Western Odia
'Sambalpuri' in Odia script
Native toIndia
RegionWestern Odisha
Native speakers
2.63 million (2011 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3spv
Glottologsamb1325  Sambalpuri
west2384  Western Oriya
Sambalpuri speaking areas(dialect continuum in green) in Odisha and Chhattisgarh
A Sambalpuri speaker speaking three languages, recorded in China.

Sambalpuri is an Indo-Aryan language variety spoken in western Odisha, India. It is alternatively known as Western Odia, and as Kosali (with variants Kosli, Koshal and Koshali),[5] a recently popularised but controversial term, which draws on an association with the historical region of Dakshina Kosala, whose territories also included the present-day Sambalpur region.[6][7]

Its speakers usually perceive it as a separate language, while outsiders have seen it as a dialect of Odia,[8] and standard Odia is used by Sambalpuri speakers for formal communication.[9] A 2006 survey of the varieties spoken in four villages found out that they share three-quarters of their basic vocabulary with Standard Odia.[10]

Geographical Distribution

Distribution of Sambalpuri language in the district of Odisha[11]

  Bargarh (42.9%)
  Subarnapur (13.8%)
  Balangir (12.7%)
  Sambalpur (10.4%)
  Jharsuguda (9.3%)
  Nuapada (5.5%)
  Boudh (3.4%)
  Sundargarh (1.6%)
  Other districts (0.4%)

There were 2.63 million people in India who declared their language to be Sambalpuri at the 2011 census, almost all of them residents in Odisha.[11] These speakers were mostly concentrated in the districts of Bargarh (1,130,000 speakers), Subarnapur (364,000), Balangir (335,000), Sambalpur (275,000), Jharsuguda (245,000), Nuapada (145,000), Baudh (90,700), and Sundargarh (42,700).[12]


The inscriptions and literary works from the Western Odisha region used the Odia script, which is attested through the inscriptions like the Stambeswari stone inscription of 1268 CE laid by the Eastern Ganga monarch Bhanu Deva I at Sonepur and the Meghla grant and Gobindpur charter of Raja Prithvi Sing of Sonepur State[13] and also through the major epic Kosalananda Kavya composed during the 17th century Chauhan rule under Raja Baliar Singh of the Sambalpur State, which was written in Sanskrit in Odia script.[14]

The Devanagari script may have been used in the past,[15] (the Hindi language was mandated in administration and education in Sambalpur for the brief period 1895–1901)[16]


Sambalpuri has 28 consonant phonemes, 2 semivowel phonemes and 5 vowel phonemes.[17]

Sambalpuri vowel phonemes
Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e (o)
Low a ɔ

There are no long vowels in Sambalpuri just like Standard Odia.

Sambalpuri consonant phonemes
Labial Alveolar
Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɳ
voiceless p t ʈ k
voiceless aspirated ʈʰ tʃʰ
voiced b d ɖ ɡ
voiced aspirated ɖʱ dʒʱ ɡʱ
Fricative s ɦ
Trill/Flap ɾ ɽ~ɽʰ
Lateral approximant l
Approximant w j

Sambalpuri shows the loss of retroflex consonant like voiced retroflex lateral approximant [ɭ] () which are present in Standard Odia, and a limited usage of retroflex unaspirated nasal (voiced retroflex nasal) ɳ ().[18]


The following is a list of features and comparison with Standard Odia:[19]

Some key features include-

Voiced retroflex consonant

Standard Odia Sambalpuri Meaning
କଣ (kaṇa) କଣ୍ (kaṇ) what

Word Medial Vowel Deletion: Syncope

Standard Odia Sambalpuri Meaning
ପଢ଼ିବା (paṛibā) padhibā ପଢ଼୍‌ବାର୍ (paṛbār) padhbār to study
ଗାଧେଇବା (gādheibā) ଗାଧ୍‌ବାର୍ (gādhbār) to bath
ହସିବା (hasibā) ହସ୍‌ବାର୍ (hasbār) to laugh
ବୁଲିବା (bulibā) ବୁଲ୍‌ବାର୍ (bulbār) to roam
ରାନ୍ଧିବା (rāndhibā) ରାନ୍ଧ୍‌ବାର୍ (rāndhbār) to cook
ଖେଳିବା (kheḷibā) ଖେଲ୍‌ବାର୍ (khelbār) to play

Exceptions to Word Medial Vowel Deletion: seen in '-ai' diphthongs

Standard Odia Sambalpuri Meaning
ଖାଇବା (khāibā) ଖାଏବାର୍ (khāebār) to eat
ଗାଇବା (gāibā) ଗାଏବାର୍ (gāebār) to sing
ପାଇବା (pāibā) ପାଏବାର୍ (pāebār) to get
ହାଇ (hāi) ହାଇ (hāi) yawn
ଗାଇ (gāi) ଗାଏ (gāe) cow

Vowel Harmony: 'o' to 'u' phoneme shift, feature also seen in Baleswari Odia dialect

Standard Odia Sambalpuri Meaning
ଶୋଇବା (soibā) ସୁଇବାର୍ (suibār) to sleep
ଖୋଜିବା (khojibā) ଖୁଜ୍‌ବାର୍ (khujbār) to search

