Dravidian languages

The Dravidian languages ​​(also: Dravidian ) constitute a widespread family of languages ​​in South Asia. Its distribution area mainly comprises the southern part of India including parts of Sri Lanka, along with individual enclaves in central India and Pakistan. The 27 Dravidian languages ​​have a total of over 220 million speakers. Thus, the Dravidian language family is the sixth largest language family in the world. The four major Dravidian languages ​​are Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.

Genetically the Dravidian languages ​​are not related to the Indo-Aryan languages ​​spoken in northern South Asia, these however sprachtypologisch strongly influenced. In turn, most of today's Dravidian languages ​​especially from Sanskrit, the classical language of Hinduism, many individual words have taken over.

  • 4.1 Reconstruction of the Proto - Dravidian
  • 4.2 typology
  • 4.3 Phonology 4.3.1 vowels
  • 4.3.2 consonants
  • 7.1 South Asian Sprachbund
  • 7.2 Dravidian and Harappanisch
  • 7.3 Dravidian and Elamite
  • 7.4 Dravidian and Uralic
  • 7.5 Dravidian and Nostra table
  • 8.1 Notes and references
  • 8.2 Literature 8.2.1 Dravidian languages
  • 8.2.2 External relations

Origin and history of language

The history of the Dravidian languages ​​is largely in the dark. Whether the Dravidian languages ​​are the languages ​​of the native people in India, or whether and how they came from outside the subcontinent, is not sufficiently clarified. Some researchers assume that the speakers of the Dravidian languages ​​originally in the mountains of western Iran, the Zagros mountains, were at home and around 3500 BC began to migrate from there to India until the Dravidian languages ​​to 600 - 400 BC would spread to the southern tip of the subcontinent. This thesis is related to the speculation about a possible relationship between the Dravidian languages ​​and in ancient times spoken in the southwest of Iran Elamite or the Uralic languages ​​, but can neither be proved. An analysis of the common Dravidian Erbwortschatzes other hand, offers hints for India as a possible original home of the Dravidian languages. So, in the reconstructed Proto- Dravidian language words for different tropical plants and animals ( coconut, tiger, elephant ); for species such as lion, camel and rhinoceros or terms such as " snow " and " ice " can, however, impose any Dravidian word equations.

As can safely apply, however, that Dravidian languages ​​were (1500-1000 BC) spoke before the spread of Indo-Aryan languages ​​in India. They comprise one of the older native to India along with the Munda language families and Sino-Tibetan languages. Already in the Rigveda, the earliest writings of the Indo-Aryan immigrants, Dravidian loanwords are detectable, which is why there is reason to believe that the distribution area of ​​the Dravidian languages ​​once reached as far as northern India. Today in North India ( Kurukh, Malto ) and Pakistan ( Brahui ) scattered Dravidian language islands could be remnants of former language area. Many researchers in trying to decipher the script of the Indus civilization, assuming that the bearers of this culture have spoken a Dravidian language, but this could be only after the decipherment of the Indus script finally decide.

The historically tangible era of Dravidian languages ​​starts with a Tamil inscription of Emperor Ashoka from the year 254 BC The first inscriptions in Kannada are from the mid-5th century AD, the ancient Telugu inscriptions from the time to 620, the first Malayalam inscriptions were written around 830. In all four languages ​​, a literary tradition developed one to two centuries after the first written documents. Especially the Tamil literature that dates back to the 1st century BC, is significant because it has an independent origin, and not due as the literatures of other Indian languages ​​on Sanskrit literature. Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam developed as the only Dravidian languages ​​to literary languages ​​. In addition, Tulu is attested in inscriptions from the 15th century, since the 18th century, there is a sparse literature tradition. The largely non-literate other Dravidian languages ​​have a rich oral literature, but only since recently, records exist.

Geographical Distribution

The Dravidian languages ​​have their main distribution area in southern India, while in the north of the subcontinent mainly Indo-Aryan languages ​​are spoken. Scattered Dravidian language islands but there are also in central and northern India and Pakistan. The four largest Dravidian languages ​​Telugu, Tamil ( Tamil ), Kannada ( Kannada ) and Malayalam are among the 22 official languages ​​of India and are each official language in one of the four southern states of the country.

Tamil is spoken by a total of 66 million speakers, mainly in the state of Tamil Nadu in southeastern India and parts of Sri Lanka (3 million ), where it is next to Sinhala the official language. It represents the original Dravidian type of language in a relatively pure form and can be considered as the most important Dravidian language thanks to its rich literary tradition. The Dravidian language with the most speakers, however, is Telugu, the official language of the state of Andhra Pradesh on the east coast of India, with 74 million. Malayalam, the official language of Kerala and Lakshadweep, is spoken by 33 million people on the southwest coast of India. It is closely related to the Tamil, it developed from its western dialects only between the 9th and 13th centuries. Especially in the state of Karnataka Kannada is widespread. The number of speakers is 38 million, there are an additional 10 million as a second language.

