- Dravidian languages
South Asia Linguistic classification: Dravidian Proto-language: Proto-Dravidian Subdivisions:NorthernCentralSouth-CentralSouthern ISO 639-2 and 639-5: dra
The Dravidian language family includes approximately 85 genetically related languages, spoken by about 217 million people. They are mainly spoken in southern India and parts of eastern and central India as well as in northeastern Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iran, and overseas in other countries such as Malaysia and Singapore. The most widely spoken Dravidian languages are Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu; of these, Telugu has the most native speakers. There are also small groups of Dravidian-speaking scheduled tribes, who live beyond the mainstream communities. It is often speculated that Dravidian languages are native to India. Epigraphically the Dravidian languages have been attested since the 6th century BCE. Only two Dravidian languages are exclusively spoken outside India, Brahui and Dhangar, which is related to Kurukh. Dravidian place-names throughout the regions of Sindh, Gujarat and Maharashtra suggest that Dravidian languages were once spoken throughout the Indian subcontinent.
- 1 Origins of the word Dravidian
- 2 History
- 3 Classification
- 4 Relationship to other language families
- 5 Grammar
- 6 Phonology
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Origins of the word Dravidian
The English word Dravidian was first employed by Robert Caldwell in his book of comparative Dravidian grammar based on the usage of the Sanskrit word drāviḍa in the work Tantravārttika by Kumārila Bhaṭṭa (Zvelebil 1990:xx). As for the origin of the Sanskrit word drāviḍa itself there have been various theories proposed. Basically the theories are about the direction of derivation between tamiẓ and drāviḍa.
There is no definite philological and linguistic basis for asserting unilaterally that the name Dravida also forms the origin of the word Tamil (Dravida -> Dramila -> Tamizha or Tamil). Zvelebil cites the forms such as dramila (in Daṇḍin's Sanskrit work Avanisundarīkathā) damiḷa (found in Ceylonese chronicle Mahavamsa) and then goes on to say (ibid. page xxi): "The forms damiḷa/damila almost certainly provide a connection of dr(a/ā)viḍa " and "... tamiḷ < tamiẓ ...whereby the further development might have been *tamiẓ > *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" (Zvelebil 1990:xxi) Zvelebil in his earlier treatise (Zvelebil 1975: p53) states: "It is obvious that the Sanskrit dr(a/ā)viḍa, Pali damila, damiḷo and Prakrit d(a/ā)viḍa are all etymologically connected with tamiẓ" and further remarks "The r in tamiẓ > dr(a/ā)viḍa is a hypercorrect insertion, cf. an analogical case of DED 1033 Ta. kamuku, Tu.kangu "areca nut": Skt. kramu(ka).".
Further, another Dravidian linguist Bhadriraju Krishnamurti in his book Dravidian Languages (Krishnamurti 2003: p. 2, footnote 2) states: "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 inscriptions of BCE 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.).
The Monier-Williams Sanskrit Dictionary lists for the Sanskrit word draviḍa a meaning of "collective Name for 5 peoples, viz. the Āndhras, Karṇāṭakas, Gurjaras, Tailaṅgas, and Mahārāṣṭras".
Proto-Dravidian Proto-South-Dravidian Proto-Central Dravidian Proto-Tamil-Kannada Proto-Telugu Proto-Tamil-Toda Proto-Kannada Proto-Telugu Proto-Tamil-Kodagu Kannada Telugu Proto-Tamil-Malayalam Proto-Tamil Malayalam Tamil
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. The Dravidian family has defied all of the attempts to show a connection with other tongues, including Indo-European, Mitanni, Basque, Sumerian, and Korean. Dravidian languages display typological similarities with the Uralic language group, suggesting to some a prolonged period of contact in the past. This idea is popular amongst Dravidian linguists and has been supported by a number of scholars, including Robert Caldwell, Thomas Burrow, Kamil Zvelebil, and Mikhail Andronov. This hyphothesis has, however, been rejected by some specialists in Uralic languages, and has in recent times also been criticised by other Dravidian linguists like Bhadriraju Krishnamurti.
Although in modern times speakers of the various Dravidian languages have mainly occupied the southern portion of India, nothing definite is known about the ancient domain of the Dravidian parent speech. It is, however, a well-established and well-supported hypothesis that Dravidian speakers must have been widespread throughout much of India before the arrival of Indo-European speakers.
Proto-Dravidian is thought to have differentiated into Proto-North Dravidian, Proto-Central Dravidian, Proto South-Central Dravidian and Proto-South Dravidian around 500 BCE, although some linguists have argued that the degree of differentiation between the sub-families points to an earlier split.
