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Thread: Dravidian language family is approximately 4,500 years

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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.

    Dravidian language family is approximately 4,500 years



    The origin of the Dravidian language family, consisting of about 80 varieties spoken by 220 million people across southern and central India and surrounding countries, can be dated to about 4,500 years ago. This estimate is based on new linguistic analyses by an international team, including researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, that used data collected first-hand from native speakers representing all previously reported Dravidian subgroups. These findings, published in Royal Society Open Science, match well with earlier linguistic and archaeological studies.

    An important group for understanding human dispersals from Africa and later large-scale migrations

    South Asia, reaching from Afghanistan in the west and Bangladesh in the east, is home to at least six hundred languages belonging to six large language families, including Dravidian, Indo-European, and Sino-Tibetan. The Dravidian language family, consisting of about 80 language varieties (both languages and dialects) is today spoken by about 220 million people, mostly in southern and central India but also in surrounding countries. Its four largest languages, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu have literary traditions spanning centuries, of which Tamil reaches back the furthest. Along with Sanskrit, Tamil is one of the world's classical languages, but unlike Sanskrit, there is continuity between its classical and modern forms documented in inscriptions, poems, and secular and religious texts and songs.

    "The study of the Dravidian languages is crucial for understanding prehistory in Eurasia, as they played a significant role in influencing other language groups," explains corresponding author Annemarie Verkerk of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. Neither the geographical origin of the Dravidian language nor its exact dispersal through time is known with certainty. The consensus of the research community is that the Dravidians are natives of the Indian subcontinent and were present prior to the arrival of the Indo-Aryans (Indo-European speakers) in India around 3,500 years ago. It is likely that the Dravidian languages were much more widespread to the west in the past than they are today.

    Advanced statistical methods and hand-collected data lead to robust results

    In order to examine questions about when and where the Dravidian languages developed, the researchers made a detailed investigation of the historical relationships of 20 Dravidian varieties. Study author Vishnupriya Kolipakam of the Wildlife Institute of India collected contemporary first-hand data from native speakers of a diverse sample of Dravidian languages, representing all the previously reported subgroups of Dravidian.

    The researchers used advanced statistical methods to infer the age and subgrouping of the Dravidian language family at about 4,000-4,500 years old. This estimate, while in line with suggestions from previous linguistic studies, is a more robust result because it was found consistently in the majority of the different statistical models of evolution tested in this study. This age also matches well with inferences from archaeology, which have previously placed the diversification of Dravidian into North, Central, and South branches at exactly this age, coinciding with the beginnings of cultural developments evident in the archaeological record.

    Future research would be needed to clarify the relationships between these branches and to examine the geographical history of the language family. "Here we have a really exciting opportunity to investigate the interactions between these people, and other cultural groups in the area such as Indo-European and Austro-Asiatic on one of the great crossroads of human prehistory," states author Simon Greenhill of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

    Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-03-lingui...amily.html#jCp

    A Bayesian phylogenetic study of the Dravidian language family

    Abstract

    The Dravidian language family consists of about 80 varieties (Hammarström H. 2016 Glottolog 2.7) spoken by 220 million people across southern and central India and surrounding countries (Steever SB. 1998 In The Dravidian languages (ed. SB Steever), pp. 1–39: 1). Neither the geographical origin of the Dravidian language homeland nor its exact dispersal through time are known. The history of these languages is crucial for understanding prehistory in Eurasia, because despite their current restricted range, these languages played a significant role in influencing other language groups including Indo-Aryan (Indo-European) and Munda (Austroasiatic) speakers. Here, we report the results of a Bayesian phylogenetic analysis of cognate-coded lexical data, elicited first hand from native speakers, to investigate the subgrouping of the Dravidian language family, and provide dates for the major points of diversification. Our results indicate that the Dravidian language family is approximately 4500 years old, a finding that corresponds well with earlier linguistic and archaeological studies. The main branches of the Dravidian language family (North, Central, South I, South II) are recovered, although the placement of languages within these main branches diverges from previous classifications. We find considerable uncertainty with regard to the relationships between the main branches.

    http://rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/5/3/171504


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    3 out of 3 members found this post helpful.
    Increasingly, I'm convinced (until I'm proven wrong, of course) that the Dravidians aren't the original genetic and linguistic landscape of the pre-Aryan India. Not that no Dravidian-speaking or Dravidian-like existed in India before ~1,500 BC, but, as Razib Khan asserted with much more knowledge of this subject in one of his recent posts, I think the specific Dravidian language family and the Dravidian cultures were, like the Indo-Aryans, a northern/northwestern cluster that descended southward to occupy much of India, possibly at least partially under the pressure of encroaching Indo-Aryan societies.

