How old is Proto-Dravidian?

Discussion in 'Religion & Culture' started by Singh, Aug 4, 2013.

  1. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    A new paper claims that there existed a super linguistic ancestor, older than Proto-Indo-European, around 15,000 years back.

    According to linguists, there is a relation between the Sanskrit word satam, Latin centum, Old Saxon hunderod and Lithuanian simtas; these words derived from a common word in an ancestral language named Proto-Indo-European (PIE). The word in this theoretical ancestral language was deduced by listing the daughter terms and applying some linguistic sound change rules to figure out if the daughter terms were cognates of the mother term. Using this technique, a substantial vocabulary has been constructed for PIE, which is assumed to have been spoken between 4000 – 3500 BCE to 2500 BCE.

    In India, about 75 percent of the population speaks a language that belongs to the Indo-European family (Hindi, Bengali, Marathi among others and 22 percent speak languages belonging to the Dravidian language family (Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam). While Indo-European languages are spoken mostly in North India, Dravidian languages are spoken in South India. This fact, along with some interpretations that the Indus-Saraswati script is Dravidian, has led to a theory that the Indo-European speakers came from outside India and pushed the Dravidian autochthons to the South of the peninsula. This is a contentious issue even now, popping up in elections speeches by Dravidian politicians who like to split people as ‘us’ versus ‘them’.

    In the midst of this Aryan controversy, as it is popularly known, comes a new paper which claims that there existed a super linguistic ancestor, older than Proto-Indo-European, around 15,000 years back. The authors identified a class of words whose sound meaning lasted long enough to retain traces of their ancestry between language families separated by millennia. While half of the words in various languages are replaced by a new word roughly every two to four millennia, the authors argue that there are some ultra-conserved words that live as old as ten to twenty millennia. These words, which include adjectives, pronouns and special adverbs (Thou, Not, To Give, Mother Fire), are spread over such diverse language families as Indo-European and Dravidian.

    Another interesting piece of information from the paper is regarding the date when Pro-Dravidian split from the ancestral language and when Proto-Dravidian speakers moved to the subcontinent. One of the first language families to split from this Eurasiatic ancestor was Proto-Dravidian, which was around 14,000 years back, much earlier than Proto-Indo-European. These Proto-Dravidian speakers expanded from Central Asia to South Asia and reached a region at the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan from where they were displaced by Indo-European speakers much later. Though the model does not specify when the Dravidian languages evolved from Proto-Dravidian, it is clear that the evolution happened in the subcontinent. There are some who believe that Dravidian speakers lived in the Indus-Saraswati area until the invading Indo-European speakers displaced them and this model augments that theory.

    So far there has been no consensus on the origins of Dravidian and only speculation on the time and place of the distinctive origins of its speakers. Some scholars have put their origins around 4000 BCE in Northeastern Iran from where they moved to India. However there have not been any traces of Dravidian languages outside India, which makes the external origins of Dravidian, a challenge to explain. Regarding Proto-Dravidian itself, a date of 3000 BCE was previously suggested which others claimed was in the realm of ‘guesswork’. But the new paper not only suggests a much older time frame for Proto-Dravidian, but also a Central Asian origin which disagrees many previous theories. For example, one theory argues that there was no Dravidian influence in the early Rig Veda; Dravidian lone words appear only in subsequent stages suggesting that Dravidian speakers arrived around the same time as the Indo-European speakers in North-West India.

    With the new discovery, does this paper change the chronology of events and change the narrative of Indian history? It is too early to get into the impact of an earlier date for Proto-Dravidian as other linguists have panned the paper; it seems the paper has a “garbage in, garbage out” problem. The semantic looseness with which the reconstructions have been made of Indo-European words has been extreme and does not agree with the consensus. For example, taking one of the reconstructed words, one linguist was able to show that the word had the meaning “with the teeth, biting together” in Greek and “reach, strike” in Sanskrit. The problem was not just with the semantic interpretation; the Sanskrit word that was reconstructed did not match with the word in the Indo-European database. Since there are doubts on some reconstructions, the relationships among such words in different family trees are questionable.

    But the bigger problem is this. After five to nine millennia, most words change so much in their meaning that it is hard to figure out other words, which originated from the same ancestor. Sometimes you don’t have to go that far either as words change quite a lot within a couple of millennia. Thus a sentence in one language family would be incomprehensible to a member of another language family even if they derived from the same ancestor as seen from the difference in meaning in Sanskrit and ancient Greek of the same word. Due to all this, critics have mentioned that the paper is of poor academic quality, displayed poor knowledge of linguistic geography and linguistic history. Thus even though this paper claimed a sensational finding, the origins of Proto-Dravidian and Dravidian continues to remain in the realm of guesswork.

    References:

    Pagel, Mark, Quentin D. Atkinson, Andreea S. Calude, and Andrew Meade. “Ultraconserved Words Point to Deep Language Ancestry Across Eurasia.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (May 6, 2013). doi:10.1073/pnas.1218726110.

