Areas in South India where Dravidian languages are currently spoken
|approx. 217 million speakers|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Hinduism, Islam, traditional religion, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Judaism|
Dravidian refers to the speakers of the Dravidian languages in South Asia. There are around 220 million native speakers of Dravidian languages. Dravidian-speaking people are mostly found in southern India and Sri Lanka, with smaller groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
There are two definitions for Dravidian ethnicity which are generally divided between proposing that Dravidian people are an ethnic group in their own right, or Dravidian people are a collective group of ethnolinguistic ethnicities. The World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 10 says: "Most southern Indians belong to the Dravidian ethnic group;" referring to them as one ethnic group, while the The New Encyclopædia Britannica: Volume 8; Volume 21 refers to 'Dravidian ethnic groups', suggesting the latter definition. Hence, depending on the definition and context, both 'Dravidian people' and 'Dravidian peoples' may be used.
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. For the origin of the Sanskrit word drāviḍa, various theories have been proposed. These theories concern the direction of derivation between tamiẓ and drāviḍa; such linguists as Zvelebil assert that the direction is from tamiẓ to drāviḍa. The word Dravidian is devoid of any ethnic significance, Dravidian is just the language used by the people of the referred group.
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 India, including the northwest region. Origins of Dravidian people are informed by various theories proposed by linguists, anthropologists, geneticist and historians. According to geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza in the book The History and Geography of Human Genes, the Dravidians were preceded in the subcontinent by Austroasiatic speakers, and were followed by Indo-European-speaking migrants sometime later.
Some linguists hypothesized that Dravidian-speaking people were spread throughout the Indian subcontinent before a series of Indo-Aryan migrations. In this view, the early Indus Valley civilisation (Harappa and Mohenjo Daro) is often identified as having been Dravidian. Cultural and linguistic similarities have been cited by researchers such as Finnish Indologist Asko Parpola as being strong evidence for a proto-Dravidian origin of the ancient Indus Valley civilisation.
The Elamo-Dravidians are said to be Neolithic settlers from modern-day south western Iran. They are assumed to be darker skinned Caucasian people with slender body and built and copper skin tone. They are usually lumped with the Mediterranean race. They must have taken the route from erstwhile Elam region via Balochistan to the Indus region around 8000 to 7000 B.C., where they are often credited to have built the famed Harappan civilization. They eventually mixed with the local Austro-Asiatic peoples, who were of Proto-Australoid and Paleo-Mongoloid stock. The admixture was liberal, steady and stabilised. As a result, most modern day Dravidians have clear and dominant Australoid features.
Some scholars like J. Bloch and M. Witzel believe that the Indo-Aryan moved into an already Dravidian speaking area after the oldest parts of the Rig Veda were already composed. 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.
Thomason and Kaufman state that there is strong evidence that Dravidian influenced Indo-Aryan through "shift", that is, native Dravidian speakers learning and adopting Indo-Aryan languages. Erdosy 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 Indo-Aryan languages 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 several of the innovative traits in Indo-Aryan languages better than any internal explanation that has been proposed. Zvelebil remarks that "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, syntax and vocabulary".
Genetic views on race differ in their classification of Dravidians. Classical anthropologists, such as Carleton S. Coon in his 1939 work The Races of Europe, argued that Ethiopia in Northeast Africa and India in South Asia represented the outermost peripheries of the Caucasoid race. In the 1960s, genetic anthropologist Stanley Marion Garn considered the entirety of the Indian subcontinent to be a "race" genetically distinct from other populations. The geneticist L.L. Cavalli-Sforza of Stanford, based on work done in the 1980s, classified Indians as being genetically Caucasian. Cavalli-Sforza theorised that Indians are about three times closer to West Europeans than to East Asians. More recently, other geneticists, such as Lynn B. Jorde and Stephen P. Wooding, demonstrated that Southern Indians were most closely related to East Asians.
While a number of earlier anthropologists held the view that the Dravidian people together were a distinct race, a small number of genetic studies based on uniparental markers have challenged this view. Some researchers have indicated that both Dravidian and Indo-Aryan speakers are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent; however, this point of view is rejected by many researchers in favour of Indo-Aryan migration, with racial stratification among Indian populations being distributed along caste lines.
