Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Usefulness of Genetic Horoscope - i

One reason the tests have proved controversial is that they can measure only the genes that studies have linked to certain conditions - not the many that have yet to be discovered.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Terror Risk in India - Update

From Rediff news,(Ashamed to quote from a vulgar mainstream site...but I can't help it)

"We have a principle which supports a consistent process of having a pre-tour inspection and assessment before every tour," Young was quoted as saying by The Australian newspaper.

The newspaper further adds that there have been suggestions from the subcontinent that some cricketers who are now refusing to tour Pakistan stayed in India playing in the Indian Premier League despite the serial blasts in Jaipur.

However, Tim May, chief executive of the Federation of International Cricketers Associations (FICA) said it is unfair to compare the Jaipur bombing to the situation in Pakistan.

"Pakistan has had 66 suicide bombings within its country over the past 12 months with over 3000 people killed and 17 of those attacks have been in the venues of the Champions Trophy," May said.

"There was no security assessment that there is the likelihood of any further bombs going off in Jaipur."

Australians are indeed very calculative people.

My previous entry.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Notes on Dravidian Words - iii

Retroflex Approximant zh:
The retroflex approximant zha is as of now still pronounced by majority of Malayalis and few Tamils (Bhadriraju Krishnamurti)*. It is a rather intriguing sound found in old literature of SD languages. Some of my observations.

1. Present day written and spoken Telugu employs retroflex Da, Kannada employs retroflex La and Tulu employs alveolar(trill or tap ... no idea) ra

2. But many Nilgiri dialects and Malayalam spoken in Kasaragod and many Tamils employ palatal ya.

3. Generally, Telugus use Da, where you find SD-I speakers use La or Ra.
kOLi(Ka)kOri(Tulu)kODi(Te)kOyi (Kasaragod Malayalam)kOzhi(Standard Malayalam) (=chicken)

4. Present day Malayalis turn 'r' sound in foreign words into 'zh' sound.
eg. 1. Parsee is written/pronounced as Pazhsee.
2. University is written as Univezhsity.

Then what could have been the original sound? I used to think, because of my Kannada background, that is basically an exotic La because 'La' is used in Kannada where Tamil/Malayalam use 'zha'. However, I was told by a linguist that *zh sound must be constructed in SD/PD as a rhotic. Of course, this was before I carefully listened to Malayali pronunciation of 'zha'. Malayali pronunciation is exotic 'r'. And according to Wikipedia this is equivalent to present American English retroflex approximant 'r'(in some places). But in my opinion, Malayali pronunciation is retroflex palatal approximant(or exotic 'rya').

It appears AE retroflex r is an allophone of alveolar approximant r (Scottish English). Last night I was listening to this "500 miles" song(which kindled this entry). I thought "Lord" was pronounced like "Loyd" with palatal approximant y.
Listen to Petey, Paul and Mayi singing with the palatal approximant.

My construction of PD sound:
The original PD sound could have been alveolar approximant r. This we can observe in Tulu where alveolar trill or tap r is used. This alveolar approximant r gave rise to retroflex approximant r(zh) (in my opinion, retroflex palatal approximant r) which in turn gave rise to palatal approximant y. Therefore, all three are allophones.

alveolar approximant r -> alveolar trill/tap r (Tulu)
alveolar approximant r/alveolar trill/tap r -> retroflex approximant r/retroflex palatal approximant r -> palatal approximant y (Malayalam,Tamil, few other SD-I tribal languages)

During SD-I and SD-II split, alveolar approximant r, might have given rise to an allophone alveolar plosive d. Which became retroflex plosive in SD-II languages. But I think this should have happened with a big chunk of SD-I speakers too.

alveolar approximant r -> alveolar plosive d -> retroflex plosive D

The influence of geography changed retroflex plosive D into retroflex plosive L in Proto-Kannada.
retroflex plosive D -> retroflex lateral L

Migration to Tamil region:
Based on the above arguments, I would say the youngest Dravidian region, Tamil Nadu, had two defining migration patterns. The Proto-Tamils were mix of Proto-Malayalis (retained in allophones zh, y) and Proto-Kannadigas (retained in L). Standardization of written script probably happened in a region where Proto-Malayali migration was dominant. This script was probably became model for Proto-Kannada script too.

