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Dr. B. Mallikarjun's dissertation A Descriptive Analysis of Yerava done under my supervision and guidance, for his Ph.D. in Linguistics, is a pioneering work. This dissertation is the first ever descriptive study of the language of the Yeravas, a people group living in the south Coorg district of Karnataka and adjacent areas. Although several compilations of languages, castes and tribes of the Dravidian family refer to the Yeravas, often linking them with other larger tribes of the area, no specific and detailed work of the anthropology and language of the Yeravas had been presented until the study of Dr.Mallikarjun.

Through a systematic and insightful study of the phonological, morphological and syntactic structures of the speech of the Yeravas, and through a diligent comparison of the same with the languages of adjacent people groups, Dr.Mallikarjun establishes the independent identity of the Yerava language in his dissertation. The dissertation has an excellent chapter on the sociocultural aspects of Yerava people. For the first time we get an insight into a community whose members had been sold and resold as slaves by the dominant communities in the area. We come to know that whereas the population of the dominant communities in the area and the people groups which migrated to the area had been increasing as elsewhere, the population of the Yerava tribe remained stagnant almost through the decades. Various welfare programmes initiated by the government had not benefited the tribe. The school opened for the Yerava children had to be closed for want of students. Yeravas were not equipped to take advantage of the introduction of coffee as a cash crop in the area. The ever expanding coffee plantations, in fact, drove them away into secluded areas. They have always been threatened with the possibility of losing their identity.

Dr. Mallikarjun's dissertation provides us a detailed analysis of the speech of the Yeravas. This dissertation will be found highly useful when Yerava children would have an opportunity to learn to read and write in their own mother tongue. In addition, the dissertation is a significant contribution to the study of Dravidian pre-literate languages.



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