Also in the southern Indian heartland of the Dravidian language area, on the west coast of the state of Karnataka to the city of Mangalore in the north of Kerala and is spoken by about 2 million people Tulu, which has a certain literary tradition. The widespread inland of Karnataka Kodava has around 120,000 speakers and is written in use only recently. In the Nilgiri Mountains between Tamil Nadu and Kerala, some minor illiterate, of the tribal population ( Adivasis ) are languages ​​used widely, known collectively as Niligiri languages ​​: Badaga ( 250,000 speakers), Kota ( 2000 ), Irula ( 200,000 ) and Toda (600).

In Central and Northern India as well as Bangladesh and Nepal, especially in inaccessible mountain and forest areas, there are a number of enclaves of illiterate tribal Dravidian languages. These include Gondi ( 2.6 million speakers on a far-flung area in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Orissa ), Konda (15,000, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa ), Kolami ( 115,000 ), Gadaba, Naiki and Parji. The closely related idioms Kui, Kuwi, Pengo and Manda are often summarized as Kondh languages. Further north Kurukh is spoken by 2 million speakers in Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, Assam, Tripura, Bangladesh, and in the Terai in Nepal. Malto ( 100,000 speakers) is also common in northern India and Bangladesh. Today, completely isolated from the rest of the Dravidian -speaking world is in Balochistan the Pakistani- Afghan frontier spoken Brahui ( 2.2 million speakers). Whether these distant exclave is a remnant of the former range of the Dravidian languages ​​before the spread of Indo-Aryan, or the Brahuis are later immigrated from central India, is unclear.

As a result of migration processes during the British colonial period are Dravidian languages ​​since the 19th century in greater numbers, inter alia, also in Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, spoken in Mauritius and in the Fiji Islands. In Singapore, Tamil is one of four official languages.


The Dravidian languages ​​are in the northern group, central group and the - divided southern group, the latter decays in South-Central Dravidian (also South II called ) and the actual South Dravidian (South I) ( cf. Krishnamurti 2003) - important after speakers. If these names are also geographically, it still is a linguistically justifiable genetic classification. An important isogloss after can be divided subgroups, is the formation of the perfect tense: While the central group of the original auxiliary verb has been obtained, this has been shortened in the south- central group or completely stopped, in the southern group, however, one has it is replaced by the auxiliary verb iru. In addition, the sub-groups show phonological differences: In the south- Dravidian languages ​​is about original c * failed ( eg * CARU "six" > Tamil ARU). In the south- central Dravidian group a metathesis of the apical sounds has taken place, so that there sound sequences occur in word-initial, which are not possible in the other Dravidian languages ​​(eg * varay " drawing, writing " > Telugu vrāyu > Rayu ). The Central Dravidian group is characterized by a anaptyktische alternation in the stem syllables (eg Kolami teḍep " cloth ", teḍp -ul " towels "). In the north- Dravidian group original * k has held before * i, while it was palatalized in the other groups.

Structure overview

  • Dravidian 27 languages ​​with 223 million speakers North Dravidian
  • Central Dravidian
  • South Dravidian South-Central Dravidian (South II)
  • South Dravidian i.e.S. (South I)

Classification of Dravidian languages

Main branches in small caps, subfamilies in bold, languages ​​in the atmospheric pressure.

NORTH Dravidian ( 3 languages, 4.3 million speakers)

  • Brahui Brahui ( Bra'uidi ) ( 2.2 million)
  • Kurukh ( Oraon, Kurka, Dhangar ) ( 2.1 million)
  • Malto ( Kumarbhag Paharia ) (20 thousand)

CENTRAL Dravidian ( 6 languages ​​, 240 thousand speakers)

  • Parji - Gadaba Parji (100 thousand)
  • Ollari (10 thousand)
  • Konekor Gadaba (10 thousand)
  • Kolami (115 thousand)
  • Naikri (2 thousand)
  • Naiki ( Chanda )

SOUTH CENTRAL SOUTH - Dravidian or II ( 7 languages ​​, 78 million speakers)

  • Gondi - Konda - Kui Gondi Gondi ( 2.6 million)
  • Manda - Kui Manda - Pengo Manda (4 thousand) (1964 found )
  • Pengo (350 thousand)
  • Kui ( Kandh ) (700 thousand)
  • Kuwi ( Khond ) (300 thousand)
  • Konda ( Konda -Dora ) (15 thousand)
  • Telugu (74 million)