* There is a hilarious story about Malayali zh and Tamil zh. A southern Malayali chieftain was troubled by an unending Tamil migration to his region. He was scared that Malayalis would become minorities in that land. However, it was tough to block the migration as there was a lot of to-and-fro movements from Malayalis too. At the entry point of Tamil/Malayalam regions he created posts and put a 'chicken' test to incoming people. Every person who wants to enter Malayalam region had to pronounce kOzhi. According to the story, Tamils would pronounce it as kOLi (like Kannadigas) and would be turned back.

My wife(the zha Malayali) who doesn't think 'lord' is 'loyd' in that song.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Origins of Malayalis - ?.2.0

Nambudiri Brahmins, popularly credited to have turned Tamil into Malayalam by adding Sanskrit words to it, were originally Tamils, according to this new paper. (Via Indo-Eurasian_Research Yahoo Group).

That makes sense to me if I agree with that Tulu Brahmin who claimed they were originally Malayalis who came along with Sankara. That also tells us that Malayalam didn't adopt Tulu Grantha script at a later time. It was already there in Malayalam region before its appearance in Tulu region.

update(22-Jul):If I think about it, I suppose this also accounts for Na, La, in Brahmin dialect of Tulu. Non-brahmin dialect of Tulu lacks these retroflexes.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Human Genetics and Racial Categories

A new article "The ethics of characterizing difference: guiding principles on using racial categories in human genetics" caught my eye (Via Dienekes').

The scope of the paper as described in the abstract:
We are a multidisciplinary group of Stanford faculty who propose ten principles to guide the use of racial and ethnic categories when characterizing group differences in research into human genetic variation.

And the ten guidelines are:
Statement 1: We believe that there is no scientific basis for any claim that the pattern of human genetic variation supports hierarchically organized categories of race and ethnicity

Statement 2: We recognize that individuals of two different geographically defined human populations are more likely to differ at any given site in the genome than are two individuals of the same geographically defined population

Statement 3: We urge those who use genetic information to reconstruct an individual's geographic ancestry to present results within the broader context of an individual's overall ancestry

Statement 4: We recognize that racial and ethnic categories are created and maintained within sociopolitical contexts and have shifted in meaning over time

Statement 5: We caution against making the naive leap to a genetic explanation for group differences in complex traits, especially for human behavioral traits such as IQ scores, tendency towards violence, and degree of athleticism

Statement 6: We encourage all researchers who use racial or ethnic categories to describe how individual samples are assigned category labels, to explain why samples with such labels were included in the study, and to state whether the racial or ethnic categories are research variables

Statement 7: We discourage the use of race as a proxy for biological similarity and support efforts to minimize the use of the categories of race and ethnicity in clinical medicine, maintaining focus on the individual rather than the group

Statement 8: We encourage the funding of interdisciplinary study of human genetic variation that includes a broad range of experts in the social sciences, humanities and natural sciences

Statement 9: We urge researchers, those working in media, and others engaged in the translation of research results to collaborate on efforts to avoid overstatement of the contribution of genetic variation to phenotypic variation

Statement 10: We recommend that the teaching of genetics include historical and social scientific information on past uses of science to promote racism as well as the potential impact of future policies; we encourage increased funding for the development of such teaching materials and programs for secondary and undergraduate education

In my opinion, except statement 7, rest are not really important. Recently there was a study on "Indian population groups" and genetic link to diseases. I expressed similar feelings to one of the geneticists involved in the project. I feel a lot of effort (I guess that project took years to complete but wasn't accepted by major science journals) and money is being wasted on a field which may not have much relevance.

Though I am all for individual genetic horoscope, I must admit I don't have much idea about its usefulness.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

IVC Spoke Caucasian - revisited

Maju reminded me about the language of IVC people by commenting on one of my previous posts on the same topic. Last time I wrote IVC spoke an extinct Caucasian language. The Caucasian language family is now mostly restricted to Caucasus mountains.

Before E3b clan from Africa, R1a1 clan from Central Asia, spread Afro-Asiatic and IE languages respectively to West Asia, most of the West Asia and Caucasus mountains were inhabited by Caucasian language speaking J1 hunter gatherer tribes. Please check Y-Haplogroup-J1 distribution among isolated endogamous communties that speak Caucasian languages in the region of Caucasus at Quetzalcoatl Anthropology forum.

It is possible that IVC might have spoken a language belonging to the same family. I suppose I claimed that based on the distribution of Ilishu-esque names via Google search. Iu Ilizhu was a translator from Meluhha recorded in Sumerian documents.

