The Info List - Dravidian Languages

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The Dravidian languages
Dravidian languages
are a language family spoken mainly in southern India and parts of eastern and central India, as well as in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
with small pockets in southwestern Pakistan, southern Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh
and Bhutan,[2] and overseas in other countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia
and Singapore. The Dravidian languages with the most speakers are Telugu, Tamil, Kannada
and Malayalam. There are also small groups of Dravidian-speaking scheduled tribes, who live outside Dravidian-speaking areas, such as the Kurukh in Eastern India and Gondi in Central India.[3] Though some scholars have argued that the Dravidian languages
Dravidian languages
may have been brought to India by migrations in the fourth or third millennium BCE[4][5] or even earlier,[6][7] the Dravidian languages
Dravidian languages
cannot easily be connected to any other language family, and they could well be indigenous to India.[8][9][10][note 1] Epigraphically the Dravidian languages
Dravidian languages
have been attested since the 2nd century BCE as Tamil-Brahmi
script on the cave walls discovered in the Madurai
and Tirunelveli
districts of Tamil Nadu.[12] Only two Dravidian languages
Dravidian languages
are spoken exclusively outside the post-1947 state of India: Brahui in Pakistan's, and to a lesser extent, Afghanistan's Balochistan
region, and Dhangar, a dialect of Kurukh, in parts of Nepal
and Bhutan. Dravidian place names along the Arabian Sea
Arabian Sea
coasts and Dravidian grammatical influence such as clusivity in the Indo-Aryan languages, namely Marathi, Konkani, Gujarati, Marwari, and Sindhi, suggest that Dravidian languages
Dravidian languages
were once spoken more widely across the Indian subcontinent.[13][14]


1 Etymology 2 Classification 3 Distribution

3.1 Northern Dravidian 3.2 Central Dravidian 3.3 South-Central Dravidian 3.4 South Dravidian

4 Proposed relations with other families 5 Prehistory

5.1 Proto-Dravidian
and onset of diversification 5.2 Indus Valley Civilisation 5.3 Indo-Aryan migrations
Indo-Aryan migrations
and Sanskritization

5.3.1 Northern Dravidian pockets 5.3.2 Dravidian influence on Sanskrit

6 Grammar 7 Phonology

7.1 Proto-Dravidian 7.2 Numerals

8 Literature 9 See also 10 Notes 11 References 12 Bibliography 13 Further reading 14 External links

Etymology[edit] The 15th or 16th century Sanskrit
text Lilatilakam, which is a grammar of Manipravalam, states that the spoken languages of present-day Kerala
and Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
were similar, terming them as "Dramiḍa". The author doesn't consider the "Karṇṇāṭa" (Kannada) and the "Andhra" (Telugu) languages as "Dramiḍa", because they were very different from the language of the "Tamil Veda" (Tiruvaymoli), but states that some people would include them in the "Dramiḍa" category.[15] In 1816, Alexander D. Campbell suggested the existence of a Dravidian language family in his Grammar of the Teloogoo Language,[16] in which he and Francis W. Ellis argued that Tamil and Telugu descended from a common, non-Indo-European ancestor.[17] In 1856 Robert Caldwell published his Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian Family of Languages,[18] which considerably expanded the Dravidian umbrella and established Dravidian 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 द्रविदा (Dravidā) in the work Tantravārttika by Kumārila Bhaṭṭa.[19] 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.[20]

The 1961 publication of the Dravidian etymological dictionary by T. Burrow and M. B. Emeneau proved a notable event in the study of Dravidian linguistics. As for the origin of the Sanskrit
word drāviḍa itself, researchers have proposed various theories. Basically the theories deal with the direction of derivation between tamiẓ and drāviḍa. There is no definite philological and linguistic basis for asserting unilaterally that the name Dravida[21][self-published source?] also forms the origin of the word Tamil (Dravida → Dramila → Tamizha or Tamil). Kamil Zvelebil
Kamil Zvelebil
cites the forms such as dramila (in Daṇḍin's Sanskrit
work Avanisundarīkathā) damiḷa (found in the Sri Lankan (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"[22] 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)."[23] Furthermore, another Dravidianist and linguist, Bhadriraju Krishnamurti, in his book Dravidian Languages states:[24]

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".[25] Classification[edit] The Dravidian languages
Dravidian languages
form a close-knit family. Most scholars agree on four groups: South (or South Dravidian I), South-Central (or South Dravidian II), Central, and North Dravidian, but there are different proposals regarding the relationship between these groups. Earlier classifications grouped Central and South-Central Dravidian in a single branch. Krishnamurti groups South-Central and South Dravidian.[26] Languages recognized as official languages of India appear here in boldface.

 South Dravidian[26][27] 



Tamil group incl. Tamil

group incl. Malayalam












Tulu (incl. Bellari?)

Kudiya (?)

 South-Central Dravidian[26][28] 


Gondi: Koya, Madiya, Muria, Pardhan (?), Khirwar (?), Nagarchal (?)