The existence of the Dravidian language family was first suggested in 1816 by Alexander D. Campbell in his Grammar of the Teloogoo Language, in which he and Francis W. Ellis argued that Tamil and Telugu were descended from a common, non-Indo-European ancestor. However, it was not until 1856 that Robert Caldwell published his Comparative grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian family of languages, which considerably expanded the Dravidian umbrella and established it as one of the major language groups of the world. Caldwell coined the term "Dravidian" from the Sanskrit drāvida, which was used in a 7th century text to refer to the Tamil language of the south of India. The publication of the Dravidian etymological dictionary by T. Burrow and M. B. Emeneau was a landmark event in Dravidian linguistics.
The Dravidian languages form a close-knit family – much more closely related than, say, the Indo-European languages. There is a fair degree of agreement on how they are related to each other. The following classification divides Dravidian into three branches. Other classifications use four: either dividing Central Dravidian into Central (Kolami–Parji) and South-Central (Telugu–Kui), or dividing Northern Dravidian into Northeast (Kurukh–Malto) and Northwest (Brahui). There are in addition as-yet unclassified Dravidian languages such as Allar.
The languages recognized as official languages of India appear here in boldface.
Dravidian Southern Tamil–Kannada Tamil–Kodagu Kodagu
Kurumba (Kannada Kurumba, etc.)
Central Telugu–Kui Telugu
Kurukh (Oraon, Kisan)
The Brahui, Kurukh and Malto have myths about external origins. The Kurukh have traditionally claimed to be from the Deccan Peninsula, more specifically Karnataka. The same tradition has existed of the Brahui. They call themselves immigrants. Many scholars hold this same view of the Brahui such as L. H. Horace Perera and M. Ratnasabapathy.
Relationship to other language families
The Dravidian languages have not been shown to be related to any other language family. Comparisons have been made not just with the other language families of the Indian Subcontinent (Indo-European, Austro-Asiatic, Tibeto-Burman, and Nihali), but with all typologically similar language families of the Old World. Dravidian is one of the primary linguistic groups in the proposed 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 Ice Age and the emergence of proto-Indo-European 4–6 thousand years BCE. However, the general consensus is that such deep connections are not, or not yet, demonstrable.
On a less ambitious scale, McAlpin (1975) proposed linking Dravidian languages with the ancient Elamite language of what is now southwestern Iran. However, despite decades of research, this Elamo-Dravidian language family has not been demonstrated to the satisfaction of other historical linguists.
Nonetheless, while there are no readily detectable genealogical connections, there are strong areal features Dravidian shares with the Indo-Aryan languages. 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 features than lexical borrowings from the Dravidian languages. The Dravidian impact on the syntax of Indo-Aryan languages is considered far greater than the Indo-Aryan impact on Dravidian grammar. Some linguists explain this asymmetry by arguing that Middle Indo-Aryan languages were built on a Dravidian substratum.
The most characteristic features of Dravidian languages are:
- Dravidian languages are agglutinative.
- Dravidian languages have a clusivity distinction.
- The major word classes are nouns (substantives, numerals, pronouns), adjectives, verbs, and indeclinables (particles, enclitics, adverbs, interjections, onomatopoetic words, echo words).
- Proto-Dravidian used only suffixes, never prefixes or infixes, in the construction of inflected forms. Hence, the roots of words always occurred at the beginning. Nouns, verbs, and indeclinable words constituted the original word classes.
- There are two numbers and four different gender systems, the “original” probably having “male: non-male” in the singular and “person:non-person” in the plural.
- In a sentence, however complex, only one finite verb occurs, normally at the end, preceded if necessary by a number of gerunds.
- Word order follows certain basic rules but is relatively free.
- The main (and probably original) dichotomy in tense is past:non-past. Present tense developed later and independently in each language or subgroup.
- Verbs are intransitive, transitive, and causative; there are also active and passive forms.
- All of the positive verb forms have their corresponding negative counterparts, negative verbs.
Dravidian languages are noted for the lack of distinction between aspirated and unaspirated stops. While some Dravidian languages (especially Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu) have accepted large numbers of loan words from Sanskrit and other Indo-European 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, like Finnish, Korean, Ainu, and most indigenous Australian languages, does not distinguish between voiced and voiceless stops. In fact, the Tamil alphabet lacks symbols for voiced and aspirated stops.
