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Dravidian languages

Dravidian languages

Overview
The Dravidian language family
Language family
A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family. The term 'family' comes from the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a...

 includes approximately 85 genetically related languages, spoken by about 217 million people. They are mainly spoken in southern India
South India
South India is the area encompassing India's states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as well as the union territories of Lakshadweep and Pondicherry, occupying 19.31% of India's area...

 and parts of eastern and central India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 as well as in northeastern Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Tamils (native)
Sri Lankan Tamil people , or Ceylon Tamils also known as Eelam Tamils in Tamil, are a section of Tamil people native to the South Asia island state of Sri Lanka. According to anthropological evidences and archaeological evidences, Sri Lankan Tamils have a very long history in Sri Lankan history and...

, Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

, Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, and overseas in other countries such as Malaysia and Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

. The most widely spoken Dravidian languages are Kannada
Kannada language
Kannada or , is a language spoken in India predominantly in the state of Karnataka. Kannada, whose native speakers are called Kannadigas and number roughly 50 million, is one of the 30 most spoken languages in the world...

, Malayalam, Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

, and Telugu
Telugu language
Telugu is a Central Dravidian language primarily spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, where it is an official language. It is also spoken in the neighbouring states of Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa and Tamil Nadu...

; of these, Telugu has the most native speakers.
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Encyclopedia
The Dravidian language family
Language family
A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family. The term 'family' comes from the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a...

 includes approximately 85 genetically related languages, spoken by about 217 million people. They are mainly spoken in southern India
South India
South India is the area encompassing India's states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as well as the union territories of Lakshadweep and Pondicherry, occupying 19.31% of India's area...

 and parts of eastern and central India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 as well as in northeastern Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Tamils (native)
Sri Lankan Tamil people , or Ceylon Tamils also known as Eelam Tamils in Tamil, are a section of Tamil people native to the South Asia island state of Sri Lanka. According to anthropological evidences and archaeological evidences, Sri Lankan Tamils have a very long history in Sri Lankan history and...

, Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

, Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, and overseas in other countries such as Malaysia and Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

. The most widely spoken Dravidian languages are Kannada
Kannada language
Kannada or , is a language spoken in India predominantly in the state of Karnataka. Kannada, whose native speakers are called Kannadigas and number roughly 50 million, is one of the 30 most spoken languages in the world...

, Malayalam, Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

, and Telugu
Telugu language
Telugu is a Central Dravidian language primarily spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, where it is an official language. It is also spoken in the neighbouring states of Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa and Tamil Nadu...

; 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
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. Epigraphically
Early Indian epigraphy
The earliest traces of epigraphy in South Asia are found in the undeciphered inscriptions of the Indus Valley Civilization , which date back to the early 3rd millennium BC...

 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
Kurukh language
Kurukh , also called Kurux, Kuṛux or Kuruḵẖ, is a Dravidian language spoken by the Oraon and Kisan tribal peoples of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and West Bengal, India, as well as in northern Bangladesh. It is most closely related to Brahui and Malto...

. Dravidian place-names throughout the regions of Sindh
Sindh
Sindh historically referred to as Ba'ab-ul-Islam , is one of the four provinces of Pakistan and historically is home to the Sindhi people. It is also locally known as the "Mehran". Though Muslims form the largest religious group in Sindh, a good number of Christians, Zoroastrians and Hindus can...

, Gujarat and Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

 suggest that Dravidian languages were once spoken throughout the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

.

Origins of the word Dravidian


The English word Dravidian was first employed by Robert Caldwell
Robert Caldwell
Bishop Robert Caldwell was an Evangelist missionary and linguist, who academically established the Dravidian family of languages. He served as Assistant Bishop of Tirunelveli from 1877. He was described in The Hindu as a 'pioneering champion of the downtrodden' and an 'avant-garde social reformer'...

 in his book of comparative Dravidian grammar based on the usage of the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 word in the work Tantravārttika by (Zvelebil 1990:xx). As for the origin of the Sanskrit word itself there have been various theories proposed. Basically the theories are about the direction of derivation between and .