 Central Dravidian[26][28] 



Ollari (Gadaba)

Duruwa (Parji)

 North Dravidian[26][29] 


Kurukh (Oraon, Kisan)

Malto: Kumarbhag Paharia, Sauria Paharia


Some authors deny that North Dravidian forms a valid subgroup, splitting it into Northeast (Kurukh–Malto) and Northwest (Brahui).[30] Their affiliation has been proposed primarily based on a small number of common phonetic developments, including:

In some words, *k is retracted or spirantized, shifting to /x/ in Kurukh and Brahui, /q/ in Malto. In some words, *c is retracted to /k/. Word-initial *v develops to /b/. This development is, however, also found in several other Dravidian languages, including Kannada, Kodagu and Tulu.

McAlpin (2003)[31] notes that no exact conditioning can be established for the first two changes, and proposes that distinct Proto-Dravidian *q and *kʲ should be reconstructed behind these correspondences, and that Brahui, Kurukh-Malto, and the rest of Dravidian may be three coordinate branches, possibly with Brahui being the earliest language to split off. A few morphological parallels between Brahui and Kurukh-Malto are also known, but according to McAlpin they are analyzable as shared archaisms rather than shared innovations. In addition, Ethnologue
lists several unclassified Dravidian languages: Allar, Bazigar, Bharia, Malankuravan (possibly a dialect of Malayalam), and Vishavan. Ethnologue
also lists several unclassified Southern Dravidian languages: Mala Malasar, Malasar, Thachanadan, Ullatan, Kalanadi, Kumbaran, Kunduvadi, Kurichiya, Attapady Kurumba, Muduga, Pathiya, and Wayanad Chetti. A computational phylogenetic study of the Dravidian language family was undertaken by Kolipakam, et al. (2018).[32] Distribution[edit]

Most commonly spoken first language in each state of India[33]

Since 1981, the Census of India has reported only languages with more than 10,000 speakers, including 17 Dravidian languages. In 1981, these accounted for approximately 24% of India's population.[34][35] In the 2001 census, they included 214 million people, about 21% of India's total population of 1.02 billion.[36] In addition, the largest Dravidian-speaking group outside India, Tamil speakers in Sri Lanka, number around 4.7 million. Telugu is the most spoken Dravidian language, with over 74 million native speakers. The total number of speakers of Telugu, including those whose first language is not Telugu, is around 84 million people, which is around 8% of India's total population. The smallest branch of the Dravidian languages
Dravidian languages
is the Central branch, which has only around 200,000 speakers. These languages are mostly tribal, and spoken in central India. The second-smallest branch is the Northern branch, with around 6.3 million speakers. This is the only sub-group to have a language spoken in Pakistan
— Brahui. The next-largest is the South-Central branch, which has 78 million native speakers and includes Telugu. This branch also includes the tribal language Gondi spoken in central India. The largest group is South Dravidian, with almost 150 million speakers. Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada
make up around 98% of the speakers, with Tamil being by far the most spoken language, with almost half of all South Dravidian speakers speaking it. Northern Dravidian[edit]

Language Number of Speakers Location

Brahui 2,210,000 Balochistan, Pakistan

Kurukh 1,875,000 Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Nepal

Malto 117,000 Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal

Kurambhag Paharia 12,500 Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha

Central Dravidian[edit]

Language Number of Speakers Location

Kolami 120,000 Telangana, Maharashtra

Duruwa 51,000 Odisha, Chhattisgarh

Ollari 15,000 Andhra Pradesh, Odisha

Naiki 1,500 Telangana, Maharashtra

South-Central Dravidian[edit]

Language Number of Speakers Location

Telugu 74,000,000 Andhra Pradesh, Telangana
and parts of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Andaman and Nicobar
Andaman and Nicobar
Islands, Puducherry, Sri Lanka, United States, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Mauritius, Australia, South Africa, Canada, UK, UAE, Myanmar
and Réunion.

Gondi 2,714,000 Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Odisha

Muria 1,000,000 Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Odisha

Kui 920,000 Odisha

Koya 360,000 Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh

Madiya 360,000 Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Maharashtra

Kuvi 350,000 Odisha

Pengo 350,000 Odisha

Pardhan 135,000 Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh

Chenchu 26,000 Andhra Pradesh, Telangana

Konda 20,000 Andhra Pradesh, Odisha

Manda 4,040 Odisha

South Dravidian[edit]

Language Number of speakers Location

Tamil 70,000,000 Tamil Nadu, Puducherry
(including Karaikkal), parts of Andhra Pradesh (Chittoor and Nellore districts), Karnataka
(Bangalore, Kolar), Kerala (Palakkad and Idukki districts), Andaman and Nicobar, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Canada, United States, UK, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Reunion Island[37][unreliable source?][38][unreliable source?]

