Thursday, January 22, 2009

Notes on Dravidian Words - iiic

He He He...A Malayali poking fun at Tamils
In Tamil Nadu, people tend to pronounce 'zha' as 'la'. So God help me if M.K. Stalin's brother M.K. Azhagiri is a cousin of Dante Alighieri.


The whole issue arises because of total misunderstanding about migration of people to Tamil region. The early development of Tamil literature has muddied the objectivity of the Dravidian linguistics.

In my opinion, if one traces the migration route then Tamils are a mix of Proto-Malayali and Proto-Kannada population. It appears Proto-Malayalam has become defacto lingo whereas Proto-Kannada influence could be found in the pronunciation.

I would say zh->l change can never happen. The change should be
r->zh->y (as it's observed in Scottish and American English and probably in Norwegian too).

Other change should be;
d->l

If you observe Kerala, people would use either 'zh' or 'y' but never 'l'. In these words Tulu shows 'r'.

If Dravidian linguists keep in mind Out of Africa theory then it would help them in their work. The shortest route to Tamil Nadu is thro' west-south coastal India. This route divides into Kerala and Karnataka branches. I can still see a certain pattern in r->zh->y changes and this is not as ambiguous as claiming that since 'zh' tongue position itself is ambiguous inside the mouth all kinds of other sounds 'd', 'l', 'r', 'y' can arise.

Since languages not only change with distance but also with time, I don't think this 'oldest' or 'youngest' languages have any meaning. One can only talk in terms of older region and younger region based on migration.

Of course, If Jayaschandran thinks Tamils wrongly pronounce 'zh' then his understanding is wrong. 'l' is the sound they inherited from their proto-Kannada ancestors whereas literary Tamil phonetics is influenced by Tamils of Proto-Malayali ancestry.

7 comments:

milieu said...

funny piece that one!
And proto-malayalees giving rise to the Thamizhs! Ayyo what is all this?! Good that ur anonymous...u never know how chauvinistic ppl can become.
There was a BBC TV series which was shown here in US recently.
http://www.pbs.org/thestoryofindia/

It had some fantastic claims. Two of them,
1) That all non-africans in the world come from South Asia
2) there is relic of pre-linguistic speaking patterns (it calls bird-like sounds) in the vedic recitals of Namboothiri brahmins.

I find these two to be fantastic but I didnt find any single references for these in the series so I dont find them too believeabl either.

Maju said...

It had some fantastic claims. Two of them,
1) That all non-africans in the world come from South Asia


That is in fact very likely.

...

Interesting read, Manjunat. Though I'd say that linguistics is slippery as only this science can be, so good luck.

Manjunat said...

2) there is relic of pre-linguistic speaking patterns (it calls bird-like sounds) in the vedic recitals of Namboothiri brahmins.

I think common people already have this notion about Vedic chants(mantra).

That is in fact very likely.

I doubt. I am skeptical about coastal migration but even if coastal migration is the case, South Asia can't be counted as origin point for those clans.

Interesting read, Manjunat. Though I'd say that linguistics is slippery as only this science can be, so good luck.

:-). I think Linguistics can't stand on its own and make fundamental conclusions. It has to be just a subordinate field of Genetics and Archaeology.

milieu said...

My reason for disbelieving that south asia was the origin of all non-africans is that it doesnt look too plausible. I mean first the africans walked over to south asia and then they populated the entire world! That requires some peculiar combination of environmental conditions.

Also reading this article about "Why Darwin was wrong about the tree of life" , it strikes me that how population genetics (which is a vast field in itself) is just a subset of such a big field trying to get to the origin of life in this place.

Manjunat said...

Also reading this article about "Why Darwin was wrong about the tree of life" , it strikes me that how population genetics (which is a vast field in itself) is just a subset of such a big field trying to get to the origin of life in this place.

I really don't understand why you need to come to that conclusion(the field is biology). But thank you for that article. It's indeed interesting.

But I'm confused by the way they have used the terms. How can they take 'hybrid' along with 'horizontal gene transfer'? The way I understand the terms; hybrid involves transfer of genes from parent to offspring hence vertical transfer. ie. Neanderthal and Sapien would give birth a hybrid child. However, HGT would say a Sapien has incorporated few genetic material from a Neanderthal( say gene for light skin after mating). However, it should be passed to the next generation in a Sapien-Sapien mating. The DNA material somehow became part of gametes. This is not really hybridization. Your thoughts?

Maju said...

My reason for disbelieving that south asia was the origin of all non-africans is that it doesnt look too plausible. I mean first the africans walked over to south asia and then they populated the entire world! That requires some peculiar combination of environmental conditions.

Wether it was South Asia or something larger ("Greater Southern Asia") is unclear. probably SW and SE Asia played their roles but South Asia still seems pivotal and many clades are most diverse in the subcontinent.

I have just finished (?) a lenghty discussion with Terry Toothill at Dienenkes Anthropology Blog (129 posts in total) precisely on that and I would not like to start all over again (so click on the link).

In any case it is pretty clear that early Eurasian AMHs found the subtropical and tropical areas of Asia most homely and that moving into the cold north was an adaptative challenge (not just because of the cold but also because of crucial issues as vitamin D supply, which is central for the human brain and skeleton and is mostly processed at the skin with sunlight).

While it is not, IMO, still fully clear wether early Eurasians went directly to South Asia via the southern Arabian coast (as has been proposed) or they actually did it via mainland West Asia prior to Nenderthal expansion (as I suspect), the case is that they eventually found themselves at South Asia (or a somewhat larger "Greater Southern Asia") and expanded from there to the east and west and eventually also to the north. This conclusion seems really hard to disprove or challenege seriously.

milieu said...

Re: Hybrids
Am a layperson, so my thoughts are not really worth expressing here. I guess better to ask some expert/atleast more knowlegable in this.

In any case it is pretty clear that early Eurasian AMHs found the subtropical and tropical areas of Asia most homely and that moving into the cold north was an adaptative challenge (not just because of the cold but also because of crucial issues as vitamin D supply, which is central for the human brain and skeleton and is mostly processed at the skin with sunlight).


Again entering into territories where I dont know much. But thanks for the pointer, I will try to follow the developments in this area.