Dravidian languages

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Dravidian
Geographic
distribution
South Asia and Southeast Asia, mainly South India and northern Sri Lanka
Linguistic classification One of the world's primary language families
Proto-language Proto-Dravidian
Subdivisions
  • Northern
  • Central
  • South-Central
  • Southern
ISO 639-2 / 5 dra
Linguasphere 49= (phylozone)
Glottolog drav1251 [1]
Dravidian map.svg
Distribution of the Dravidian languages

The Dravidian languages are a language family spoken by more than 215 million people, mainly in southern India and northern Sri Lanka, with pockets elsewhere in South Asia. [2] Since the colonial era, there have been small but significant immigrant communities outside South Asia in countries such as Mauritius, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Britain, Australia, and the United States.

Contents

The Dravidian languages are first attested in the 2nd century BCE as Tamil-Brahmi script inscribed on the cave walls in the Madurai and Tirunelveli districts of Tamil Nadu. [3] [lower-alpha 1] The Dravidian languages with the most speakers are (in descending order of number of speakers) Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam, all of which have long literary traditions. Smaller literary languages are Tulu and Kodava. [4] There are also small groups of Dravidian-speaking scheduled tribes, who live outside Dravidian-speaking areas, such as the Kurukh in Eastern India and Gondi in Central India. [5]

Only two Dravidian languages are spoken exclusively outside the post-1947 state of India: Brahui in the Balochistan region of Pakistan and Afghanistan; and Dhangar, a dialect of Kurukh, in parts of Nepal and Bhutan. [6] [ better source needed ] Dravidian place names along the Arabian Sea coasts and Dravidian grammatical influence such as clusivity in the Indo-Aryan languages, namely Marathi, Konkani, Gujarati, Marwari, and Sindhi, suggest that Dravidian languages were once spoken more widely across the Indian subcontinent. [7] [8]

Though some scholars have argued that the Dravidian languages may have been brought to India by migrations from the Iranian plateau in the fourth or third millennium BCE [9] [10] or even earlier, [11] [12] the Dravidian languages cannot easily be connected to any other language family and they could well be indigenous to India. [13] [14] [15] [lower-alpha 2]

Etymology

The origin of the Sanskrit word drāviḍa is the word Tamiḷ. [17] Kamil Zvelebil cites the forms such as dramila (in Daṇḍin's Sanskrit work Avanisundarīkathā) damiḷa (found in the Sri Lankan (Ceylonese) chronicle Mahavamsa ) and then goes on to say, "The forms damiḷa/damila almost certainly provide a connection of dr(a/ā)viḍa " with the indigenous name of the Tamil language, the likely derivation being "*tamiṟ > *damiḷ > damiḷa- / damila- and further, with the intrusive, 'hypercorrect' (or perhaps analogical) -r-, into dr(a/ā)viḍa. The -m-/-v- alternation is a common enough phenomenon in Dravidian phonology". [18]

Furthermore, another Dravidianist and linguist, Bhadriraju Krishnamurti, in his book Dravidian Languages states: [19]

Joseph (1989: IJDL 18.2:134-42) gives extensive references to the use of the term draviḍa, dramila first as the name of a people, then of a country. Sinhala BCE inscriptions cite dameḍa-, damela- denoting Tamil merchants. Early Buddhist and Jaina sources used damiḷa- to refer to a people of south India (presumably Tamil); damilaraṭṭha- was a southern non-Aryan country; dramiḷa-, dramiḍa, and draviḍa- were used as variants to designate a country in the south (Bṛhatsamhita-, Kādambarī, Daśakumāracarita-, fourth to seventh centuries CE) (1989: 134–138). It appears that damiḷa- was older than draviḍa- which could be its Sanskritization.

Based on what Krishnamurti states (referring to a scholarly paper published in the International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics), the Sanskrit word draviḍa itself is later than damiḷa since the dates for the forms with -r- are centuries later than the dates for the forms without -r- (damiḷa, dameḍa-, damela- etc.).

Discovery

The 14th century Sanskrit text Lilatilakam , which is a grammar of Manipravalam, states that the spoken languages of present-day Kerala and Tamil Nadu were similar, terming them as "Dramiḍa". The author doesn't consider the "Karṇṇāṭa" (Kannada) and the "Andhra" (Telugu) languages as "Dramiḍa", because they were very different from the language of the "Tamil Veda" ( Tiruvaymoli ), but states that some people would include them in the "Dramiḍa" category. [20]

In 1816, Alexander D. Campbell suggested the existence of a Dravidian language family in his Grammar of the Teloogoo Language, [21] in which he and Francis W. Ellis argued that Tamil and Telugu descended from a common, non-Indo-European ancestor. [22] In 1856 Robert Caldwell published his Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian Family of Languages, [23] which considerably expanded the Dravidian umbrella and established Dravidian as one of the major language groups of the world. Caldwell coined the term "Dravidian" for this family of languages, based on the usage of the Sanskrit word द्रविदा (Dravidā) in the work Tantravārttika by Kumārila Bhaṭṭa . [24] In his own words, Caldwell says,