SOUTH Dravidian i.e.S. SOUTH or I (11 languages ​​, 140 million speakers)

  • Tulu Koraga Tulu ( Tallu ) ( 2 million)
  • Koraga (15 thousand) (D Korra, Mudu )
  • Kannada - Badaga Kannada ( Kannada ) (40 million, 45 million, S2 )
  • Badaga (250 thousand)
  • Toda ( 0.6 thousand)
  • Kota (2 thousand)
  • Kodagu Korumba Kodava ( Coorg, Coorgi ) (120 thousand)
  • Kurumba (200 thousand)
  • Irula (200 thousand)
  • Tamil ( 66 million, 75 million, S2 )
  • Malayalam ( 33 million)

Other Dravidian languages ​​Klein, spokesman numbers

There are reports of several other smaller Dravidian idioms that are only insufficiently researched. Consequently, it can not determine with them whether they are independent languages ​​or dialects only the classified here languages. In Ethnologue (2005) on 70 Dravidian languages ​​are listed. These additional 'languages' are mentioned neither in Steever (1998 ) nor in Krishnamurti ( 2003). It is either dialects or to names of tribes who speak one of the Dravidian listed here, or also a Indo-Aryan (!) Language.

The numbers of speakers are overall relatively uncertain, as is often no distinction between ethnicity and language competence.

Hypotheses to a relationship of the Dravidian languages ​​with the language of the Indus Valley Civilization or the Elamite language (see below) are not considered in this classification.

Linguistic characteristics

Reconstruction of Proto - Dravidian

With the methods of comparative linguistics can be a Dravidian Proto language, descended from the present-day all Dravidian languages ​​, reconstruct. Glottochronologischen According to research, a common Proto Dravidian language could have existed around 4000 BC, before they began to divide into the various individual languages. The South Dravidian languages ​​would have therefore diverged as the last branch around 1500 BC. The reconstruction is made ​​more difficult because only four of the Dravidian languages ​​are documented in writing over a longer period, and even in these, the tradition goes back much less than that of the Indo-European languages.


Typological include the Dravidian languages ​​to the agglutinative languages ​​, so they press relations of words to each other by mono semantic affixes, in the case of Dravidian almost exclusively suffixes ( suffixes ), from. This means that unlike inflected languages ​​such as German or Latin suffix fulfills only one function and one function is only met by a suffix. For example, in the dative plural Tamil kōvilkaḷukku " the temples, to the temples " formed by combining the Pluralsuffixes -Kal and Dativsuffixes - ukku while templo in the Latin forms and Templis the endings -o and -is the same in each case and number designate.

The Dravidian languages ​​distinguish only two basic parts of speech: nouns and verbs that are inflected differently. There are also indeklinierbare words, which take over the function of adjectives and adverbs.


The subsequent reconstruction of the phonology ( Phonology ) of Protodravidischen based on Krishnamurti: The Dravidian Languages, pp. 90-93.


The reconstructed phoneme inventory of Protodravidischen includes five vowels reconstructed, each of which occur in a short and long form ( cf. * pal " tooth" and * PAL " milk "). The diphthongs [ ai ] and [ au] can as sequences of vowel and semi-vowel, ie / ay / and / av /, be construed. Thus, for the Protodravidische following vowel system ( indicated IPA phonetics and, if different, in parentheses, the scientific transliteration ):

Most of today spoken Dravidian languages ​​have kept this simple and symmetrical vowel system. In many preliterate languages ​​short and long vowels contrast, however, only in the root syllable. Brahui has lost the distinction between short and long e under the influence of the neighboring Indo-Aryan and Iranian languages ​​. Other Dravidian languages ​​have developed additional vowel phonemes: [ æ ː ] is used in many languages ​​in English loanwords in Telugu but also in native words before. Kodava and most Nilgiri languages ​​have central vowels. Tulu has developed the additional vowels [ ɛ ] and [ ɯ ].

The word stress is weak in the Dravidian languages ​​and never meaningless distinctive. He usually falls on the first syllable.


For the Protodravidische following 17 consonants are reconstructed, the / all may occur also doubled up on / r / and / z:

Striking about the consonant system of Protodravidischen is the distinction of the plosives ( plosives ) to six places of articulation: labial, dental, alveolar, retroflex, palatal and velar. The alveolar plosive is preserved only in a few languages ​​such as Malayalam, Tamil and many Alt- Nilgiri languages. In other languages ​​süddravidischen he is between vowels to vibrants / r / become who / contrasts with the flap / r, have collapsed during these two sounds in the other languages ​​. This most have today spoken Dravidian languages ​​not six, but only five different places of articulation. This, and in particular the distinction between retroflex and dental plosives is characteristic of the languages ​​of South Asia.

