The Dravidian languages are a language family spoken mainly in Southern India and parts of Central and Eastern India, as well as in Sri Lanka with small pockets in southwestern Pakistan, southern Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan, and overseas in other countries such as Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore. The Dravidian languages with the most speakers are Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam. There are also small groups of Dravidian-speaking scheduled tribes, who live outside Dravidian-speaking areas, such as the Kurukh in Eastern India and Gondi in Central India. The Dravidian languages are spoken by more than 215 million people in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Though some scholars have argued that the Dravidian languages may have been brought to India by migrations in the fourth or third millennium BCE or even earlier, the Dravidian languages cannot easily be connected to any other language family and they could well be indigenous to India.[note 1]
Epigraphically the Dravidian languages have been attested since the 2nd century BCE as Tamil-Brahmi script on the cave walls discovered in the Madurai and Tirunelveli districts of Tamil Nadu. Only two Dravidian languages are spoken exclusively outside the post-1947 state of India: Brahui in the Balochistan region of Pakistan and Afghanistan; and Dhangar, a dialect of Kurukh, in parts of Nepal and Bhutan. Dravidian place names along the Arabian Sea coasts and Dravidian grammatical influence such as clusivity in the Indo-Aryan languages, namely Marathi, Konkani, Gujarati, Marwari, and Sindhi, suggest that Dravidian languages were once spoken more widely across the Indian subcontinent.
|South Asia and Southeast Asia, mainly South India and Sri Lanka|
|Linguistic classification||One of the world's primary language families|
|ISO 639-2 / 5||dra|
Distribution of subgroups of Dravidian languages:
The origin of the Sanskrit word drāviḍa is the word tamiẓ (Tamil). Kamil Zvelebil cites the forms such as dramila (in Daṇḍin's Sanskrit work Avanisundarīkathā) damiḷa (found in the Sri Lankan (Ceylonese) chronicle Mahavamsa) and then goes on to say, "The forms damiḷa/damila almost certainly provide a connection of dr(a/ā)viḍa " and "... tamiḷ < tamiẓ ...whereby the further development might have been *tamiẓ > *damiḷ > damiḷa- / damila- and further, with the intrusive, 'hypercorrect' (or perhaps analogical) -r-, into dr(a/ā)viḍa. The -m-/-v- alternation is a common enough phenomenon in Dravidian phonology" Zvelebil in his earlier treatise states, "It is obvious that the Sanskrit dr(a/ā)viḍa, Pali damila, damiḷo and Prakrit d(a/ā)viḍa are all etymologically connected with tamiẓ", and further remarks, "The r in tamiẓ → dr(a/ā)viḍa is a hypercorrect insertion, cf. an analogical case of DED 1033 Ta. kamuku, Tu. kangu "areca nut": Skt. kramu(ka)."
Joseph (1989: IJDL 18.2:134-42) gives extensive references to the use of the term draviḍa, dramila first as the name of a people, then of a country. Sinhala BCE inscriptions cite dameḍa-, damela- denoting Tamil merchants. Early Buddhist and Jaina sources used damiḷa- to refer to a people of south India (presumably Tamil); damilaraṭṭha- was a southern non-Aryan country; dramiḷa-, dramiḍa, and draviḍa- were used as variants to designate a country in the south (Bṛhatsamhita-, Kādambarī, Daśakumāracarita-, fourth to seventh centuries CE) (1989: 134–138). It appears that damiḷa- was older than draviḍa- which could be its Sanskritization.
Based on what Krishnamurti states (referring to a scholarly paper published in the International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics), the Sanskrit word draviḍa itself is later than damiḷa since the dates for the forms with -r- are centuries later than the dates for the forms without -r- (damiḷa, dameḍa-, damela- etc.).
The 14th century Sanskrit text Lilatilakam, which is a grammar of Manipravalam, states that the spoken languages of present-day Kerala and Tamil Nadu were similar, terming them as "Dramiḍa". The author doesn't consider the "Karṇṇāṭa" (Kannada) and the "Andhra" (Telugu) languages as "Dramiḍa", because they were very different from the language of the "Tamil Veda" (Tiruvaymoli), but states that some people would include them in the "Dramiḍa" category.
