Non-Indic sustrate vocabulary anthony.appleyard at UMIST.AC.UK
Thu Mar 1 13:57:25 UTC 2001

On Thu, 22 Feb 2001 19:35:06 -0500, Ed Sugrue <indoeuropeanling at>
> A quick query... does anyone know whether anyone has ever compiled a
> database, or even just a plain old list, of possible NON Indo-European
> lexical items in Sanskrit? My thought was that they could be examined with
> an eye to their possible value to efforts to decode the Indus Valley
> script. Does anyone know of anything like what I'm describing?

I found a book called "The Sanskrit Language", and it contains a long list
of Dravidian words that got into Sanskrit over time. It said that the flow
stopped at the Andhra period, as if it was not until then that Indo-Aryan
suppressed Dravidian in North India. Likely the upper castes spoke
Indo-Aryan and the lower castes spoke Dravidian for a long time.

I read once that someone found two Indus Valley Civilization gambling dices,
and on their 6 faces were pictures of objects whose names resembled the
numbers 1 2 3 4 5 6 in Dravidian.

Some Indian languags have a word "mlech" = "outcaste", from Sanskrit
"mleccha'" = "lower-class". I read that the word might originally have meant
the pre-IE people of north India. It would have been pushed down the social
scale along with the natives that it referred to, after the Sanskrit
speakers came. Compare the Mesopotamian name Meluhha, which was a realm
somewhere away to the east that may have been the Indus Valley Civilization.

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