There is no definite philological and linguistic basis for asserting unilaterally that the name Dravida also forms the origin of the word Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

(Dravida -> Dramila -> Tamizha or Tamil). Zvelebil cites the forms such as dramila (in 's Sanskrit work Avanisundarīkathā) (found in Ceylonese chronicle Mahavamsa) and then goes on to say (ibid. page xxi): "The forms damiḷa/damila almost certainly provide a connection of " and "... < ...whereby the further development might have been * > * > - / damila- and further, with the intrusive, 'hypercorrect' (or perhaps analogical) -r-, into . 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 , Pali damila, and Prakrit are all etymologically connected with " and further remarks "The r in > 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
Bhadriraju Krishnamurti
Bhadriraju Krishnamurti ; IAST: ) is an eminent Dravidianist and the most respected Indian linguist of his generation. He was born in Ongole on June 19, 1928...

 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 , dramila first as the name of a people, then of a country. Sinhala inscriptions of BCE cite -, damela- denoting Tamil merchants. Early Buddhist and Jaina sources used - to refer to a people of south India (presumably Tamil); - was a southern non-Aryan country; -, , and - were used as variants to designate a country in the south (, Kādambarī, Daśakumāracarita-, fourth to seventh centuries CE) (1989: 134–138). It appears that - was older than - 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 itself is later than since the dates for the forms with -r- are centuries later than the dates for the forms without -r- (, -, damela- etc.).

The Monier-Williams Sanskrit Dictionary lists for the Sanskrit word a meaning of "collective Name for 5 peoples, viz. the and ".

History


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
Comparative linguistics
Comparative linguistics is a branch of historical linguistics that is concerned with comparing languages to establish their historical relatedness....

 research into the Dravidian languages. The Dravidian family has defied all of the attempts to show a connection with other tongues, including Indo-European
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

, Mitanni, Basque, Sumerian, and Korean. Dravidian languages display typological similarities with the Uralic
Uralic languages
The Uralic languages constitute a language family of some three dozen languages spoken by approximately 25 million people. The healthiest Uralic languages in terms of the number of native speakers are Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Mari and Udmurt...

 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
Robert Caldwell
Bishop Robert Caldwell was an Evangelist missionary and linguist, who academically established the Dravidian family of languages. He served as Assistant Bishop of Tirunelveli from 1877. He was described in The Hindu as a 'pioneering champion of the downtrodden' and an 'avant-garde social reformer'...

, Thomas Burrow
Thomas Burrow
Thomas Burrow was an Indologist and the Boden Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Oxford from 1944 to 1976. His work includes Dravidian Etymological Dictionary, The Problem of Shwa in Sanskrit and The Sanskrit Language....

, 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
Bhadriraju Krishnamurti
Bhadriraju Krishnamurti ; IAST: ) is an eminent Dravidianist and the most respected Indian linguist of his generation. He was born in Ongole on June 19, 1928...

.

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
Proto-Dravidian
Proto-Dravidian is the proto-language of the Dravidian languages. It is thought to have differentiated into Proto-North Dravidian, Proto-Central Dravidian and Proto-South Dravidian around 500 BC, although some linguists have argued that the degree of differentiation between the sub-families points...

 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
Telugu language
Telugu is a Central Dravidian language primarily spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, where it is an official language. It is also spoken in the neighbouring states of Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa and Tamil Nadu...

, in which he and Francis W. Ellis
Francis Whyte Ellis
Francis Whyte Ellis was a British civil servant in the Madras Presidency and a scholar of Tamil and Sanskrit.-Biography:Ellis became a writer in the East India Company's service at Madras in 1796. He was promoted to the offices of assistant-under secretary, deputy-secretary, and secretary to the...

 argued that Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

 and Telugu
Telugu language
Telugu is a Central Dravidian language primarily spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, where it is an official language. It is also spoken in the neighbouring states of Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa and Tamil Nadu...

 were descended from a common, non-Indo-European ancestor. However, it was not until 1856 that Robert Caldwell
Robert Caldwell
Bishop Robert Caldwell was an Evangelist missionary and linguist, who academically established the Dravidian family of languages. He served as Assistant Bishop of Tirunelveli from 1877. He was described in The Hindu as a 'pioneering champion of the downtrodden' and an 'avant-garde social reformer'...

 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
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 drāvida, which was used in a 7th century text to refer to the Tamil language
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

 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.

Classification


The Dravidian languages form a close-knit family – much more closely related than, say, the Indo-European languages
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

. 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
Allar language
-References:*...

.

