Origin of Dravidian languages

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at UCL.AC.UK
Mon Feb 9 10:39:58 UTC 1998

On Sun, 8 Feb 1998, Robert J. Zydenbos wrote:

> Tamil: earliest dated inscription 270 CE
> Kannada: earliest inscription ca. 450 CE
> Telugu: earliest inscription 633 CE
> Malayalam will be later.

This is very interesting, but does not speak to the history of the
languages so much as to the history of writing.

If we were to try to draw conclusions, for example, about the antiquity of
the Sanskrit language from epigraphical data, we would fall into the
extraordinarily contorted intellectual position adopted by Nirad Choudhuri
in his book on Hinduism: he claimed that Prakrit preceeded Sanskrit
chronologically (because Prakrit inscriptions are older than Sanskrit
ones) and then used that old chestnut "the Brahmin conspiracy"  to account
for the creation of the "myth" of Sanskrit as an ancient language. It's
great fun, but complete nonsense, of course.

All the best,

Dr Dominik Wujastyk        Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine
email: d.wujastyk at ucl.ac.uk      183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, England
<URL: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucgadkw/>                FAX: 44 171 611 8545

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