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Govindankutty -- From Proto-Tamil-Malayalam to West Coast Dialects

Govindankutty -- From Proto-Tamil-Malayalam to West Coast Dialects

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Leiden University

Because the oldest M a l a y a l a m inscriptions and literary works 1 are n o t earlier t h a n a b o u t the ninth century A.D. and accordingly were cont e m p o r a n e o u s with M i d d l e Tamil, scholars h a v e almost a u t o m a t i c a l l y c o m e u n d er the delusion t h a t the d e v e l o p m e n t o f a separate language h a d to be dated to that period. 2 While c o n c e n t r a t i n g entirely u p o n this historical process o f differentiation, they h a v e consistently o v e r l o o k e d the * I am indebted to Professor F. B. J. Kuiper, who made a number of very valuable comments and suggestions to improve the quality and contents of this article. I am grateful to Professor Kamil Zvelebil for a number of useful comments. 1 Since all ancient literary works written on the West Coast for a long time merely belonged to conventional genres of Tamil literature, their authors continued to write in the traditional literary language of the East Coast dialect (cf. Cilappatikdram). Not until the fourteenth century approximately, are clear traces of 'Malayalisms' found in certain literary texts, such as the Rdmacaritam. Therefore, it is for a long time almost exclusively the evidence of the West Coast inscriptions that gives us some information about the linguistic changes that have gradually taken place. R. Caldwell, A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian Family of Languages (London, 1856), p. 12; 2nd ed. (1875), p. 23; 3rd ed. (1913, 1956), p. 18. He pointed out that Malayalam is an ancient offshoot of Tamil and regarded it rather as a dialect than as a distinct Dravidian language. Similarly, e.g., Jules Bloch, Structure grammaticale des langues dravidiennes (Paris, 1946), p. VIII ("... un dialecte d6tach6 du tamoul ...") and Emeneau, "The South Dravidian Languages", JAOS, Vol. 87 (1967), p. 365. See also Bhadriraju Krishnamurti, "Comparative Dravidian Studies", Current Trends in Linguistics, 5 (The Hague, Mouton, 1969), p. 327. Attempts to arrive at an exact dating of the separation were made by L. V. Ramaswami Aiyar and Kamil Zvelebil. The former stated that Malayalam, in its earlier stages, was more closely allied to what he denominated as Early Middle Tamil (see "Linguistic 'Preservations' in Malayfil.am", Journal of Oriental Research, Madras, Vol. XI [1937], p. 3). The latter pointed out that at the stage of linguistic development which he termed Late Old and Early Middle Tamil, Tamil and Malayalam were, very probably, basically one language, with Pre-Malayalam as a diverging western dialect of the spoken form of that common tongue (see "From Proto-South Dravidian to Malayalam", Archly Orientdlni, 38 [1970], p. 56).