The languages recognized as official languages of India appear here in boldface.
The Brahui
Brahui people
The Brahui or Brohi are ethnic Baloch group of about 2.2 million people with the majority found in Kalat, Baluchistan, Pakistan, but they are also found in smaller numbers in neighboring Afghanistan and Iran. The Brahuis are almost entirely Sunni Muslims.-Origins:The ethnonym "Brahui" is a very...

, Kurukh and Malto
Malto
Malto may refer to either:*The Malto language, a Northern Dravidian language*The Malto people, speakers of the Malto language...

 have myths about external origins. The Kurukh have traditionally claimed to be from the Deccan Peninsula, more specifically Karnataka
Karnataka
Karnataka , the land of the Kannadigas, is a state in South West India. It was created on 1 November 1956, with the passing of the States Reorganisation Act and this day is annually celebrated as Karnataka Rajyotsava...

. 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
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

, Austro-Asiatic
Austro-Asiatic languages
The Austro-Asiatic languages, in recent classifications synonymous with Mon–Khmer, are a large language family of Southeast Asia, also scattered throughout India and Bangladesh. The name Austro-Asiatic comes from the Latin words for "south" and "Asia", hence "South Asia"...

, Tibeto-Burman
Tibeto-Burman languages
The Tibeto-Burman languages are the non-Chinese members of the Sino-Tibetan language family, over 400 of which are spoken thoughout the highlands of southeast Asia, as well as lowland areas in Burma ....

, and Nihali
Nihali language
Nihali, also known as Nahali or erroneously as Kalto, is a language isolate spoken in west-central India by around 2,000 people out of an ethnic population of 5,000...

), 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
Fertile Crescent
The Fertile Crescent, nicknamed "The Cradle of Civilization" for the fact the first civilizations started there, is a crescent-shaped region containing the comparatively moist and fertile land of otherwise arid and semi-arid Western Asia. The term was first used by University of Chicago...

 sometime between the last Ice Age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

 and the emergence of proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 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
Elamite language
Elamite is an extinct language spoken by the ancient Elamites. Elamite was the primary language in present day Iran from 2800–550 BCE. The last written records in Elamite appear about the time of the conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great....

 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
Sprachbund
A Sprachbund – also known as a linguistic area, convergence area, diffusion area or language crossroads – is a group of languages that have become similar in some way because of geographical proximity and language contact. They may be genetically unrelated, or only distantly related...

 Dravidian shares with the Indo-Aryan languages
Indo-Aryan languages
The Indo-Aryan languages constitutes a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family...

. 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
Substratum
In linguistics, a stratum or strate is a language that influences, or is influenced by another through contact. A substratum is a language which has lower power or prestige than another, while a superstratum is the language that has higher power or prestige. Both substratum and superstratum...

.

Grammar



The most characteristic features of Dravidian languages are:
  • Dravidian languages are agglutinative
    Agglutination
    In contemporary linguistics, agglutination usually refers to the kind of morphological derivation in which there is a one-to-one correspondence between affixes and syntactical categories. Languages that use agglutination widely are called agglutinative languages...

    .
  • Dravidian languages have a clusivity
    Clusivity
    In linguistics, clusivity is a distinction between inclusive and exclusive first-person pronouns and verbal morphology, also called inclusive "we" and exclusive "we"...

     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.

Phonology


Dravidian languages are noted for the lack of distinction between aspirated and unaspirated stops. While some Dravidian languages (especially Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu
Telugu language
Telugu is a Central Dravidian language primarily spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, where it is an official language. It is also spoken in the neighbouring states of Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa and Tamil Nadu...

) have accepted large numbers of loan words from Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 and other Indo-European languages
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 in addition to their already vast vocabulary, in which the orthography
Orthography
The orthography of a language specifies a standardized way of using a specific writing system to write the language. Where more than one writing system is used for a language, for example Kurdish, Uyghur, Serbian or Inuktitut, there can be more than one orthography...

 shows distinctions in voice and aspiration
Aspiration (phonetics)
In phonetics, aspiration is the strong burst of air that accompanies either the release or, in the case of preaspiration, the closure of some obstruents. To feel or see the difference between aspirated and unaspirated sounds, one can put a hand or a lit candle in front of one's mouth, and say pin ...

, the words are pronounced in Dravidian according to different rules of phonology
Phonology
Phonology is, broadly speaking, the subdiscipline of linguistics concerned with the sounds of language. That is, it is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language, or the field of linguistics studying this use...

 and phonotactics
Phonotactics
Phonotactics is a branch of phonology that deals with restrictions in a language on the permissible combinations of phonemes...