The word I have chosen is 'Dravidian', from Drāviḍa, the adjectival form of Draviḍa. This term, it is true, has sometimes been used, and is still sometimes used, in almost as restricted a sense as that of Tamil itself, so that though on the whole it is the best term I can find, I admit it is not perfectly free from ambiguity. It is a term which has already been used more or less distinctively by Sanskrit philologists, as a generic appellation for the South Indian people and their languages, and it is the only single term they ever seem to have used in this manner. I have, therefore, no doubt of the propriety of adopting it. [25]

The 1961 publication of the Dravidian Etymological Dictionary by T. Burrow and M. B. Emeneau proved a notable event in the study of Dravidian linguistics. [26]

Classification

The Dravidian languages form a close-knit family. Most scholars agree on four groups: South (or South Dravidian I), South-Central (or South Dravidian II), Central, and North Dravidian, but there are different proposals regarding the relationship between these groups. Earlier classifications grouped Central and South-Central Dravidian in a single branch. Krishnamurti groups South-Central and South Dravidian. [27] Languages recognized as official languages of India appear here in boldface.

 South Dravidian [27] [28]  

Tamil group incl. Tamil

Malayalam group incl. Malayalam

Irula

  Toda–Kota 

Toda

Kota

  Kodagu 

Kodava

Kurumba

  Kannada–Badaga  

Kannada

Badaga

Koraga

Tulu

Kudiya (?)

 South-Central Dravidian [27] [29]  
 GondiKui 

Gondi languages incl. Gondi

 KondaKui 

Konda

Mukha-Dora

Manda

Pengo

Kuvi

Kui

Telugu

Chenchu

 Central Dravidian [27] [29]  

Kolami

Naiki

Ollari (Gadaba)

Duruwa (Parji)

 North Dravidian [27] [30]  
 Kurukh–Malto 

Kurukh (Oraon, Kisan)

Malto: Kumarbhag Paharia, Sauria Paharia

Brahui

Some authors deny that North Dravidian forms a valid subgroup, splitting it into Northeast (Kurukh–Malto) and Northwest (Brahui). [31] Their affiliation has been proposed based primarily on a small number of common phonetic developments, including:

McAlpin (2003) [32] notes that no exact conditioning can be established for the first two changes, and proposes that distinct Proto-Dravidian *q and *kʲ should be reconstructed behind these correspondences, and that Brahui, Kurukh-Malto, and the rest of Dravidian may be three coordinate branches, possibly with Brahui being the earliest language to split off. A few morphological parallels between Brahui and Kurukh-Malto are also known, but according to McAlpin they are analyzable as shared archaisms rather than shared innovations.

In addition, Ethnologue lists several unclassified Dravidian languages: Allar, Bazigar, Bharia, Malankuravan (possibly a dialect of Malayalam), and Vishavan. Ethnologue also lists several unclassified Southern Dravidian languages: Mala Malasar, Malasar, Thachanadan, Ullatan, Kalanadi, Kumbaran, Kunduvadi, Kurichiya, Attapady Kurumba, Muduga, Pathiya, and Wayanad Chetti. Pattapu may also be Southern.

A computational phylogenetic study of the Dravidian language family was undertaken by Kolipakam, et al. (2018). [33] Kolipakam, et al. (2018) supports the internal coherence of the four Dravidian branches South (or South Dravidian I), South-Central (or South Dravidian II), Central, and North, but is uncertain about the precise relationships of these four branches to each other. The date of Dravidian is estimated to be 4,500 years old. [33]

Distribution

Speakers of Dravidian languages, by language

   Telugu (32.6%)
   Tamil (29.4%)
   Kannada (16.6%)
   Malayalam (14.5%)
   Gondi (1.2%)
   Brahui (0.9%)
   Tulu (0.8%)
   Kurukh (0.8%)
   Beary (0.7%)
  Others (2.5%)

Since 1981, the Census of India has reported only languages with more than 10,000 speakers, including 17 Dravidian languages. In 1981, these accounted for approximately 24% of India's population. [34] [35]

In the 2001 census, they included 214 million people, about 21% of India's total population of 1.02 billion. [36] In addition, the largest Dravidian-speaking group outside India, Tamil speakers in Sri Lanka, number around 4.7 million. The total number of speakers of Dravidian languages is around 227 million people, around 13% of the population of the Indian subcontinent.

Telugu is the most spoken Dravidian language, with over 74 million native speakers. The total number of speakers of Telugu, including those whose first language is not Telugu, is around 84 million people, which is around 6% of India's total population.

The smallest branch of the Dravidian languages is the Central branch, which has only around 200,000 speakers. These languages are mostly tribal, and spoken in central India.