5 Subbayya. Sreekanthaiya. See Vadasery I. Quoted by Bh. Vol. features which are not f o u n d even in the oldest historical forms o f Tamil proper. G. E and O in Kannada". most elaborately. Since this view would seem to be at variance with b o t h the historical evidence and the methodological principles of historical linguistics. p.N. 77-79.K. S. Narasimhia. Burrow. 169-70.. Caldwell. Goda Varma. Part I. 289-97.FROM PROTO-TAMIL-MALAYALAM TO WEST COAST DIALECTS 53 simple fact that West Coast dialects had preserved. George and a few others maintained the view that Malayalam is an independent offshoot of Dravidian. op. U. Param~swara Aiyar. 374. 1~ who however limited his study to the four literary 3 A linguistic analysis of the language of the early Malayalam text R6maearitarn forces one to arrive at this conclusion.N. that is. "Alternations i/e and u/o in South Dravidian". 4 This paper will deal with the historical relations between Tamil and Malayalam. by Krishnamurti. a It should be mentioned in this connection that a few scholars have put forward the view that Malayalam is an independent offshoot of ProtoDravidian. 7 Burrow 8 and Narasimhia 9 and. 7 T. Subbayya. cit. pp. 5 R. HistoricalGramrnar of OM Kannada (= Deccan College Dissertation Series. Indian Antiquary. K. 5. These features must consequently be traced back to a prehistoric f o r m of Tamil. pp. while at least one other dialect must have disappeared in historical times. pp. "Dravidian Studies II". g A. 4 U. Proceedings and Transactions of the Eighth All-India Oriental Conference (Mysore. pp. 1969). "Malayalam". Krishnamurti. the East Coast dialects. (1875). "The Mutation of I. 8 T.> c. 1946). 458-68. Gai. however. The vowel alternations have been studied by Caldwell. 6 K. 5 (The Hague. e Sreekanthaiya. 1) (Poona.L. 10. Vol. It can further be shown that in the West Coast speech some dialectal differences must have existed at an early date and that Malayalam must have developed f r o m one o f these dialects. Two o f the most interesting features o f South Dravidian are the alternations i/e and u/o and the palatalisation o f k. Language. V. Subrarnoniam. Vol. 160. xo Bh. BSOS. "Primer of Dravidian Phonology".O. This conclusion will be developed elsewhere. Mouton.before i. 769800. Krishnamurti but not accessible to me. it is not necessary in the context o f this paper to enter m o r e deeply into a discussion of this theory.l!fir S. p. M. f r o m the earliest times onwards. it is necessary first to consider the position of Tamil within the whole group o f South Dravidian languages. pp. 2nd ed. 34 (1958). p. K. 38 (1909). 1953). Current Trends in Linguistics. Quoted from G. I n order to make clear this problem. .

38 (1970). (2) Second Person Oblique form and (3) the Sandhi l + k.54 A.> c. p. On the other hand. I I Pre. Vol. The object of this paper is to show that the relations within the TamilMalayalam group should be revised. 1~ which is as follows: P(roto)Ta. To this end it will be necessary to discuss the following features of the West Coast speech: (1) the g-problem.Lit. 1970). In Proto-Tamil-Malayalam it must still have tx Bh. Mouton. Late Old and Early Middle Ta. Krishnamurti. I I I I Ta. Telugu Verbal Bases ( = University of California Publications in Linguistics. a study of the Toda and Kota material which will be published elsewhere. p. GOVINDANKUTTY South Dravidian languages. To. Since Telugu has been shown to be a Central Dravidian language. Since the palatalisation k.before i is not a general South Dravidian feature but is limited to Tamil-Malayalam. 65 and Comparative Dravidian Phonology (The Hague. x2 See Archly Orientdlni. 269. it is clear that this development can only have taken place at a time when the vowel systems of Toda-Kota and Tamil-Malayalam had differentiated with regard to i/e and u/o. p. 3. Tamil-Malayalam has i. as well as in Kannada.-Ko. This is clearly shown by such stemmas as the one given by Kamil Zvelebil.11 it can here be left out of consideration. The fi-problem Comparative studies lead us to assume the existence of a phoneme/fi/in Proto-South Dravidian.Ta. 14. shows that these languages have e and o in common with Kannada. Vol. OTa. 24) (1961). The Tamil-Malayalam group accordingly stands quite apart from the other South Dravidian languages. . It can be stated as a general rule that in words which have a in the second syllable. whereas Kannada has e. Ma. The fact that at that time Toda-Kota had e offers a simple explanation for the absence of palatalisation in Toda-Kota.