In 1816, Alexander D. Campbell suggested the existence of a Dravidian language family in his Grammar of the Teloogoo Language, in which he and Francis W. Ellis argued that Tamil and Telugu descended from a common, non-Indo-European ancestor. In 1856 Robert Caldwell published his Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian Family of Languages, which considerably expanded the Dravidian umbrella and established Dravidian as one of the major language groups of the world. Caldwell coined the term "Dravidian" for this family of languages, based on the usage of the Sanskrit word द्रविदा (Dravidā) in the work Tantravārttika by Kumārila Bhaṭṭa. In his own words, Caldwell says,
The word I have chosen is 'Dravidian', from Drāviḍa, the adjectival form of Draviḍa. This term, it is true, has sometimes been used, and is still sometimes used, in almost as restricted a sense as that of Tamil itself, so that though on the whole it is the best term I can find, I admit it is not perfectly free from ambiguity. It is a term which has already been used more or less distinctively by Sanskrit philologists, as a generic appellation for the South Indian people and their languages, and it is the only single term they ever seem to have used in this manner. I have, therefore, no doubt of the propriety of adopting it.
The Dravidian languages form a close-knit family. Most scholars agree on four groups: South (or South Dravidian I), South-Central (or South Dravidian II), Central, and North Dravidian, but there are different proposals regarding the relationship between these groups. Earlier classifications grouped Central and South-Central Dravidian in a single branch. Krishnamurti groups South-Central and South Dravidian. Languages recognized as official languages of India appear here in boldface.
Some authors deny that North Dravidian forms a valid subgroup, splitting it into Northeast (Kurukh–Malto) and Northwest (Brahui). Their affiliation has been proposed based primarily on a small number of common phonetic developments, including:
McAlpin (2003) notes that no exact conditioning can be established for the first two changes, and proposes that distinct Proto-Dravidian *q and *kʲ should be reconstructed behind these correspondences, and that Brahui, Kurukh-Malto, and the rest of Dravidian may be three coordinate branches, possibly with Brahui being the earliest language to split off. A few morphological parallels between Brahui and Kurukh-Malto are also known, but according to McAlpin they are analyzable as shared archaisms rather than shared innovations.
In addition, Ethnologue lists several unclassified Dravidian languages: Allar, Bazigar, Bharia, Malankuravan (possibly a dialect of Malayalam), and Vishavan. Ethnologue also lists several unclassified Southern Dravidian languages: Mala Malasar, Malasar, Thachanadan, Ullatan, Kalanadi, Kumbaran, Kunduvadi, Kurichiya, Attapady Kurumba, Muduga, Pathiya, and Wayanad Chetti. Pattapu may also be Southern.
A computational phylogenetic study of the Dravidian language family was undertaken by Kolipakam, et al. (2018). Kolipakam, et al. (2018) supports the internal coherence of the four Dravidian branches South (or South Dravidian I), South-Central (or South Dravidian II), Central, and North, but is uncertain about the precise relationships of these four branches to each other. The date of Dravidian is estimated to be 4,500 years old.
Since 1981, the Census of India has reported only languages with more than 10,000 speakers, including 17 Dravidian languages. In 1981, these accounted for approximately 24% of India's population.
In the 2001 census, they included 214 million people, about 21% of India's total population of 1.02 billion. In addition, the largest Dravidian-speaking group outside India, Tamil speakers in Sri Lanka, number around 4.7 million. The total number of speakers of Dravidian languages is around 227 million people, around 13% of the population of the Indian subcontinent.
Telugu is the most spoken Dravidian language, with over 74 million native speakers. The total number of speakers of Telugu, including those whose first language is not Telugu, is around 84 million people, which is around 6% of India's total population.
The smallest branch of the Dravidian languages is the Central branch, which has only around 200,000 speakers. These languages are mostly tribal, and spoken in central India.
The next-largest is the South-Central branch, which has 78 million native speakers, the vast majority of whom speak Telugu. This branch also includes the tribal language Gondi spoken in central India.
The largest group is South Dravidian, with almost 150 million speakers. Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada make up around 98% of the speakers, with Tamil being by far the most spoken language, with almost half of all South Dravidian speakers speaking it.