The second-smallest branch is the Northern branch, with around 6.3 million speakers. This is the only sub-group to have a language spoken in PakistanBrahui.

The next-largest is the South-Central branch, which has 78 million native speakers, the vast majority of whom speak Telugu. This branch also includes the tribal language Gondi spoken in central India.

The largest group is South Dravidian, with almost 150 million speakers. Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada make up around 98% of the speakers, with Tamil being by far the most spoken language, with almost half of all South Dravidian speakers speaking it.

Northern Dravidian

LanguageNumber of SpeakersLocation
Brahui 2,430,000 Balochistan, Pakistan
Kurukh 2,280,000 Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar
Malto 234,000 Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal
Kurambhag Paharia12,500 Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha

Central Dravidian

LanguageNumber of SpeakersLocation
Kolami 122,000 Maharashtra, Telangana
Duruwa 51,000 Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh
Ollari 15,000 Odisha, Andhra Pradesh
Naiki 10,000 Maharashtra

South-Central Dravidian

LanguageNumber of SpeakersLocation
Telugu 81,100,000 Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and parts of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Puducherry, United States, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Mauritius, Australia, South Africa, Canada, UK, UAE, Myanmar, France and Réunion.
Gondi 2,980,000 Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh
Muria 1,000,000 Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Odisha
Kui 942,000 Odisha, Andhra Pradesh
Koya 360,000 Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh
Madiya 360,000 Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Maharashtra
Kuvi 155,000 Odisha, Andhra Pradesh
Pengo 350,000 Odisha
Pardhan 135,000 Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh
Khirwar 36,400 Chhattisgarh (Surguja district)
Chenchu 26,000 Andhra Pradesh, Telangana
Konda 20,000 Andhra Pradesh, Odisha
Manda 4,040 Odisha

South Dravidian

LanguageNumber of speakersLocation
Tamil 75,000,000


Tamil Nadu, Puducherry (including Karaikkal), parts of Andhra Pradesh (Chittoor district) , Karnataka (Bangalore, Kolar), Kerala (Palakkad and Idukki districts), Andaman and Nicobar, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Canada, United States, UK, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Reunion Island [37] [38] [ unreliable source? ]
Kannada 44,000,000 Karnataka, Kerala (Kasaragod district) and Maharashtra (Solapur, Sangli), Tamil Nadu (Salem, Ooty, Coimbatore, Krishnagiri, Chennai), Andhra Pradesh (Ananthpur, Kurnool), Telangana (Hyderabad Medak and Mehaboobnagar), United States, Australia, Germany, UK, UAE, Bahrain
Malayalam 37,000,000 Kerala, Lakshadweep, Mahe district of Puducherry, Dakshina Kannada and Kodagu districts of Karnataka, Coimbatore, The Nilgiris and Kanyakumari districts of Tamil Nadu, UAE, United States, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, UK, Qatar, Bahrain, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore
Tulu 1,850,000 Karnataka (Dakshina Kannada, Udupi districts) and Kerala (Kasaragod district), Across Maharashtra especially in cities like Mumbai, Thane and Gulf Countries(UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain) [39]
Beary 1,500,000 Karnataka (Dakshina Kannada, Udupi districts) and Kerala (Kasaragod district)
Irula 200,000 Tamil Nadu (Nilgiris district), Karnataka (Mysore district)
Kurumba 180,000 Tamil Nadu (Nilgiris district)
Badaga 133,000 Karnataka (Mysore district), Tamil Nadu (Nilgiris district)
Kodava 114,000 Karnataka (Kodagu district)
Jeseri 65,000 Lakshadweep
Yerukala 58,000 Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana
Betta Kurumba 32,000 Karnataka (Chamarajanagar district, Kodagu district, Mysore district), Kerala (Wayanad district), Tamil Nadu (Nilgiri District)
Kurichiya 29,000 Kerala (Kannur district, Kozhikode district, Wayanad district)
Ravula 27,000 Karnataka (Kodagu district), Kerala (Kannur district, Wayanad district)
Mullu Kurumba 26,000 Kerala (Wayanad district), Tamil Nadu (The Nilgiris District)
Sholaga 24,000 Tamil Nadu, Karnataka (Mysore district)
Kaikadi 26,000 Madhya Pradesh (Betul district), Maharashtra (Amravati district)
Paniya 22,000 Karnataka (Kodagu district), Kerala, Tamil Nadu
Kanikkaran 19,000 Kerala, Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari district, Tirunelveli district)
Malankuravan 18,600 Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari district), Kerala (Kollam district, Kottayam district, Thiruvananthapuram district)
Muthuvan 16,800 Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore district, Madurai district)
Koraga 14,000 Karnataka (Dakshina Kannada, Udupi districts) and Kerala (Kasaragod district)
Kumbaran 10,000 Kerala (Kozhikode district, Malappuram district, Wayanad district)
Paliyan 9,500 Kerala (Idukki district, Ernakulam district, Kottayam district), Tamil Nadu, Karnataka
Malasar 7,800 Kerala (Palakkad district), Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore district)
Malapandaram 5,900 Kerala (Kollam district, Pathanamthitta district), Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore district, Madurai district, Viluppuram district)
Eravallan 5,000 Kerala (Palakkad district), Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore district)
Wayanad Chetti 5,000 Karnataka, Kerala (Wayanad district), Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore district, The Nilgiris District, Erode district)
Muduga 3,400 Kerala (Palakkad district), Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore district, The Nilgiris District)
Thachanadan 3,000 Kerala (Malappuram district, Wayanad district)
Kadar 2,960 Kerala (Thrissur district, Palakkad district), Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore district)
Toda 1,560 Karnataka (Mysore district), Tamil Nadu (Nilgiris district)
Attapady Kurumba 1,370 Kerala (Palakkad district)
Kunduvadi 1,000 Kerala (Kozhikode district, Wayanad district)
Mala Malasar 1,000 Kerala (Palakkad district), Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore district)
Pathiya 1,000 Kerala (Wayanad district)
Kota 930 Tamil Nadu (Nilgiris district)
Kalanadi 750 Kerala (Wayanad district)
Holiya 500 Madhya Pradesh (Balaghat district, Seoni district), Maharashtra, Karnataka
Aranadan 200 Kerala (Malappuram district)

