Passive in Dravidian (Was: Re: `Conversational Sanskrit' vs `Real Sanskrit')

Srinivasan Pichumani srini at
Fri Apr 25 19:57:35 UTC 1997

	I think P.T.S. Iyengar was overreacting to the inelegant uses of the 'paTu'
	form. V.S. Rajam cites Robert Caldwell as saying,  "None of the Dravidian
	dialects possesses any passive particle or suffix, or any means of expressing
	passivity by direct inflectional change; the signification of the passive
	voice is nevertheless, capable of being expressed in a variety of ways.
	    "The Dravidian languages, indeed, are destitute of passive properly so
	called, and therefore, resist every effort to bring paD-u into general use.
	Such efforts are constantly being made by foreigners, who are accustomed to
	passives in their own tongues, and fancy that they cannot get on without
	them; but nothing sounds more barbarous to the Dravidian ear than the
	unnecessary use of paTu as a passive auxiliary. It is only when combined with
	nouns its use is thoroughly allowable." (A Grammar of Classical Tamil Poetry,

Palaniappan, thanks for pointing this out... I saw this in Rajam's
book, but was a little dismayed by the lack of any comment by her 
on this issue.  Of course, the book's chapter on "passive" itself 
could be construed by the reader partly as a response...

	Caldwell and P.T.S Iyengar are partly wrong. 

PTSI himself mentions aDipaDu/aDiyu_n as "true" Tamil idiom...
so he isn't ruling out passive totally, it seems... except for
conjecturing that it was imported.  

The larger context of his discussion is the earliest importation 
of Sanskritic ideas into Tamil literature and grammar...  thus, 
he makes this remark wrt the passive voice, the adoption of eight 
case-inflections for nouns, and discusses the intrusion of other 
ideas in the poruL-atikAram (the chapter on "subject matter").

Regarding the 8 case inflections described/introduced by 
TolkkApiyanAr, PTSI says "Now if kAdalipin may be a case of 
kadali, why not kAdaliyedir ?  At this rate Tamil nouns should 
have as many cases as there are adverbial and adjectival phrases 
derived from nouns in that language".  

PTSI raises these issues to suggest that, at least, various sections 
of the TolkkAppiyam are an unnecessary fit on the language, literature,
it seeks to describe. 

Comments ?


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