Voicelessness and voicing were not significant distinctive in Protodravidischen. The plosives had in word-initial and voiceless in doubling between vowels and after nasals, voiced allophones. In Tamil and Malayalam, this still applies in native words ( cf. Tamil Pattam [ paʈ ʌm ː ] "Title" and paṭam [ paɖʌm ] " image "). In other languages ​​, however, contrasted voiceless and voiced plosives (eg / p / and / b / ). In addition, Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam and also some unwritten languages ​​such as Kolami, Naiki and Kurukh have aspirated and unaspirated distinction between plosives introduced by loanwords from Sanskrit and modern Indo-Aryan languages ​​adjacent (eg, / p /, / ph /, / b /, / bh / ). This reduces the number of consonants multiplied in these languages ​​( as has about 39 consonant phonemes Malayalam ).

The Protodravidische had four nasals. While / m / and / n / occur in all Dravidian languages ​​, which is retroflex / n / in all languages ​​except those of süddravidischen branch for dental / n / has become, and the palatal / ñ / has not been preserved in all languages. On the other hand differs about the Malayalam analogous to the plosives six different nasals.

The semi-vowels / y / and / v / as well as the Liquid / l / and / r / have remained stable in all Dravidian languages. The retro flexes / l / has been in all languages ​​except the süddravidischen branch by / l replaced /. The retroflex approximant / z / occurs only in Tamil and Malayalam. The protodravidische / h / was present in only certain positions and is only in old Tamil as a so - āytam According receive. Where in the modern Dravidian languages ​​, a / h / occurs, it is borrowed or secondary ( " go ", eg Kannada hogu < * Poku ). It is striking that in Protodravidischen seemed not a single sibilant. The sibilants of modern Dravidian languages ​​are borrowed or secondary. The phonology of individual Dravidian languages ​​has undergone significant developments, which can not be discussed in detail here. So Toda has an extremely complex sound system with 41 different consonants.

Alveolar and retroflex consonants could not occur word-initially in Protodravidischen. Consonant clusters were limited in the word inside allowed. At the end of the word plosives always followed the short auxiliary vowel / u /. In modern languages ​​, these rules are set in part by loan words (eg Kannada Priti "love", from Sanskrit ), partly through internal sound change overridden.

Nominal morphology

Nouns are divided into two classes: personal ( human and divine ) and non- personal (all other nouns ), also referred to as Neutra. The languages ​​of the southern group also share the personal nouns in the singular masculine and feminine nouns in on, in the Central Dravidian languages ​​the feminine falls, however, in the singular, the neuter plural with the masculine together. The Dravidian languages ​​have no articles, but it is quite distinguished in part between definiteness and indefiniteness. The number word for one can assume the function of an indefinite article. In many Dravidian languages ​​an inanimate direct object is in the accusative or nominative, depending on whether it is finite or indefinite (cf. Tamil nan oru puttakam paṭikkiṟēṉ " I read a book " and Nan puttakattaip paṭikkiṟēṉ " I read the book" ).

In declination there are two Hauptkasus: nominative and oblique. The latter usually has genitive meaning and form is the same for many words with the nominative. The other cases are formed by suffixes are appended to the oblique form. For the Protodravidische eight case were reconstructed: nominative, accusative, dative, genitive, instrumental, ablative, locative and Soziativ. In the daughter languages ​​varies the number of case. More differentiated relationships between the words may be expressed by postpositions. The limit of Kasussufix and bound postposition, however hazy, so that some researchers assume that the Dravidian, are only two case, nominative and oblique available. Nouns occur in two numbers. The singular is unmarked, the plural is expressed by a suffix. The plural category, however, is not mandatory in most languages ​​, the plural is usually only used for personal nouns or in cases where the plurality is emphasized. Case suffixes are always followed by the plural suffix.

In the personal pronouns plural of inclusive and exclusive we will in the first person distinguished, depending on whether the addressee is involved. The personal pronouns of the third person act as a reflexive pronoun. In nichtreflexiver function demonstrative pronouns are used. These were distinguished originally three degrees of deixis ( eg Alt - Tamil Ivan " this (here), " uvan "of that ( around here ) ," Avan "of that ( there) ").