Unclassified

LanguageNumber of SpeakersLocation
Bharia 197,000 Chhattisgarh (Bilaspur district, Durg district, Surguja district), Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal Bihar
Allar 350 Kerala (Palakkad district, Malappuram district)
Vishavan 150 Kerala (Ernakulam district, Kottayam district, Thrissur district)

Proposed relations with other families

Language families in South Asia South Asian Language Families.jpg
Language families in South Asia

The Dravidian family has defied all of the attempts to show a connection with other languages, including Indo-European, Hurrian, Basque, Sumerian, Korean and Japanese. Comparisons have been made not just with the other language families of the Indian subcontinent (Indo-European, Austroasiatic, Sino-Tibetan, and Nihali), but with all typologically similar language families of the Old World. Nonetheless, although there are no readily detectable genealogical connections, Dravidian shares strong areal features with the Indo-Aryan languages, which have been attributed to a substratum influence from Dravidian. [40]

Dravidian languages display typological similarities with the Uralic language group, suggesting to some a prolonged period of contact in the past. [41] This idea is popular amongst Dravidian linguists and has been supported by a number of scholars, including Robert Caldwell, [42] Thomas Burrow, [43] Kamil Zvelebil, [44] and Mikhail Andronov. [45] This hypothesis has, however, been rejected by some specialists in Uralic languages, [46] and has in recent times also been criticised by other Dravidian linguists such as Bhadriraju Krishnamurti. [47]

In the early 1970s, the linguist David McAlpin produced a detailed proposal of a genetic relationship between Dravidian and the extinct Elamite language of ancient Elam (present-day southwestern Iran). [48] The Elamo-Dravidian hypothesis was supported in the late 1980s by the archaeologist Colin Renfrew and the geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, who suggested that Proto-Dravidian was brought to India by farmers from the Iranian part of the Fertile Crescent. [49] [50] (In his 2000 book, Cavalli-Sforza suggested western India, northern India and northern Iran as alternative starting points. [51] ) However, linguists have found McAlpin's cognates unconvincing and criticized his proposed phonological rules as ad hoc. [52] [53] [54] Elamite is generally believed by scholars to be a language isolate, and the theory has had no effect on studies of the language. [55] Dravidian is one of the primary language families in the Nostratic proposal, which would link most languages in North Africa, Europe and Western Asia into a family with its origins in the Fertile Crescent sometime between the Last Glacial Period and the emergence of Proto-Indo-European 4,000–6,000 BCE. However, the general consensus is that such deep connections are not, or not yet, demonstrable.

Prehistory

The origins of the Dravidian languages, as well as their subsequent development and the period of their differentiation are unclear, partially due to the lack of comparative linguistic research into the Dravidian languages. Though some scholars have argued that the Dravidian languages may have been brought to India by migrations in the fourth or third millennium BCE [9] [10] or even earlier, [11] [12] the Dravidian languages cannot easily be connected to any other language, and they could well be indigenous to India. [13] [lower-alpha 2] Proto-Dravidian was spoken in the 4th or 3rd millennium BCE, [56] [57] and it is thought that the Dravidian languages were the most widespread indigenous languages in the Indian subcontinent before the advance of the Indo-Aryan languages. [14]

