Indo-Aryan im/e-migration (scholarly debate)

Palaniappa Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Wed May 6 23:54:02 EDT 1998

In a message dated 98-05-04 23:26:06 EDT, bhk at HD1.VSNL.NET.IN writes:

<< Apparently the present generation of Indologists are not familiar with the
 arguments of Jules Bloch why OIA has ghoTa(ka) 'horse' > Hi. ghoDaa, etc.,
 which has no IE-etymology (unlike Skt. as'va-). He derives ghoTa- (with
 guNa) from a  root *ghuT- which he derives from Pre-Drav. *ghutr-. He then
 derives Ta.kutirai, Ma.kutira, Ka. kudire and Te. guR(R)amu, Konda guRam
 'horse' from the root *ghutr- saying that pre-Dravidian had not only voicing
 contrast but also aspirates! ( I have given references to Jules Bloch's
 article in my TVB).The Dravidian words are quite ancient and were not
 borrowed from anyother known langauge. He suggested that Telugu preserved
 the PDr. voiced stop while the South Drav languages had devoiced g- to k-.
 He also derived Skt. gaard-abha- 'donkey' and Ta. kaZutai, Ka. katte, Te.
 gaaDida from *gard- again Te. preserving PDr. voiced stop.  Apart from the
 linguistic ingenuity of these etymologies, which not many scholars (maybe
 nobody) questioned then, at the semantic and cultural level,this hypothesis
 presupposes that 'the horse' could be native to pre-Aryan India! Of course,
 donkeys do not pose a problem; they are cultural universals! Bh.K. >>

Indologists also should consult the following view of T. Burrow.

"It is well known that Tamil in contradistinction to other Dravidian languages
does not admit of the voiced stops g, j, d, b at the beginning of a word;
whereas in the middle of a word the unvoiced sounds are represented by the
voiced, though the writing takes no notice of this distinction. Caldwell (3rd
ed., p.138), formulating this state of affairs as the "Convertibility of Surds
and Sonants", assumes it to have been characteristic of the primitive
Dravidian tongue. In this most people have tended to follow him. More
recently, however, contrary opinions have been expressed, notably by M. Jules
Bloch. In his article "Sanskrit and Dravidian" (B.S.L., XXV, pp. 1ff.) he
criticizes Mr. Subbayya for assuming in his articles in Indian Antiquary,
1909, that in the case of Ta. k-, etc., corresponding to Te. Ka. g-, etc.
Tamil represents the primitive Dravidian state of affairs, and maintains on
the contrary that the "antiquity of the sonants in Dravidian remains
indisputable". Further, in comparing Skt. ghoTaka horse with Ta. kutirai, Ka.
kutire, Te. guRRamu, which might have been derived from an original *ghutr-,
he is prepared to admit also the possibility of sonant aspirates in the early
history of Dravidian. This view has received a certain amount of support. K.
Goda Varma, for instance (BSOS., VIII, p. 562), quotes as examples of Ka. ga <
Primitive Dravidian ga-: Mal. keTTu in aNakkeTTu dam, Ka. gaTTu; Ma. keTTu
bundle, Ka. gaTTe; keTTu in keTTu-tATi beard about the chin, Ka. gaDDa; keNTan
large, Ka. gaNDu; keta palpitation, Ka. gada; in all of which instances Ma.
e<a is indicative of original voicing.

It is the purpose of the present paper to demonstrate that this theory is
incorrect and that the existence of the initial sonants in Telugu and Kanarese
is secondary and cannot be attributed to the parent language. That this is so
is maintained for the following reasons:
1. A very large percentage of the words in Ka. and Te. beginning with g, d,
etc., have nothing corresponding to them in Tamil at all.

2. Of the correspondences pointed out a considerable number are merely late
loan words in Tamil (and Mal.) and their evidence is therefore of no value.

3. Where the correspondences are ancient there is no regularity in so far as
in some cases Telugu agrees with Tamil as against Kanarese and in others
Kanarese with Tamil against Te., while inside both languages, especially
Kanarese, there is considerable fluctuation.

4. In the case of many individual words it can be demonstrated that voicing in
Ka. and Te. is secondary.

The reference is "Dravidian Studies-I: Notes on "Convertibility of Surds and
Sonants" in Collected Papers on Dravidian Linguistics, by Prof T. Burrow,
1968, Annamalai University, Annamalainagar, S. India. This is a reprint of a
BSOS IX [1937-39] article.

Burrow and Emeneau in the order of items in the revised edition of Dravidian
Etymological Dictionary (1984) say the following.

"The order of the groups is essentially that of the PDr phonemes in the
reconstructed PDr roots or stems involved, with the order of the Tamil
alphabet applied to these phonemes. This is possible since the inventory of
Tamil phonemes probably corresponds very closely to that of the PDr
phonemes--though it does not follow that all, or even most, Tamil forms will
serve as PDr reconstructions."(DEDR p.xxxv)

I vaguely remember David McAlpin telling me several years ago that there was
an Elamite word "kutirA" or "kutira" (I do not remember the correct form)
which served as the source for Dravidian "kutirai". He has probably discussed
it in one of his papers. The Elamite word  apparently meant "carrier". Has
this etymology been accepted by scholars?


S. Palaniappan

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