: 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
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

, like Korean
Korean language
Korean is the official language of the country Korea, in both South and North. It is also one of the two official languages in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in People's Republic of China. There are about 78 million Korean speakers worldwide. In the 15th century, a national writing...

, Ainu
Ainu language
Ainu is one of the Ainu languages, spoken by members of the Ainu ethnic group on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaidō....

, 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.

Dravidian languages are also characterized by a three-way distinction between dental, alveolar
Alveolar consonant
Alveolar consonants are articulated with the tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge, which is called that because it contains the alveoli of the superior teeth...

, and retroflex places of articulation as well as large numbers of liquids
Liquid consonant
In phonetics, liquids or liquid consonants are a class of consonants consisting of lateral consonants together with rhotics.-Description:...

.

Historical Phonology



Vowels: Proto-Dravidian
Proto-Dravidian
Proto-Dravidian is the proto-language of the Dravidian languages. It is thought to have differentiated into Proto-North Dravidian, Proto-Central Dravidian and Proto-South Dravidian around 500 BC, although some linguists have argued that the degree of differentiation between the sub-families points...

 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 c k
Nasals m n ṉ (??) ñ
Flap r
Fricative ḻ (ṛ, r̤) (H)
Approximants v l 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)

Numerals


The numerals from 1 to 10 in various Dravidian languages.
Number Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

Kannada
Kannada language
Kannada or , is a language spoken in India predominantly in the state of Karnataka. Kannada, whose native speakers are called Kannadigas and number roughly 50 million, is one of the 30 most spoken languages in the world...

Malayalam
Malayalam language
Malayalam , is one of the four major Dravidian languages of southern India. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India with official language status in the state of Kerala and the union territories of Lakshadweep and Pondicherry. It is spoken by 35.9 million people...

Tulu
Tulu language
The Tulu language |?]]]) is a Dravidian language spoken by 1.95 million native speakers mainly in the southwest part of Indian state Karnataka known as Tulu Nadu. In India, 1.72 million people speak it as their mother tongue , increased by 10 percent over the 1991 census...

Telugu
Telugu language
Telugu is a Central Dravidian language primarily spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, where it is an official language. It is also spoken in the neighbouring states of Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa and Tamil Nadu...

Kolami
Kolami language
Kolami is a tribal Central Dravidian language used in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra states of India. It takes route from the central branch of Dravidian Language tree and falls under Kolami–Paraji group of languages....

Kurukh
Kurukh language
Kurukh , also called Kurux, Kuṛux or Kuruḵẖ, is a Dravidian language spoken by the Oraon and Kisan tribal peoples of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and West Bengal, India, as well as in northern Bangladesh. It is most closely related to Brahui and Malto...

Brahui Proto-Dravidian
Proto-Dravidian
Proto-Dravidian is the proto-language of the Dravidian languages. It is thought to have differentiated into Proto-North Dravidian, Proto-Central Dravidian and Proto-South Dravidian around 500 BC, although some linguists have argued that the degree of differentiation between the sub-families points...

1 oṉṛu ondhu onnu onji okkod *oru(1)
2 *iru(2)
3 mūṉṛu ru mūnnu mūji mūnd *muC
4 nāṉku nālku nālu nāl nālugu kh 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 3 sattē (II) haft (II) lu
8 eṭṭu edma enimidi enumadī 3 (II) hašt (II) }
9 onpadu ombattu onpatu ormba tommidi tomdī 3 (II) nōh (II) }
10 pattu hattu pattu patt padi padī 3 dassē (II) dah (II) *pat(tu)
  1. This is the same as the word for another form of the number one in Tamil
    Tamil language
    Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

     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").
  2. This is still found in compound words, and has taken on a meaning of "double" in Tamil
    Tamil language
    Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

    , Kannada and Malayalam. For example, irupatu (20, literally meaning "double-ten"), iravai (20 in Telugu), or "" ("double") or Iruvar (meaning two people).
  3. The word tondu was also used to refer to the number nine in ancient sankam texts but was later completly replaced by the word onpadu.
    • Words indicated (II) are borrowings from Indo-Iranian languages
      Indo-Iranian languages
      The Indo-Iranian language group constitutes the easternmost extant branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It consists of three language groups: the Indo-Aryan, Iranian and Nuristani...

