Thursday, March 4, 2010

230. Fossil words

Evolution of languages is a less understood domain, in spite of extensive studies. Linguistic paleontology attempts to reconstruct the possible course of evolution of a language based on the available inputs. Similarly, several aspects of origin and evolution of the Dravidian languages are also indistinct and often controversial.
Analysis of ancient place names of Tulunadu, [and also different parts of peninsular India] reveal the presence of a number of strange words for which we may not find meanings in any of the dictionaries of Dravidian languages. Such strange forgotten words could simply be the fossil words from languages that were spoken in this land before the spread of Dravidian languages proper.
For example, based on the existence of variety of ancient place names in Tulunadu, we have been able to trace the vestigial signature words of Toda, Munda and Gond languages and tribes in this land which logically predates the spread of Dravidian languages proper.
Some of the fossil words still prevailing as place names point to the prevalence of fossil layers of fossil languages that played active role in the past in shaping the linguistic structure and foundation of this terrain.
Munda languages
Munda languages of India are recognized as of Austro-Asiatic origin, suggestive of introduction by ancient tribes who migrated into India from the south- East Asian countries in the antiquity. However, the essential linguistic structure of the Munda languages, differ from that of Mon Khmer languages of Southeast Asia. The former are characterized by falling accents, whereas the latter show rising accents.
It seems that the falling accent pattern is the inherent and essential linguistic characteristic of peninsular India. Dravidian languages have this kind of falling accent patterns. The fact that Munda languages adopted by immigrant tribes preceding Dravidians proper also show falling accent pattern, leads to the inference that this linguistic feature was already an established pattern in peninsular India before the immigration and settling of Munda tribes.
 Munda languages once upon a time prevalent in many parts of the southern India, with passage of time have been relegated certain parts of central and eastern India as seen at present.
Fossil language layers
This chain of logic leads us to conclude that a specific precursor language with falling accent pattern existed in peninsular India before the immigration of Munda tribes. The available data suggests that Munda languages evolved in India evolved on the basement of a preexisting native linguistic structure. Let us tentatively designate this precursor fossil language as ‘Indica’ for the purpose of discussions.

The structural and temporal sequence of evolution of languages in southern India can be represented as follows. This is essentially a graphical, visual representation of the sequence of evolution of languages in southern India. The contact lines between the languages may have been diffused. Time sequence is shown but the exact time durations and transitions are yet to be ascertained based on further studies.
A couple of general inferences on evolution of languages can be made from the above set of observations:
1. Languages grow and evolve on a platform of linguistic structure prevailing in the terrain.
2. Migrating tribes have carried some of their earlier ‘words’ from their place of origin to newer place of domicile. The number of immigrants being smaller in number compared to the natives, the later evolved languages carried on the linguistic structure of the natives of the land.

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Books for Reference

  • A Comparative Study of Tulu Dialects By Dr. Padmanabha Kekunnaya. Govinda Pai Reserach Centre, UDupi. 1994
  • Koti Chennaya: Janapadiya Adhyayana. By Dr. Vamana Nandavar. Hemanshu Prakashana ,Mangalore.2001.
  • Male kudiyaru. Dr B. A.Viveka Rai and D.Yadupathi Gowda, Mangalore University,1996.
  • Mogaveera Samskriti By Venkataraja Punimchattaya. Karnataka Sahitya Academy.1993.
  • Mugeraru:Jananga Janapada Adhyayana. By Dr Abhaya Kumar Kaukradi.Kannada & Culture Directorate,Bangalore & Karnataka Tulu Academy, Mangalore,1997.
  • Puttubalakeya Pad-danagalu. Ed: Dr B.A.Viveka Rai,Yadupati Gowda and Rajashri, Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheswara Tulu Peeta. Mangalore University.2004
  • Se'erige. Ed:Dr K.Chinnapa Gowda.Madipu Prakashana,Mangalagangotri,2000.
  • Studies in Tuluva History and Dr P Gururaja Bhat (1975).Milagres College,Kallinapur,Udupi.
  • Taulava Sanskriti by Dr.B.A.Viveka Rai, Sahyadri Prakashana,Mysore 1977
  • TuLu naaDu-nuDi By Dr.PalthaDi Ramakrishna Achar, Puttur.
  • TuLu NighanTu. (Editor in Chief: Dr U.P.Upadhyaya, Govinda Pai Research Centre,Udupi. Six volumes. 1988 to 1997
  • Tulu Patero-A Philology & Grammar of Tulu Language by Budhananda Shivalli.2004.Mandira Prakashana Mangalore. p.317. (The book is in Tulu Language using Kannada script)
  • TuLunadina ShasanagaLa Sanskritika Adhyayana. By Shaila T. Verma (2002) Jnanodaya Prakashana,Bangalore, p.304.(Kannada)
  • Tuluvala Baliyendre. Compiled by N.A.Sheenappa Hegde,Polali,Sri Devi Prakashana,Parkala,1929/1999

A Coastal estuary

A Coastal estuary
Holegadde near Honavar,Uttara Kannada dist, Karnataka

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