Composites are widely used in the Dravidian languages. In Tamil, for example, the words can maram " tree " ATI "base" and niḻal "shadow" to the compound marattaṭiniḻal "shadow at the foot of a tree " link. The so-called Dvandva - compound words, press the sum of their parts from, for example, is the Tamil compound vīratīracākacaṅkaḷ from viram "courage", Tiram " boldness ", cākacam " bravery " and the plural suffix - kal, meaning " courage, boldness and bravery ".

Verbal morphology

The Dravidian verb is formed by appended to the stem suffixes for tense and mood, as well as Personalsuffixe. Thus the Tamil word is varukiṟēṉ " I come " from the verb stem varu, the present tense suffix - KIR and the suffix of the 1st person singular -en together. In Proto - Dravidian, there are only two tenses, past and non- past, while many daughter languages ​​have developed a more complex tense system. The negative is synthetically expressed by a special negative verb form (see Konda kitan " he made ," kiʔetan " he did not "). The verb stem can be modified in many Dravidian languages ​​with root- forming suffixes. Diverting Malto from the root nud - "hide" the reflexive verb stem nudɣr " hide " from.

Infinite verbs are either of a following verb or a noun following dependent. They serve the formation of complex syntactic constructions. In Dravidian verbal compounds can be formed, then " bring " the Tamil konṭuvara composed of an infinite form of the verb Kolla "hold" and the verb vara "come".


Characteristic of the Dravidian languages ​​is a fixed word order subject-object - verb ( SOV ). Accordingly, the subject comes first in the sentence ( it can at most circumstance provisions of the time and place go ahead ) and the predicate always at end of block. As is characteristic of SOV languages ​​, attributes are available in the Dravidian languages ​​always before their reference word, subordinate sentences before main clauses, verbs before auxiliary verbs and prepositions are postpositions instead used. Only in the north- Dravidian languages ​​the rigid SOV word order has been loosened.

A simple sentence consists of a subject and a predicate, which can be either a verb or a noun. A copula does not exist in Dravidian. The subject is usually in the nominative, in many Dravidian languages ​​is one in a sentence expressing a feeling, a perception, or a possession, the subject also in the dative. In all the Dravidian languages ​​other than Malayalam congruent a verbal predicate with a Nominativsubjekt. Kui and Kuwi have developed a system of congruence between the subject and verb. In some Dravidian languages ​​(Old Tamil, Gondi ) and a nominal predicate takes personal endings. Examples of simple sentences from the Tamil with interlinear translation:

  • Avar eṉṉaik kēṭṭār. ( he asked me ) "He asked me. " ( subject in the nominative case, verbal predicate )
  • Avar én APPA. ( he my father) "He is my father. " ( subject in the nominative, predicate nominal )
  • Avarukku kōpam vantatu. ( anger him - it came from) "He was angry. " ( subject in the dative, verbal predicate )
  • Avarukku oru makan. ( his son ) "He has a son. " ( in the dative subject, predicate nominal )

Complex sentences consist of one main and one or more subordinate clauses. In general, a set containing only a finite verb. The Dravidian languages ​​have no conjunctions, subordinate clauses are as Para taxis formed by infinite verb forms. These include the infinitive, the Verbalpartizip that expresses a sequence of actions, and the conditional expressing a conditional nature. Relative clause constructions correspond with the so-called adnominal participles. Examples from the Tamil with interlinear translation:

  • Avarai shifter VARAC col. ( tell him coming ) "Tell him that he should come. " ( infinitive )
  • Kaṭaikku POYi muṭṭaikaḷ koṇṭuvā. ( the business - being gone eggs bring ) "Go to the store and bring eggs. " ( Verbalpartizip )
  • Avan poy Connal Amma aṭippāḷ. ( if he lie - telling mother - beat ) "If he's lying, mother will beat him. " ( conditional )
  • Avan coṉṉatu uṇmai. ( he telling the truth ) " What he says is true." ( adnominales participle )

In subordinate clauses with a nominal predicate, these designs are not possible due to a noun no infinite shapes can be formed. Here is aided by the the so-called quotativen verb (usually an infinite form of "say" ), through which the nominal subordinate clause is embedded in the compound sentence. Example from the Tamil with interlinear translation:

  • Nan Avan nallavaṉ eṉṟu niṉaikkiṟēṉ. ( I think he saying Good ) "I think he 's a good man. "


Word roots seem to have been monosyllabic in Protodravidischen usually. Protodravidische words were simple, derived or compound words. Iterative composites could be formed by doubling a word, cf Tamil avar "he" and avaravar "everyone" or Vantu "incoming" and Vantu Vantu " coming again ". A special form of reduplicated compound words are the so-called echo words in which the first syllable of the second word is replaced by ki, see Tamil pustakam " book" and pustakam - kistakam " books and the like ." The number of verbs is closed in Dravidian. New verbs may be formed only by noun -verb compound words, such as Tamil Velai ceyya "work" from Velai "work" and ceyya " make ".

