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Old August 7th, 2017, 02:18 PM   #1
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Tamil - The Language, Puzzles and Its Origin


1) Vivekananda said, Tamil the oldest Indian language

2) Present Syria was ruled by the Kings called Mittanis, at around 1200 BCE, they had a peace agreement with Hittites. Interesting Mittani mentioned so many Sanskrit terms and Indic gods called Indra, Varuna and Asvini. But the Interesting thing is the Hittites with whom Mittanis had an agreement, called their mother as annai and father as attan. Both annai and attan are Tamil words.

3) Tamil is the only classical language surviving up to modern times in all fields and spheres with less change in grammatical structure. The other Indian older language Sanskrit is now known by People less than a lakh.

4) Athens, the capital of Greek, according to Greek myths, founded by a king called Pandion. There was a Greek tribe called Pandionis. In Tamil Pandyan dynasty the oldest ruled Madurai. Megasthenes, the Greek traveller at 300 BCE mentioned that the Pandyan dynasty descended from mythical Hercules.

5) The term Alphabet is derived from two Phoenician alphabets alpha and beta. From Phoenicians, Greeks adopted the writing system. The term Phoenician derived from Palm.
Alpha means bull (A) and Beta also Vet means house (B) in Phoenician. Tamils used palm leaves to write. The merchants in Indian called as Pani, vani, vanigar, Baniya, etc. Tamil word for bull is eruthu and house are veedu.

Tamil -English-Phoenician-English letter
eruthu - Bull- aleph/alpha -A
veedu - House - veet/beta -B
Kurangu/Kapi - Quo/Quppo - Q
Kai - hand - Kap - K
Am - water - Mem - M

6) Indus Valley seals have fish symbols, which also represents stars. In Indian languages, Tamil is the only language which has the word meen and this word meaning fish and star.
The bull leaping seal in Indus valley and the Tamil still plays Bull leaping (Jallikattu).
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Old August 7th, 2017, 08:45 PM   #2

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The word meen is of Sanskrit origin. It is used even in Sanskrit and Hindi. Meenakshi means 'fish like eyes' commonly used both in Sanskrit and Hindi. Apart from Tamil, Kannada and Telugu are some of the ancient languages which is still spoken to this day.
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Old August 8th, 2017, 12:04 AM   #3

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meen is a loanword in Sanskrit from Dravidian. (Turner, Indo-Aryan Dictionary, page 583)

Indo-Aryan languages like Hindi used the word derived from Sanskrit matsya for the fish.
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Old August 8th, 2017, 06:05 AM   #4

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Another word for fish is Jhash.
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Old August 8th, 2017, 09:22 AM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mnsr View Post
meen is a loanword in Sanskrit from Dravidian. (Turner, Indo-Aryan Dictionary, page 583)

Indo-Aryan languages like Hindi used the word derived from Sanskrit matsya for the fish.
This don't seem plausible. Moreover, in Telugu fish is not referred as meen.
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Old August 8th, 2017, 09:48 AM   #6
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This don't seem plausible. Moreover, in Telugu fish is not referred as meen.
You are right that Modern Telugu does not use mInu for 'fish'. We instead use the obscure origin cEpa. (I say obscure origin because the traditional Telugu dictionaries do not classify cEpa as of any Indo-Aryan origin but then the Dravidian Etymological Dictionary also does not seem to have any entry for cEpa.)

In fact, the mIn sounding word which we do use currently in Telugu in rare occasions is a borrowing from Sanskrit in the Sanskrit tatsama form of mInam(u) and plural mInAlu.

But the word mIn for 'fish' is most likely to be of Dravidian origin seeing how ubiquitous it is in all the subgroups of Dravidian- see Dravidian Etymological Dictionary entry 4885- CD languages like Parji, Kolami, etc. and even a North Dravidian language Malto has it.

The pure Dravidian nature of the word may also be supported from the Telugu side because an ancient word mInu exists in Telugu and pluralised as mIlu. Check in the dictionaries here. This ancient mInu (pl. mIlu), while can be a vikrti of Sanskrit mInam, can also be perfectly explained internally by the Telugu addition of the final vowel u after a consonant-ending Proto-Dravidian word, PD mIn ---> Te. mInu.

So, cEpa actually seems to be of an unknown origin while mInu is the original word but again, Telugu uses the reborrowed form from Sanskrit and that too, rarely. Telugu is one definitely liberal language lol.
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Old August 8th, 2017, 10:57 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vinothindie View Post
1) Vivekananda said, Tamil the oldest Indian language

2) Present Syria was ruled by the Kings called Mittanis, at around 1200 BCE, they had a peace agreement with Hittites. Interesting Mittani mentioned so many Sanskrit terms and Indic gods called Indra, Varuna and Asvini. But the Interesting thing is the Hittites with whom Mittanis had an agreement, called their mother as annai and father as attan. Both annai and attan are Tamil words.

3) Tamil is the only classical language surviving up to modern times in all fields and spheres with less change in grammatical structure. The other Indian older language Sanskrit is now known by People less than a lakh.