Vowels: Proto-Dravidian had ten vowels: a, ā, e, ē, u, ū, i, ī, o, ō. There was contrast between short and long vowels. There were no diphthongs. ai and au are treated as *ay and *av (or *aw) (Subrahmanyam 1983, Zvelebil 1990, Krishnamurti 2003).
Consonants: Proto-Dravidian is reconstructible with the following consonantal phonemes (Subrahmanyam 1983:p40, Zvelebil 1990, Krishnamurti 2003) :
Labial Dental Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal Plosives p t ṯ ṭ c k Nasals m n ṉ (??) ṇ ñ Flap r Fricative ḻ (ṛ, r̤) (H) Approximants v l ḷ y
Words starting with vowels
A substantial number of words also begin and end with vowels, which helps the languages' agglutinative property.
karanu (cry), elumbu (bone), athu (that), avide (there), ithu (this), illai (no, absent)
adu-idil-illai (adu = that, idu = this, il= suffix form of "in", so => that-this-in-absent => that-in this-absent => that is absent in this)
The numerals from 1 to 10 in various Dravidian languages.
Number Tamil Kannada Malayalam Tulu Telugu Kolami Kurukh Brahui Proto-Dravidian 1 oṉṛu ondhu onnu onji okaṭi okkod oṇṭa asiṭ *oru(1) 2 iraṇṭu eraḍu raṇṭu raḍḍ renḍu irāṭ indiŋ irāṭ *iru(2) 3 mūṉṛu mūru mūnnu mūji mūḍu mūndiŋ mūnd musiṭ *muC 4 nāṉku nālku nālu nāl nālugu nāliŋ nākh čār (II) *nān 5 aintu aidu añcu ayN ayidu ayd 3 pancē (II) panč (II) *cayN 6 āru āru āru āji āru ār 3 soyyē (II) šaš (II) *caru 7 ēlu ēlu ēzhu yēl ēḍu ēḍ 3 sattē (II) haft (II) *ēlu 8 eṭṭu eṇṭu eṭṭu edma enimidi enumadī 3 aṭṭhē (II) hašt (II) *eṭṭu 9 onbadu ombattu onpatu ormba tommidi tomdī 3 naiṃyē (II) nōh (II) *toḷ 10 pattu hattu pattu patt padi padī 3 dassē (II) dah (II) *pat(tu)
- This is the same as the word for another form of the number one in Tamil and Malayalam. This is used as an indefinite article meaning "a" and also when the number is an adjective followed by a noun (as in "one person") as opposed to when it is a noun (as in "How many are there?" "One").
- This is still found in compound words, and has taken on a meaning of "double" in Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam. For example, irupatu (20, literally meaning "double-ten"), iravai (20 in Telugu), or "iraṭṭi" ("double") or Iruvar (meaning two people).
- Words indicated (II) are borrowings from Indo-Iranian languages.
Stability and Continuity of Dravidian
The Dravidian language family has been considered remarkably stable, especially with respect to preservation of its root vowels.
Dravidian substratum influence on Sanskrit
Dravidian and Sanskrit have influenced each other in various ways from very early times, hence it is an interesting field for linguistic research.
The Indologist and linguist Zvelebil has remarked that: "... the period of the high water mark of Tamil classical literature was one in which the two great Sanskrit epics were already completed, but the Sanskrit classical poetry was barely emerging with Aśvaghoṣa." He continues: "No stylistic feature or convention could have been borrowed by the Tamils (though of course there are borrowings of purāṇic stories" (emphasis added).
"Though the dominance of Sanskrit was exaggerated in some Brahmanic circles of Tamilnadu, and Tamil was given unduly underestimated by a few Sanskrit-oriented scholars, the Tamil and Sanskrit cultures were not generally in rivalry".
However more recent research has shown that Sanskrit has been influenced in certain more fundamental ways than Dravidian languages have been by it: It is by way of phonology and even more significantly here via grammatical constructs. This has been the case from the earliest language available (ca. 1200 B.C.) of Sanskrit: the Ṛg Vedic speech.
Dravidian languages show extensive lexical (vocabulary) borrowing, but only a few traits of structural (either phonological or grammatical) borrowing, from the Indo-Aryan tongues. On the other hand, Indo-Aryan shows rather large-scale structural borrowing from Dravidian, but relatively few loanwords.