      .

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
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 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
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 epics
EPICS
The Experimental Physics and Industrial Control System is a software environment used to develop and implement distributed control systems to operate devices such as particle accelerators, telescopes and other large experiments. EPICS also provides SCADA capabilities...

 were already completed, but the Sanskrit classical poetry was barely emerging with ." He continues: "No stylistic feature or convention could have been borrowed by the Tamils (though of course there are borrowings of stories" (emphasis added).

Zvelebil remarks:

"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
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

 and Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 cultures were not generally in rivalry".

However more recent research has shown that Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 has been influenced in certain more fundamental ways than Dravidian languages have been by it: It is by way of phonology
Phonology
Phonology is, broadly speaking, the subdiscipline of linguistics concerned with the sounds of language. That is, it is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language, or the field of linguistics studying this use...

 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 Vedic speech.

Dravidian languages show extensive lexical (vocabulary
Vocabulary
A person's vocabulary is the set of words within a language that are familiar to that person. A vocabulary usually develops with age, and serves as a useful and fundamental tool for communication and acquiring knowledge...

) 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 Vedic language
Vedic Sanskrit
Vedic Sanskrit is an old Indo-Aryan language. It is an archaic form of Sanskrit, an early descendant of Proto-Indo-Iranian. It is closely related to Avestan, the oldest preserved Iranian language...

 has retroflex consonant
Retroflex consonant
A retroflex consonant is a coronal consonant where the tongue has a flat, concave, or even curled shape, and is articulated between the alveolar ridge and the hard palate. They are sometimes referred to as cerebral consonants, especially in Indology...

s even though it is well known that the Indo-European family
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 and the Indo-Iranian subfamily
Indo-Iranian languages
The Indo-Iranian language group constitutes the easternmost extant branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It consists of three language groups: the Indo-Aryan, Iranian and Nuristani...

 to which Sanskrit belongs lack retroflex consonants (/) with about 88 words in the Veda having unconditioned retroflexes (Kuiper 1991, Witzel 1999). Some sample words are: (, ,, , , ) 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 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. 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
Brahui people
The Brahui or Brohi are ethnic Baloch group of about 2.2 million people with the majority found in Kalat, Baluchistan, Pakistan, but they are also found in smaller numbers in neighboring Afghanistan and Iran. The Brahuis are almost entirely Sunni Muslims.-Origins:The ethnonym "Brahui" is a very...

 population of Balochistan
Balochistan (region)
Balochistan or Baluchistan is an arid, mountainous region in the Iranian plateau in Southwest Asia; it includes part of southeastern Iran, western Pakistan, and southwestern Afghanistan. The area is named after the numerous Baloch tribes, Iranian peoples who moved into the area from the west...

 has been taken by some as the linguistic equivalent of a relict
Relict
A relict is a surviving remnant of a natural phenomenon.* In biology a relict is an organism that at an earlier time was abundant in a large area but now occurs at only one or a few small areas....

 population
Population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

, perhaps indicating that Dravidian languages were formerly much more widespread and were supplanted by the incoming Indo-Aryan languages
Indo-Aryan languages
The Indo-Aryan languages constitutes a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family...

. 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.

state that there is strong evidence that Dravidian influenced Indic
Indo-Aryan languages
The Indo-Aryan languages constitutes a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family...

 through "shift", that is, native Dravidian speakers learning and adopting Indic languages. 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. 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
Occam's razor
Occam's razor, also known as Ockham's razor, and sometimes expressed in Latin as lex parsimoniae , is a principle that generally recommends from among competing hypotheses selecting the one that makes the fewest new assumptions.-Overview:The principle is often summarized as "simpler explanations...

; 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
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 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)."

See also


  • Susumu Kuno
    Susumu Kuno
    is a Japanese linguist and author. He is Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D. degree in 1964 and spent his entire career. He received his A.B. and A.M. from Tokyo University where he received a thorough grounding in linguistics under the guidance of...

    , Professor Emeritus of Linguistics (Harvard University
    Harvard University
    Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

    ), author of numerous books on Dravidian and other languages
  • Official languages of India
  • Nostratic languages
    Nostratic languages
    Nostratic is a proposed language family that includes many of the indigenous language families of Eurasia, including the Indo-European, Uralic and Altaic as well as Kartvelian languages...


External links