Origin of Dravidian languages

Bh. Krishnamurti bhk at HD1.VSNL.NET.IN
Sun Feb 8 18:16:53 UTC 1998

You must avoid one pitfall; the earliest available written record has
nothing to do with the branching and subgrouping of languages. Tamil,
Malayalam, Kannada, Tulu (?), Kodagu, Toda, Kota, Irula, etc. belong to one
subgroup which I call South Dravidian I; Telugu, Gondi, Konda, Kui, Kuvi,
Pengo, Manda, etc. belong to another subgroup I call South Dravidian II (or
South-Central Dravidian). Although  the literary language Telugu has a later
written record than Ta.Ka., (there is evidence of loss of earlier
literature, perhaps Jaina works in Telugu), its branching off from SDI goes
back to at least one millennium BC. Both SDI and SDII go back to an
undivided period of say 10-11th century BC. The rationale of this can be
found in several of my papers, particularly my review of Zvelebil's 1970
book in Lingua in 1974 and my article on Areal and lexical diffusion of
sound change in the journal Language (1978). Bh.K.

At 22:09 08/02/98 +0530, you wrote:
>> When did each of Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada first appear?
>> What is the earliest available literary work in these languages and
>> what period does it belong to?
>Tamil: earliest dated inscription 270 CE
>Kannada: earliest inscription ca. 450 CE
>Telugu: earliest inscription 633 CE
>Malayalam will be later.
>(See: K.V. Zvelebil, _Dravidian Linguistics: An Introduction_.
>Pondicherry: Pondicherry Institute of Linguistics and Culture, 1990.)
>The earliest literary work in Kannada is the Kaviraajamaarga, 9th
>century CE, which contains fragments of older works which are lost.
Bh. Krishnamurti
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Hyderabad 500 017, A.P.
Telephone (R)(40)701 9665
E-mail: <bhk at HD1.VSNL.NET.IN>

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