Proto-Dravidian and onset of diversification

As a proto-language, the Proto-Dravidian language is not itself attested in the historical record. Its modern conception is based solely on reconstruction. It was suggested in the 1980s that the language was spoken in the 4th millennium BCE, and started disintegrating into various branches around 3rd millennium BCE. [56] According to Krishnamurti, Proto-Dravidian may have been spoken in the Indus civilization, suggesting a "tentative date of Proto-Dravidian around the early part of the third millennium." [58] Krishnamurti further states that South Dravidian I (including pre-Tamil) and South Dravidian II (including Pre-Telugu) split around the eleventh century BCE, with the other major branches splitting off at around the same time. [59] Kolipakam et al. (2018) estimate the Dravidian language family to be approximately 4,500 years old. [57]

Indus Valley Civilisation

The Indus Valley civilisation (3,300–1,900 BCE), located in Northwestern Indian subcontinent, is often understood to have been Dravidian. [60] Already in 1924, when announcing the discovery of the IVC, John Marshall stated that (one of) the language(s) may have been Dravidic. [61] Cultural and linguistic similarities have been cited by researchers Henry Heras, Kamil Zvelebil, Asko Parpola and Iravatham Mahadevan as being strong evidence for a proto-Dravidian origin of the ancient Indus Valley civilisation. [62] [63] The discovery in Tamil Nadu of a late Neolithic (early 2nd millennium BCE, i.e. post-dating Harappan decline) stone celt allegedly marked with Indus signs has been considered by some to be significant for the Dravidian identification. [64] [65]

Yuri Knorozov surmised that the symbols represent a logosyllabic script and suggested, based on computer analysis, an underlying agglutinative Dravidian language as the most likely candidate for the underlying language. [66] Knorozov's suggestion was preceded by the work of Henry Heras, who suggested several readings of signs based on a proto-Dravidian assumption. [67]

Linguist Asko Parpola writes that the Indus script and Harappan language are "most likely to have belonged to the Dravidian family". [68] Parpola led a Finnish team in investigating the inscriptions using computer analysis. Based on a proto-Dravidian assumption, they proposed readings of many signs, some agreeing with the suggested readings of Heras and Knorozov (such as equating the "fish" sign with the Dravidian word for fish, "min") but disagreeing on several other readings. A comprehensive description of Parpola's work until 1994 is given in his book Deciphering the Indus Script. [69]

Indo-Aryan migrations and Sanskritization

Northern Dravidian pockets

Although in modern times speakers of the various Dravidian languages have mainly occupied the southern portion of India, in earlier times they probably were spoken in a larger area. After the Indo-Aryan migrations into north-western India, starting ca. 1500 BCE, and the establishment of the Kuru kingdom ca. 1100 BCE, a process of Sanskritisation started, which resulted in a language shift in northern India. Southern India has remained majority Dravidian, but pockets of Dravidian can be found in central India, Pakistan and Nepal.

The Kurukh and Malto are pockets of Dravidian languages in central India, spoken by people who may have migrated from south India. They do have myths about external origins. [70] The Kurukh have traditionally claimed to be from the Deccan Peninsula, [71] more specifically Karnataka. The same tradition has existed of the Brahui, [72] [73] who call themselves immigrants. [74] Holding this same view of the Brahui are many scholars [75] such as L. H. Horace Perera and M. Ratnasabapathy. [76]

The Brahui population of Pakistan's Balochistan province has been taken by some as the linguistic equivalent of a relict population, perhaps indicating that Dravidian languages were formerly much more widespread and were supplanted by the incoming Indo-Aryan languages. [77] [78] [79] However, it has been argued that the absence of any Old Iranian (Avestan) loanwords in Brahui suggests that the Brahui migrated to Balochistan from central India less than 1,000 years ago. The main Iranian contributor to Brahui vocabulary, Balochi, is a western Iranian language like Kurdish, and arrived in the area from the west only around 1,000 AD. [80] Sound changes shared with Kurukh and Malto also suggest that Brahui was originally spoken near them in central India. [81]

Dravidian influence on Sanskrit

Dravidian languages show extensive lexical (vocabulary) borrowing, but only a few traits of structural (either phonological or grammatical) borrowing from Indo-Aryan, whereas Indo-Aryan shows more structural than lexical borrowings from the Dravidian languages. [82] Many of these features are already present in the oldest known Indo-Aryan language, the language of the Rigveda (c. 1500 BCE), which also includes over a dozen words borrowed from Dravidian. [83]

Vedic Sanskrit has retroflex consonants (/, ) with about 88 words in the Rigveda having unconditioned retroflexes. [84] [85] Some sample words are Iṭanta, Kaṇva, śakaṭī, kevaṭa, puṇya and maṇḍūka. Since other Indo-European languages, including other Indo-Iranian languages, lack retroflex consonants, their presence in Indo-Aryan is often cited as evidence of substrate influence from close contact of the Vedic speakers with speakers of a foreign language family rich in retroflex consonants. [84] [85] The Dravidian family is a serious candidate since it is rich in retroflex phonemes reconstructible back to the Proto-Dravidian stage. [86] [87] [88]