The Ṛg Vedic language has retroflex consonants even though it is well known that the Indo-European family and the Indo-Iranian subfamily to which Sanskrit belongs lack retroflex consonants (ṭ/ḍ, ṇ) with about 88 words in the Ṛg Veda having unconditioned retroflexes (Kuiper 1991, Witzel 1999). Some sample words are: (Iṭanta, Kaṇva,śakaṭī, kevaṭa, puṇya, maṇḍūka) This is cited as a serious evidence of substrate influence from close contact of the Vedic speakers with speakers of a foreign language family rich in retroflex consonants (Kuiper 1991, Witzel 1999). Obviously the Dravidian family would be a serious candidate here (ibid as well as Krishnamurti 2003: p36) since it is rich in retroflex phonemes reconstructible back to the Proto-Dravidian stage [See Subrahmanyam 1983:p40, Zvelebil 1990, Krishnamurti 2003].
A more serious influence on Vedic Sanskrit is the extensive grammatical influence attested by the usage of the quotative marker iti and the occurrence of gerunds of verbs, a grammatical feature not found even in the Avestan language, a sister language of the Vedic Sanskrit. As Krishnamurti states: "Besides, the Ṛg Veda has used the gerund, not found in Avestan, with the same grammatical function as in Dravidian, as a non-finite verb for 'incomplete' action. Ṛg Vedic language also attests the use of iti as a quotative clause complementizer. All these features are not a consequence of simple borrowing but they indicate substratum influence (Kuiper 1991: ch 2)".
The Brahui population of Balochistan 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. However it has now been demonstrated that the Brahui could only have migrated to Balochistan from central India after 1000 CE. The absence of any older Iranian (Avestan) loanwords in Brahui supports this hypothesis. The main Iranian contributor to Brahui vocabulary, Balochi, is a western Iranian language like Kurdish, and moved to the area from the west only around 1000 CE.
Thomason & Kaufman (1988) state that there is strong evidence that Dravidian influenced Indic through "shift", that is, native Dravidian speakers learning and adopting Indic languages. Elst (1999) claims that the presence of the Brahui language, similarities between Elamite and Harappan script as well as similarities between Indo-Aryan and Dravidian indicate that these languages may have interacted prior to the spread of Indo-Aryans southwards and the resultant intermixing of languages. Erdosy (1995:18) states that the most plausible explanation for the presence of Dravidian structural features in Old Indo-Aryan is that the majority of early Old Indo-Aryan speakers had a Dravidian mother tongue which they gradually abandoned. Even though the innovative traits in Indic could be explained by multiple internal explanations, early Dravidian influence is the only explanation that can account for all of the innovations at once – it becomes a question of explanatory parsimony; moreover, early Dravidian influence accounts for the several of the innovative traits in Indic better than any internal explanation that has been proposed.
Zvelebil remarks: "Several scholars have demonstrated that pre-Indo-Aryan and pre-Dravidian bilingualism in India provided conditions for the far-reaching influence of Dravidian on the Indo-Aryan tongues in the spheres of phonology (e.g., the retroflex consonants, made with the tongue curled upward toward the palate), syntax (e.g., the frequent use of gerunds, which are nonfinite verb forms of nominal character, as in 'by the falling of the rain'), and vocabulary (a number of Dravidian loanwords apparently appearing in the Rigveda itself)."
- Susumu Kuno, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics (Harvard University), author of numerous books on Dravidian and other languages
- Official languages of India
- Nostratic languages
- ^ Ethnologue
- ^ Ethnologue: Summary by language size
- ^ George Erdösy (1995), The Indo-Aryans of ancient South Asia: Language, material culture and ethnicity, p. 271
- ^ Edwin Bryant, Laurie L. Patton (2005), The Indo-Aryan controversy: evidence and inference in Indian history, p. 254
- ^ Sanskrit, Tamil and Pahlavi Dictionaries
- ^ Tyler, Stephen (1968), "Dravidian and Uralian: the lexical evidence". Language 44:4. 798–812
- ^ Webb, Edward (1860), "Evidences of the Scythian Affinities of the Dravidian Languages, Condensed and Arranged from Rev. R. Caldwell's Comparative Dravidian Grammar", Journal of the American Oriental Society Vol. 7. 271–298.
- ^ Burrow, T. (1944) "Dravidian Studies IV: The Body in Dravidian and Uralian". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 11:2. 328–356.
- ^ a b Zvelebil, Kamal (2006). Dravidian Languages. In Encyclopædia Britannica (DVD edition).
- ^ Andronov, Mikhail S. (1971), "Comparative Studies on the Nature of Dravidian-Uralian Parallels: A Peep into the Prehistory of Language Families". Proceedings of the Second International Conference of Tamil Studies Madras. 267–277.