    I wouldn't be surprised if they end up being legitimate descendants of at least an offshoot of the IVC - I don't really think the entire IVC area spoke just one language - that expanded eastward and then southward (pioneers of a new colony?) after the IVC was possibly engulfed in an increasingly unsolvable decline, possibly beginning with worse natural conditions or even natural disasters, leading to overpopulation and more conflicts and land disputes, and then growing lack of safety with the warrior pastoralists all around them.

    (I don't think it was that different from the situation in Medieval Central Asia, with the fruitful, centuries-long but ultimately destructive - for Iranians - relationship between the Iranic-speaking urban, civilized Sogdians and Bactrians and the rural Turkic nomads around them, for a long time in a kind of tense symbiosis). That would also fit nicely with the assumed links between Dravidian and Elamite and the finding that Dravidians are much more Iranian_Neolithic compared to the much more Steppe_Bronze Age Indo-Aryan speakers.

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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    Very interesting. I would have thought that Dravidian had an older origin, as its speakers lived in India from time immemorial. The question is why did it start branching off into different languages only 4000 to 4500 years ago. As Ygorcs said above, it could be that the Dravidian speakers came from the Indus Valley Civilisation and were pushed south by the invading Indo-Aryans. Thus, they would have had a unified language during the IVC period, then their migration south would have split them in separate groups, each evolving its own dialect, then language. If that is the case, we would still need to assess how similar are modern Dravidians to IVC people autosomally. Were they just a small elite moving south and mixing with the locals, or did they mostly replace the indigenous inhabitants of South India? I think that the former is more likely.
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    languages don't arise from nowhere like this - what is in question here is the very precise ancestor of today Dravidian dialects - ATW Maciamo, I find your point senseful; since a long time I think IVC could have had a Dravidian dialect as principal dialect and maybe general 'koinê' ; anDNA does not preach the contrary - but I think a previous state of language could have existed linking these Dravidians to the dialects of Elam and some of Sumer; I would be very glad to know the "distances" between today Dravidian dialects and other families -IE, Sino-Thibetan, others of Asia or even East Africa.
    Concerning Sumer, some old teeth surveys seem confirming exchanges between ancient Mesopotamia and far Central-Eastern regions of Asia (at least something not too far from Hindu Kush mountains: Thibetan like people?). I have not red confirmation but? So exchanges and a vaste region where the languages of the most evolved cultures could expand?

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    In the discussion section at Razib Khan's site:

    " the reich lab has results that are somewhat different from what we thought. suffice to say that they do strongly believe that there was an intrusion from the steppe. the ANI and ASI are somewhat different than we have thought (not too much, but different enough to change the story somewhat).
    it is clear that over the time the book was written david reich assumed that the india paper would be published by now. so it has some empirical findings which i’ve not seen in their papers. i’ve heard rumors of conflict btwn indians and non-indians on the bigger project on conclusions holding up publication. they have to go their separate ways.

    Also, as per the likes of Anthony & Kuzmina, the Sintashta Arkaim culture and the derived Andronovo is the Indo-Iranian culture that later enters South Asia.
    the genetic data does not indicate that most of the ANI is like sintashta or andronovo though. at least the samples we have. the ‘steppe’ component looks more like yamnna."

    So much for the weeks and weeks of modeling that was supposed to PROVE it was Andronovo and Sintashta like. :)


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    I don't know what is characteristic about the Andronovo/Sintashta admixture, but is it at least theoretically possible that it changed back to a more Yamnaya-like admixture after an offshoot of them expanded more southward into Central Asia and the eastern Iranian Plateau, possibly picking up more CHG and/or EEF along the way? I really don't know, so I'm just asking. The Indo-Iranian languages always looked much closer to Baltic and Slavic languages, in territories which are most certainly much more shifted toward Corded Ware and subsequent derivations of that culture... Now if Indo-Iranian is directly derived from Yamnaya, even linguistic assumptions will have to be rethought.