Today's Dravidian languages ​​possess in addition to the inherited Dravidian vocabulary, a large number of words from Sanskrit or later Indo-Aryan languages. In Tamil they make, not least because of targeted sprachpuristischer tendencies in the early 20th century, a relatively small proportion, while in Telugu and Malayalam, the number of Indo-Aryan loan words is great. In Brahui, which has been affected because of its distance from the other Dravidian languages ​​strongly from its neighboring languages ​​, is even only one-tenth of the vocabulary Dravidian origin. More recently, the Dravidian languages ​​, like all languages ​​of India, also borrowed large scale words from English, less numerous are the loanwords from Portuguese.

Dravidian words that have found their way into German, (Tamil kaṭṭamaram " [ boat ] bound tree trunks " ) are "orange ", " catamaran ", " Mango" (Tamil and Malayalam māṅkāy ), " Mongoose " and " Mongoose " "Curry " (Tamil kari, originally a kind of vegetable sauce ) and " coolies " (from Tamil coolie " labor "). The word is derived glasses on the name of the mineral beryl well forth from a Dravidian etymon.

Some Dravidian word equations


Of the Dravidian languages ​​are the four major languages ​​of Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada established written languages ​​. Each of these has its own font: the font Tamil, Telugu script, Malayalam and Kannada script font. You belong to, as well as the writings of North India, Tibet and South East Asia, to the family of Indian scriptures. These all date from the 3rd century BC documented Brahmi script whose origins are unclear. The Indian scriptures differ graphically in some cases considerably from one another, but all have the same operating principle. It is with them to an intermediate form of alphabet and syllabary, called Abugidas in which each consonant has an inherent vowel a sign that can be modified by diacritics. The Dravidian writings differ to the extent of the northern Indian writings that they have some extra characters for sounds that do not occur in the Indo-Aryan languages. The Tamil script is further distinguished by the fact that it has no character for voiced and aspirated consonants due to the phonology of Tamil and character inventory is therefore much scarcer. In addition, they used different than any other Indian scriptures for consonant cluster ligatures, but a special diacritical mark.

The oldest Dravidian written monuments were in a Southern Brahmi variation, in Tamil - Brahmi, written. Over time, numerous variants developed from these Brahmi script. In South India, developed in the area where today Telugu and Kannada is spoken from the Kadamba and Calukya writings of the 5th - 7th Century in the 10th century, the altkanaresische font. This eventually split in 1500 into two closely related variants, the forerunner of today's Telugu and Kannada fonts. Another branch presented the Chera and Pallava writings of the 5th - 8th Century represents, from which formed the Grantha script. The Malayalam script evolved from a western Grantha variant. The Tamil font contrast, developed in the 8th century from a North Indian script, which was influenced by the Grantha script. Tulu was formerly written in its own script, very similar to that of Malayalam, which is now used only by Brahmins for religious texts. In everyday life, the Tulu speakers are now using the Kannada script.

For the other Dravidian languages ​​are used, they are for ever written, mostly font of the regional majority language, about Kannada for Kodava, the North Indian Devanagari script for Gondi or the Persian- Arabic script used for the other languages ​​of Pakistan for Brahui.

  • The character '' ka '' in the Dravidian writings




History of Research

In India there is an ancient indigenous tradition grammar. Both the roots of Tamil and Sanskrit grammar ranging over 2000 years into the past. As for the relationship between Tamil and Sanskrit, there were in South India two conflicting viewpoints: one emphasizing the autonomy and equality of Tamil, which was just as Sanskrit considered " divine language ", " holy ", the other held Tamil for a distortion of Sanskrit.

After Vasco da Gama landed in 1498 was the first European sailors in Calicut, European missionaries arrived in the 16th century for the first time in contact with the Tamil and Malayalamsprachigen parts of South India. The first European scholar who dealt in detail with Dravidian languages ​​, was the Portuguese Jesuit Anrique Anriquez (ca. 1520-1600 ). He wrote in 1552 a Tamil grammar, was in 1554 the first Tamil printing book and wrote more Tamil language literature with religious content.

William Jones, in 1786 the relationship between Sanskrit, Greek and Latin recognized, arguing that Indo-European Studies, held all the contemporary Indian languages ​​with Sanskrit unrelated. It was subsequently found that Hindi and other modern Indo-Aryan languages ​​are related to Sanskrit, shot now but as it were over the top and also held the Dravidian languages ​​for descendants of Sanskrit.

