Munda in Early NW India

rohan.oberoi at rohan.oberoi at
Tue Apr 10 13:53:11 UTC 2001

David L. White wrote:

>Do the Munda languages have retroflex consonants?  That would surely
>be convenient.

Witzel's article "Substrate Languages in Old Indo-Aryan" [EJVS,] notes that
"...Munda originally had no retroflexes (Pinnow 1959, except for D,
see Zide 1969: 414, 423)."  I haven't seen the references, but it may
be relevant that Munda is related to Vietnamese (does that have

>A possible problem with all this is that when non-IE loan-words start
>showing up in Sanskrit, they are (as far as I know) Dravidian.  My
>impression is that, if there are Munda loan-words, they are few and
>far between.

Witzel's article says the earliest stratum of the RV ("Level I") had
no Dravidian loan words at all, and many loans previously interpreted
as Dravidian are now regarded as ["para-"] Munda.  However the Munda
etymologies are by no means certain, and there is a "Language X" in
the background.

>Speaking of such matters, is there any convincing scenario for how
>the retroflex series became phonemic in Sanksrit from internal causes

I've seen references that suggest H.H. Hock has made this argument.
[Hock H.H. "Pre-rgvedic convergence between Indo-Aryan 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 J.Houben, Leiden, Brill 1996.]

-- Rohan.

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