Malayalam 37,700,000 Kerala, Lakshadweep, Mahe district
Mahe district
of Puducherry, Dakshina Kannada
and Kodagu districts of Karnataka, Coimbatore, Neelagiri
and Kanyakumari districts of Tamil Nadu, UAE, United States, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, UK, Qatar, Bahrain, Australia

Kannada 37,700,000 Karnataka, Kerala
(Kasaragod district) and Maharashtra
(Solapur, Sangli), Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
(Salem, Ooty, Coimbatore, Krishnagiri, Chennai), Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh
(Ananthpur, Kurnool, Hyderabad) and Telangana ( Hyderabad
and Mehaboobnagar), United States, Australia

Tulu 1,900,000 Karnataka
(Dakshina Kannada, Udupi districts) and Kerala
(Kasaragod district), Across Maharashtra
especially in cities like Mumbai, Thane and Gulf Countries(UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain) [39]

Beary 1,500,000 Karnataka
(Dakshina Kannada, Udupi districts) and Kerala
(Kasaragod district)

Irula 200,000 Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
(Nilgiris district), Karnataka
(Mysore district).

Kodava 200,000 Karnataka
(Kodagu district)

Kurumba 180,000 Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
(Nilgiris district)

Badaga 135,000 Karnataka
(Mysore district), Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
(Nilgiris district),

Paniya 94,000 Karnataka
(Kodagu district), Kerala, Tamil Nadu

Yerukala 69,500 Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana
(Nizamabad district, Karimnagar district)

Jeseri 65,000 Lakshadweep

Betta Kurumba 32,000 Karnataka
(Chamarajanagar district, Kodagu district, Mysore district), Kerala
(Wayanad district), Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
(Nilgiri District)

Ravula 27,000 Karnataka
(Kodagu district), Kerala
(Kannur district, Wayanad district)

Mullu Kurumba 26,000 Kerala
(Wayanad district), Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
(The Nilgiris District)

Sholaga 24,000 Tamil Nadu, Karnataka
(Mysore district)

Kaikadi 23,700 Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh
(Betul district), Maharashtra
(Amravati district)

Kanikkaran 19,000 Kerala, Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
(Kanyakumari district, Tirunelveli

Muthuvan 16,800 Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
(Coimbatore district, Madurai district)

Koraga 14,000 Karnataka
(Dakshina Kannada, Udupi districts) and Kerala
(Kasaragod district)

Paliyan 9,500 Kerala
(Idukki district, Ernakulam district, Kottayam district), Tamil Nadu, Karnataka

Malapandaram 5,900 Kerala
(Kollam district, Pathanamthitta district), Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore district, Madurai
district, Viluppuram district)

Eravallan 5,000 Kerala
(Palakkad district), Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
(Coimbatore district)

Kadar 2,960 Kerala
(Thrissur district, Palakkad district), Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
(Coimbatore district)

Toda 1,560 Karnataka
(Mysore district), Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
(Nilgiris district)

Kota 930 Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
(Nilgiris district)

Allar 350 Kerala
(Malappuram district, Palakkad district)

Aranadan 200 Kerala
(Malappuram district)

Proposed relations with other families[edit]