In addition, a number of grammatical features of Vedic Sanskrit not found in its sister Avestan language appear to have been borrowed from Dravidian languages. These include the gerund, which has the same function as in Dravidian. [89] Some linguists explain this asymmetrical borrowing by arguing that Middle Indo-Aryan languages were built on a Dravidian substratum. [90] These scholars argue that the most plausible explanation for the presence of Dravidian structural features in Indic is language shift, that is, native Dravidian speakers learning and adopting Indic languages. [91] Although each of the innovative traits in Indic could be accounted for by internal explanations, early Dravidian influence is the only explanation that can account for all of the innovations at once; moreover, it accounts for several of the innovative traits in Indic better than any internal explanation that has been proposed. [92]

Grammar

The most characteristic grammatical features of Dravidian languages are: [44]

Phonology

Dravidian languages are noted for the lack of distinction between aspirated and unaspirated stops. While some Dravidian languages have accepted large numbers of loan words from Sanskrit and other Indo-Iranian languages in addition to their already vast vocabulary, in which the orthography shows distinctions in voice and aspiration, the words are pronounced in Dravidian according to different rules of phonology and phonotactics: aspiration of plosives is generally absent, regardless of the spelling of the word. This is not a universal phenomenon and is generally avoided in formal or careful speech, especially when reciting. For instance, Tamil does not distinguish between voiced and voiceless stops. In fact, the Tamil alphabet lacks symbols for voiced and aspirated stops. Dravidian languages are also characterized by a three-way distinction between dental, alveolar, and retroflex places of articulation as well as large numbers of liquids.

Proto-Dravidian

Proto-Dravidian had five short and long vowels: *a, , *i, , *u, , *e, , *o, . There were no diphthongs; ai and au are treated as *ay and *av (or *aw). [93] [87] [94] The five-vowel system is largely preserved in the descendent subgroups. [95]

The following consonantal phonemes are reconstructed: [86] [87] [96]

LabialDentalAlveolarRetroflexPalatalVelarGlottal
Plosives*p*t*ṯ*ṭ*c*k
Nasals*m*n*ṉ (??)*ṇ
Fricatives(*H)
Flap/Rhotics*r*ẓ (ḻ, r̤)
Lateral*l*ḷ
Glides*w [v]*y

Numerals

The numerals from 1 to 10 in various Dravidian and Indo-Aryan languages (here exemplified by Hindi, Sanskrit and Marathi). [97]

NumberSouthernSouth-CentralCentralNorthern Proto-Dravidian Indo-AryanIranian
Tamil Kannada Malayalam Kodava Tulu Telugu Gondi Kolami Kurukh Brahui Hindi Sanskrit Marathi Balochi Persian
1oṉṟuonduonnuondonjiokaṭiundiokkodoṇṭaasiṭ*onṯu 1ekékaekyakyek
2iraṇṭueraḍuraṇḍudanḍraḍḍrenḍuraṇḍirāṭindiŋirāṭ*iraṇṭu 2dodvidondodo
3mūṉṟumūṟumūnnumūṉdmūjimūḍumuṇḍmūndiŋmūndmusiṭ*muH-tīntritīnseh
4nāṉkunālkunālunālnālnālugunāluṇgnāliŋnāxčār (II)*nālcārcatúrcārcārcahār
5aintuaiduañcuañjiayNayidusaiyuṇgayd 3pancē (II)panč (II)*cay-m-pancpañcapātcpancpanj
6āruāṟuāṟuārājiāṟusāruṇgār 3soyyē (II)šaš (II)*cāṯucheṣáṣsahāśaśśeś
7ēẓuēluēẓuēḻyēlēḍuyeḍuṇgēḍ 3sattē (II)haft (II)*ēẓsātsaptásāthapt, hafthaft
8eṭṭueṇṭueṭṭueṭṭenmaenimidiarmurenumadī 3aṭṭhē (II)hašt (II)*eṇṭṭuāṭhaṣṭáāṭhhaśthaśt
9oṉpatu 5ombattuompatu 5oiymbadormbatommidiunmāktomdī 3naiṃyē (II)nōh (II)*toḷ/*toṇnaunávanaunuonoh
10pattuhattupattupattpattpadipadpadī 3dassē (II)dah (II)*paH(tu)dasdáśadahādadah
  1. This is the same as the word for another form of the number one in Tamil and Malayalam, used as the indefinite article ("a") and when the number is an attribute preceding a noun (as in "one person"), as opposed to when it is a noun (as in "How many are there?" "One").
  2. The stem *īr is still found in compound words, and has taken on a meaning of "double" in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. For example, irupatu (20, literally meaning "double-ten"), iravai (20 in Telugu), "iraṭṭi" ("double") or iruvar ("two people", in Tamil) and "ippatthu" (ipp-hatthu) literally meaning double ten in Kannada.
  3. The Kolami numbers 5 to 10 are borrowed from Telugu.
  4. The word tondu was also used to refer to the number nine in ancient sangam texts but was later completely replaced by the word onpadu.
  5. These forms are derived from "one (less than) ten". Proto-Dravidian *toḷ is still used in Tamil and Malayalam as the basis of numbers such as 90, thonnooru.