Lengthening of Vowel Sound: vowels which appear in between consonants take their longer counterpart

Standard Odia Sambalpuri Meaning
ପାଣି (pāṇi) ପାଏନ୍ (pāen) water
ଚାରି (cāri) ଚାଏର୍ (cāer) four

Consonant shift- shift of 'ḷ' phoneme to 'l'

Standard Odia Sambalpuri Meaning
ଫଳ (phaḷa) ଫଲ୍ (phal) fruit

Word Final Vowel Deletion(Schwa deletion Apocope)- a characteristic feature of Sambalpuri

Standard Odia Sambalpuri Meaning
ଭଲ (bhala) ଭଲ୍ (bhal) good
ବାଘ (bāgha) ବାଘ୍ (bāgh) tiger
କୁକୁର (kukura) କୁକୁର୍ (kukur) dog
ଲୋକ (loka) ଲୋକ୍ (lok) people
ଗଛ (gacha) ଗଛ୍ (gach) tree
ଫୁଲ (phula) ଫୁଲ୍ (phul) flower
ଭାତ (bhāta) ଭାତ୍ (bhāt) rice
ଘର (ghara) ଘର୍ (ghar) house

Sambalpuri words

Standard Odia Sambalpuri Meaning
ମାଛ (mācha) ଝୁରି (jhuri) fish
ବାଣ (bāṇa) ଫଟ୍କା (phatka) firecracker

Language movement

There has been a language movement campaigning for the recognition of the language. Its main objective has been the inclusion of the language into the 8th schedule of the Indian constitution.[20][21]


See also


  1. ^ "Sambalpuri". Ethnologue.
  2. ^ Bulletin of the Anthropological Survey of India. Director, Anthropological Survey of India, Indian Museum. 1979.
  3. ^ Chitrasen Pasayat (1998). Tribe, Caste, and Folk Culture. Rawat Publications. ISBN 9788170334576.
  4. ^ Subodh Kapoor (2002). The Indian Encyclopaedia: La Behmen-Maheya. Cosmo Publications. pp. 4240–. ISBN 978-81-7755-271-3.
  5. ^ Sambalpuri language at Ethnologue (21st ed., 2018) Closed access icon
  6. ^ Dash 1990, pp. 4–5.
  7. ^ G. Sahu 2001, pp. 7–8.
  8. ^ G.K. Sahu 2002, pp. 1–2.
  9. ^ Patel (n.d.) cited in Mathai & Kelsall (2013, p. 3)
  10. ^ Mathai & Kelsall 2013, pp. 4–6. The precise figures are 75–76%. This was based on comparisons of 210-item wordlists.
  11. ^ a b Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. "C-16: Population by mother tongue, India – 2011". Retrieved 14 October 2022.
  12. ^ Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. "C-16: Population by mother tongue, Odisha – 2011". Retrieved 16 December 2022.
  13. ^ Pabitra Mohan Nayak (2011), Inscriptions of Orissa: With Special Reference to Subarnapur, Readworthy, pp. 1, 14, 19, ISBN 9789350181089, retrieved 14 March 2021
  14. ^ Ashok kumar Patnaik (December 2009), The Mirror Reflection of Sambalpur State through the Courtly Chronicle called Kosalananda Kavyam, Odisha History Congress, p. 237, retrieved 12 March 2021
  15. ^ Mathai & Kelsall 2013, p. 3.
  16. ^ Untitled-13 Archived 17 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Mahapatra, B.P. (2002). Linguistic Survey of India: Orissa (PDF). Kolkata, India: Language Division, Office of the Registrar General. p. 67,68. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  18. ^ a b Tripathī, Kunjabihari (1962). The Evolution of Oriya Language and Script. Utkal University. p. 216. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  19. ^ Dash, Suhasini (2019), Phonological Variations between Odia and Sambalpuri Optimality Theoretic Approach (PDF)
  20. ^ Plea to include Kosli in 8th Schedule of Constitution
  21. ^ Memorandum for Inclusion of Kosli Language in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution
  22. ^ "Satya Narayan Bohidar". Open Library.
  23. ^ Panigrahi, Nil Madhab, "Mahabharat Katha", Lark books, Bhubaneswar, 1996, ISBN 81-7375-023-8.
  24. ^ Sudeep Kumar Guru (25 September 2010). "Poetry makes him known as new GangadharMeher". The Telegraph (India). Ananda Publishers. Archived from the original on 24 November 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
  25. ^ Nag, Haldhar, "Lokakabi Haladhar Granthabali", compiler – Dwarikanath Nayak, Bidya Prakashan, Cuttack, 2000, ISBN 81-7703-009-4 (Five PhD theses on this class III-dropout poet)
  26. ^ 5 PhD theses on this class III-dropout poet
  27. ^ "Translation takes Nag's poems to more readers". Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  28. ^ "Prafulla Kumar Tripathy". Odia Sahitya.
  29. ^ Hema Chandra Acharya. "Ram Raha".


External links and further reading