Tamil words in English

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Wed Feb 18 09:34:55 UTC 1998

>It doesnt really matter what western academia(changed the uppercase to
lower:) )
>thinks , as long as Indologists pursue the truth and not be bogged down by
>19th century
>thinking or by the colonial hangover of 'some' indian linguists educated
>under the British.

I would feel rather relieved if some Indian participants in the debate would
discover that there have been Indologists in the West since Max Mueller. And
that no modern Indologist or specialist in comparative linguistics believe
in the "Aryan invasion theory" simply because Max Mueller said so (which is
pretty much what Rajaram implies).

>>But having said this, it seems clear that theories about the Aryan
>>invasion/migration into South Asia need constant revision according to the
>>latest information. Even if the basic model remains fixed, there are lots of
>>details that are debatable.

>This sir, is called retrofitting.You seem to have agreed upon a basic model
>around which a story has to be built up. Shouldnt this story agree with and
>evidence from other sources like archeology, astronomy and original sources.

I have seen some of the evidence from archaeology, astronomy etc that
Rajaram uses in his argumentation, and I am not very impressed. As for
retrofitting, the same accusation could easily be levelled against the
Darwinist doctrine, where the basic model is accepted by biology without
question, but where details are discussed on a regular basis. I am quite
certain that the same is true of other branches of science. (e.g. the theory
of the expanding/possibly contracting universe as against the "steady state"
model, where the latter now seems to be out of the picture, and we are left
with a discussion of the how exactly the first alternative works).

>When new archeological finds are pushing the boundaries of Indus-Sarasvati
>civilization into an area
>of more than a million square miles and reports of finds even in Goa, there
>must be atleast
>some kind of acknowledgement of error in past theories. Even if there are
>people who do not consider that the river bed along which so many sites have
>been found is not Sarasvati,
>how do they explain with their linguistic evidence, the overwhelming
>evidence from archeology
>that there is no sign of an invasion !!.

There may not be a mystery at all. The archaeological argument is an
argumentum ex nihilo. The fact that nothing is found, does not necessarily
mean that nothing was there. It only means that nothing has been found.
There may not even be a lot to find. Migrating people do not necessarily
leave a trail of artifacts after them. Try, e.g. Gypsy archaeology!

>>And by the way: It is not possible to derive Tamil from Sanskrit. Nor is it
>>possible to derive English from Finnish, or Basque from Chinese. We are
>>simply dealing with different language families.

>There is no formula by which one langauge can be completely derived from
>There are too many variables which cause changes in language.
>I (and many other Indians) personally find that Kannada and Telugu so
>similiar to
>other north-Indian languages that I refuse to believe that they belong
>to different language families until some concrete evidence that can be
>verified is offered.

Indian languages have been in contact for several thousand years, and this
creates similarities between languages, even if they don't belong to the
same families. Similar phenomena are found in Europe. Finnish [a Finno-Ugric
language] has a verbal system that clearly has been influenced by the
Indo-European languages Finnish has been in contact with for the last
millennia. Hungarian, another Finno-Ugric language, got its relative
sentences from neighbouring Indo-European languages. When in contact,
languages exchange vocabulary, idiomatic expressions and even grammatical
structures! I believe this is the subject of a branch of scholarship called
"contact linguistics". You should try it some day!

>Even so called "Dravidian" experts acknowledge this structural similiarity
>and come up with all kinds of convoluted ideas along with lots of hand
>waving to explain it.

I am sorry that I am waving my hand at you like this!

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

Dr.art. Lars Martin Fosse
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
0674 Oslo

Tel: +47 22 32 12 19
Fax: +47 22 32 12 19
Email: lmfosse at online.no
Mobile phone: 90 91 91 45

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list