According to Maju, ili, iri etc.. are ancient West Asian terms of town or city. I suppose Dravidian Ur is very close. Incidentally, there are many place names in my region ending in "-ila" whose meaning is unclear at present.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Origins of Indians: Version - 9.2.1

Ravi Mundkur discusses about some of the totems among Tuluvas. He derives the name of the caste of fishermen, Mogera, from a totemic object, rabit. I would like to present another angle to the name.

I have discussed about the entry of sea fishermen to South India. I wasn't able to place them to any linguistic group clearly. But it appears a section of them could have had IE linguistic origins from north-western India(or Pakistan).

The Old Sindhi word for fisherman was 'mahavar'. If you observe, few Tamils still make h->g sound changes (mahEza becomes magEza); It is possible that in remote past old Tuluvas might have made the similar sound changes.

Hence, the initial change is mahavar->magavar.

Another vowel replacement common to Tulu/Malayalam is 'av' to a long vowel. eg. avan->On(=he) in Kasaragod Malayalam. aval->Al(=she) in Tulu.

Now, the second change magavar -> magAr

Even today, there is a fishermen community called Mohanna residing in Sindh. Recently, genetic studies have been conducted on them. I don't have access to the article. But I found the study at an Egyptian forum.

From the study:
The Mohanna have been included in such a
study for the very first time. This ethnic group resides in the
Sindh province, and their livelihood is fishing; in fact, the word
Mohanna in Sindhi means fishermen. Not much is known
about this population, but it is believed that the Mohanna were
the original inhabitants of the subcontinent, who were then
replaced by the Aryans when they invaded this area. However,
little pockets of this ethnic group were left over after the
Aryan invasion. In Pakistan this pocket exists in the south
around the river Indus, where the Mohanna presently reside.

I don't give much importance to autosomal analysis. I believe only neutral haplogroup markers have any legitamacy in migration history.

Anyway, one thing we can observe here that Old Sindhi maha* has turned into moha* in present day Sindhi. Therefore, it is possible that mahavar might have arrived as mohavar to Tulu region.

Hence, m(a/o)havar ->mogavar->mogAr ->mogEr

It is possible that Mohanna might have had pre-IE origins. However, as their name suggests a section of them migrated after IE-isation of their community.

It would be interesting to see if present day Mogera-s of Tulu regions have any Y-Haplogroups that matches to Mohanna of Pakistan.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Notes on Dravidian Words - ii

In the last post we have seen anomalies to Dravidian b-v isogloss due to Magadhi Prakrit adstratum. I believe these words entered between 500BCE-0, or the fifth phase where guilds entered from the eastern regions[1]. But there could be IE borrows into Dravidian languages that show typical sound changes comparable to to core Dravidian vocabulary. And these IE migrations could be part of Dravidian expansion in South India from Central or West India.

One of the earliest IE migrations to South India was that of herders. Known in north India as Yadava; their old identity in South was Ideya(Yes, herders in South India have appreciable frequency of Y-Haplogroup R1a1). Ravi Mundkur has clearly shown that Ideya is in fact derived from Yadava[2]. I have already mentioned that herders might have migrated south around 1000BCE[1]. Perhaps Dravidian expansion to south started between 1500BCE-1000BCE. Let's examine a word related to herding.

The term for cattle (pazu in Sanskrit) has entered Dravidian languages. In Kannada, cow is called hasu.(Please note there is also a Dravidian word hasu(Le) in Kannada which means child. Similar words for child, boy, calf ..payal, pay, peyy etc... is found in other Dravidian languages but different from present word which is borrow from IA languages). In Kasaragod variant of Malayalam it is called pay. The s->y change between Kannada and Malayalam can be observed here. Incidentally, standard dialect of Malayalam employs the Sanskrit word.

1. Origins of Indians version-9.2
2. Iddya to Yedapadavu

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Notes on Dravidian Words - i

bAgu is a common Telugu word meaning 'good', 'well being' etc... I didn't find the cognates in SD-I languages. Dravidian Etymology Dictionary(DED) mentions Tamil word vAkku meaning perfection is a cognate. This must be an exception where a Telugu word has 'ba' instead of 'va' while Tamil shows 'va'. Generally, Tamil and Telugu have 'va' sound where Kannada/Tulu have 'ba'. Unfortunately, equivalent Kannada and Tulu words are not available. So is the case with Malayalam, according to DED.

But today I was reminded of a word in my variant of Malayalam. Though standard dialect of Malayalam uses nallad for good; we say pAG. eg. ad pAGilla; nI maTTed nOkkiko(That is not good; you check the other one). However, we use pAG mostly with non-human objects and nalled with humans.

