Dear Suresh (and others in this thread),

Whether or not we accept an “external” origin of Dravidian (i.e., more recent than the peopling of Eurasia), you are certainly correct in insisting that we need to consider the evidence of *all* the Dravidian languages; privileging Tamil (or select other South Dravidian languages) is methodologically questionable. True, being attested so early, Tamil offers a window on a considerably earlier stage than what we find in the other literary languages (and of course, much earlier than the “tribal” languages which are attested only since the 19th century). But as you pointed out in your earlier message, other languages preserve archaic features too. Neglecting these can lead to questionable reconstructions. 

There is a similar situation in Modern Indo-Aryan, where we have relatively early attestations in the literary languages, but no comparable ones for the “tribal” languages of the Northwest; and yet, it is these northwestern languages that preserve much more of the complex consonant combinations of Old Indo-Aryan (Sanskrit) than any of the literary ones (even Gujarati, Sindhi, Kashmiri can’t compete, although these at least preserve the C + r clusters). (If we reconstruct on the basis of literary (early) Modern Indo-Aryan, we won’t reach something close to the ancestral Old Indo-Aryan but only something close to Apabhraṁśa.) See the discussion between Pattanayak (1966), Katre (1968), Sen (1973), and Miranda (1978).



On 23 Jan 2016, at 09:26, Suresh Kolichala <> wrote:

Dear Nagaraj gaaru,

I hope you agree that the verb form ir- 'to be' [DEDR 480] either as copula or independent verb cannot be attested in Telugu. This verb, so important in South Dravidian, is remarkably absent in Central and North Dravidian languages, and in many of South-Central languages. In Telugu, you may find noun forms such as iravu 'place', irugu 'neighbour, neighbourhood' etc. which can possibly be argued as recent borrowings from Kannada or Tamil. 

The words ṟēvu (ఱేవు)ṟēvaḍu (ఱేవడు), ṟēvadi (ఱేవది) etc. are not derived from  'iravu' (<ir-) (note the alveolar trill, instead of tap). They are related to [DEDR 516]  *iṯ-/iṟ- 'to descend', 'to go beyond' iṟaṅku (iṟaṅki-) to descend, alight, fall (as rain), disembark; iṟaṅkal place of descent, of debarkation etc.

If you believe in my proposed theory of external origin of Dravidian, then the whole question of what constitutes Proto-Dravidian becomes problematic.  Under the usual historical linguistic principles, words and features found only in one branch (South Dravidian, in this case) do not provide evidence for parent language (Proto-Dravidian). But Dravidian linguists have been wrongly reconstructing words and features found only in South Dravidian (esp. Tamil) to the parent language under the assumption that Tamil represents the archaic form of Dravidian. It is a classic catch-22 situation. 

I believe there is an urgent need to reevaluate the Dravidian languages considering the possibility of pre-Dravidian substrata in various branches of the Dravidian languages. Suspending the belief that Tamil represents the most archaic form of Dravidian would be a starting point in this endeavour.


On Sat, Jan 23, 2016 at 4:11 AM, Nagaraj Paturi <> wrote:
Sorry for going back to a week old post by Mr Suresh Kolichala

The copula verb man- 'to be' is replaced by ir- 'to be' in the South Dravidian languages. As you know, ir- 'to be' is not found in South-Central, Central and North Dravidian languages. (ir- most likely a local verb for 'to be')

It is true that 'ir-' is not the copula verb in south-central. In Telugu, the major language of the south-central, the copula verb is 'agu' (<ak) = to be as/ to become. unD =to be which is found in Malayalam in copula situations is found in Telugu as an independent 'to be'  verb in non-equational VP sentences.

>(ir- most likely a local verb for 'to be')

gives me the impression that you consider that the root 'ir-' is not found in south-central. But the word iravu ( as in chImalu peTTina puTTalu paamulakiravaina yaTlu- sumatIs'atakamu ) is a nominalization of the verb root 'ir-' only. The words rEvu , rEvaDu/ rEvaDi etc. form from 'iravu' (<ir-) through metathesis.

Another point is,is it not a good idea to count the number of Proto-Dravidian features retained by Tamil and the other Dravidian members to decide which is the 'most conservative among Dravidian languages' ? ( I do not think that there was any claim that all the Proto-Dravidian features are retained by Tamil only and no other Dravidian language retained Protodravidian features.)
Nagaraj Paturi
Hyderabad, Telangana, INDIA.
Former Senior Professor of Cultural Studies
FLAME School of Communication and FLAME School of  Liberal Education,
(Pune, Maharashtra, INDIA )

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