The Englishman Francis Whyte Ellis, who worked as a colonial official in Madras, worked on Tamil and stated in his preface to the 1816 published first Telugu grammar for the first time a relationship between Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Tulu, Kodagu and malto determine the he summed up as " dialects of southern India ". 1844 saw the Norwegian Indologist Christian Lassen the relationship of Brahui with the South Indian languages. The recognition of the independence of the Dravidian languages ​​sat down definitively by the 1856 published comparative grammar of the Dravidian languages ​​of the Englishman Robert Caldwell. From Caldwell also the term " Dravidian " ( previously was of " Deccan languages ​​" or simply of " South Indian dialects " ), the speech originates been. As a template for the term he used the Sanskrit word Dravida, with which the Indian writer Kumarila Bhatta had described already in the 7th century, the South Indian languages. Etymology of Dravida probably, related to Tamil, the proper name for Tamil.

Over the next 50 years to Caldwell was not followed by major advances in the study of Dravidian languages. The Indology focused almost exclusively on the Sanskrit, while Western scholars who dealt with Dravidian languages ​​, mainly limited themselves to compile dictionaries. The 1906 published fourth volume of the Linguistic Survey of India devoted to the Munda and Dravidian languages ​​and ushered in a second active phase of Dravidian Linguistics. In the following years many new Dravidian languages ​​were discovered, also the first investigations were made on the relationship of the Dravidian with other language families and language contacts between Indo-Aryan and Dravidian languages. Jules Bloch published in 1946 a synthesis entitled Structure grammaticale des langues dravidiennes. In the following years, researchers such as Thomas Burrow, Murray B. Emeneau, Bhadriraju Krishnamurti, PS employed Subrahmanyam, N. Kumaraswami Raja, S.V. Shanmugan Mikhail Sergeyevich Andronow Kamil V. Zvelebil or with the Dravidian languages. In the second half of the 20th century, the terms Dravidistik and Tamil for the Dravidian or Tamil philology bürgerten one. Some colleges have, mostly Tamil, Dravidian languages ​​included in their range of training in the German-speaking countries such as the Universities of Cologne and Heidelberg.

Relationships with other languages

The Dravidian languages ​​are related proven according to the current state of research with any other language family in the world. With the other languages ​​of South Asia, they have many similarities, but they are clearly not based on genetic relatedness but on mutual rapprochement through millennia of language contact. A possible relationship with the language of the Indus Valley Civilization, as " Harappanisch " means, could not be detected because the Indus script has not yet been deciphered. During the past century and a half there has been a variety of attempts to establish links between the Dravidian languages ​​and other languages ​​or language families. Among these, the theories of a relationship with the Elamite language and the Uralic language family are the most promising, though they could not be conclusively demonstrated.

South Asian Sprachbund

Native to South Asia languages ​​belong to four different language families. In addition to the Dravidian languages ​​, these are the Indo-European ( Indo-Aryan and Iranian sub-group ), Austro- Asiatic ( Munda and Mon-Khmer subgroup ) and Sino- Tibetan ( Tibeto - Burmese subgroup ) language family. Although these are four language families not related genetically, they have so much approximated by millennia of language contact each other, that we speak of a South Asian language waistband.

The Dravidian languages ​​all share important characteristics that make up the language of Nations. The Dravidian languages ​​seem to have a strong typological (eg composites, Verbalpartizipien ) and phonological (eg presence of retro flexes, simplification of consonant clusters in Mittelindoarischen ) to have exercised influence on the Indo-Aryan languages. In return, the Dravidian languages ​​have borrowed vocabulary from Sanskrit and other Indo-Aryan languages ​​to a large extent, what has sometimes had an impact on their phonology ( the aspirated consonants Phonemstatus ).

Dravidian and Harappanisch

The language of the Indus or Harappan culture, an early civilization that developed 2800-1800 BC in the Indus Valley in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent, is unknown. It is narrated in a series of inscriptions on seals, which are written in the still undeciphered Indus script. Since the discovery of the Indus script in 1875, a number of attempts have been made ​​to decipher the script and identify the harappanische language. The hypothesis is frequently been expressed, the carriers of the Indus Valley Civilization had spoken a Dravidian language. As an indication of this it is argued that with Brahui nowadays also a Dravidian language spoken in Pakistan and that the Dravidian language area have probably passed much farther north from the intrusion of Indo-Aryan languages.

