Dravidian origins

hans henrich hock hhhock at UX1.CSO.UIUC.EDU
Sun Dec 17 23:22:57 UTC 2000

For a starter, you might look at my paper "Pre-¡Rgvedic convergence 
between Indo-Aryan (Sanskrit) and Dravidian?  A survey of the issues 
and controversies." In:  Ideology and status of Sanskrit: 
Contributions to the history of the Sanskrit language, ed. by J. E. 
M. Houben, 17-58.  Leiden: Brill.  1996.  In the paper I give a brief 
and, I hope, fair overview of various pertinent theories and their 
problems.  The bibliographical references should open the way to 
further, more in-depth presentations of the various views.

Best wishes,

Hans Henrich Hock

>Dear listmembers,
>Since I wanted to know something about the Dravidian languages without
>going so far as to read a grammar of Tamil, I sat down to read Zvelebil's
>article in Encyclopaedia Britannica (Vol. 22, 15th edition). In the third
>paragraph, he states: "Nothing definite is known about the origin of the
>Dravidian family."
>        Well, let us see what this professed ignorance leads to:
>1. There are vague indigenous traditions about an ancient migration from
>the south.
>2. According to some scholars, Dravidian languages are indigenous to India.
>3. A hypothesis has been gaining ground that posits a movement of Dravidian
>speakers from the northwest to the south and east of the peninsula, a
>movement originating possibly from Central Asia. (This hypothesis is not
>substantiated, and Zvelebil later confesses that "nothing definite is known
>about the ancient domain of the Dravidian parent speech".)
>4. Another theory connects the Dravidian speakers with the peoples of the
>Indus Valley civilization.
>5. The circumstances of the advent of Dravidian speakers in India are
>shrouded in mystery. (An "advent" is now taken for granted.)
>6. It is possible that a Dravidian-speaking people that can be described as
>dolichocephalic Mediterraneans mixed with brachycephalic Armenoids and
>established themselves in northwest India during the 4th millennium BC.
>Along their route, they may have possibly come into an intimate, prolonged
>contact with Ural-Altaic speakers, thus explaining the striking affinities
>between the Dravidian and Ural-Altaic language groups. (No such affinities
>are mentioned.)
>7. It is possible that Proto-Brahui was the first language to split off
>from Proto-Dravidian, probably during the immigration movement into India
>some time in the 4th millennium BC...
>Now, if nothing definite is known about the origin of the Dravidian family,
>or about the ancient domain of the Dravidian parent speech, why speculate
>about an immigration movement? And why must this immigration have happened
>in the fourth millennium BC?
>One sentence (p. 698) is completely unintelligible to me: "Several scholars
>have demonstrated that pre-Indo-Aryan and pre-Dravidian bilingualism in
>India provided conditions for the far-reaching influence of Dravidian on
>the Indo-Aryan tongues..." What pre-IA and pre-Dravidian languages were
>involved here? (No other languages are mentioned.) The conclusion is also
>enigmatic: "Thus a form of Proto-Dravidian... must have been extensive in
>north India before the advent of the Aryans."
>Perhaps somebody on this list with some insight into the matter would care
>to explain what is meant by pre-(not proto-)Indo-Aryan and pre-Dravidian
>Best wishes,
>Bjarte Kaldhol

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