26. It follows. Pu_ram 125. Puram 136.u(DED. 2370) 5. Burrow. e. 36. BSOAS.3. 606 and S. Akam 47. Puram 135.1) and with initial fi (3. accordingly. net. 2385) 8. the two categories will be discussed separately. ne[i (DED. not. I1.2). nerugcil (DED. p. Tirukkdv.15) 2.1 .t. 2396. Tam. ndn. neri got.al (DED. 2394. 191) 7. Tiruvac.10) 9. 2395. Shanmugam. nara gaval get. irrespective of the question whether the optional use of variants with initial g and n in the traditional literary idiom of the Sangam literature reflects a prehistoric dialectal split within the East Coast speech itself. although in a few words a variant form with n occurs in Modern Malayalam. .FROM PROTO-TAMIL-MALAYALAM TO WEST COAST DIALECTS 55 been preserved since it has continued to exist in Malayalam up to the present day. that in the prehistoric period of Tamil when this dialectal differentiation took place>13 the ancestor of Malayalam (Old West Coast dialect) had already split off from the Old East Coast dialect. In the following pages.i.7. E_lu. get.nal gara. Pari. n~n (DED. not. 14.25) 4.i ~eruggil gerippu. neri (DED.2) 10. Pu.12.tu. na[i (DED. or whether the fi-variants have entirely been derived from the West Coast dialect.. n~k~l (DED.2. viz. 2389. T. Tol. Vol. nerippu ge[iyuka ge_ri.11.15) 11. p. narampu (DED.g. 2367. Pu_ram 109. 29.13) 13. 2364.5.. Kali.4. na_ndeserves special notice because is On this prehistoric split in Tamil see. n~val (DED. lndo-Iranian Journal. 2388) neru~ci (Pu_ram 155. 323) 3. n~rai (DED. the Tamil words with initial n (3. V. In Tamil. 4234. Puram 330. neruppu (DED.i na_n Among the words quoted above.ram 24. XIII (1970). 2375.4) Malayalam ~arampu.1 Original h has become n in Tamil initially in the following words: Tamil 1.. neri (DED. "Some Problems in Old Tamil Phonology". 114. 2372. 2393. 6.t. 2366. Col. on the other hand. ne_rivu geri. 23. Tol. it has partly become n from the oldest extant texts onwards. narampu ga[uizhuka ga~hal ga.20. 7) 14. Kuru.2) 12. 3.21) 6. Cil. Part 3 (1943-46). Pati_r_r. Puram 23. Pu_ram 177. Pati_r_r. 35. "Dravidian Studies V".i (DED.

Studies in Indian Linguistics (Annamalainagar and Poona. Puram 6.ru (DED. hayi_ru(DED.14) nanru (Tiv.17) Malayalam ~a.56 A.9) nan.2.. Kali. 2374. Mur. Kur. haru (DED.11) 5. Kur. 885.8.28) nayi_ru (Kamp.2. 140) 3. Cft[a.2. iya_r. Pat. 124.ram 113. 117. irata. 285. Pati. 2376.u (Akam 176. g6_n_ru(DED.2) 6.4.i (DED. Pu_ram 14.9) 10. 2513) 8. Kur.u nan.n hayiru galuka halam hal_al naru h~ru na_ru gannu z4 For a detailed discussion of the tT-problem in the First Personal Pronoun cf. ~amali(DED. (DED.ram 19. Pati_r.9) 12. ban. Pu. 1235. Pu_ram 113. 2369. 1. "Dravidian Personal Pronouns".3.2 Original h has been preserved in Tamil.t. Puram 82. 63. Tamil has n instead of it. halam (DED. hahcil (DED. ~a. hal. 2368) nahcil (Pu.u (DED. 401. while Malayalam has almost consistently preserved the Proto-Dravidian h in initial position.9) 13. 120) naralum (Pu. 25. haral (DED. hal (DED.51) n~ru (C~vaka. 37.23) 4.ram 120.30. 2371.14.1) nal_al (TOvar. the antiquity of which has been established beyond doubt by recent research. 1968). 36. ilana.4.5. GOVINDANKUTTY in this case Malayalam is the only Dravidian language to have preserved initial h.18) narala (Akam 14. 3. (Kali.8) 11. Akam 122.38. 11. 189-205. t. 1~ From the preceding material it emerges that.u -garahhuka narahhuka h~hh6l n~hgil ~cT. Peru. t.Akam388. han.1) 7.Puram 74. 2373. 885.3) nan.t. 2363. 1016. Ku_r. pp.r_r. ~al.u 2.t. although variant forms with n are often attested as early as the oldest texts: Tamil 1. 51. Kali. 2381 . . Pati_r_r. Narr. 54) na_ru (C~vaka. Bh.1) 9.2) hal (Cfvaka. 88. 2365. 2379.5. 2380. Krishnamurti.r. 179.nt.al(DED. 50. 2362) ~en. Mull. Pu_ram 18.6. 15. 2377.

