Dravidian
   The adjective Dravidian defines a family of Indian languages that differs from the other families, mainly the Indo-Aryan, Munda, and Tibeto-Bur-man. In the 19th and 20th centuries people speak-ing these languages in South India began to see themselves as possessing a separate culture, and a movement to create a separate Dravidian state, which was particularly strong between the 1930s and the 1970s, emerged.
   The term itself is from the Sanskrit terms dramila, dramida, and dravida, referring in dif-ferent contexts to peoples of the south of India, the South Indian region, and Tamil, one of the major Dravidian languages. The term is also sometimes used to refer to the people who speak the Dravidian languages; this usage is somewhat misleading in that it implies a racial designa-tion such as ARYAN, while in fact there are many ethnicities represented by speakers of Dravidian languages. In the ongoing debate regarding the cultural nature of the ancient Indus Valley civili-zation, some believe its script reflects a Dravidian language and connect the Indus Valley peoples to contemporary Dravidian speakers. Others believe the language of the script is Indo-Aryan.
   There are 26 Dravidian languages, spoken by some 250 million people. All but two of them are spoken in India; Brahui is spoken on the Afghan-Pakistani border in Baluchistan, and Kurux is spoken in Nepal. They are also spoken by old diasporic communities in Sri Lanka and Malay-sia, and in newer DIASPORA countries around the world.
   The largest Dravidian languages are Tamil and Telegu, each with about 70 million speakers, and Kannada and Malayalam, each spoken by about 40 million people. Other far South Indian dialects include Tulu and Toda, a tribal language. Other tribal Dravidian languages of southern and central India include Gondi, Kulumi, and Kurukh.
   Great literatures have developed in all of the four major Dravidian languages. Tamil literature, however, has the most impressive corpus of extant ancient literature, dating from the second century B.C.E., as well as a large corpus of literature dating from the sixth century to the 12th century, when Dravidian 137 J
   Telegu and Kannada begin their literary records. Malayalam literature developed later. Scholars of Dravidian linguistics important for reference include M. B. Emeneau and T. Burrow. There are many scholars of Dravidian literatures; George Hart (Tamil), Velcheru Narayana Rao (Telegu), and A. K. Ramanujan (Tamil and Kannada) are important translators and scholars in this area.
   Further reading: Robert L. Hardgrave, The Dravid-ian Movement (Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1965); Stanford B. Steever, The Dravidian Languages (London: Routledge, 2004).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Dravidian — 1856, pertaining to the race in southern India or the languages spoken by them, from Skt. Dravidah, name of a region in southern India …   Etymology dictionary

  • Dravidian — [drə vid′ē ən] n. [after Sans Drāviḍa, Tamil language] 1. a) any of a group of intermixed peoples chiefly in S India and N Sri Lanka b) a member of any of these peoples 2. the family of about 25 non Indo European languages spoken by these peoples …   English World dictionary

  • Dravidian — noun Etymology: Sanskrit Drāviḍa Date: 1856 1. a member of an ancient dark skinned people of southern India 2. Dravidian languages • Dravidian adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Dravidian — [drə vɪdɪən] noun 1》 a family of languages spoken in southern India and Sri Lanka, including Tamil and Kannada. 2》 a member of any of the peoples speaking a Dravidian language. adjective relating to or denoting Dravidian or its speakers. Origin… …   English new terms dictionary

  • Dravidian — Dra•vid•i•an [[t]drəˈvɪd i ən[/t]] n. 1) peo a language family of South Asia, spoken mainly in S India, and including Telugu and Tamil 2) peo a speaker of a language belonging to this family 3) peo of or pertaining to Dravidian or its speakers •… …   From formal English to slang

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  • Dravidian — noun a) A family of related ethnicities and languages primarily in Southern India, Northeast Sri Lanka, and parts of Pakistan, and Bangladesh. b) Any of the languages of these aboriginal peoples; Dravidic …   Wiktionary

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