||This article has an unclear citation style. (May 2013)|
|South Asia, mostly South India|
|Linguistic classification:||One of the world's primary language families|
|ISO 639-2 / 5:||dra|
Distribution of subgroups of Dravidian languages:
|Part of a series on|
|Dravidian culture and history|
The Dravidian languages are a language family spoken mainly in southern India and parts of eastern and central India as well as in northeastern Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and overseas in other countries such as Malaysia and Singapore. The Dravidian languages with the most speakers are Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada. There are also small groups of Dravidian-speaking scheduled tribes, who live beyond the mainstream communities, such as the Kurukh and Gond tribes. It is often considered that Dravidian languages are native to India. Epigraphically the Dravidian languages have been attested since the 2nd century BCE. Only two Dravidian languages are exclusively spoken outside India, Brahui in Pakistan and Dhangar, a dialect of Kurukh, in Nepal.
Dravidian place-names along the northwest coast, in Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, and to a lesser extent in Sindh, as well as Dravidian grammatical influence such as clusivity in the Marathi, Konkani, Gujarati, Marwari, and to a lesser extent Sindhi languages, suggest that Dravidian languages were once spoken more widely across the Indian subcontinent.
- 1 Dravidian studies
- 2 Classification
- 3 Distribution
- 4 History
- 5 Relationship to other language families
- 6 Grammar
- 7 Phonology
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The existence of the Dravidian language family was first suggested in 1816 by Alexander D. Campbell in his A Grammar of the Teloogoo Language, in which he and Francis W. Ellis argued that Telugu and Tamil 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" for this family of languages, based on the usage of the Sanskrit word drāviḍa in the work Tantravārttika by Kumārila Bhaṭṭa. 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.
Origin of the word drāviḍa
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). Kamil 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, "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 in his earlier treatise 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)."
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.).
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".
The Dravidian languages form a close-knit family – much more closely related than, say, the Indo-European languages. There is reasonable agreement on how they are related to each other. Most scholars agree on four groups: North, Central (Kolami–Parji), South-Central (Telugu–Kui) and South Dravidian. Earlier classifications grouped Central and South-Central Dravidian in a single branch. Some authors deny that North Dravidian forms a valid subgroup, splitting it into Northeast (Kurukh–Malto) and Northwest (Brahui).
In addition, Ethnologue lists several unclassified Dravidian languages: Allar, Bazigar, Bharia, Malankuravan (possibly a dialect of Malayalam), Vishavan, as well as the otherwise unclassified Southern Dravidian languages Mala Malasar, Malasar, Thachanadan, Ullatan, Kalanadi, Kumbaran, Kunduvadi, Kurichiya, Attapady Kurumba, Muduga, Pathiya and Wayanad Chetti to Tamil-Kannada.
About 24% of India's population spoke Dravidian languages in 1981. This proportion is slowly falling due to higher birth rates in the Indo-Aryan-speaking Ganges Plain and in 2001 census it was around 21.5% or 220 millions of total population of 1,028,610,328 and it would be much less at present as per the trend.
|Language||Classification||Number of speakers||Location|
|Tamil||South||70,000,000||Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka, Pondicherry and Karaikkal districts of Puducherry, Singapore, Malaysia|
|Malayalam||South||38,000,000||Kerala, Lakshadweep, Mahe district of Puducherry, Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu|
|Irula||South||4,500||Nilgiris (Tamil Nadu & Kerala)|
|Kanikkaran||South||19,000||Kerala, Tamil Nadu|
|Kodava||South||300,000||Karnataka (Kodagu District)|
|Kurumba||South||220,000||Nilgiris (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka)|
|Kota||South||900||Nilgiris (Tamil Nadu)|
|Toda||South||1,100||Nilgiris (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka)|
|Kannada||South||38,000,000||Karnataka, Kasaragod district of Kerala and the Solapur and Sangli districts of Maharashtra|
|Badaga||South||400,000||Nilgiris (Tamil Nadu)|
|Koraga||South||14,000||Tulu Nadu (Karnataka, Kerala)|
|Tulu||South||2,000,000||Tulu Nadu (Karnataka, Kerala)|
|Beary Bashe/Byari||South||1,500,000||Tulu Nadu (Karnataka, Kerala)|
|Telugu||South-Central||85,000,000||Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, the Yanam district of Puducherry, the Bellary district of Karnataka, the Koraput, Rayagada, Gajapati, and Ganjam districts of Orissa, the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra, and the Raipur district of Chhattisgarh|
|Gondi||South-Central||2,000,000||Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha|
|Maria (2 languages)||South-Central||360,000||Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra|
|Muria (3 languages)||South-Central||1,000,000||Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Odisha|
|Pardhan||South-Central||117,000||Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh|
|Nagarchal||South-Central||7,000||Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra|
|Konda||South-Central||20,000||Andhra Pradesh, Odisha|
|Khoya||South-Central||330,000||Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh|
|Naiki||Central||10,000||Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra|
|Kolami||Central||115,000||Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra|
|Ollari/Gadaba (2 languages)||Central||23,000||Andhra Pradesh, Odisha|
|Kurukh||Northern||2,100,000||Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal|
|Kumarbhag Paharia||Northern||18,000||Jharkhand, West Bengal|
|Sauria Paharia||Northern||120,000||Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal|
||It has been suggested that History of Dravidian languages be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since March 2012.|
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.