Language families
Language families
in South Asia

The Dravidian family has defied all of the attempts to show a connection with other languages, including Indo-European, Hurrian, Basque, Sumerian, Korean and Japanese. Comparisons have been made not just with the other language families of the Indian subcontinent (Indo-European, Austroasiatic, Sino-Tibetan, and Nihali), but with all typologically similar language families of the Old World. Nonetheless, although 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.[40] Dravidian languages
Dravidian languages
display typological similarities with the Uralic language group, suggesting to some a prolonged period of contact in the past.[41] This idea is popular amongst Dravidian linguists and has been supported by a number of scholars, including Robert Caldwell,[42] Thomas Burrow,[43] Kamil Zvelebil,[44] and Mikhail Andronov.[45] This hyphothesis has, however, been rejected by some specialists in Uralic languages,[46] and has in recent times also been criticised by other Dravidian linguists such as Bhadriraju Krishnamurti.[47] In the early 1970s, the linguist David McAlpin produced a detailed proposal of a genetic relationship between Dravidian and the extinct Elamite language
Elamite language
of ancient Elam
(present-day southwestern Iran).[48] The Elamo-Dravidian hypothesis was supported in the late 1980s by the archaeologist Colin Renfrew and the geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, who suggested that Proto-Dravidian
was brought to India by farmers from the Iranian part of the Fertile Crescent.[49][50] (In his 2000 book, Cavalli-Sforza suggested western India, northern India and northern Iran
as alternative starting points.[51]) However, linguists have found McAlpin's cognates unconvincing and criticized his proposed phonological rules as ad hoc.[52][53][54] Elamite is generally believed by scholars to be a language isolate, and the theory has had no effect on studies of the language.[55] 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
Ice Age
and the emergence of Proto-Indo-European 4,000–6,000 BCE. However, the general consensus is that such deep connections are not, or not yet, demonstrable. Prehistory[edit] 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. Though some scholars have argued that the Dravidian languages
Dravidian languages
may have been brought to India by migrations in the fourth or third millennium BCE[4][5] or even earlier,[6][7] the Dravidian languages
Dravidian languages
cannot easily be connected to any other language, and they could well be indigenous to India.[8][note 1] The Dravidian language was the most widespread indigenous language before the advance of the Indo-Aryan languages.[9] Proto-Dravidian
and onset of diversification[edit] As a proto-language, the Proto-Dravidian language
Proto-Dravidian language
is not itself attested in the historical record. Its modern conception is based solely on reconstruction. It is suggested that the language was spoken in the 4th millennium BCE, and started disintegrating into various branches around 3rd millennium BCE.[56] According to Krishnamurti, Proto-Dravidian
may have been spoken in the Indus civilization, suggesting a "tentative date of Proto-Dravidian
around the early part of the third millennium."[57] Krishnamurti further states that South Dravidian I (including pre-Tamil) and South Dravidian II (including Pre-Telugu) split around the eleventh century BCE, with the other major branches splitting off at around the same time.[58] Indus Valley Civilisation[edit] The Indus Valley civilisation
Indus Valley civilisation
(3,300-1,900 BCE), located in Northwestern Indian subcontinent, is often understood to have been Dravidian.[59] Cultural and linguistic similarities have been cited by researchers Henry Heras, Kamil Zvelebil, Asko Parpola
Asko Parpola
and Iravatham Mahadevan as being strong evidence for a proto-Dravidian origin of the ancient Indus Valley civilisation.[60][61] The discovery in Tamil Nadu of a late Neolithic (early 2nd millennium BCE, i.e. post-dating Harappan decline) stone celt allegedly marked with Indus signs has been considered by some to be significant for the Dravidian identification.[62][63] Yuri Knorozov
Yuri Knorozov
surmised that the symbols represent a logosyllabic script and suggested, based on computer analysis, an underlying agglutinative Dravidian language as the most likely candidate for the underlying language.[64] Knorozov's suggestion was preceded by the work of Henry Heras, who suggested several readings of signs based on a proto-Dravidian assumption.[65] Linguist Asko Parpola
Asko Parpola
writes that the Indus script
Indus script
and Harappan language are "most likely to have belonged to the Dravidian family".[66] Parpola led a Finnish team in investigating the inscriptions using computer analysis. Based on a proto-Dravidian assumption, they proposed readings of many signs, some agreeing with the suggested readings of Heras and Knorozov (such as equating the "fish" sign with the Dravidian word for fish, "min") but disagreeing on several other readings. A comprehensive description of Parpola's work until 1994 is given in his book Deciphering the Indus Script.[67] Indo-Aryan migrations
Indo-Aryan migrations
and Sanskritization[edit] Northern Dravidian pockets[edit] See also: Kurukh people, Malto people, and Brahui language Although in modern times speakers of the various Dravidian languages have mainly occupied the southern portion of India, in earlier times they probably were spoken in a larger area. After the Indo-Aryan migrations into north-western India, starting ca. 1500 BCE, and the establishment of the Kuru kingdom ca. 1100 BCE, a process of Sanskritisation started, which resulted in a language shift in northern India. Southern India has remained majority Dravidian, but pockets of Dravidian can be found in central India, Pakistan, Bangladesh
and Nepal. The Kurukh and Malto are pockets of Dravidian languages
Dravidian languages
in central India, spoken by people who may have migrated from south India. They do have myths about external origins.[68] The Kurukh have traditionally claimed to be from the Deccan Peninsula,[69] more specifically Karnataka. The same tradition has existed of the Brahui,[70][71] who call themselves immigrants.[72] Holding this same view of the Brahui are many scholars [73] such as L. H. Horace Perera and M. Ratnasabapathy.[74] The Brahui population of Pakistan's Balochistan
province has been taken by some as the linguistic equivalent of a relict population, perhaps indicating that Dravidian languages
Dravidian languages
were formerly much more widespread and were supplanted by the incoming Indo-Aryan languages.[75][76][77] 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 1,000 years ago. The main Iranian contributor to Brahui vocabulary, Balochi, is a western Iranian language
Iranian language
like Kurdish, and arrived in the area from the west only around 1,000 AD.[78] Sound changes shared with Kurukh and Malto also suggest that Brahui was originally spoken near them in central India.[79] Dravidian influence on Sanskrit[edit] Main article: Substratum in Vedic Sanskrit Dravidian languages
Dravidian languages
show extensive lexical (vocabulary) borrowing, but only a few traits of structural (either phonological or grammatical) borrowing from Indo-Aryan, whereas Indo-Aryan shows more structural than lexical borrowings from the Dravidian languages.[80] 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.[81] Vedic Sanskrit
has retroflex consonants (ṭ/ḍ, ṇ) with about 88 words in the Rigveda
having unconditioned retroflexes.[82][83] 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.[82][83] The Dravidian family is a serious candidate since it is rich in retroflex phonemes reconstructible back to the Proto-Dravidian
stage.[84][85][86] In addition, a number of grammatical features of Vedic Sanskrit
not found in its sister Avestan language
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.[87] Some linguists explain this asymmetrical borrowing by arguing that Middle Indo-Aryan languages
Indo-Aryan languages
were built on a Dravidian substratum.[88] 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.[89] 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 several of the innovative traits in Indic better than any internal explanation that has been proposed.[90] Grammar[edit] The most characteristic grammatical features of Dravidian languages are:[44]

Dravidian languages
Dravidian languages
are agglutinative. Word order is subject–object–verb (SOV). Dravidian languages
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.