    As for the reported conflicts with Indians in the pre-publication of that paper, oh my I can only imagine the true picture! The Indian - both the Indo-European speaking and the Dravidian speaking - nationalists are some of the more rabid and deluded I've ever met. Just yesterday, on another social network, I was reading the furious reactions to this study about the dating of Proto-Dravidian especially by Tamil nationalists, who insist that not only Tamil is much older than that, but that Tamil is the single oldest language of the world and, more than that, the ultimate mother language of all other language families and the direct ancestor of PIE and all the IE languages. On the other hand, there are the Indo-Aryans, glad to know that Proto-Dravidian is not that old, insisting that of course the IVC was Indo-European and the Aryans have been in India since immemorial times. It must be really difficult to work as a scientist investigating the ancient genetic and linguistic landscape of India in such an environment full of over the top sensitivity/defensiveness and ultra-nationalist myths and delusions.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by MOESAN View Post
    languages don't arise from nowhere like this - what is in question here is the very precise ancestor of today Dravidian dialects - ATW Maciamo, I find your point senseful; since a long time I think IVC could have had a Dravidian dialect as principal dialect and maybe general 'koinê' ; anDNA does not preach the contrary - but I think a previous state of language could have existed linking these Dravidians to the dialects of Elam and some of Sumer; I would be very glad to know the "distances" between today Dravidian dialects and other families -IE, Sino-Thibetan, others of Asia or even East Africa.
    Concerning Sumer, some old teeth surveys seem confirming exchanges between ancient Mesopotamia and far Central-Eastern regions of Asia (at least something not too far from Hindu Kush mountains: Thibetan like people?). I have not red confirmation but? So exchanges and a vaste region where the languages of the most evolved cultures could expand?
    Proto-Dravidian was probably just one more successful and lucky of a group of languages in a language family that ceased to exist, much like Latin in relation to other Italic languages. Maybe it survived exactly because it shifted to the center/south of India and began to re-expand from there, instead of being sweeped away by Indo-Aryan languages and maybe, initially, even other language groups. Proto-Dravidian was just the remnant, not the language of South Asia at that time. It probably even caused the extinction of other language families and absorbed other similar languages of the same Pre-Proto-Dravidian family, since it became a direct competitor with Indo-Aryan in sheer expansion throughout India (and the fact that Indo-Aryan shows a lot of Dravidian or Dravidian-like substrate indicates for me that once they were much closer to each other and interacted on a regular basis, not spreading through entirely distinct and distant territories). I think there must be something in the perceived similarities between Dravidian and Elamite, especially because we know that the Neolithic of India was mainly driven and developed by people who had a lot of affinity to Neolithic Iranians, exactly the land of Elam, which was probably an indigenous civilization and certainly the oldest sophisticated civilization of Iran.

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    I few things I would like to say. What is the likelihood that the iran_N (either Zagros or south Caspian) migrants (who would later on make the IVC) ended up displacing the native settlements (like a proto-civilization/culture which would have existed from ~8,000 BCE to 4500 BCE) before them (and ushered in the copper age in south Asia at the same time). Kind of like an early parallel for the Aryan invasion.

    Furthermore- as for ANI being more like Yamnaya than Andronovo- could this be because a left-over Afanasevo-like population mixed with Andronovo, thus making their descendants (and by extension ANI) more Yamnaya-like? Also, what is the combined EHG contribution to the current hypothetical ANI models?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    I don't know what is characteristic about the Andronovo/Sintashta admixture, but is it at least theoretically possible that it changed back to a more Yamnaya-like admixture after an offshoot of them expanded more southward into Central Asia and the eastern Iranian Plateau, possibly picking up more CHG and/or EEF along the way? I really don't know, so I'm just asking. The Indo-Iranian languages always looked much closer to Baltic and Slavic languages, in territories which are most certainly much more shifted toward Corded Ware and subsequent derivations of that culture... Now if Indo-Iranian is directly derived from Yamnaya, even linguistic assumptions will have to be rethought.
    What? mixing with more EEF? Wouldn't that make the ancestors of ANI LESS Yamnaya-like? I think that either mixing with iran_N (and WHG enriched) BMAC and/or mixing with a remnant of the Afanasevo populations are the only things that can make a Sintashta population *more* Yamnaya-like.

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