Literature

Jambai Tamil Brahmi inscription dated to the early Sangam age Jambai Tamil Brahmi.jpg
Jambai Tamil Brahmi inscription dated to the early Sangam age

Four Dravidian languages, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam, have lengthy literary traditions. [98] Literature in Tulu and Kodava is more recent. [98]

The earliest known Dravidian inscriptions are 76 Old Tamil inscriptions on cave walls in Madurai and Tirunelveli districts in Tamil Nadu, dating from the 2nd century BCE. [3] These inscriptions are written in a variant of the Brahmi script called Tamil Brahmi. [99] In 2019, the Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department released a report on excavations at Keeladi, near Madurai, Tamil Nadu, including a description of potsherds dated to the 6th century BCE inscribed with personal names in the Tamil-Brahmi script. [100] However, the report lacks the detail of a full archaeological study, and other archaeologists have disputed whether the oldest dates obtained for the site can be assigned to these potsherds. [101] The earliest long text in Old Tamil is the Tolkāppiyam , an early work on Tamil grammar and poetics, whose oldest layers could date from the 1st century BCE. [3]

Kannada is first known from the Halmidi inscription (450 CE). A 9th-century treatise on poetics, the Kavirajamarga , is the first literary work. [102] The earliest Telugu inscription, from Erragudipadu in Kadapa district, is dated 575. The first literary work is an 11th-century translation of part of the Mahābhārata . [102] The earliest Malayalam text is the Vazhappally copper plate (9th century). The first literary work is Rāmacaritam (12th century). [3]

See also

Notes

  1. Earlier fragmentary finds have been claimed, e.g. at Keezhadi near Madurai, Tamil Nadu, but have not been conclusively established (see § Literature).
  2. 1 2 Renfrew and Bahn conclude that several scenarios are compatible with the data, and that "the linguistic jury is still very much out." [16]

Related Research Articles

Tamil language Dravidian language

Tamil is a Dravidian language predominantly spoken by the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka, and by the Tamil diaspora, Sri Lankan Moors, Chindians, and Douglas. Tamil is an official language in three countries: India, Sri Lanka and Singapore. In India, it is the official language of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry. Furthermore, Tamil is used as one of the languages of education in Malaysia, along with English, Malay and Mandarin. Tamil is spoken by significant minorities in the four other South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India.

Telugu language Dravidian language

Telugu is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and the Union Territory of Puducherry (Yanam) by the Telugu people. It stands alongside Hindi, English as one of the few languages with primary official language status in more than one Indian state. Telugu is also a linguistic minority in the states of Orissa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Chattisgarh, Jarkandh and Maharashtra. It is one of six languages designated a classical language of India by the country's government.

Indo-Aryan languages Language family in the Indian subcontinent

The Indo-Aryan languages, or Indic languages, are a major language family native to northern Indian subcontinent, and presently found all across South Asia. They constitute a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family. In the early 21st century, Indo-Aryan languages were spoken by more than 800 million people, primarily in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Moreover, there are large immigrant and expatriate Indo-Aryan speaking communities in Northwestern Europe, Western Asia, North America and Australia. There are about 219 known Indo-Aryan languages in the world.

Languages of India Languages of a geographic region

Languages spoken in India belong to several language families, the major ones being the Indo-Aryan languages spoken by 78.05% of Indians and the Dravidian languages spoken by 19.64% of Indians. Languages spoken by the remaining 2.31% of the population belong to the Austroasiatic, Sino-Tibetan, Tai-Kadai and a few other minor language families and isolates. India (780) has the world's second highest number of languages, after Papua New Guinea (839).

The Elamo-Dravidian language family is a hypothesised language family that links the Dravidian languages of India to the extinct Elamite language of ancient Elam. Linguist David McAlpin has been a chief proponent of the Elamo-Dravidian hypothesis. According to McAlpin, the long-extinct Harappan language might also have been part of this family. The hypothesis has gained attention in academic circles, but has also been criticised by linguists, and remains only one of several scenarios for the relations of the Dravidian languages.

Brahui people ethnic group

The Brahui or Brahvi or Brohi people, are an ethnic group of about 2.2 million people with the vast majority found in Baluchistan, Pakistan. They are also found in small numbers in Afghanistan and Iran, where they are native, but they are also found through their diaspora in other Middle Eastern states. They mainly occupy the area in Balochistan from Bolan Pass through the Bolan Hills to Ras Muari on the Arabian sea, separating the Baloch people of Balochistan to the west and the Sindhi people of Sindh in the east. The Brahuis are almost entirely Sunni Muslims. There is a varied pattern of language use among the Brahui: some of the constituent groups predominantly speak the Dravidian Brahui language, others are bilingual in Balochi and Brahui.

