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Facts About Dravidian Language

Facts About Dravidian Language
(Last Updated On: April 7, 2021)

The Dravidian language family has more than 70 languages spoken across South Asia. More than 200 million people speak Dravidian languages in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, the Maldives, Bhutan, and Nepal. South Dravidian I and South Dravidian II split in the Eleventh century. After that other major groups were also formed. Although they were divided into groups and subgroups, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada are amongst the most popular ones still spoken. They are used in administrative offices in India. These are not just regional or classical tongues but are also official languages of Indian states such as Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka. We know as much but its genetic origin is still a mystery.


History Of The Dravidian Language

Before knowing more about the native tongues of India, why not talk about their origin. Fun fact, Dravidian languages belong to Dravidian people. The name came from this ethnolinguistic group and not the other way around. Before division into subgroups, Proto-Dravidian was prevalent in South India. It is associated with the Indus valley civilization and dates back to the 3rd Millennium.

Even though the Proto-Dravidian origin is a matter of debate, many authors consider this 4500-year-old language to be the tongue of the Indian Sub-continent. Considering there are still millions of native speakers of the Dravidian family in India, we can assume that it’s true, at least partially. The history of this linguistic group is particularly interesting because it was prevailing long before the incoming Indo-Aryan languages in 1500 BCE. Researchers have also collected data that indicates wider use of Dravidian vocabulary in the west and other regions during that period.

Facts about Dravidian Language

When a tongue is as old as thousands of years, finding linguistic evidence becomes harder. Luckily, this influential linguistic family is not just around, it also has Modern times speakers as well. How? well, let’s find out.


Unlike most modern linguistics which drifted apart from their parent language, Tamil still has many native words. This could be due to the fact that many older texts in India are still preserved in written forms. And the same literature is still read and written. Tamil speakers are everywhere, even in London, the USA, and Canada. Limiting Tamil to South Asia is not right. If you’re looking for Tamil translation services, check this out.

Interestingly, it is found that Tamil still has the same cognates, phonological pairs, syllable structure, and verb usage. This iconic correlation leads to the belief that Tamil was actually the parent Dravidian language. However, some of the syllables are removed and replaced in some words in the modern version. It is important to note here that Tamil is still used in India in administrative and official tasks.

It Might Be Indian Afterall

Like we mentioned before, no concrete evidence has been found about the Dravidian origin. The prehistory of the spoken tongues in India also unravels a rather different aspect.

Keeping the migration theories in mind, inhabitants from Africa, Europe, and other regions came to the Indian Sub-Continent some 70, 000 years ago. Now it is not clear whether the Dravidian language family came into existence as an amalgamation. Or they were already spoken in the region by the natives. But the similarities between living languages aren’t genetic but rather situational and evolutionary. So, it’s true that Dravidian was heavily influenced by other linguistics at the time but it definitely was prevalent before migration. Moreover, Native Dravidians were present in the region before the arrival of Indo-European speakers in India.


Inspired By Culture

It’s funny how we always think of languages as a part of the culture. When in fact, cultures shape languages too. Just like in this case.

The Davidians were farmers and hunter-gatherers. Agriculture was their common trade. They reconstructed the meanings of the common items and created a common language for communication. Families in their culture lived in individual houses. Domesticated animals and birds, metal tools, arms, weapons, household items, and a lot of other stuff were named for the sake of communicating with other Dravidian speakers. The addition of these words was continuous. Starting from the Neolithic age to the Asian farmers of the 5th century, the Dravidian language family became extravagant.

This mixture of east and west Indus Periphery lead to a mixed genetic composition of the Dravidian people. Different communities took different forms and are using these variants to date. This collection of subgrouping also paved the road for better relationships between cities and countries. Linguists did a critical analysis of the languages that people were speaking before the arrival of the Indo-Aryan speakers. And they conclude that among the two source languages, one was Proto-Dravidian. This was the same language used by Neolithic farmers and hunters.

Unknown Geographical Origin 

Researchers have used different statistical methods to infer data on how old this set of linguistics is. However, they couldn’t find the source where it started. India is undeniably the country with the most Dravidian speakers today. But we can’t say with utmost certainty that it was born in South Asia.

Anthropologists have found inscriptions in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka which are a merger of Indo-Iranian and Old Tamil. Old symbols have also been found in many places that refer to the underlying language similar to Dravidian. This fact indicates that even in that period, migration led to the formation of new words and sentences. But all this mixed evidence from different civilizations causes even more ambiguity. Linguists agree with the suggestion that in order to find a better explanation, more samples will be required.

How To Learn More About The Dravidian Languages?

A book that covers all the aspects of the Dravidian languages is the best place to start. Since it’s an ancient one, you can expect to go through a lot of information. Such books are most suitable for scholars. It is because they write articles on different topics themselves. Many authors from India have written a lot about the Dravidian language family.

However, if you need to learn about the introduction, categories, establishment, and reconstruction of the Dravidian family of languages in India, you can find a lot of help through Wikipedia. It is a great help for individuals who want to learn about things in detail. Apart from that, you can order books online. You can either place your order via email. Or join a forum where linguistic discussions take place often. To gain access to such forums, you’ll have to sign up. Become a member. And visit the site frequently.

The next way to access the linguistic world is an old-school way. Get a library card. Read the terms and conditions. You can find dozens of books on linguistic etymology, origin, innovations, and sources. In the light of these books, you can derive your own conclusions. They can be a part of your thesis. Discuss them with your professor and maybe impress them with the linguistic evidence you have found.

The Mystery

The only mystery left to this linguistic family is the mystery of its origin. But this shouldn’t be allowed to eliminate or lessen its beauty. It has been more than a language to the Indian region. It was a way of living for millions and a loved and cherished native tongue in many forms, even today.

So if you have a love for ethnolinguistic research, we encourage you to learn more about the beautiful and diverse Dravidian language family.


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