Dravido-Korean languages

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South Asia and Korea
Linguistic classification: Dravido-Altaic
Glottolog: None

Koreanic-Dravidian or Dravido-Koreanic is an obsolete[1] language family proposal which links the living or proto-Dravidian language to the Korean language. The hypothesis was originally proposed by Morgan E. Clippinger in his "Korean and Dravidian: lexical evidence for an old theory" published in 1984. This proposal was discarded when the Korean language was hypothetically linked to the now widely discredited Altaic languages.


Similarities between the Tamil and Korean were first noted by French missionaries in Korea.[2] Susumu Ōno caused a stir in Japan with his theory that Tamil constituted a lexical strata of both Korean and Japanese, which was widely publicized in the 1980s but quickly abandoned. However Cliffinger's method was professional and his data reliable; hence, Ki-Moon Lee, Professor Emeritus at Seoul National University, opines that his conclusion could not be ignored and that it should be revisited.[3] According to Homer B. Hulbert, many of the names of ancient colonies of southern Korea were the exact counterpart of Dravidian words. The Karak Kingdom of King Suro was named after the proto-Dravidian meaning 'fish'.[4][5]

In the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Tamil words resonate in homes. And many of the native speakers do not realise they are using Tamil words. For, these words are a part of the Korean language.

Amma and appa — denoting mother and father in the Korean language too — are among the first words Korean children learn. These are among the thousands of Tamil words that are part of the Korean language.

This surprising and interesting fact came to light at the day-long International Conference on Cultural Exchange between India and Korea in Antiquity, jointly organised by the Consulate General of Korea and the International Institute of Tamil Studies here on Friday.

Jung Nam Kim, president, Korean Society of Tamil Studies, said there were words found both in Korean and Tamil and in both these languages, they meant the same thing and were pronounced the same way.

Other Tamil words found in Korean with the same meanings are: naal (day), uraam (manure), pullu (grass), pudhu (new), sourru (rice) and yerru (plough).

There are more – vanakkam in Tamil is Vankkaamtta in Korean. Bambu denoting a snake, in Tamil, is Bambu-baem in Korean. Santhosham (happiness) in Tamil is Shantutham in Korean.

Recently, the State government started translation of Tirukurral into Korean. "We have a shared heritage. The tomb of Queen Suriratna, an Indian princess, in Gimhae in Korea is a symbol of our shared heritage. In fact, Chennai has the largest Korean population — 4,000 — in India," Kyungsoo Kim, Consul General of Republic of Korea, said. Rathina Pugalenthi, a scholar from Viruthachalam near Cuddolore district, said that dance forms such as Korean drum dance and Thappaattam in Tamil Nadu had at least 12 similarities in terms of movements, and composition of eight members in a group, including two drummers.

P. Banumathi, assistant professor, Department of Tamil in Valliammal College for Women, spoke about how the traditional weaving technology of the State was meritoriously followed in the interior parts of Korea even now.

Gada(To go, 가다) and Nal(Day, 날) the same as Korean; Achocho≒Achacha(Embrassing sound, 아차차); Ssorh≒Ssal(Rice, 쌀); Pood≒put(Unripen, 풋); Ssandai≒Ssa-un-da(To fight each other, 싸운다); Manam≒Maum(Mind, 마음); Bamb≒Baem(A snake, 뱀); Syandosam≒San-ddeut[teut]-harm(Cozy and fresh feeling, 산뜻함); Aen≒When(There are several meanings, such as certain one or something, curious about something, and (S) suppose toV, 왠/웬); Manobi≒Ma-nu-ra(A wife, 마누라); Dori-Dori(To nod repeatedly from left side to right side, 도리도리); Gonju-Gonju≒Gonji-Gonji(To push repeatedly for baby their palm with an index finger, 곤지곤지); Chachaku≒Chak-chak-kung(To clap repeatedly for baby, 짝짝꿍); Abuba≒Er-bu-ba(To carry a baby on parent's back, 어부바); Gga-ggung[kakung](To surprise for fun, 까꿍) and Maem-mae(Pretending or trying to spank their baby, 맴매) are the same.