Tolkāppiyam is the most ancient Tamil grammar text and the oldest surviving work of Tamil literature. The surviving manuscripts of the Tolkappiyam consists of three books (atikaram), each with nine chapters (iyal), with a cumulative total of 1,612 sutras in the nūṛpā meter. It is a comprehesive text on grammar, and includes sutras on orthography, phonology, etymology, morphology, semantics, prosody, sentence structure and the significance of context in language.

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Eelam one stupid little Terrogroups

Eelam is the native Tamil name for the South Asian island state of Sri Lanka. Eelam is also a name for the spurge, toddy and gold. The exact etymology and the original meaning of the word are not clearly known, and there are number of conflicting theories. The Retroflex approximant l in Eelam is a characteristic phoneme for Dravidian languages, retained in closely related Tamil and Malayalam. Conventionally it has been represented in the Latin script with the digraph zh.

Kurukh is a Dravidian language spoken by nearly two million Oraon and Kisan tribes of Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bihar and West Bengal in India, as well as by 65,000 in northern Bangladesh, 28,600 a dialect called Uranw in Nepal and about 5,000 in Bhutan. Some Kurukh speakers are in South India. It is most closely related to Brahui and Malto (Paharia). The language is marked as being in a "vulnerable" state in UNESCO's list of endangered languages. The Kisan dialect has 206,100 speakers as of 2011.

Tamil–Kannada is an inner branch of the Southern Dravidian I subfamily of the Dravidian languages that include Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam.. Tamil–Kannada itself is designated as a branch of the South Dravidian I subfamily and in turn branches off into Tamil–Kodagu and Kannada–Badaga. The languages that constitute the Tamil–Kannada branch are Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Irula, Toda, Kota, Kodava, and Badaga.

Indo-Aryan migration Migration of Aryans into India

The Indo-Aryan migrations were the migrations into the Indian subcontinent of Indo-Aryan peoples, an ethnolinguistic group that spoke Indo-Aryan languages, the predominant languages of today's North India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Indo-Aryan population movements into the region and Anatolia from Central Asia are generally considered to have started around 1500 BCE, as a slow diffusion during the Late Harappan period, which led to a language shift in the northern Indian subcontinent. The Iranian languages were brought into Iran by the Iranians, who were closely related to the Indo-Aryans.

Proto-Dravidian is the linguistic reconstruction of the common ancestor of the Dravidian languages. It is thought to have differentiated into Proto-North Dravidian, Proto-Central Dravidian, and Proto-South Dravidian, although the date of diversification is still debated.

Asko Parpola Finnish Indologist and Sindhologist

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Linguistic history of India History of the languages of India

The languages of India are divided into various language families, of which the Indo-Aryan and the Dravidian languages are the most widely spoken. There are also many languages belonging to unrelated language families such as Austroasiatic and Sino-Tibetan, spoken by smaller groups. Linguistic records begin with the appearance of the Brāhmī script from about the 3rd century BCE.

South Asian ethnic groups are ethnolinguistic composition of the diverse population of South Asia, including the nations of India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka. The majority of the population fall within two large linguistic groups, Indo-Aryan and Dravidian. Indian society is traditionally divided into castes or clans, not ethnicities, and these categories have had no official status since independence in 1947, except for the scheduled castes and tribes which remain registered for the purpose of affirmative action. In today's India, the population is categorised in terms of the 1,652 mother tongues spoken.

Vedic has a number of linguistic features which are alien to most other Indo-European languages. Prominent examples include: phonologically, the introduction of retroflexes, which alternate with dentals, and morphologically, the formation of gerunds; Some philologists attribute such features, as well as the presence of non-Indo-European vocabulary, to a local substratum of languages encountered by Indo-Aryan peoples in Central Asia and within the Indian subcontinent, including the Dravidian languages.

Dravidian peoples ethnic group

Dravidian people or Dravidians are the present and past speakers of any of the Dravidian languages. There are around 245 million native speakers of Dravidian languages. Dravidian speakers form the majority of the population of South India and are natively found in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

The Harappan language is the unknown language or languages of the Bronze Age Harappan civilization. The language being unattested in any readable contemporary source, hypotheses regarding its nature are reduced to purported loanwords and substratum influence, notably the substratum in Vedic Sanskrit and a few terms recorded in Sumerian cuneiform, in conjunction with analyses of the undeciphered Indus script.

Peopling of India Immigration patterns of different races of people of India

The peopling of India refers to the migration of Homo sapiens into the Indian subcontinent. Anatomically modern humans settled India in multiple waves of early migrations, over tens of millennia. The first migrants came with the Southern Coastal dispersal, ca. 65,000 years ago, whereafter complex migrations within south and southeast Asia took place. West Eurasian hunter-gatherers migrated to South Asia after the latest Ice Age, but before the onset of farming. Together with a minor number of ancient South Asian hunter-gatherers they formed the population of the Indus Valley Civilisation.

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Bibliography

Further reading