Brahuis?../ Dravidian homeland

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Fri Jun 5 13:17:30 UTC 1998

On Fri, 5 Jun 1998, Miroslav Rozehnal wrote:

> That would mean linking Brahuis (Dravidians) to the Central Asian cultures.
> That's another interesting point that has been never much discussed here
> (at least I can not remember) - the origin of Dravidians. I remember
> reading somewhere (alas, I do not know where) the hypothesis of original
> Dravidian homeland in Central Asia. Do venerable shi.s.tas have any opinion
> on this?

Many answers:

* (McAlpin wanted to connect Dravidian with Elamite (in, Mesopotamia, now
SW Iran).

        McAlpin,D., Towards Proto-Elamo-Dravidian, Language 50, 1974, 89-101

        McAlpin, D. W. Proto-Elamian-Dravidian: the evidence and its
        Transactions of the American  Philosophical  Society, 71, Philadelphia

Dravidologists have not agreed with his recostructions. See
B.K.Krishnamurti, recently in this list. F.B.J. Kuiper always told me the

* F. Southworth wants to see an old IA-Dravidian meetings, still in Iran.
Term such as tanuu, discussed here last year. Both stress a
pre-agricultural Proto-Dravidian society, mainly cattle-herders (with
horse? Brahui hulli, Tamil ivuLi?)

        F. Southworth, , Lexical evidence for early contacts between Indo-Aryan
        and Dravidian. In: M. Deshpande and P.E.  Hook. (eds.). Aryan and
        Non-Aryan in India. Ann Arbor  1979, 191-233
        ---,  The reconstruction of Prehistoric South Asian language
        contact, in E. H. Bendix (ed.), The Uses of Linguistics. New York
        1990, p.207-234
        ---, Reconstructing social context  from language: Indo-Aryan and
        Dravidian prehistory. In: The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia, ed. G.
        Erdosy (ed.).  Berlin/New York  1995, 258-277

* Some linguists have seen a connection with Uralic (Finno-Ugrian) for

        MENGES, K.H.  Altajisch und Dravidisch, Orbis 13, 1964, 66-103

        Tyler, Stephen, Dravidian and Uralian: the lexical evidence.
        Language 44,1968, 798-812.

        Marlow, E.J.P. More on Uralo-Dravidian relationships... A comparison of
        Uralic and Dravidian etymological vocabularies  [PhD diss. ] Austin 1974

* Finally, there are, of course, the Nostratic linguists who have,
beginning with the Russian scholars, the late V.M. Illich-Svitych, and his
colleagues Dolgopolski, and Shevoroshkin, reconstructed a super-family
that includes Dravidian, Indo-European, Afro-Asiatic (Hamito-Semitic),
Uralic,  Altaic and some of the Caucasus (Kartvelian) languages.

        V.M. Illich-Svitych, Opyt sravneniya nostraticheskikh yazykov.
        Vvedeniye. Sravnitel'nyi slovar. Moskva 1971-76

        V. Shevoroshkin (ed.)  Explorations in language macrofamilies :
        materials from the first Iinternational Interdisciplinary Symposium on
        Language and Prehistory, Ann Arbor, 8-12 November, 1988. Bochum : N.
        Brockmeyer, 1989

        ---, Typology, relationship and time : a collection of papers on
        language change and relationship / by Soviet Linguists. Edited and
        translated with a critical foreword by Vitalij V. Shevoroshkin and
        T.L. Markey. Ann Arbor: Karoma Publishers, 1986.

        Bomhard, Allan R. Toward Proto-Nostratic : a new approach to the
        comparison of  Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Afroasiatic. Amsterdam ;
        Philadelphia : J. Benjamins, 1984.

That would solve all "Aryan problems" in India, isn't it: aarya and
Dravidans had been brothers all along, way back in Central Asia...

Many traditional IE scholars combat the Nostratic theory, a concept that
is not difficult to understand but hard to follow since you have to know
and handle everything from Old Irish to Finnish, Berber, Old Egyptian,
Akkadian, Georgian, Old Tamil, Vedic, Old Turkish and Old Japanese. Few
people that  I know can do that...

Of course, no need to mentional the crackpot comparisons which link
Dravidian directly to anything from W. African to  Japanese, or make Tulu
"the mother of English"....

Just one case:

        Lahovary, N. Dravidian origins and the West; newly discovered
        ties with the ancient culture and languages, including Basque, of the
        pre-Indo-European Mediterranean world.  Bombay: Orient Longmans 1963

* Some archaeologists, probably starting with S. P Tolstov, have connected
Central Asian cultural assemblages with the Dravidians.

        Tolstov, S.P. in: 13th annual report of the Institut eof Archaeology of
        the London University, London 1959, 8-26   (= Kelteminar culture of
        N.Uzbekistan) (or his book on Ancient Khorezm, 1948++)

        cf. now F. T. Hiebert,  South Asia from a Central Asian
        perspective,  In:
        The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia, ed. G. Erdosy (ed.).  Berlin/New
        York  1995, 192-212

Hope this makes for a beginning....

Michael Witzel                       witzel at

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