NELLORE: A ‘yedamai’ and his ‘irusu’ shopping for ‘pacha poga’ may not make sense to many in Andhra Pradesh, unless one among the 5,500-strong population of the small Nellore village, Kulluru, decoded the terms. The words would have gone into oblivion but for the pandemic, which forced several youngsters stay home with their elders. Now, many of them could translate ‘yedamani’ as ‘man’, ‘irusu’ as wife, and ‘pacha poga’ as gold.
The village speak a different dialect, which has more than three dozen words that are not part of Telugu, or any other language. The words have been used by local traders for over seven to eight decades to carry out their business. The words gradually become part of the village’s spoken language.
Located upon the River Penna between Venkatagiri and Atmakur Assembly constituencies, Kulluru traded in gems in the 1940s. The villagers used to visit Bombay (Mumbai), Calcutta (Kolkata), Mysore (Mysuru), Surat and different parts of Tamil Nadu on business.
The code — or ‘padikattu’ words — was developed for clandestine communication during business deals in the presence of others. “To ensure secrecy during such visits, the village ancestors coined new words to communicate among themselves. The practice continued late into 1980s. But, the later generation showed no interest in those words. Only a few families continued using them,” said TS Ramachandra, a trader based in Kulluru.
The new generation of Kulluru, however, seems to be interested in ‘padikattu’, which had been an integral part of their village’s economy. Though proficient in Telugu and other languages, they have evinced interest in learning and using the codes.
Youths speak in code words
Interestingly, the youngsters started partronising the code words during the Covid-19-induced lockdown, during which they spent time with the elders. Several villagers, though migrated to other parts of the district, too, are using the dialect, besides those from neighbouring villages. “Everyone, irrespective of caste and religion, had used these code words in the village earlier. Now, more and more people of the village are evincing interest in using these words,” a village elder said.