Because of admixture between Australoid, Caucasoid, and Mongoloid racial groups, one cannot speak of a biologically separate "Dravidian race" distinct from non-Dravidians on the Indian subcontinent. In a 2009 study of 132 individuals, 560,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in 25 different Indian groups were analysed, providing strong evidence in support of the notion that modern Indians (both Indo-Aryan and Dravidian groups) are a hybrid population descending from two post-Neolithic, genetically divergent populations referred to as the 'Ancestral North Indians' and the 'Ancestral South Indians'. According to the study, Andamanese are an ASI-related group without ANI ancestry, showing that the peopling of the islands must have occurred before ANI-ASI gene flow on the mainland.
The best-known Dravidian languages are Tamil (தமிழ்), Telugu (తెలుగు), Malayalam (മലയാളം), and Kannada (ಕನ್ನಡ). There are three subgroups within the Dravidian language family: North Dravidian, Central Dravidian, and South Dravidian, matching for the most part the corresponding regions in the Indian subcontinent.
Dravidian languages are spoken by more than 200 million people. They appear to be unrelated to languages of other known families like Indo-European.
Dravidian grammatical impact on the structure and syntax of Indo-Aryan languages is considered far greater than the Indo-Aryan grammatical impact on Dravidian. Some linguists explain this anomaly by arguing that Middle Indo-Aryan and New Indo-Aryan were built on a Dravidian substratum. There are also hundreds of Dravidian loanwords in Indo-Aryan languages, and vice versa.
Art and Architecture
List of Dravidian peoples
|Brahuis||Pakistan||2,528,000||Brahuis are an ethnic group of about 2.5 million people. The majority are found in Sindh and Baluchistan, Pakistan, with smaller amounts in Iran and Afghanistan.|
|Cholanaikkan||India||191||The Cholanaikkan primarily inhabit the southern Kerala State, especially Silent Valley National Park, and are one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer tribes of the region. They speak the Dravidian Cholanaikkan language.|
|Chenchus||India||?||They are an aboriginal tribe in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Odisha. The Chenchus speak the Chenchu language, a member of the Telugu branch of the Dravidian language family.|
|Giraavarus||Maldives||?||The Giraavarus or Tivaru people are the indigenous people of Giraavaru Island, part of the Maldives.|
|Gonds||India||9,319,000 (1991)||A prominent group of Dravidian-speaking tribal people inhabiting the central region of India.|
|Irulas||India||1,000-2,000||Irulas inhabit various parts of the southern half of the country, but mainly reside in the Thiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu. They speak Irula, a Dravidian language most closely related to Tamil, Yerukala, Sholaga and other Tamil languages.|
|Kannadigas||India||45,000,000 (2001 only India)||They belong to the south-Dravidian subgroup. Kannadigas inhabit Karnataka and parts of northern Kerala and parts of southern Maharashtra, northwest region of Tamil Nadu, India.|
|Khonds/Kondha||India||?||They inhabit Odisha and the Srikakulam and Visakhapatnam districts of Andhra Pradesh. Their main divisions are the Kutia, or hill Khonds and plain-dwelling Khonds; the landowners among them are known as Raj Khonds. The Khonds speak Kui, a Dravidian language most closely related to Gondi, Konda and Kuvi.|
|Kodavas||India||160,000 (approx)||People belonging to the south-Dravidian subgroup, found in Karnataka and parts of northern Kerala who speak the Kodava language.|
|Kurukhs||India, Bangladesh||?||People belonging to the north-Dravidian subgroup. Found in India and Bangladesh. It is the only Dravidian language indigenous in Bangladesh.|
|Malayalis||India||35,757,100 (1997)||These people belong to south-Dravidian linguistic subgroup. Mostly found in Kerala, Lakshadweep, Puducherry, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India.|
|Malto||India||?||Malto/Malar mostly live in the northern end of the Indian peninsula, such as in West Bengal, Bangladesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.|
|Paniyas||India||94,000 (2003)||They primarily inhabit Kerala, and the Wayanad, Kozhikode, Kannur and Malappuram districts. The Paniya speak the Paniya language, which belongs to the Malayalam group of Dravidian languages.|
|Soligas||India||20,000||They primarily inhabit the Biligirirangan Hills and associated ranges in southern Karnataka, mostly in the Chamarajanagar and Erode districts of Tamil Nadu. Many are also concentrated in and around the BR Hills in Yelandur and Kollegal Taluks of Chamarajanagar District, Karnataka. The Soliga speak Sholaga, a Dravidian language most closely to Kannada.|
|Tamils||India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore||81,300,000||These people belong to south-Dravidian linguistic subgroup. Mostly found in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, parts of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, southern Karnataka, Maharashtra and Delhi.There is also a significant presence in Sri Lanka, Singapore, Andaman and Nicobar, Maldives, Mauritius, Philippines, Bali, Sumatra and Malaysia.|
|Telugus||India||80,000,000||These people belong to south-Dravidian subgroup (formerly classified with the Central Dravidian but now more specifically in the South Dravidian or South Central Dravidian inner branch of the South Dravidian). Mostly found in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, as well as in Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, and Karnataka and also in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.|
|Tuluvas||India||10,000,000 (approx)||They belong to the south Dravidian subgroup, and are found in coastal Karnataka and northern Kerala (alternatively named Tulu Nadu).|
- Dravidian languages
- Historical definitions of races in India
- Dravidian University (dedicated to research and learning of Dravidian languages)
- South India
- The World Book encyclopedia: Volume 10. World Book Inc. p. 11. ISBN 9780716601029.
