Sunday, January 03, 2010

Notes on Dravidian Words - v

Vowel Ending:
Among South Dravidian languages Telugu and Kannada end their words with a vowel. However, Tamil and Malayalam lack it. Which is the proto-state?

If you consider English, until 14th century the ending -e was pronounced distinctly by the English. However, the later generations dropped it. But since spellings were standardized by that time, the written language still shows the words with -e ending. But it is clear that the old forms of languages generally tend to have vowel ending. Hence Kannada and Telugu have retained the older forms.

In the case of English, the time changed vowel ending. But in the case of Dravidian languages it is geography. Though it should be noted here that North Karnataka is more at ease with vowel ending than South Karnataka.

3 comments:

Maju said...

In truth we can't say if vowel-ending is or not older in general. English is by itself not a reference for much.

In many other languages endings vary, for example in Latin or Basque, it depends on the case (declination), with root-words varying wildly often.

Languages like Spanish, Italian or Romanian (and even Basque for the Latin loanwords), have usually dropped the ending consonants instead, when these existed. For instance "librus" (book) makes now libro (Sp, It), liburu (Basque, notice also how IE double-consonant BR, ill-sounding for Basques, was "fixed" inserting a vowel) or livre (French, again extra phonological "fixing" b>v).

What I could think is that shortening words is natural tendency of normal spoken language. So longer words are generally more conservative.

manju said...

What I could think is that shortening words is natural tendency of normal spoken language. So longer words are generally more conservative.

Well, that I suppose supports this post. Vowel-ending anyway makes the word longer.

Maju said...

Depends. That's what I meant to illustrate with the librus>libro example, which is the opposite of yours of muted last -e in English (or so many French words too). Words can lose vowels, consonants or even longer fragments like French sur (like in surrealism), which derives from Latin super (surrealism in fact means super-realism).

I just say that in general the trend is to shorten. However I know of some exceptions too, like the insertion of a vowel in Basque liburu (also from librus), caused by the cacophonous perception of the -br- sound (or most other consonant agglomerations) for Basque pronunciation style.

In any case, I don't know almost anything about Dravidian to have an opinion on that particular case. I just speak in general.