linguistics (was: Tamil words in English)

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Sat Feb 21 05:31:12 UTC 1998

In a message dated 98-02-19 22:52:16 EST, mahadevasiva at HOTMAIL.COM writes:

<< The most sensible people in this respect seem to be the Malayalis
 (mind you, I'm not a Malayali:-) who seem to be a little too mature
 to descend into all this gee-gawing about superiority and what have
 you...may their tribe increase... >>

Unfortunately, the general population of Malayalis is no different from others
either. In his book, "Language of Middle Malayalam", Dr. Puthusseri
Ramachandran said in 1973, "Until recently traditional research confined
itself to ranscaking Sanskrit depositories of learning in an effort to find
the roots of our cultural inheritance. We have now to concede that there are
many valuable works in Tamil no less important than those in Sanskrit on which
our literary historian has to concentrate. The works of writers of Kerala who
wrote before the evolution of Malayalam have been abandoned to the dark
corners of Tamil erudition. The theory that malayalam branched off from the
parent Dravidian language earlier than Tamil and that though not extant there
must have been many independent works in Malayalam like folklore, folk songs
and proverbs etc., put forward by some literary historians and linguistic
investigators misguided the later research workers and prevented them from
studying these works."

Even though this was written in 1973, many Malayalis still believe that the
origin of their language is traceable to Sanskrit. I have also heard many
Malayalis who believe that Kerala history begins with parazurAma creating the
land that is Kerala.


S. Palaniappan

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