2390. Ku. Akam 108. while Malayalam has i in the initial syllable of the oblique forms..2) 21. Man. Shanmugam. p. while Malayalam retains the h-forms. Part 2 (July. Rel (DED.1 and 3.17. "Linguistic 'Preservations' in Malayft]am".unaL 90) nimir (ToL Por. According to him. Tamil has almost exclusively u in is Cf. Since we find already in the earliest extant Tamil literature n-forms without R-variants. 50.27." .2 it has become clear that. 1B S .am (DED.. 2386. 2384.am niviruka -- gamun. 4 and "A Primer of Malayalam Phonology". and that as early as the oldest literature. V . while Malayalam has almost consistently preserved the Proto-Dravidian R.i. Pu_ram 251. Kali. himir (DED. Pu_ram 14. Pu_ram 152. V. often in one and the same text. r~ > n is a late Middle Ta~nil change. op. Pu_ram 15.r. rTa > na must have begun even in the PreTamil period. 2387) neri (Pu_ram 174. Reri (DED.FROM PROTO-TAMIL-MALAYALAM TO WEST COAST DIALECTS 57 14. 2382) Remir (Net. 3037. Ku_r. The Bulletin o f the Rama Varma Research Institute.3) 17.am (Pu_ram 177. or (2) it has become n in a prehistoric period without leaving any trace of the original R. 15 it is clear that the development fi > n must have taken place in the prehistoric period an in one or more dialects only of what was to become the group of East Coast dialects. 165) 19. c/t.28) 22. in Tamil (1) this phoneme is either preserved or occurs side by side with a variant n. Ramaswami Aiyar. 1937). 101.1) neki_l (Akam 26. 37. hin.. 11. p.1) ne! (Pu_ram 18.14) nin.33) 15.(DED. Reli (DED.8.!uka ~eriyuka Rellu From 3. 547. 2392) nin. Ytel.3. also L. p. heki_l(DED. ".7) 16. Vol. The differentiation between the West Coast dialects and some of the East Coast dialects must accordingly have been a fact already in this period and certainly before the Sangam literature. Second Person Oblique Form From the following chart it seems clear that. JORM.7) 18. Rekili (DED. V. Pu_ram 247. gemi (DED. 28.8) 20. 2391 . Tirukk6v. which theory is not acceptable. 73. 4. XI (1937). 2383.

both in internal and external sandhi.r.9).2).14. from the meta-language toli_rk~(s~tra 125). Ko.." Tolk@piyam.3). "Linguistic 'Preservations' ..5. nuntai (Ku_r. /'/t/m nun un P1.rr. since even during the Middle Tamil period u_n-had begun to exercise dominance in Tamil.rku (Na.". 67-68: "The change of i > u might have first occurred in the pl. The Sandhi 1 + k In literary Tamil. nim.6).. E_luttatikdram. 5. GOVINDANKUTTY Tamil Sg. . E. op.5). urn. i~ certainly a very old archaism in the West Coast speech. S~ ~ Kamil Zvelebil. cit. Indo-Iranian Yournal. cuval + kalitta > cuva. To quote a few: u_n (Akam 222. Ilampftra. x. n/_n (Pu_rarn 12. "Personal Pronotms in Tamil and Dravidian". 19 Instances are not wanting and in the earliest Tamil texts it is attested. p. l + k becomes _rk. it is now possible to conclude that the split between the East and West Coast dialects must have started in the prehistoric period. him > num (under the influence of final -m?).22). Kali. pronoun M. 2o n a l + ku > na. Nora. also sfitra 150. P1.5). 204. VI (1962).narn (Madras. 23.g. Pu_ram 45. - the same position." as L. The earliest extant Tamil grammar T o l k @ p i y a m refers to such a change in one of its sfitras. n~ nhn n~h-ka[ Malayalam n~ nihha[ nin- ninSg. 19. S.58 A. Since Malayalam has not shared this innovation is and since we can also date this innovation to a period before the Sangam literature. obl.> -u -17 is a later innovation attested only in Tamil.. V.rkalitta (Ku.r.rkai (Na.of the second person sing. 8: "The inflectional base ni_n. t/m- ni~ital. Ramaswami Aiyar. The oblique forms with u are found in Tamil as early as the oldest Sangam literature side by side with forms having -i-. 91. Publishing Works. Cf.(Akam 56. 1964).r. Obliq.2). A comparative study of the Dravidian second personal pronouns points to the conclusion that -i. S. nurn (Pu_ram 9. pp. 40.

