14 May, 2021

When The World Met The Dravidian Family

This is also the bicentennial of the event that made the Dravidian identity possible: the publishing of proof, in 1816, that this was a distinct language family

When The World Met The Dravidian Family

Two great historical discoveries of world-wide importance were made in India in early colonial India: of the Indo-European language family, and of the Dravidian language family.

India had long developed a sophisticated linguistic science—more advanced than that of other ancient civilisations. Analysis of Sanskrit is associated with the great linguist Panini, in the north. In the south, analysis of Tamil with Tolkappiyar. The grammars of these two are but the highest peaks of a mountain of linguistic scholarship in ancient India.

For the north, the original impetus was the need to replicate exactly the hymns of the Veda. For the south, it was to establish rules for poetic language, based upon the ancient anthologies of Tamil courtly poetry, the Sangam Literature as it is called. 

Indian linguistic analysis had made significant breakthroughs. It provided the basis for the logical sequencing of the Brahmi script, from which most scripts of India are descended, as well as scripts used in Tibet, Mongolia and most of Southeast Asia, as far east as the...

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