|Language||Number of Speakers||Location|
|Kurukh||2,280,000||Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Nepal|
|Malto||234,000||Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal|
|Kurambhag Paharia||12,500||Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha|
|Language||Number of Speakers||Location|
|Duruwa||51,000||Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh|
|Ollari||15,000||Odisha, Andhra Pradesh|
|Language||Number of Speakers||Location|
|Telugu||81,100,000||Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and parts of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Puducherry, United States, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Mauritius, Australia, South Africa, Canada, UK, UAE, Myanmar, France and Réunion.|
|Gondi||2,980,000||Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh|
|Muria||1,000,000||Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Odisha|
|Kui||942,000||Odisha, Andhra Pradesh|
|Koya||360,000||Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh|
|Madiya||360,000||Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Maharashtra|
|Kuvi||155,000||Odisha, Andhra Pradesh|
|Pardhan||135,000||Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh|
|Khirwar||36,400||Chhattisgarh (Surguja district)|
|Chenchu||26,000||Andhra Pradesh, Telangana|
|Konda||20,000||Andhra Pradesh, Odisha|
|Language||Number of speakers||Location|
|Tamil||75,000,000||Tamil Nadu, Puducherry (including Karaikkal), parts of Andhra Pradesh (Chittoor and Nellore districts), Karnataka (Bangalore, Kolar), Kerala (Palakkad and Idukki districts), Andaman and Nicobar, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Canada, United States, UK, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Reunion Island|
|Kannada||56,600,000||Karnataka, Kerala (Kasaragod district) and Maharashtra (Solapur, Sangli), Tamil Nadu (Salem, Ooty, Coimbatore, Krishnagiri, Chennai), Andhra Pradesh (Ananthpur, Kurnool), Telangana (Hyderabad Medak and Mehaboobnagar), United States, Australia, Germany UK UAE Bahrain|
|Malayalam||38,000,000||Kerala, Lakshadweep, Mahe district of Puducherry, Dakshina Kannada and Kodagu districts of Karnataka, Coimbatore, Neelagiri and Kanyakumari districts of Tamil Nadu, UAE, United States, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, UK, Qatar, Bahrain, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore.|
|Tulu||1,850,000||Karnataka (Dakshina Kannada, Udupi districts) and Kerala (Kasaragod district), Across Maharashtra especially in cities like Mumbai, Thane and Gulf Countries(UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain) |
|Beary||1,500,000||Karnataka (Dakshina Kannada, Udupi districts) and Kerala (Kasaragod district)|
|Irula||200,000||Tamil Nadu (Nilgiris district), Karnataka (Mysore district).|
|Kurumba||180,000||Tamil Nadu (Nilgiris district)|
|Badaga||133,000||Karnataka (Mysore district), Tamil Nadu (Nilgiris district),|
|Kodava||100,000||Karnataka (Kodagu district)|
|Paniya||22,000||Karnataka (Kodagu district), Kerala, Tamil Nadu|
|Yerukala||69,500||Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana|
|Betta Kurumba||32,000||Karnataka (Chamarajanagar district, Kodagu district, Mysore district), Kerala (Wayanad district), Tamil Nadu (Nilgiri District)|
|Kurichiya||29,000||Kerala (Kannur district, Kozhikode district, Wayanad district)|
|Ravula||27,000||Karnataka (Kodagu district), Kerala (Kannur district, Wayanad district)|
|Mullu Kurumba||26,000||Kerala (Wayanad district), Tamil Nadu (The Nilgiris District)|
|Sholaga||24,000||Tamil Nadu, Karnataka (Mysore district)|
|Kaikadi||26,000||Madhya Pradesh (Betul district), Maharashtra (Amravati district)|
|Kanikkaran||19,000||Kerala, Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari district, Tirunelveli district)|
|Malankuravan||18,600||Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari district), Kerala (Kollam district, Kottayam district, Thiruvananthapuram district)|
|Muthuvan||16,800||Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore district, Madurai district)|
|Koraga||14,000||Karnataka (Dakshina Kannada, Udupi districts) and Kerala (Kasaragod district)|
|Kumbaran||10,000||Kerala (Kozhikode district, Malappuram district, Wayanad district)|
|Paliyan||9,500||Kerala (Idukki district, Ernakulam district, Kottayam district), Tamil Nadu, Karnataka|
|Malasar||7,800||Kerala (Palakkad district), Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore district)|
|Malapandaram||5,900||Kerala (Kollam district, Pathanamthitta district), Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore district, Madurai district, Viluppuram district)|
|Eravallan||5,000||Kerala (Palakkad district), Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore district)|
|Wayanad Chetti||5,000||Karnataka, Kerala (Wayanad district), Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore district, The Nilgiris District, Erode district)|
|Muduga||3,400||Kerala (Palakkad district), Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore district, The Nilgiris District)|
|Thachanadan||3,000||Kerala (Malappuram district, Wayanad district)|
|Kadar||2,960||Kerala (Thrissur district, Palakkad district), Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore district)|
|Toda||1,560||Karnataka (Mysore district), Tamil Nadu (Nilgiris district)|
|Attapady Kurumba||1,370||Kerala (Palakkad district)|
|Kunduvadi||1,000||Kerala (Kozhikode district, Wayanad district)|
|Mala Malasar||1,000||Kerala (Palakkad district), Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore district)|
|Pathiya||1,000||Kerala (Wayanad district)|
|Kota||930||Tamil Nadu (Nilgiris district)|
|Kalanadi||750||Kerala (Wayanad district)|
|Holiya||500||Madhya Pradesh (Balaghat district, Seoni district), Maharashtra, Karnataka|
|Aranadan||200||Kerala (Malappuram district)|
|Language||Number of Speakers||Location|
|Bharia||197,000||Chhattisgarh (Bilaspur district, Durg district, Surguja district), Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal|
|Bazigar||58,000||Haryana, Punjab (Fatehgarh Sahib district, Patiala district), Uttar Pradesh (Muzaffarnagar district, Saharanpur district)|
|Allar||350||Kerala (Palakkad district, Malappuram district)|
|Vishavan||150||Kerala (Ernakulam district, Kottayam district, Thrissur district)|
The Dravidian family has defied all of the attempts to show a connection with other languages, including Indo-European, Hurrian, Basque, Sumerian, Korean and Japanese. Comparisons have been made not just with the other language families of the Indian subcontinent (Indo-European, Austroasiatic, Sino-Tibetan, and Nihali), but with all typologically similar language families of the Old World. Nonetheless, although there are no readily detectable genealogical connections, Dravidian shares strong areal features with the Indo-Aryan languages, which have been attributed to a substratum influence from Dravidian.