- ^ Zvelebil, Kamal (1970), Comparative Dravidian Phonology Mouton, The Hauge. at p. 22 contains a bibliography of articles supporting and opposing the theory
- ^ Krishnamurti, Bhadriraju (2003) The Dravidian Languages Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ISBN 0-521-77111-0 at p. 43.
- ^ a b c "Dravidian languages." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 30 Jun. 2008
- ^ P. 83 The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate By Edwin Bryant
- ^ P. 18 The Orāons of Chōtā Nāgpur: their history, economic life, and social organization. by Sarat Chandra Roy, Rai Bahadur; Alfred C Haddon
- ^ P. 12 Origin and Spread of the Tamils By V. R. Ramachandra Dikshitar
- ^ P. 32 Ideology and status of Sanskrit : contributions to the history of the Sanskrit language by Jan E M Houben
- ^ P. 45 The Brahui language, an old Dravidian language spoken in parts of Baluchistan and Sind by Sir Denys Bray
- ^ Ancient India; Culture and Thought By M. L. Bhagi
- ^ P. 23 Ceylon & Indian History from Early Times to 1505 A. D. By L. H. Horace Perera, M. Ratnasabapathy
- ^ Krishnamurti, Bhadriraju (2003) The Dravidian Languages Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ISBN 0-521-77111-0 at p. 40–41.
- ^ a b Dravidian languages – Britannica Online Encyclopedia
- ^ Zvelebil, 1975, pp. 50–51.
- ^ Trask, Robert Lawrence (2000). The Dictionary of Historical and Comparative Linguistics. Routledge. pp. 97. ISBN 1579582184. http://books.google.com/?id=EHeGzQ8wuLQC&pg=PA97&dq=retroflex+%22dravidian+substrate+influence%22+but. "It is widely suspected that the extinct and undeciphered Indus Valley language was a Dravidian language, but no confirmation is available. The existence of the isolated northern outlier Brahui is consistent with the hypothesis that Dravidian formerly occupied much of North India but was displaced by the invading Indo-Aryan languages, and the presence in the Indo-Aryan languages of certain linguistic features, such as retroflex consonants, is often attributed to Dravidian substrate influence."
- ^ (Mallory 1989)
- ^ J. H. Elfenbein, A periplous of the ‘Brahui problem’, Studia Iranica vol. 16 (1987), pp. 215–233.
- ^ Thomason & Kaufman (1988:141–144)
- Caldwell, R., A comparative grammar of the Dravidian, or, South-Indian family of languages, London: Harrison, 1856.; Reprinted London, K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & co., ltd., 1913; rev. ed. by J.L. Wyatt and T. Ramakrishna Pillai, Madras, University of Madras, 1961, reprint Asian Educational Services, 1998. ISBN 81-206-0117-3
- Campbell, A.D., A grammar of the Teloogoo language, commonly termed the Gentoo, peculiar to the Hindoos inhabiting the northeastern provinces of the Indian peninsula, 3d ed. Madras, Printed at the Hindu Press, 1849.
- Krishnamurti, B., The Dravidian Languages, Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-521-77111-0
- Subrahmanyam, P.S., Dravidian Comparative Phonology, Annamalai University, 1983.
- Zvelebil, Kamil., Dravidian Linguistics: An Introduction", PILC (Pondicherry Institute of Linguistics and Culture), 1990
- Zvelebil, Kamil., Tamil Literature, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1975, ISBN 90-04-04190-7
- Kuiper, F.B.J., Aryans in the Rig Veda], Rodopi, 1991, ISBN 90-5183-307-5 (CIP)
- Witzel, Michael, Early Sources for South Asian Substrate Languages.Boston, "Mother Tongue", extra number 1999
- Trask, Robert Lawrence (2000). The Dictionary of Historical and Comparative Linguistics. Routledge. ISBN 1579582184.
- Dravidian Etymological Dictionary. The complete dravidian etymological dictionary in a searchable online form.
- Dravidian languages page from the MultiTree Project at the LINGUIST List.
- Dravidian languages page in SIL Ethnologue.
- Swadesh lists of Dravidian basic vocabulary words (from Wiktionary's Swadesh-list appendix)
- Dravidian origin of the Guanches. A paper claiming a Dravidian origin for the language of the Guanches.
- A site by Shafique-Ur-Rehman, Brahui People living mostly in Balochistan, Pakistan.
- A subsection of the "Languages of the World" Site maintained by the National Virtual Translation Center in Washington DC.
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