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Dravidian languages
Dravidian languages
are noted for the lack of distinction between aspirated and unaspirated stops. While some Dravidian languages
Dravidian languages
have accepted large numbers of loan words from Sanskrit
and other Indo-Iranian languages
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. For instance, Tamil 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, and retroflex places of articulation as well as large numbers of liquids. Proto-Dravidian[edit] Main article: Proto-Dravidian 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).[91][85][92] The five-vowel system is largely preserved in the descendent subgroups.[93] The following consonantal phonemes are reconstructed:[84][85][94]

Labial Dental Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal

Plosives *p *t *ṯ *ṭ *c *k

Nasals *m *n *ṉ (??) *ṇ *ñ




*r *ẓ (ḻ, r̤)


*l *ḷ

Glides *w [v]


Numerals[edit] See also: List of numbers in various languages The numerals from 1 to 10 in various Dravidian and Indo-Aryan languages (here exemplified by Hindi, Sanskrit
and Marathi).[95]

Number Southern South-Central Central Northern Proto-Dravidian Indo-Aryan Iranian

Tamil Kannada Malayalam Kodava Tulu Telugu Kolami Kurukh Brahui Hindi Sanskrit Marathi Balochi Persian

1 oṉṟu ondu onnu ond onji okaṭi okkod oṇṭa asiṭ *onṯu 1 ek éka ek yak yek

2 iraṇṭu eraḍu raṇḍu danḍ raḍḍ renḍu irāṭ indiŋ irāṭ *iraṇṭu 2 do dvi don do do

3 mūṉṟu mūṟu mūnnu mūṉd mūji mūḍu mūndiŋ mūnd musiṭ *muH- tīn tri tīn sē seh

4 nāṉku nālku nālu nāl nāl nālugu nāliŋ nāx čār (II) *nāl cār catúr cār cār cahār

5 aintu aidu añcu añji ayN ayidu ayd 3 pancē (II) panč (II) *cay-m- panc pañca pātc panc panj

6 āru āṟu āṟu ār āji āṟu ār 3 soyyē (II) šaš (II) *cāṯu che ṣáṣ sahā śaś śeś

7 ēẓu ēlu ēẓu ēḻ yēl ēḍu ēḍ 3 sattē (II) haft (II) *ēẓ sāt saptá sāt hapt, haft haft

8 eṭṭu eṇṭu eṭṭu eṭṭ enma enimidi enumadī 3 aṭṭhē (II) hašt (II) *eṇṭṭu āṭh aṣṭá āṭh haśt haśt

9 oṉpatu 5 ombattu ompatu 5 oiymbad ormba tommidi tomdī 3 naiṃyē (II) nōh (II) *toḷ/*toṇ nau náva nau nuo noh

10 pattu hattu pattu patt patt padi padī 3 dassē (II) dah (II) *paH(tu) das dáśa dahā da dah

This is the same as the word for another form of the number one in Tamil and Malayalam, used as the indefinite article ("a") and when the number is an attribute preceding a noun (as in "one person"), as opposed to when it is a noun (as in "How many are there?" "One"). The stem *īr 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), "iraṭṭi" ("double") or iruvar ("two people", in Tamil) and "ippatthu" (ipp-hatthu) literally meaning double ten in Kannada. The Kolami numbers 5 to 10 are borrowed from Telugu. The word tondu was also used to refer to the number nine in ancient sangam texts but was later completely replaced by the word onpadu. These forms are derived from "one (less than) ten". Proto-Dravidian *toḷ is still used in Tamil and Malayalam
as the basis of numbers such as 90, thonnooru.

Words indicated (II) are borrowings from Indo-Iranian languages
Indo-Iranian languages
(in Brahui's case, from Persian).