Dravidian languages display typological similarities with the Uralic language group, suggesting to some a prolonged period of contact in the past. This idea is popular amongst Dravidian linguists and has been supported by a number of scholars, including Robert Caldwell, Thomas Burrow, Kamil Zvelebil, and Mikhail Andronov. This hypothesis has, however, been rejected by some specialists in Uralic languages, and has in recent times also been criticised by other Dravidian linguists such as Bhadriraju Krishnamurti.
In the early 1970s, the linguist David McAlpin produced a detailed proposal of a genetic relationship between Dravidian and the extinct Elamite language of ancient Elam (present-day southwestern Iran). The Elamo-Dravidian hypothesis was supported in the late 1980s by the archaeologist Colin Renfrew and the geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, who suggested that Proto-Dravidian was brought to India by farmers from the Iranian part of the Fertile Crescent. (In his 2000 book, Cavalli-Sforza suggested western India, northern India and northern Iran as alternative starting points.) However, linguists have found McAlpin's cognates unconvincing and criticized his proposed phonological rules as ad hoc. Elamite is generally believed by scholars to be a language isolate, and the theory has had no effect on studies of the language.
Dravidian is one of the primary language families in the Nostratic proposal, which would link most languages in North Africa, Europe and Western Asia into a family with its origins in the Fertile Crescent sometime between the last Ice Age and the emergence of Proto-Indo-European 4,000–6,000 BCE. However, the general consensus is that such deep connections are not, or not yet, demonstrable.
The origins of the Dravidian languages, as well as their subsequent development and the period of their differentiation are unclear, partially due to the lack of comparative linguistic research into the Dravidian languages. Though some scholars have argued that the Dravidian languages may have been brought to India by migrations in the fourth or third millennium BCE or even earlier, the Dravidian languages cannot easily be connected to any other language, and they could well be indigenous to India.[note 1] Proto-Dravidian was spoken in the 4th or 3rd millennium BCE, and it is thought that the Dravidian languages were the most widespread indigenous languages in the Indian subcontinent before the advance of the Indo-Aryan languages.
As a proto-language, the Proto-Dravidian language is not itself attested in the historical record. Its modern conception is based solely on reconstruction. It was suggested in the 1980s that the language was spoken in the 4th millennium BCE, and started disintegrating into various branches around 3rd millennium BCE. According to Krishnamurti, Proto-Dravidian may have been spoken in the Indus civilization, suggesting a "tentative date of Proto-Dravidian around the early part of the third millennium." Krishnamurti further states that South Dravidian I (including pre-Tamil) and South Dravidian II (including Pre-Telugu) split around the eleventh century BCE, with the other major branches splitting off at around the same time. Kolipakam et al. (2018) estimate the Dravidian language family to be approximately 4,500 years old.
The Indus Valley civilisation (3,300–1,900 BCE), located in Northwestern Indian subcontinent, is often understood to have been Dravidian. Already in 1924, when announcing the discovery of the IVC, John Marshall stated that (one of) the language(s) may have been Dravidic. Cultural and linguistic similarities have been cited by researchers Henry Heras, Kamil Zvelebil, Asko Parpola and Iravatham Mahadevan as being strong evidence for a proto-Dravidian origin of the ancient Indus Valley civilisation. The discovery in Tamil Nadu of a late Neolithic (early 2nd millennium BCE, i.e. post-dating Harappan decline) stone celt allegedly marked with Indus signs has been considered by some to be significant for the Dravidian identification.
Yuri Knorozov surmised that the symbols represent a logosyllabic script and suggested, based on computer analysis, an underlying agglutinative Dravidian language as the most likely candidate for the underlying language. Knorozov's suggestion was preceded by the work of Henry Heras, who suggested several readings of signs based on a proto-Dravidian assumption.