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. 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.
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.
Relationship to other language families
Despite many proposals, scholars have not shown a systematic relationship between the Dravidian languages and any other language family. Nonetheless, while 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.
Proposed larger groupings
The Dravidian family has defied all of the attempts to show a connection with other languages, including Indo-European, Hurrian, Basque, Sumerian, and Korean. Comparisons have been made not just with the other language families of the Indian subcontinent (Indo-European, Austroasiatic, Tibeto-Burman, and Nihali), but with all typologically similar language families of the Old World.
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 such as Bhadriraju Krishnamurti.
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 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.
Dravidian substratum 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. 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.
Vedic Sanskrit has retroflex consonants (ṭ/ḍ, ṇ) with about 88 words in the Rigveda having unconditioned retroflexes. 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. The Dravidian family is a serious candidate since it is rich in retroflex phonemes reconstructible back to the Proto-Dravidian stage.
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, and the quotative marker iti.
Some linguists explain this asymmetrical borrowing by arguing that Middle Indo-Aryan languages were built on a Dravidian substratum. 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. 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 the several of the innovative traits in Indic better than any internal explanation that has been proposed.
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 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 1000 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 1000 CE. Sound changes shared with Kurukh and Malto also suggest that Brahui was originally spoken near them in central India.
The most characteristic grammatical features of Dravidian languages are:
- Dravidian languages are agglutinative.
- Word order is subject–object–verb (SOV).
- 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 ancestral system 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 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.
Proto-Dravidian had five short and long vowels: *a, *ā, *i, *ī, *u, *ū, *e, *ē, *o, *ō. There were no diphthongs; ai and au are treated as *ay and *av (or *aw). The five-vowel system is largely preserved in the descendent subgroups.
|Flap/Rhotics||*r||*ẓ (ḻ, r̤)|
Words starting with vowels
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", illai = absent, so → that-this-in-absent → that-in this-absent → that is absent in this)
|5||ainthu||aidu||añchu||ayN||ayidu||añji||ayd 3||pancē (II)||panč (II)||*cayN||panch||pañca||pātc|
|6||āṟu||āṟu||āṟu||āji||āṟu||ār||ār 3||soyyē (II)||šaš (II)||*caṟu||che||ṣáṣ||sahā|
|7||ēzhu||ēlu||ēzhu||yēl||ēḍu||ēḻ||ēḍ 3||sattē (II)||haft (II)||*ēḻu||sat||saptá||sāt|
|8||eṭṭu||eṇṭu||eṭṭu||edma||enimidi||eṭṭ||enumadī 3||aṭṭhē (II)||hašt (II)||*eṭṭu||aanth||aṣṭá||āṭh|
|9||oṉpathu||ombattu||oṉpatu||ormba||tommidi||oiymbad||tomdī 3||naiṃyē (II)||nōh (II)||*toḷ||nau||náva||nau|
|10||patthu||hattu||pathu||patt||padi||patt||padī 3||dassē (II)||dah (II)||*pat(tu)||das||dasa||dahā|
- 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, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. For example, irupatu (20, literally meaning "double-ten"), iravai (20 in Telugu), or "iraṭṭi" ("double") or Iruvar (meaning two people) (in Tamil).
- The word tondu was also used to refer to the number nine in ancient sankam texts but was later completely replaced by the word onpadu.
- The Proto-Dravidian word "tol" is still used in Tamil to denote numbers such as 90, "thonnooru".
- Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Dravidian". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
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- Ancient India: A History of the Indian Sub-Continent from C. 7000 BC to AD 1200, by Burjor Avari, url=, Routledge
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- Edwin Bryant, Laurie L. Patton (2005), The Indo-Aryan controversy: evidence and inference in Indian history, p. 254
- Sreekumar (2009).
- Zvelebil (1990), p. xx.
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- Sanskrit, Tamil and Pahlavi Dictionaries
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- Comparative Speaker's Strength of Scheduled Languages -1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001, Census of India, 1991
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- 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
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- Krishnamurti (2003), pp. 40–41.
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- Subrahmanyam, P.S. (1983), Dravidian Comparative Phonology, Annamalai University.
- Thomason, Sarah Grey; Kaufman, Terrence (1988), Language Contact, Creolization, and Genetic Linguistics, University of California Press (published 1991), ISBN 0-520-07893-4.
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- —— (1990), Dravidian Linguistics: An Introduction, Pondicherry Institute of Linguistics and Culture, ISBN 978-81-8545-201-2.
- Dravidian Etymological Dictionary. The complete Dravidian Etymological Dictionary in a searchable online form.
- Dravidian languages page from the MultiTree Project at the LINGUIST List.
- Swadesh lists of Dravidian basic vocabulary words (from Wiktionary's Swadesh-list appendix)