1964 started two research teams, one in the Soviet Union, one in Finland, independently, a computer- assisted analysis of the Indus script. Both came to the conclusion that the language is Dravidian. This thesis is based on a structural analysis of the inscriptions, which seems to indicate that the language of the inscriptions was agglutinative. Asko Parpola, the head of the Finnish research group, claimed in 1994 to have the Indus script at least partially deciphered. He relies on the rebus principle and cases of homonyms. Thus, for example, would be a character that represents a fish, for the sound sequence * min, which can mean both " fish " and "star" in Proto - Dravidian.

Because there are no bilingual texts known, and the body of the Harappan inscriptions is limited, a complete decipherment of the Indus script seems difficult to impossible. Some scholars even dispute that it ever is a font for the characters. The question of whether the carriers of the Indus culture of a Dravidian language group belonged wins as part of a Tamil- nationalist discourse a special political Sharpness: the stress on the domains of the Dravidian and the Indus culture often seems for an identity determination modern Tamilität to be necessary, while North Indian researchers argue that the language of the Indus script was an archaic form of Sanskrit. However, most researchers consider the relationship of the Harappan to the Dravidian languages ​​for a plausible, though unproven hypothesis.

Dravidian and Elamite

Already RA Caldwell suspected in 1856 in his comparative grammar a kinship between the Dravidian languages ​​and the Elamite. The Elamite language was spoken from the 3rd to the 1st millennium BC in south-western Iran, and is considered an isolated language, ie a language which has no established relations. In the 1970s, the American researcher David W. McAlpin, this theory took up again and published in 1981 a monograph in which he claimed for himself, to have demonstrated the Elamite - Dravidian kinship. The Elamite - Dravidian hypothesis is partly due to structural similarities ( both languages ​​are agglutinative and assign parallels in the syntax ), on the other hand pointed McAlpin on a number of similar looking suffixes and stood in Elamite - Dravidian word 81 equations. After McAlpins hypothesis were Elamite and Dravidian to a common language family, which is also called " zagrosisch " after their adopted homeland in the Zagros Mountains, and had parted 5500-3000 BC from each other.

From the perspective of most other researchers but are McAlpins evidence is insufficient enough to detect a genetic relationship. Zvelebil 1991 speaks of a " attractive hypothesis," but for which there is much evidence is no evidence. Steever 1998 holds McAlpins thesis for doubtful.

Dravidian and Uralic

The theory of the relationship between the Dravidian and Uralic languages ​​, a family to which, among other things Finnish and Hungarian, also is already on R. A. Caldwell back, who said in 1856, " striking similarities " between the Dravidian and Finno -Ugric languages ​​determined to have. As a result, a number of researchers supported this thesis.

The Dravidian - Uralic theory is based on a series of matches in the vocabulary of the Dravidian and Uralic languages ​​, similarities in phonology and especially structural similarities: both language families are agglutinative, knew probably originally no prefixes have in nouns as verbs the same order of suffixes to have a SOV word order and provide attributes before her reference word. While some researchers assume that the Dravidian and Uralic languages ​​have a common origin, others are of the opinion that the language families and were in prehistoric times in Central Asia in contact with each influence each other.

The problem with the Dravidian - Uralic hypothesis that it is based mainly on typological similarities, which are not sufficient to detect a genetic relationship. It can not therefore be taken for granted too, but by some as the most likely among the theories that seek to connect the Dravidian languages ​​with other language families considered.

Dravidian and Nostra table

While the binary relationship of the Dravidian now hardly assent to the Ural, working intensively on a broader hypothesis: Aharon Dolgopolsky and other grasp the Dravidian as a subunit of the nostra matic macro family, which is in addition to the Ural include other Eurasian language families:

  • Nostra table Indo-European
  • Kartwelisch
  • Ural- Jukagirisch
  • Mongolian
  • Tungusisch
  • Korean
  • Japanese

The Afro-Asiatic is now hardly expected to Nostra tables, recently Elamite is seen as a separate component of Nostra tables, which is not closely related to the Dravidian. It hardly needs to be mentioned that almost all Dravidologen reject the hypothesis nostra tables. The 1998 gathered in Dolgopolsky 124 nostra matic word equations - they contain about half Dravidian covers - are similar than random similarity, loanword, hiking word, misinterpretation, non- proto- Dravidian qualified. One will have to wait and see if the hypothetical macro families that go back as their branches in a far greater time depth, ever received the status of a widely accepted doctrine. It is interesting in this context that the Dravidian should not be a part of the alternative proposed by Joseph Greenberg Eurasian macro family explicitly.

An example of a nostra matic word equation with a Dravidian reference can be found in the article Nostra table.

Sources and further information