Linguist Asko Parpola writes that the Indus script and Harappan language are "most likely to have belonged to the Dravidian family". Parpola led a Finnish team in investigating the inscriptions using computer analysis. Based on a proto-Dravidian assumption, they proposed readings of many signs, some agreeing with the suggested readings of Heras and Knorozov (such as equating the "fish" sign with the Dravidian word for fish, "min") but disagreeing on several other readings. A comprehensive description of Parpola's work until 1994 is given in his book Deciphering the Indus Script.
Although in modern times speakers of the various Dravidian languages have mainly occupied the southern portion of India, in earlier times they probably were spoken in a larger area. After the Indo-Aryan migrations into north-western India, starting ca. 1500 BCE, and the establishment of the Kuru kingdom ca. 1100 BCE, a process of Sanskritisation started, which resulted in a language shift in northern India. Southern India has remained majority Dravidian, but pockets of Dravidian can be found in central India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
The Kurukh and Malto are pockets of Dravidian languages in central India, spoken by people who may have migrated from south India. They do have myths about external origins. The Kurukh have traditionally claimed to be from the Deccan Peninsula, more specifically Karnataka. The same tradition has existed of the Brahui, who call themselves immigrants. Holding this same view of the Brahui are many scholars  such as L. H. Horace Perera and M. Ratnasabapathy.
The Brahui population of Pakistan's Balochistan province has been taken by some as the linguistic equivalent of a relict population, perhaps indicating that Dravidian languages were formerly much more widespread and were supplanted by the incoming Indo-Aryan languages. However, it has been argued that the absence of any Old Iranian (Avestan) loanwords in Brahui suggests that the Brahui migrated to Balochistan from central India less than 1,000 years ago. The main Iranian contributor to Brahui vocabulary, Balochi, is a western Iranian language like Kurdish, and arrived in the area from the west only around 1,000 AD. Sound changes shared with Kurukh and Malto also suggest that Brahui was originally spoken near them in central India.
Dravidian languages show extensive lexical (vocabulary) borrowing, but only a few traits of structural (either phonological or grammatical) borrowing from Indo-Aryan, whereas Indo-Aryan shows more structural than lexical borrowings from the Dravidian languages. Many of these features are already present in the oldest known Indo-Aryan language, the language of the Rigveda (c. 1500 BCE), which also includes over a dozen words borrowed from Dravidian.
Vedic Sanskrit has retroflex consonants (ṭ/ḍ, ṇ) with about 88 words in the Rigveda having unconditioned retroflexes. Some sample words are Iṭanta, Kaṇva, śakaṭī, kevaṭa, puṇya and maṇḍūka. Since other Indo-European languages, including other Indo-Iranian languages, lack retroflex consonants, their presence in Indo-Aryan is often cited as evidence of substrate influence from close contact of the Vedic speakers with speakers of a foreign language family rich in retroflex consonants. The Dravidian family is a serious candidate since it is rich in retroflex phonemes reconstructible back to the Proto-Dravidian stage.
In addition, a number of grammatical features of Vedic Sanskrit not found in its sister Avestan language appear to have been borrowed from Dravidian languages. These include the gerund, which has the same function as in Dravidian, and the quotative marker iti. Some linguists explain this asymmetrical borrowing by arguing that Middle Indo-Aryan languages were built on a Dravidian substratum. These scholars argue that the most plausible explanation for the presence of Dravidian structural features in Indic is language shift, that is, native Dravidian speakers learning and adopting Indic languages. Although each of the innovative traits in Indic could be accounted for by internal explanations, early Dravidian influence is the only explanation that can account for all of the innovations at once; moreover, it accounts for several of the innovative traits in Indic better than any internal explanation that has been proposed.
The most characteristic grammatical features of Dravidian languages are:
Dravidian languages are noted for the lack of distinction between aspirated and unaspirated stops. While some Dravidian languages have accepted large numbers of loan words from Sanskrit and other Indo-Iranian languages in addition to their already vast vocabulary, in which the orthography shows distinctions in voice and aspiration, the words are pronounced in Dravidian according to different rules of phonology and phonotactics: aspiration of plosives is generally absent, regardless of the spelling of the word. This is not a universal phenomenon and is generally avoided in formal or careful speech, especially when reciting. For instance, Tamil does not distinguish between voiced and voiceless stops. In fact, the Tamil alphabet lacks symbols for voiced and aspirated stops. Dravidian languages are also characterized by a three-way distinction between dental, alveolar, and retroflex places of articulation as well as large numbers of liquids.
