars may be stops, fricatives, nasals, trills, or approximants, though the IPA does not provide a separate symbol for the approximant, and the symbol for the voiced fricative is used instead. Uvular affricates can certainly be made but are rare: they occur in some southern High-German dialects, as well as in a few African and Native American languages. Uvular consonants are typically incompatible with advanced tongue root, and they often cause retraction of neighboring vowels.

Postalveolar or post-alveolar consonants are consonants articulated with the tongue near or touching the back of the alveolar ridge. Articulation is farther back in the mouth than the alveolar consonants, which are at the ridge itself, but not as far back as the hard palate, the place of articulation for palatal consonants. Examples of postalveolar consonants are the English palato-alveolar consonants, as in the words "ship", "'chill", "vision", and "jump", respectively.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Retroflex consonant</span> Type of consonant articulation

A retroflex, apico-domal, or cacuminalconsonant is a coronal consonant where the tongue has a flat, concave, or even curled shape, and is articulated between the alveolar ridge and the hard palate. They are sometimes referred to as cerebral consonants—especially in Indology.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Voiceless retroflex fricative</span> Consonantal sound represented by ⟨ʂ⟩ in IPA

The voiceless retroflex sibilant fricative is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ʂ which is a Latin letter s combined with a retroflex hook. Like all the retroflex consonants, the IPA letter is formed by adding a rightward-pointing hook to the bottom of ⟨s⟩. A distinction can be made between laminal, apical, and sub-apical articulations. Only one language, Toda, appears to have more than one voiceless retroflex sibilant, and it distinguishes subapical palatal from apical postalveolar retroflex sibilants; that is, both the tongue articulation and the place of contact on the roof of the mouth are different.

In phonetics, a trill is a consonantal sound produced by vibrations between the active articulator and passive articulator. Standard Spanish ⟨rr⟩ as in perro, for example, is an alveolar trill.

In phonetics, a flap or tap is a type of consonantal sound, which is produced with a single contraction of the muscles so that one articulator is thrown against another.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Guttural R</span> Type of rhotic consonant ("r sound")

Guttural R is the phenomenon whereby a rhotic consonant is produced in the back of the vocal tract rather than in the front portion thereof and thus as a guttural consonant. Speakers of languages with guttural R typically regard guttural and coronal rhotics to be alternative pronunciations of the same phoneme, despite articulatory differences. Similar consonants are found in other parts of the world, but they often have little to no cultural association or interchangeability with coronal rhotics and are (perhaps) not rhotics at all.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Voiced retroflex trill</span> Consonantal sound represented by ⟨ɽr⟩ in IPA

The voiced retroflex trill is not a single consonant quality but a sliding cluster sound within the time of a single segment. It has been reported in Toda and confirmed with laboratory measurements. Peter Ladefoged transcribes it with the IPA symbol that is normally associated with the retroflex flap, ɽ. Although the tongue starts out in a subapical retroflex position, trilling involves the tip of the tongue and causes it to move forward to the alveolar ridge. Thus, the retroflex trill gives a preceding vowel retroflex coloration, like other retroflex consonants, but the vibration itself is not much different from an alveolar trill. Thus, the narrower transcription ɽr is also appropriate.

South Dravidian is an outer branch of the Dravidian languages family. There have been slight differences in the way Dravidian languages are grouped by various Dravidian linguists ; Krishnamurti calls Tamil-Tulu as South Dravidian I, Telugu-Kui as South Dravidian II and Tamil-Telugu as South Dravidian. South Dravidian in turn branches off into Tamil–Kannada and Tuluic. The languages that constitute the Tamil–Kannada branch are Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Irula, Toda, Kota, Kodava, and Badaga and the languages that constitute the Tuluic branch are Tulu, Koraga, Kudiya, Bellari.

Tamil phonology is characterised by the presence of "true-subapical" retroflex consonants and multiple rhotic consonants. Its script does not distinguish between voiced and unvoiced consonants; phonetically, voice is assigned depending on a consonant's position in a word, voiced intervocalically and after nasals except when geminated. Tamil phonology permits few consonant clusters, which can never be word initial.

Kota is a language of the Dravidian languages with about 900 native speakers in the Nilgiri hills of Tamil Nadu state, India. It is spoken mainly by the tribal Kota people (India). In the late 1800s, the native speaking population was about 1,100. In 1990, the population was only 930, out of an ethnic population of perhaps 1,400, despite the great increase in the population of the area. The language is 'critically endangered' due to the greater social status of neighbouring languages. The Kota language may have originated from Tamil-Kannada and is closely related to Toda language. The Kota population is about 2500. The origin of the name Kota is derived from the Dravidian root word 'Ko' meaning Mountain.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Voiceless alveolar trill</span> Consonantal sound represented by ⟨r̥⟩ in IPA

The voiceless alveolar trill differs from the voiced alveolar trill only by the vibrations of the vocal cord. It occurs in a few languages, usually alongside the voiced version, as a similar phoneme or an allophone.

Konda-Dora, also known simply as Konda or Kubi, is a Dravidian language spoken in India. It is spoken by the scheduled tribe of the Konda-Dora, who mostly live in the districts of Vizianagaram, Srikakulam, and East Godavari in Andhra Pradesh, and the Koraput district in Odisha.

The pronunciation of the phoneme in the English language has many variations in different dialects.