Jambai Tamil Brahmi
Tamil Brahmi
inscription dated to the early Sangam age

Four Dravidian languages, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam
and Telugu, have lengthy literary traditions.[96] Literature in Tulu and Kodava is more recent.[96] The earliest known Dravidian inscriptions are 76 Old Tamil inscriptions on cave walls in Madurai
and Tirunelveli
districts in Tamil Nadu, dating from the 2nd century BCE.[12] These inscriptions are written in a variant of the Brahmi script
Brahmi script
called Tamil Brahmi.[97] The earliest long text in Old Tamil is the Tolkāppiyam, an early work on Tamil grammar and poetics, whose oldest layers could date from the 1st century BCE.[12] See also[edit]

Dravidian Linguistics Association Dravidian peoples Dravidian studies


^ a b Renfrew and Bahn conclude that several scenarios are compatible with the data, and that "the linguistic jury is still very much out."[11]


^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Dravidian". Glottolog
3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.  ^ Phuntsho, Karma (23 April 2013). "The History of Bhutan". Random House India – via Google Books.  ^ West, Barbara A. (1 January 2009). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing. p. 713. ISBN 978-1-4381-1913-7.  ^ a b Tamil Literature Society (1963), Tamil Culture, 10, Academy of Tamil Culture, retrieved 2008-11-25, ... together with the evidence of archaeology would seem to suggest that the original Dravidian-speakers entered India from Iran
in the fourth millennium BC ...  ^ a b Andronov (2003), p. 299. ^ a b Namita Mukherjee; Almut Nebel; Ariella Oppenheim; Partha P. Majumder (December 2001), "High-resolution analysis of Y-chromosomal polymorphisms reveals signatures of population movements from central Asia and West Asia into India" (PDF), Journal of Genetics, Springer India, 80 (3): 125–35, doi:10.1007/BF02717908, PMID 11988631, retrieved 2008-11-25, ... More recently, about 15,000–10,000 years before present (ybp), when agriculture developed in the Fertile Crescent region that extends from Israel through northern Syria to western Iran, there was another eastward wave of human migration (Cavalli-Sforza et al., 1994; Renfrew 1987), a part of which also appears to have entered India. This wave has been postulated to have brought the Dravidian languages
Dravidian languages
into India (Renfrew 1987). Subsequently, the Indo-European (Aryan) language family was introduced into India about 4,000 ybp ...  ^ a b Dhavendra Kumar (2004), Genetic Disorders of the Indian Subcontinent, Springer, ISBN 1-4020-1215-2, retrieved 2008-11-25, ... The analysis of two Y chromosome variants, Hgr9 and Hgr3 provides interesting data (Quintan-Murci et al., 2001). Microsatellite variation of Hgr9 among Iranians, Pakistanis and Indians indicate an expansion of populations to around 9000 YBP in Iran
and then to 6,000 YBP in India. This migration originated in what was historically termed Elam
in south-west Iran
to the Indus valley, and may have been associated with the spread of Dravidian languages
Dravidian languages
from south-west Iran (Quintan-Murci et al., 2001). ...  ^ a b Avari (2007). ^ a b Steven Roger Fischer. History of Language. Reaktion books. It is generally accepted that Dravidian - with no identifiable cognates among the world's languages - was India's most widely distributed, indigenous language family when Indo-European speakers first intruded from the north-west 3,000 years ago  ^ Amaresh Datta. Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: Devraj to Jyoti, Volume 2. Sahitya Akademi. p. 1118.  ^ Heggarty, Paul; Renfrew, Collin (2014), "South and Island Southeast Asia; Languages", in Renfrew, Colin; Bahn, Paul, The Cambridge World Prehistory, Cambridge University Press  ^ a b c Krishnamurti (2003), p. 22. ^ Erdosy (1995), p. 271. ^ Edwin Bryant, Laurie L. Patton (2005), The Indo-Aryan controversy: evidence and inference in Indian history, p. 254 ^ Shulman 2016, p. 6. ^ Alexander Duncan Campbell (1816) A Grammar of the Teloogoo Language, commonly termed the Gentoo, peculiar to the Hindoos inhabiting the north eastern provinces of the Indian peninsula, College of Fort St. George Press, Madras OCLC 416559272 ^ Sreekumar (2009). ^ Robert Caldwell
Robert Caldwell
(1856) A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian Family of Languages, Williams and Norgate, London OCLC 20216805 ^ Zvelebil (1990), p. xx. ^ Caldwell (1856), p. 4. ^ Sreekumar, P. "Pre-colonial conception of the term Dravida".  ^ Zvelebil (1990), p. xxi. ^ Zvelebil (1975), p. 53. ^ Krishnamurti (2003), p. 2, footnote 2. ^ Sanskrit, Tamil and Pahlavi Dictionaries ^ a b c d e Krishnamurti (2003), p. 21. ^ Zvelebil (1990), p. 56. ^ a b Zvelebil (1990), p. 57. ^ Zvelebil (1990), p. 58. ^ Ruhlen (1991), pp. 138–141. ^ McAlpin, David W. (2003). "Velars, Uvulars and the Northern Dravidian hypothesis". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 123 (3): 521–546. doi:10.2307/3217749.  ^ Vishnupriya Kolipakam, Fiona M. Jordan, Michael Dunn, Simon J. Greenhill, Remco Bouckaert, Russell D. Gray, Annemarie Verkerk (2018). A Bayesian phylogenetic study of the Dravidian language family. R. Soc. open sci. 2018 5 171504; DOI: 10.1098/rsos.171504. Published 21 March 2018. ^ "Report of the Commissioner for linguistic minorities: 50th report (July 2012 to June 2013)" (PDF). Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities, Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India. Retrieved 17 September 2016.  ^ Steever (1998), p. 3. ^ Ishtiaq, M. (1999). Language Shifts Among the Scheduled Tribes in India: A Geographical Study. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. pp. 26–27. ISBN 978-81-208-1617-6. Retrieved 7 September 2012.  ^ "Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues –2001". Census 2001. Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 14 October 2017.  ^ http://tamilo.com/tamil-population-education-29.html ^ http://murugan.org/research/sivasupramaniam.htm ^ "Dr Veerendra Heggade in Dubai to Unite Tuluvas for Tulu Sammelan". Retrieved 2017-11-12.  ^ Krishnamurti (2003), pp. 38–42. ^ Tyler, Stephen (1968). "Dravidian and Uralian: the lexical evidence". Language. 44 (4): 798–812. doi:10.2307/411899.  ^ Webb, Edward (1860). "Evidences of the Scythian Affinities of the Dravidian Languages, Condensed and Arranged from Rev. R. Caldwell's Comparative Dravidian Grammar". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 7: 271–298. doi:10.2307/592159.  ^ Burrow, T (1944). "Dravidian Studies IV: The Body in Dravidian and Uralian". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. 11 (2): 328–356. doi:10.1017/s0041977x00072517.  ^ a b Zvelebil, Kamal (2006). Dravidian Languages. In Encyclopædia Britannica (DVD edition). ^ Andronov, Mikhail S. (1971), "Comparative Studies on the Nature of Dravidian-Uralian Parallels: A Peep into the Prehistory of Language Families". Proceedings of the Second International Conference of Tamil Studies Madras. 267–277. ^ Zvelebil, Kamal (1970), Comparative Dravidian Phonology
Mouton, The Hauge. at p. 22 contains a bibliography of articles supporting and opposing the theory ^ Krishnamurti (2003), p. 43. ^ Zvelebil 1990, p. 105. ^ Renfrew, Colin (1989). "The Origins of Indo-European Languages". Scientific American. 261 (4): 106–115. JSTOR 24987446.  p. 113. ^ Cavalli-Sforza 2000, pp. 157, 159. ^ Cavalli-Sforza 2000, pp. 157, 160. ^ Krishnamurti 2003, pp. 44–45. ^ Steever 1998, p. 37. ^ Campbell & Poser 2008, p. 286. ^ Stolper, Matthew W. (2008). "Elamite". In Woodard, Roger D. The Ancient Languages of Mesopotamia, Egypt and Aksum. Cambridge University Press. pp. 47–82. ISBN 978-0-521-68497-2.  p. 48. ^ History and Archaeology, Volume 1, Issues 1-2 p.234, Department of Ancient History, Culture, and Archaeology, University of Allahabad ^ Krishnamurti 2003, p. 501. ^ Krishnamurti 2003, p. 501-502. ^ Mahadevan, Iravatham (6 May 2006). "Stone celts in Harappa". Harappa. Archived from the original on 4 September 2006.  ^ Rahman, Tariq. "Peoples and languages in pre-Islamic Indus valley". Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2008-11-20. most scholars have taken the 'Dravidian hypothesis' seriously  ^ Cole, Jennifer (2006). "The Sindhi language" (PDF). In Brown, K. Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd Edition. 11. Elsevier. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 January 2007. Harappan language...prevailing theory indicates Dravidian origins  ^ Subramanium 2006; see also A Note on the Muruku Sign of the Indus Script in light of the Mayiladuthurai Stone Axe Discovery Archived 4 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine. by I. Mahadevan (2006) ^ Subramanian, T.S. (May 1, 2006). "Significance of Mayiladuthurai find". The Hindu.  ^ Knorozov 1965, p. 117 ^ Heras 1953, p. 138 ^ Edwin Bryant. The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Oxford. p. 183. ISBN 9780195169478.  ^ Parpola 1994 ^ P. 83 The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate by Edwin Bryant ^ P. 18 The Orāons of Chōtā Nāgpur: their history, economic life, and social organization. by Sarat Chandra Roy, Rai Bahadur; Alfred C Haddon ^ P. 12 Origin and Spread of the Tamils
By V. R. Ramachandra Dikshitar ^ P. 32 Ideology and status of Sanskrit : contributions to the history of the Sanskrit
language by Jan E M Houben ^ P. 45 The Brahui language, an old Dravidian language spoken in parts of Baluchistan and Sind by Sir Denys Bray ^ Ancient India; Culture and Thought By M. L. Bhagi ^ P. 23 Ceylon & Indian History from Early Times to 1505 A.D. By L. H. Horace Perera, M. Ratnasabapathy ^ Mallory (1989), p. 44. ^ Elst (1999), p. 146. ^ Trask (2000), p. 97"It is widely suspected that the extinct and undeciphered Indus Valley language was a Dravidian language, but no confirmation is available. The existence of the isolated northern outlier Brahui is consistent with the hypothesis that Dravidian formerly occupied much of North India but was displaced by the invading Indo-Aryan languages, and the presence in the Indo-Aryan languages of certain linguistic features, such as retroflex consonants, is often attributed to Dravidian substrate influence." ^ Elfenbein, Josef (1987). "A periplus of the 'Brahui problem'". Studia Iranica. 16 (2): 215–233. doi:10.2143/SI.16.2.2014604.  ^ Krishnamurti (2003), pp. 27, 142. ^ "Dravidian languages." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 30 Jun. 2008 ^ Krishnamurti (2003), p. 6. ^ a b Kuiper (1991). ^ a b Witzel (1999). ^ a b Subrahmanyam (1983), p. 40. ^ a b c Zvelebil (1990). ^ Krishnamurti (2003), p. 36. ^ Krishnamurti (2003), pp. 36–37. ^ Krishnamurti (2003), pp. 40–41. ^ Erdosy (1995), p. 18. ^ Thomason & Kaufman (1988), pp. 141–144. ^ Subrahmanyam (1983). ^ Krishnamurti (2003), p. 90. ^ Krishnamurti (2003), p. 48. ^ Krishnamurti (2003), p. 91. ^ Krishnamurti (2003), pp. 260–265. ^ a b Krishnamurti (2003), p. 20. ^ Mahadevan (2003), pp. 90–95.