Proto-Dravidian had five short and long vowels: *a, *ā, *i, *ī, *u, *ū, *e, *ē, *o, *ō. There were no diphthongs; ai and au are treated as *ay and *av (or *aw). The five-vowel system is largely preserved in the descendent subgroups.
|Flap/Rhotics||*r||*ẓ (ḻ, r̤)|
|5||aintu||aidu||añcu||añji||ayN||ayidu||saiyuṇg||ayd 3||pancē (II)||panč (II)||*cay-m-||panc||pañca||pātc||panc||panj|
|6||āru||āṟu||āṟu||ār||āji||āṟu||sāruṇg||ār 3||soyyē (II)||šaš (II)||*cāṯu||che||ṣáṣ||sahā||śaś||śeś|
|7||ēẓu||ēlu||ēẓu||ēḻ||yēl||ēḍu||yeḍuṇg||ēḍ 3||sattē (II)||haft (II)||*ēẓ||sāt||saptá||sāt||hapt, haft||haft|
|8||eṭṭu||eṇṭu||eṭṭu||eṭṭ||enma||enimidi||armur||enumadī 3||aṭṭhē (II)||hašt (II)||*eṇṭṭu||āṭh||aṣṭá||āṭh||haśt||haśt|
|9||oṉpatu 5||ombattu||ompatu 5||oiymbad||ormba||tommidi||unmāk||tomdī 3||naiṃyē (II)||nōh (II)||*toḷ/*toṇ||nau||náva||nau||nuo||noh|
|10||pattu||hattu||pattu||patt||patt||padi||pad||padī 3||dassē (II)||dah (II)||*paH(tu)||das||dáśa||dahā||da||dah|
The earliest known Dravidian inscriptions are 76 Old Tamil inscriptions on cave walls in Madurai and Tirunelveli districts in Tamil Nadu, dating from the 2nd century BCE. These inscriptions are written in a variant of the Brahmi script called Tamil Brahmi. The earliest long text in Old Tamil is the Tolkāppiyam, an early work on Tamil grammar and poetics, whose oldest layers could date from the 1st century BCE.
... together with the evidence of archaeology would seem to suggest that the original Dravidian-speakers entered India from Iran in the fourth millennium BC ...
... More recently, about 15,000–10,000 years before present (ybp), when agriculture developed in the Fertile Crescent region that extends from Israel through northern Syria to western Iran, there was another eastward wave of human migration (Cavalli-Sforza et al., 1994; Renfrew 1987), a part of which also appears to have entered India. This wave has been postulated to have brought the Dravidian languages into India (Renfrew 1987). Subsequently, the Indo-European (Aryan) language family was introduced into India about 4,000 ybp ...
... The analysis of two Y chromosome variants, Hgr9 and Hgr3 provides interesting data (Quintan-Murci et al., 2001). Microsatellite variation of Hgr9 among Iranians, Pakistanis and Indians indicate an expansion of populations to around 9000 YBP in Iran and then to 6,000 YBP in India. This migration originated in what was historically termed Elam in south-west Iran to the Indus valley, and may have been associated with the spread of Dravidian languages from south-west Iran (Quintan-Murci et al., 2001). ...
It is generally accepted that Dravidian - with no identifiable cognates among the world's languages - was India's most widely distributed, indigenous language family when Indo-European speakers first intruded from the north-west 3,000 years ago
most scholars have taken the 'Dravidian hypothesis' seriously
Harappan language...prevailing theory indicates Dravidian origins
Dravidian people or Dravidians are speakers of any of the Dravidian languages. There are around 245 million native speakers of Dravidian languages. Dravidian speakers form the majority of the population of south India and are natively found in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Maldives and Sri Lanka.Proto-Dravidian may have been spoken in the Indus civilization, suggesting a "tentative date of Proto-Dravidian around the early part of the third millennium", after which it branched into various Dravidian languages. South Dravidian I (including pre-Tamil) and South Dravidian II (including pre-Telugu) split around the eleventh century BCE, with the other major branches splitting off at around the same time.The origins of the Dravidians are a "very complex subject of research and debate". They may have been indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, but origins in, or influence from, West-Asia have also been proposed. Their origins are often viewed as being connected with the Indus Valley Civilisation, whence people and language spread east- and southwards after the demise of the Indus Valley Civilisation in the early second century BCE, concurrently with Indo-Aryan speakers, with whom they intensively interacted. From these interactions and migrations arose eventually the so-called "Hindus synthesis", after 500 BCE.The third century BCE onwards saw the development of large Dravidian empires. Medieval Tamil guilds and trading organisations like the "Ayyavole and Manigramam" played an important role in the Southeast Asia trade. and the cultural Indianisation of the region.