"Dravidic Sandhi". "A primer of Malayalam Phonology".FROM PROTO-TAMIL-MALAYALAM TO WEST COAST DIALECTS 59 In contrast with the situation found in Tamil. e.4.V.l-k-kombu. accordingly. VI.". Conclusion The preservation of the initial h-. which represent the final developments of the East Coast and the West Coast dialects. "Proto-TodaKota") is the only correct designation for this prehistoric stage of linguistic development. na_r. up to the present day. Sekhar. Nos. preserves -I and -1 unchanged and doubles the following plosive.4). viltta!i (1. The Proto-period which must be posited as the result of historical reconstruction was. Bull.and the preservation of the cluster lk in Malayalam. For a detailed description of this phenomenon.) and Ptolemy (circa 150 A.. in the fourteenth century inscriptions this sandhi is not attested (see A.26).D. the inheritance of the second person oblique form with -i. p. C. p. pp. ~8 L. Vol. 91-96.2).M. when compared with the prehistoric changes which they underwent in Tamil.3. Vol. tOl-p-pett.. 36-37). . Ramaswami Aiyar. V. pp. Part 2 (1938). 2~ even in external sandhi. Malayalam has preserved ~1 the cluster lk.i show how Mal.). Bulletin of the Rama Varma Research Institute. Evolution of Malayalam. Ramaswami Aiyar. an early Malayalam text. Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society. 3 (1958). unlike literary Tamil. 6. 3 and 4 (Jam-Apr. 1937). point to the conclusion that the differentiation between the East Coast and the West Coast dialects has started in a prehistoric period.ru. "Two Problems in Old Tamil Phonology"." 82 In the West Coast inscriptions of the tenth. The change lk is one of the early features which marks a prehistoric differentiation between the East Coast and the West Coast dialects. see L. 10. both varieties are found.na (8. the common starting point for the ancestors of both Tamil and Malayalam. 92. p. Ramaswami Aiyar. although not universally. 21 L. which reflects a West Coast pronunciation *Kolkkai for what in the Eastern dialect was Ko_rkai. For that reason it would seem that "Proto-Tamil-Malayalam" (parallel to. The only sandhi phenomenon that calls for mention is the lengthening of k. "Primer . Rarna Varma Research Inst. Deccan College Dissertation Series. instances with and without this sandhi change are found. F. I1. In Rdmacaritam.i. Indo-Iranian Journal. However.g.. The thirteenth century Malayalam grammar Lfldtilakam mentions this sandhi change (see 3. B.. An early instance of this cluster is indirectly attested in the Greek spelling K r l k h o i ~3 in the Periplus (circa 80 A. found.D.. which is mostly. Part 2 (1938). e.. J. mu. 23. VI. 250: "The illustrations pdl-k-kit. Vol. The r-forms are obviously due to the influence of the East Coast (Tamil) dialect in literary usuage. 221. Kuiper. V.g. Poona. eleventh and twelfth centuries. 1953.

92.zguistics 5.dagu see Bh. To. p. on the advice of Prof.. Current Trends in Li. Only the stemma was then added. it is necessary here to state that Govindankutty's paper was completed at Christmas 1970 and then shown to some colleagues for criticism. to bring out more clearly the implications of the term "Proto-Tamil-Malayalain" introduced by the author.] .60 A. Ko. F o r the exact l o c a t i o n o f Ko. K r i s h n a m u r t i . Zvelebil.d. 326f. [NOTE OF THE EDITOR. GOVINDANKUTTY NEW STEMMA Proto-Tamil-Toda Proto-Tamil-Malayalam I I I I West Coast Dialects (prehistoric) East C o a s t Dialects (prehistoric) Old Tamil I Early Malayalam Early M i d d l e Tamil Ko. Since wrong conclusions with regard to this contribution might be drawn from a recent publication in JAOS.

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