Andronov, Mikhail Sergeevich (2003). A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian Languages. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 978-3-447-04455-4.  Avari, Burjor (2007), Ancient India: A History of the Indian Sub-Continent from C. 7000 BC to AD 1200, Routledge, ISBN 9781134251629  Caldwell, Robert (1856), A comparative grammar of the Dravidian, or, South-Indian family of languages, London: Harrison ; Reprinted London, K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & co., ltd., 1913; rev. ed. by J.L. Wyatt and T. Ramakrishna Pillai, Madras, University of Madras, 1961, reprint Asian Educational Services, 1998. ISBN 81-206-0117-3 Campbell, A.D. (1849), A grammar of the Teloogoo language, commonly termed the Gentoo, peculiar to the Hindoos inhabiting the northeastern provinces of the Indian peninsula (3d ed.), Madras: Hindu Press.  Campbell, Lyle; Poser, William J. (2008), Language Classification: History and Method, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-88005-3.  Cavalli-Sforza, Luigi Luca; Menozzi, Paolo; Piazza, Alberto (1994), The History and Geography of Human Genes, Princeton University Press  Cavalli-Sforza, Luigi Luca (2000), Genes, Peoples, and Languages, North Point Press, ISBN 978-0-86547-529-8  Elst, Koenraad (1999), Update on the Aryan Invasion Debate, New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan, ISBN 81-86471-77-4.  Erdosy, George, ed. (1995), The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia: Language, Material Culture and Ethnicity, Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, ISBN 3-11-014447-6.  Krishnamurti, Bhadriraju (2003), The Dravidian Languages, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-77111-0.  Kuiper, F.B.J. (1991), Aryans in the Rig Veda, Rodopi, ISBN 90-5183-307-5.  Mallory, J. P. (1989), In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology and Myth, London: Thames and Hudson, ISBN 978-0-500-05052-1.  Parpola, Asko (2010), A Dravidian solution to the Indus script
Indus script
problem (PDF), World Classical Tamil Conference  Ruhlen, Merritt (1991), A Guide to the World's Languages: Classification, Stanford University Press, ISBN 978-0-8047-1894-3.  Shulman, David (2016). Tamil. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-05992-4.  Sreekumar, P. (2009), " Francis Whyte Ellis and the Beginning of Comparative Dravidian Linguistics", Historiographia Linguistica, 36 (1): 75–95, doi:10.1075/hl.36.1.04sre.  Steever, Sanford B. (1998), "Introduction to the Dravidian Languages", in Steever, Sanford B., The Dravidian Languages, Routledge, pp. 1–39, ISBN 978-0-415-10023-6.  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.  Trask, Robert Lawrence (2000), The Dictionary of Historical and Comparative Linguistics, Routledge, ISBN 1-57958-218-4.  Witzel, Michael (1999), "Early Sources for South Asian Substrate Languages" (PDF), Mother Tongue (extra number): 1–76.  Zvelebil, Kamil (1975), Tamil Literature, Leiden: Brill, ISBN 90-04-04190-7.  —— (1990), Dravidian Linguistics: An Introduction, Pondicherry Institute of Linguistics and Culture, ISBN 978-81-8545-201-2. 

Further reading[edit]

Vishnupriya Kolipakam et al. (2018), A Bayesian phylogenetic study of the Dravidian language family, Royal Society OPen Science. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.171504

External links[edit]

Dravidian Etymological Dictionary. The complete Dravidian Etymological Dictionary in a searchable online form. Swadesh lists of Dravidian basic vocabulary words (from Wiktionary's Swadesh-list appendix)

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