Dravidian visual art is dominated by stylised Temple architecture in major centres, and the production of images of stone and bronze sculptures. The sculpture dating from the Chola period has become notable as a symbol of Hinduism.Dravido-Korean languages
Dravido-Koreanic, sometimes Dravido-Koreo-Japonic, is a controversial language family proposal which links the living or proto-Dravidian languages to Korean and (in some versions) to Japanese. A genetic link between the Dravidian languages and Korean was first hypothesized by Homer B. Hulbert in 1905. The hypothesis later gained "popularity" as a result of the work of Morgan E. Clippinger in his "Korean and Dravidian: lexical evidence for an old theory", published in 1984, and Susumu Ōno in his "The origin of the Japanese language" in 1970.
In 2011, Jung Nam Kim, president of the Korean Society of Tamil Studies, mentioned that the similarities between Korean and Dravidian are strong, but he also said that this does not prove a genetic link between Dravidian and Korean, and that more research needs to be done. He is sure that a genetic or areal connection exists, because the similarities are too strong to be only coincidence.Duruwa language
Dhurwa (Odia: ପରଜି, Devanagari: दुरुवा) or Parji is a Central Dravidian language spoken by the Dhurwa tribe, a scheduled tribe people of India, in the districts of Koraput and Bastar in Chhattisgarh state. The language is related to Ollari and Kolami, which is also spoken by other neighbouring tribes.Elamo-Dravidian languages
The Elamo-Dravidian language family is a hypothesised language family that links the Dravidian languages of India to the extinct Elamite language of ancient Elam (present-day southwestern Iran). Linguist David McAlpin has been a chief proponent of the Elamo-Dravidian hypothesis. According to McAlpin, the long-extinct Harappan language (the language or languages of the Indus Valley Civilization) might also have been part of this family. The hypothesis has gained attention in academic circles, but has been subject to serious criticism by linguists, and remains only one of several scenarios for the origins of the Dravidian languages. Elamite is accepted by scholars to be a language isolate, unrelated to any other known language.Gondi writing
Gondi has typically been written in Devanagari script or Telugu script, but native scripts are in existence. A Gond by the name of Munshi Mangal Singh Masaram designed a Brahmi-based script in 1918, and in 2006, a native script that dates up to 1750 has been discovered by a group of researchers from the University of Hyderabad.
Nonetheless, most Gonds are unaware of their well developed language and do not use any script now. The Gunjala Gondi Lipi has witnessed a surge in prominence, and well-supported efforts are being undertaken in villages of northern Andhra Pradesh to widen its usage.Kolami language
Kolami (Northwestern Kolami) is a tribal Central Dravidian language spoken in Maharashtra and Telangana. It falls under the Kolami–Naiki group of languages. It is the most widely spoken Central Dravidian language.
Sathupati Prasanna Sree has developed a unique script for use with the language.Konda language (Dravidian)
Konda, also known as Konda-Dora, is one of the Dravidian languages spoken in India. It is spoken by the scheduled tribe of the Konda-Dora who mostly live in the districts of Vizianagaram, Srikakulam, and East Godavari in Andhra Pradesh, Koraput district in Odisha and Assam. It is sometimes written in Telugu script and Odia Script. Some text books have been developed for schools up to 5th standard.A unique writing system was developed by Sathupati Prasanna Sree for use with the language.Koya language
Koya is a South-Central Dravidian language of the Gondi–Kui group spoken by the Koya people. It is sometimes described as a dialect of Gondi (spoken in Adilabad district in Telangana and in Gondwana region of Central India), but it is possibly mutually unintelligible with Gondi dialects.Koya is the language spoken by the tribal community in Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), Bhadrachalam in Khammam district; ITDA, Rampachodavaram, East Godavari district; ITDA, Kotaramachandrapuram, West Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh. There are also Koyas in Chhattisgarh State.
Koya is variously written in the Oriya, Telugu, Devanagari or Latin script. Sathupati Prasanna Sree has also developed a unique script for use with the Koya language. With 270,994 registered native speakers, it figures at rank 37 in the 1991 Indian census. There are textbooks developed in Koya language under Mother Tongue based Multilingual Education Programme by Government of Andhra Pradesh and implemented in 50 primary schools in Koya habitations.Kui language (India)
Kui (କୁଇ)(also Kandh, Khondi, Khond, Khondo, Kanda, Kodu (Kōdu), Kodulu, Kuinga (Kūinga), Kuy) is a South-Central Dravidian language spoken by the Khonds. It is mostly spoken in Odisha, and written in the Odia script. With 641,662 registered native speakers, it figures at rank 29 in the 1991 Indian census. The Kui language was also referred to as the Kalinga language during the historical period.