Update: Commenter Mallinath has come up with few more exceptions to 'ba', 'va' rule. But of the three words he mentioned two appeared to be Indo-Aryan import to Dravidian languages, baNDi, baNDa and the remaining one, bratuku, appears to be a borrow into Telugu from Kannada(I assume because the same noun form is said to be a borrow into Tamil from Kannada, according to DED*).

While ruling out all these exceptions, I became suspicious of the word bAgu. Then suddenly I remembered a stupid dialogue from a horrible Hindi movie. "mErE man ko bhAyA; mE kutta kAT ke khAyA" (My mind felt good; I cut a dog and ate). Indeed, Telugu bAgu and Malayalam pAG are borrows from IA languages. I have already mentioned that a big chunk of IE speakers assimilated with Dravidians. I consider the language of these people was Magadhi Prakrit. Therefore, any exceptions to 'va', 'ba' rule (which I firmly believe is geographical for Dravidians) must be checked from Magadhi Prakrit angle.

* Please find the links to Dravidian dictionaries at the sidebar(Starling and Digital Dictionaries of Asia).

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Kannada form of 'Chennai'

Once Dravidians became stagnant in present day regions the new words coined by one of them have entered as foreign words into other Dravidian languages. They no longer associate with the sound changes of their common vocabulary. Good thing is that we can still deduce native forms of other Dravidian language words.

Today, I would like to discuss about Kannada form of the capital of Tamil Nadu, Chennai.

Kannada words with initial ki start with ce in Tamil.
eg. kivi(Kannada) -> cevi(Tamil) (=ear)

Kannada words that end with e end with ai in Tamil.
eg. kOTe(Kannada) -> kOTTai(Tamil) (=fort)

Hence, the Kannada form of cennai is kinne.

Similarly, Tulu form -> kenne
Malayalam form -> cenna

Friday, July 04, 2008

Praying Scientists of India

‘Scientists must not pray in labs’
TIMES NEWS NETWORK (July 3rd, p. 5)

Hyderabad: The Centre for Inquiry on Wednesday urged scientists not to conduct religious ceremonies in scientific laboratories. A recent survey by the Centre of Inquiry in association with a few other bodies discovered that a majority of the country’s scientists were “religious and even superstitious”.
The survey report was based on inputs from institutes all over the country, including Acharya Nagarjuna University, Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, Centre for DNA and Finger Printing and Diagnostics, Deccan College of Engineering and Technology, Kakatiya University, Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology and SV University from the state.
The survey said 44% of scientists believe in astrology while 41% believe in conducting ‘pujas’ before starting any major scientific activity. According to the members, scientists are setting a bad example to the rest of the country by believing in superstitions including vedic astrology. “There are many cases where scientists do pujas in their labs. This should not be permitted as there should be no observation of religious rites in any of the government institutions,” former CCMB director P M Bhargava said.
“A majority of the scientists said they believe in some super non-human power which protects all,” social activist Chandana Chakraborthy said. According to the founder member of the organisation, N Innaiah, many scientists believe in godmen too. Since the survey deals with scientists who come from different elite institutes in the country it is alarming to see these many people believing in superstitions.

Couldn't make out what percentage of Indian scientists are atheists. Is it 51%? Are all the believers of Astrology(44%), a subset of believers of prayer(49%)? Or are there atheists among believers in Astrology? But if one believes in Astrology, is s/he an atheist by the definition of it?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Origins of Malayalis-?.1.2

Okay, I lost my directions completely in my previous post. Tamils and Malayalis sharing east/west in fact do not contradict Caldwell's words. I should be careful not into fall in the trap set by imaginative people.

Anyway, I would consider it as Tamil superstrate influence on Malayalam. The Malayalam common word for the west is paDiJAyir (that is a cognate with other SD languages like Kannada/Tulu/Tamil and Telugu). I would rather think Malayalis would have kept kizhakku/melku pair in common usage had they been the people who coined them. But what has happened to the word denoting the east that would have made a pair with the west? Curiously, Kannada/Tulu, Telugu and Tamil don't have a cognate for the term east. May be the word was highly variable and probably had multiple terms based on the sun.

It appears Kodava and Kota words for the east is 'ki', same as Tamil/Malayalam. Both tribes are traditionally highland,western ghat, people for whom eastern region (Tamil) is beneath. That may show Proto-Tamils' migration route to present day Tamil region from present day coastal Karnataka region.