C. P. Belliappa's Column

We are Coorgs, not Coorgis!

(By: C.P. Belliappa)
How the name Kodagu originated is still being debated. As most believe, it is very likely that it’s a derivation of the primordial name Kodinadu. Over a period of time the prominent community in this hilly terrain came to be known as Kodavas.

The name Kodagu continued till the later part of the 18th century. Once the British visitors started getting familiar with this land, Kodagu gradually got an anglicized name: Coorg. After the British took charge of administration, the term Coorg became not only popular but was also made official.

Couple of decades ago the name Kodagu was reverted to its official status. But the anglicized version ‘Coorg’ continues to be popular. ‘Coorg’ has developed into a highly recognizable brand name. We therefore have Coorg Education Fund, Coorg Wildlife Society, Coorg Institute of Adventure Sports, Coorg Public School, Coorg Institute of Dental Sciences, Coorg Institute of Technology,, et al. There are some who want to completely stop the usage of the name Coorg. I personally like the name Coorg. People should have the choice of using both names: Kodagu as well Coorg.

However, there is tendency to use the term Coorg wrongly when it comes to describing the community of Kodavas. Very often Kodavas are referred to as Coorgis. This is not correct, and if I may say so: ‘Not propah!’

The correct usage is:

We are Coorgs, we are from Coorg, and we speak the Coorg language.
‘Corgi’ by the way is a breed of dog!

Alternatively, we could be traditional and say: We are Kodavas, we are from Kodagu, and we speak the Kodava language. (Some people try to twist the name of Kodavas as Kodagas instead of Kodagaru.)

Many use the term ‘Coorgis’ on a variety of forums including social networking sites. I wish they didn’t.”