Distinct but closely related are the Gondi and Kuvi languagesList of English words of Dravidian origin
This is a list of English words that are borrowed directly or ultimately from Dravidian languages. Dravidian languages include Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, and a number of other languages spoken mainly in South Asia. The list is by no means exhaustive.
Some of the words can be traced to specific languages, but others have disputed or uncertain origins. Words of disputed or less certain origin are in the "Dravidian languages" list. Where lexicographers generally agree on a source language, the words are listed by language.Madiya language
Madiya or Maria is a Dravidian language spoken in India. It may be regarded as a dialect of Gondi, but is suspected to be mutually unintelligible with most other Gondi varieties.Malasar language
Malasar (Malayar) is an unclassified Southern Dravidian language spoken by a Scheduled tribe of India. It is close to Eravallan.Malto language
Malto or Paharia or, rarely, archaically, Rajmahali is a Northern Dravidian language spoken primarily in East India.Pengo language
Pengo is a South-Central Dravidian language spoken in Odisha. Most speakers are fluent in Oriya.Proto-Dravidian language
Proto-Dravidian is the linguistic reconstruction of the common ancestor of the Dravidian languages. It is thought to have differentiated into Proto-North Dravidian, Proto-Central Dravidian, and Proto-South Dravidian, although the date of diversification is still debated.Tamil language
Tamil (; தமிழ் Tamiḻ [t̪ɐmɨɻ], pronunciation ) is a Dravidian language predominantly spoken by the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka, and by the Tamil diaspora, Sri Lankan Moors, Douglas, and Chindians. Tamil is an official language of two countries: Sri Lanka and Singapore and official language of the Indian state Tamil Nadu. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry. It is used as one of the languages of education in Malaysia, along with English, Malay and Mandarin. Tamil is spoken by significant minorities in the four other South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India.
Tamil is one of the longest-surviving classical languages in the world. A. K. Ramanujan described it as "the only language of contemporary India which is recognizably continuous with a classical past." The variety and quality of classical Tamil literature has led to it being described as "one of the great classical traditions and literatures of the world".A recorded Tamil literature has been documented for over 2000 years. The earliest period of Tamil literature, Sangam literature, is dated from ca. 300 BC – AD 300. It has the oldest extant literature among Dravidian languages. The earliest epigraphic records found on rock edicts and 'hero stones' date from around the 3rd century BC. More than 55% of the epigraphical inscriptions (about 55,000) found by the Archaeological Survey of India are in the Tamil language. Tamil language inscriptions written in Brahmi script have been discovered in Sri Lanka and on trade goods in Thailand and Egypt. The two earliest manuscripts from India, acknowledged and registered by the UNESCO Memory of the World register in 1997 and 2005, were written in Tamil.In 1578, Portuguese Christian missionaries published a Tamil prayer book in old Tamil script named Thambiran Vanakkam, thus making Tamil the first Indian language to be printed and published. The Tamil Lexicon, published by the University of Madras, was one of the earliest dictionaries published in the Indian languages. According to a 2001 survey, there were 1,863 newspapers published in Tamil, of which 353 were dailies.Tamil–Kannada languages
Tamil–Kannada is an inner branch (Zvelebil 1990:56) of the Southern Dravidian I (SDr I) subfamily of the Dravidian languages that include Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam. (There have been slight differences in the way Dravidian languages are grouped by various Dravidian linguists: See Subrahmanyam 1983, Zvelebil 1990, Krishnamurthi 2003). Tamil–Kannada itself is designated as a branch of the South Dravidian I subfamily and in turn branches off into Tamil–Kodagu and Kannada–Badaga. The languages that constitute the Tamil–Kannada branch are Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Irula, Toda, Kota, Kodava, and Badaga. (Zvelebil 1990:56)
According to R. C. Hiremath, Director of International School of Dravidian Linguistics in Trivandrum, the separation of Tamil and Kannada into independent languages from the Tamil–Kannada inner branch started with the separation of Tulu in about 1500 BCE and completed in about 300 BCE.
Kannada, Tamil and Malayalam are recognized among the official languages of India and are spoken mainly in South India. All three are officially recognized as classical languages by the Government of India, along with Sanskrit, Telugu, and Oriya.Thachanadan language
Thachanadan is an unclassified Southern Dravidian language spoken by a Scheduled tribe of India. Dissimilar to other Dravidian languages, its most likely affinities are to Mullu Kurumba, with which it has 66-72% lexical similarity.Urali language
Urali is southern Dravidian language that is closely related to Kannada.
Major languages of South Asia
Italics indicate extinct languages (no surviving native speakers and no spoken descendant)
and the Pacific