SV: SV: Pre-Greek languages

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at
Sun Dec 19 10:11:56 UTC 1999

[ moderator re-formatted ]

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal [SMTP:mcv at] skrev 11. desember 1999 14:55:

Eduard Selleslagh wrote:

>>> 3. The presence of Elamite (in Antiquity) and Brahwi (Dravidian) in Iran
>>> strongly suggests that the Dravidian territory stretched far more westward
>>> than at present. It seems - but I have no documentation at hand - that the
>>> old Indus valley culture is now recognized as having been Dravidian, which
>>> reinforces the hypothesis.

Lars M. Fosse wrote:

>>The presence of Brahui has been shown to be due to a migration of Dravidian
>>speakers from the South of India (probably mercenaries) a few hundred years
>>ago. They are therefore not relevant for the discussion of the earliest

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal wrote:

> From the South of India?  I'm aware of theories that derive
> Brahui from a migration from medieval Northern India (although I
> don't know what the arguments for it are), but Southern India
> would seem to be very strange: isn't it agreed that Brahui is
> closest to the North-East Dravidian languages Kurux and Malto?

The first to suggest that Brahui might represent a migration from southern
India would seem to be Grierson. However, one of the most recent sources on the
problem is the following paper by Hans Heinrich Hock, "Pre-Rigvedic Convergence
between Indo-Aryan (Sanskrit) and Dravidian? A Survey of the Issues and
Controversies", in Ideology and Status of Sanskrit. Contributions to the
history of the Sanskrit language. Ed. by Jan E. M. Houben. E. J. Brill, Leiden

Hock says (p. 32): "While Brahui is now spoken in the extreme northwest [...]
its presence in the area cannot be traced back much farther that the sixteenth
   To my [Hocks's] knowledge, Bloch (1911, see also 1925, 1929) was the first
to suggest that Brahui may have migrated to the area from farther south:
According to their own traditions, the Brahuis (and all other present-day
linguistic groups) are different from the original indigenous population and
have migrated to the area.
  More significant, because better established, is the fact that according to
their own tradition, the Kurukh and Malto, close linguistic relatives of
Brahui, migrated to their present locations via the Narmada valley, from a much
more southern area in Karnataka. "

Hock's paper deals with a Dravidian presence in the Northwest and its potential
influence on Skt in general where Brahui has been used as part of the argument.
Bernard Sergent in his "Genese de l'Inde" p. 130 points out that all
indo-iranian loanwords in Brahui are from Baluchi [quoting Elfenbein], which
means that the contact between the two languages has to be later than the 13th
century. Although Parpola tries to modify the arguments put forward by
Elfenbein, it would seem that the majority of scholars on the subject now
adhere to the theory that the Brahui migrated from the South/Deccan sometime
during the late Middle Ages, an opinion also shared by Emeneau. This of course
does not mean that there were no Dravidians up North 3-4000 years ago although
Sergent rejects that too on the basis of physical anthropological evidence. But
it does mean that there were no Brahuis - or their direct ancestors in this
area at an early date.

Best regards,
Lars Martin Fosse

Dr. art. Lars Martin Fosse
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
0674 Oslo
Phone/Fax: +47 22 32 12 19
Email: lmfosse at

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