- The New Encyclopaedia Britannica: Volume 8; Volume 21. 1998. p. 13.
- Zvelebil 1990, p. xx
- Zvelebil 1990, p. xxi
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- Stone celts in Harappa
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- Mallory 1989[page needed]
- Thomason & Kaufman 1988[page needed]
- Erdosy 1995, p. 18
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- Robert Jurmain, Lynn Kilgore, Wenda Trevathan, and Harry Nelson. Introduction to Physical Anthropology. 9th ed. (Canada: Thompson Learning, 2003)[page needed]
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- Cordaux, Richard; Aunger, Robert; Bentley, Gillian; Nasidze, Ivane; Sirajuddin, S.M.; Stoneking, Mark (2004). "Independent Origins of Indian Caste and Tribal Paternal Lineages". Current Biology 14 (3): 231–5. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2004.01.024. PMID 14761656.
- Watkins, W.s.; Thara, R.; Mowry, B.j.; Zhang, Y.; Witherspoon, D.j.; Tolpinrud, W.; Bamshad, M.j.; Tiripati, S.; Padmavati, R.; Smith, H; Nancarrow, D; Filippich, C; Jorde, L. B. (2008). "Genetic variation in South Indian castes: Evidence from Y-chromosome, mitochondrial, and autosomal polymorphisms". BMC Genetics 9: 86. doi:10.1186/1471-2156-9-86. PMC 2621241. PMID 19077280.
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…Historical and anthropological studies suggest that in the establishment of the caste system in India there have been varying levels of admixture between the tribal people of India and the later immigrants bringing along with them agriculture, pottery and metals from central and west Asia. In other words, castes of different ranks in the contemporary Hindu society putatively have had different degrees of admixture with immigrants into India from central and west Asia. The immigrants from central and west Asia who likely entered India through the north-western corridor, spread to most areas of northern India, but not to southern India. In other words, southern and northern India had differential inputs of genes from central and west Asia. This differential admixture is expected to have differential impacts on the genetic structures of castes of different ranks.
- Reich, David; Thangaraj, Kumarasamy; Patterson, Nick; Price, Alkes L.; Singh, Lalji (2009). "Reconstructing Indian population history". Nature 461 (7263): 489–94. Bibcode:2009Natur.461..489R. doi:10.1038/nature08365. PMC 2842210. PMID 19779445.
- Krishnamurti 2003, pp. 40–1
- Krishnamurti, Bhadriraju (2003). The Dravidian Languages. Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-77111-5.
- Indian Genome Variation Consortium (2008). "Genetic landscape of the people of India: A canvas for disease gene exploration". Journal of Genetics 87 (1): 3–20. doi:10.1007/s12041-008-0002-x. PMID 18560169.
- Mallory, J. P. (1989). In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology and Myth. London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-05052-1.
- Thomason, Sarah Grey; Kaufman, Terrence (1988). Language Contact, Creolization, and Genetic Linguistics. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-05789-0.
- Zvelebil, Kamil (1990). Dravidian Linguistics: An Introduction. Pondicherry: Pondicherry Institute of Linguistics and Culture. ISBN 978-81-85452-01-2.
- Erdosy, George (1995). The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia: Language, Material Culture and Ethnicity. Berlin: de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-014447-5.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dravidian people.|
- Dolmens, Hero Stones and the Dravidian People
- Harappa.com Glimpses of South Asia before 1947
- People and Languages in pre-Islamic Indus valley
- Dravidians Organization International (NPO & NGO) Since 2004