    Singh, Upinder. A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century. 1st ed. Prentice Hall, 2009.

    Bryant, Edwin. The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Oxford University Press, USA, 2004.

    Anthony, David W. The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World. Reprint. Princeton University Press, 2010.

    Ultraconserved words? Really?? by Sally Thomason at Language Log “Do ‘Ultraconserved Words’ Reveal Linguistic Macro-Families?” GeoCurrents.

    How old is Proto-Dravidian?
     
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  3. Ravenclaw

    Ravenclaw New Member

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    I personally believe that humans came to india from two paths one from ethiopia and crossing the sea to come to south india and one through mid east and through oman and bactria coming to indus valley(ANI) .The PIE developed independently whereas people coming to south India (ASI) developed another group of languages Proto-dravidian. The to language group in India influenced each other and their common culture shapes the modern Indian culture. Though I am seriously against AIT or AMT but I won't suggest that PIE homeland was in india because we don't know at all where it was. ANI-ASI mixture makes modern indians and it happened 12000 years ago so we can rejoice the continuities in our civilization.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2013
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  4. afako

    afako Regular Member

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    Another BS pre-extension of the AIT. Under AIT, the Proto Indo European Language formed in Russian Steppes which migrated with Aryans to India displacing the Dravidians,

    Now the Dravidians also came from Steppes much earlier than Aryans and settled in India. :rofl:

    The new construct according to this thesis is:

    1) Proto Dravidian split from ancestor of PIE and Dravidians migrated and settled in Bakistan.

    2) After millenniums, PIE evolved in the Steppes and a branch migrated to India along with Aryans displacing the Dravidians.

    The former are North Indians and the latter South Indians.

    The original paper work:

    Ultraconserved words point to deep language ancestry across Eurasia

    The rebuttal:

    http://aryaninvasionmyth.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/eurasiatic-review-of-pagel-2013.ppsx
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2013
  5. Decklander

    Decklander New Member

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    I had been waiting for someone like you to answer this. India broke away from Africa and drifted to hit against Asia plate. The life forms which were part of this broken away land developed in isolation of the world. next was the inflow out of African via arab world when India had joined the Asian Plate. This population came to India and mixed with original Indian population and than migrated to central asia and europe. Calling Indian languages proto-Dravidian is like calling a son father of his father. The European Languages developed from Indian languages.
     
  6. Ravenclaw

    Ravenclaw New Member

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    what do you mean "someone like you" !? :confused:
    I absolutely agree with you on this point but the life-forms did not include homo-sapiens. Humans from africa reached south of india through horn of africa, crossing the indian ocean (according to me they formed the ASI group). I urge you to look at the pathways through which humans spread, it will be more clear then. They according to me reached India much earlier just like you said and developed a independent culture. Another branch crossing mid-east and through west asia reached India later than the ASI and they branched somewhere in Indus valley, pakistan or south central asia, one branch populating Eurasia and another India. The R1a1 or M17 mutation happened during this time. This branch coming through west-asia comprises the ANI group. Note this happened almost 20000-12000 YBP (I do not know the exact millennia) so no way I am suggesting some AIT or AMT. Theses prehistoric Indian population intermingled and their collective phenotype, genotype and culture shapes the modern indic population.
     
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  7. Decklander

    Decklander New Member

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    The Jarawa tribals have survived in complete isolation for all these 100k years. They did not reach Andamans by the route taken by other Homo sapiens AND Modern men or the neandarthals. If they cud survive on those Islands, it is wrong to assume that men on the indian plate wud not have survived. Did it ever occur to you as to why most animals native to Africa are also native to India but do not have Arab world as thr habitat.
     
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  8. Decklander

    Decklander New Member

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    If you do a bit of research you will find that thr exists another route to migration which is Africa to India to SE Asia to China and Australia. The Chinese branch crossed over to America. This route is called the abroginal route as a very clear DNA link has been established and this migration is supposed to have happened in 60-50k YBP. A large number of South Indians have been found to carry this DNA trait in them.
    Regarding this bullshit about Aryans coming down from steppes to populate India, I wish to tell you that there is very clear DNA link which suggests people moving out of India to CIS and Europe and not the otherway around.
    It is quite possible that these Indians came back towards India during the second Ice Age (3500Bc-2000BC) as India was still a warmer place compared to rest of Asia.
     
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  9. Ravenclaw

    Ravenclaw New Member

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    Existence of words common to IE and dravidian pretty much makes the case for south asian origin of IE language even stronger as it is impossible for dravidian languages to originate outside from India and as there are common words in both PIE and dravidian, their place or origination could not be much farther from each other. Claiming dravidian originated as well in the steppes and migrated before IE dispersal pretty much sums it up about how Bullshit AIT (AMT whatever) is. It's eurocentric, blind and absolute rape of an ancient culture.
     
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  10. Subramanian

    Subramanian Regular Member

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    I believe these archaeology discussions are frankly useless and irrelevant today.
     

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