Gonjo-gonjo≒Jogon-jogon(Whispering sound, 조곤조곤); Banakam≒Ban-gab-da(Nice to meet/see you, 반갑다); Nan(I am, 난), Ah-bba(Daddy, 아빠), Nin(You are, 닌, but we usually say Neon, 넌), and Um-ma(mommy, 엄마) are the same as Korean; Apa(Feeling painful, 아파) is the same; Amama≒Er-mer-mer(Astonishing sound, 어머머); Dalatu≒Dal-lae-da(Making comfort, 달래다); Pulbetu≒Pul-be-da(Cutting grass, 풀 베다); Eh-rh≒Oh-rh-da(To climb, 오르다); * When we use an infinitive, such as To infinitive, we usually collocate it with 'Da, 다' For example, muck-da is to eat(먹다), and Ja-da is to sleep (자다) * ;Gaidu(Gadu?)≒Ga-du-da(To shut in, 가두다) ; Guttu≒Gut-da(To draw a line between both sides, 긋다); Ddulru≒Ddui-da(To run, 뛰다); Kuri≒Gh-ri-da(To draw, 그리다).


Susumu Ōno,[6] and Homer B. Hulbert[7] propose that early Tamil people migrated to the Korean peninsula. Clippinger presents 408 cognates and about 60 phonological correspondence pairs. Cliffinger found that some cognates were closer than others leading him to speculate a genetic link which was reinforced by a later migration.[8] This view was confirmed by the Centre for Korean Studies at the University of Hawaii.[9] Both languages are agglutinative, follow the SOV order, nominal and adjectives follow the same syntax, particles are post positional, modifiers always precede modified words are some of the common features.[10]

However, typological similarities can happen by chance; for instance, if two languages were agglutinative by random chance most of the other typological features like SOV order, post-positional particles, modifiers preceding modified words might also be similar (this is the general trend seen in most known agglutinative languages). The lack of statistically significant number of cognates, the lack of anthropological and genetic links, and the fact that both regions are geographically isolated can be used to dismiss this proposal.[11]

See (Google) also The below documentaries on Youtube : >Similarity between Korean and Tamil Language Parts 1-4 >The Korean 한글 Han-gul Indian Connection

List of potential cognates[edit]

Personal pronouns[edit]

Korean Meaning Tamil Meaning Notes
Na/naneun I Nān/nānu I Nā is informal in both languages
Nega (네가)[citation needed] You Nī/Ninga You Nī is informal in both languages


Korean Meaning Tamil Meaning
Appa (아빠, informal) / Abeoji (아버지, formal)[dubious ] Father Appā (அப்பா)/அப்புச்சி(grand-pa) Father
Umma (엄마) / Ajumeoni (아주머니)[dubious ] Mother/middle-aged lady;aunt Ammā(அம்மா) / Ammuni Mother/milady; honorific for young ladies
Eonni (언니) Elder sister (females for their elder sisters) Aṇṇi Elder sister-in-law
Nuna (누나) Elder sister (males for their elder sisters) Nungai Younger sister (Old Tamil)
Agassi (아가씨) Young lady Akka (அக்கா)/ Akkaachi (அக்காச்சி) Elder Sister


Korean Meaning Tamil Meaning Notes
Wa (와)[dubious ] come Vā (வா) come
olla (올라)[dubious ] up uḷḷa (உள்ள) in Ulle/Ulla
Aigu (아이구) - Aiyō (ஐயோ) - Expression of surprise, disgust or disregard
Igo (이것) this Itu (இது) this
Nal (날) day Nāḷ (நாள்) day
jogeum-jogeum (조금 조금) - konjam-konjam (கொஞ்சம் கொஞ்சம்) - Literally 'little-bit little-bit'
eoneu (어느) one onnu (ஒண்ணு) one

Some more cognates Min-Sohn, Ho (2001). The Korean Language. Cambridge University Press. p. 28. 


  1. ^ "Origin Theories of the Korean Language". Retrieved 2013-12-15. 
  2. ^ Hulbert, Homer B. (1909). The passing of Korea. Doubleday, Page & Co. p. 28. 
  3. ^ Lee, Ki-Moon (2011). A History of the Korean Language. Cambridge University Press. 
  4. ^ Barnes, Gina Lee (2001). State formation in Korea: historical and archaeological perspectives. Routledge. p. 185. 
  5. ^ Kim, Choong-Soon (2011). Voices of Foreign Brides: The Roots and Development of Multiculturalism in Contemporary Korea. Rowman & Littlefield. 
  6. ^ Ohno, Susumu (1970). The Origin of the Japanese Language. Journal of Japanese studies. 
  7. ^ Paek, Nak-chun (1987). The history of Protestant missions in Korea, 1832-1910. Yonsei University Press. 
  8. ^ Min-Sohn, Ho (2001). The Korean Language. Cambridge University Press. p. 28. 
  9. ^ Korean studies: Volume 8. University of Hawaii (Honolulu). Center for Korean Studies. 1984. 
  10. ^ Min-Sohn, Ho (2001). The Korean Language. Cambridge University Press. p. 29. 
  11. ^ "Origin Theories of the Korean Language". Retrieved 2013-12-14.