4) Athens, the capital of Greek, according to Greek myths, founded by a king called Pandion. There was a Greek tribe called Pandionis. In Tamil Pandyan dynasty the oldest ruled Madurai. Megasthenes, the Greek traveller at 300 BCE mentioned that the Pandyan dynasty descended from mythical Hercules.

5) The term Alphabet is derived from two Phoenician alphabets alpha and beta. From Phoenicians, Greeks adopted the writing system. The term Phoenician derived from Palm.
Alpha means bull (A) and Beta also Vet means house (B) in Phoenician. Tamils used palm leaves to write. The merchants in Indian called as Pani, vani, vanigar, Baniya, etc. Tamil word for bull is eruthu and house are veedu.

Tamil -English-Phoenician-English letter
eruthu - Bull- aleph/alpha -A
veedu - House - veet/beta -B
Kurangu/Kapi - Quo/Quppo - Q
Kai - hand - Kap - K
Am - water - Mem - M

6) Indus Valley seals have fish symbols, which also represents stars. In Indian languages, Tamil is the only language which has the word meen and this word meaning fish and star.
The bull leaping seal in Indus valley and the Tamil still plays Bull leaping (Jallikattu).
Okay, this probably is a big mistake, but my brain was itching like anything to write a reply to this.

1. Not necessary to comment lol.

2. Hittite is decidedly an Indo-European language belonging to the Anatolian branch. Mitannis were the elite rulers of a Hurrian-speaking majority and these elites spoke the Old-Indo-Aryan (OIA) language, almost identical to the language of the Rigveda.

3. No one denies Tamil is one of the few classical languages that has been living continuously since Tolkappiyam-and-some-inscriptions-preceding-that, time. But that observation alone does not contribute much for us to know about its exact origins because historical attestation for Tamil, however old it is, can only date back to the stage after writing has come to Tamil Nadu, and does not take it back to Africa. So, any pre-historical research about languages should be carried out majorly with the help of sciences like historical linguistics which are known to work, seeing examples like reconstructed Proto-Romance from the data of the current Romance languages matching the known Latin/Vulgar Latin very closely. Again, any purported low level of change in Tamil in grammatical structure, etc. pertains to the known historical period and tells us nothing about its origins. Maybe you can treat it as one of the "puzzles", but even then it can be explained sociolinguistically by the historically observed linguistic conservatism of Tamil and its geography, being shielded for the most part from the languages of the Indo-Aryan family by its northern neighbours of Kannada and Telugu.

(Also, I require some time to do it, but I can show some changes in morphology also from the reconstructed Proto-Dravidian to the Old Tamil stage. I will try to show some changes in grammatical morphemes in spoken Tamil in the historical periods also, because spoken languages (koTuntamiz, literally 'crooked Tamil') definitely change, even when archaic varieties of literary language continue to be in use in formal occasions (centamiz, literally 'beautiful Tamil') in the form of the very strict diglossia that Tamil exhibits.)

(And if you talked about grammatical structure as in basic SOV word order, and other aspects of syntax, then there is no big deal there anyway, as all the Dravidian languages have been remarkably stable when it comes to basic structure.)

4. I don't have the knowledge necessary to refute this comment but on first look, it definitely is such an astronomically huge distance association of Tamil royals with Greek royals, going far far beyond the historically known Greek-Roman trade with Tamils.

5. Again, such a long-distance association of Tamil with Phoenician (a known Afro-asiatic language and Afro-asiatic languages are not considered to have any genetic connections with Dravidian languages)

6. This is the only point with any amount of a little worth to it, but again, the association of the fish in the Indus seals with the Dravidian 'fish, star' has happened once the language of the seals has been assumed to be Old Tamil. But still, this consideration did not lead to a complete decipherment of the Indus script from the Tamil angle, except maybe to explain a seal or two, that too with a shallow profundity, personally speaking.

And there are sports like bull-fighting or closely related ones in many places of the world. Do all those cultures like the Spanish people, Tamil people have the same origins? And the symbolism of the bull has always been very important to traditional agricultural societies of the Old World, wherever they are in the world. The exact type of rock art seen in the Southern Neolithic (of bulls, in certain times just the hump and horns being drawn without the rest of the bull) has also parallels in African pastoralist art. Does that mean those pastoralist Africans and Tamils share their origin and these two combinedly share their origin with the Indus Valley people?

(I'm not saying in the above paragraph that you cannot draw any parallels like that at all. What I'm saying is, this sort of cultural parallels can only act as supplementary evidence for a much more stronger evidence like the Indus seals getting satisfactorily deciphered and conclusively pointing to any known language or a lost language. But that has not happened till now. We have to wait till that happens. There is no other way.)

Last edited by historumsi; August 8th, 2017 at 11:18 AM.
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Old August 8th, 2017, 12:35 PM   #8
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I'll present my view of the origins of the great language that is Tamil.

We have to define Tamil first.

1. We definitely can't define Tamil as the language that has always been spoken in the current geographical area of Tamil Nadu because Homo Erectus of Tamil Nadu definitely did not speak it.

2. We cannot also label the layers of the language spoken before the historical attestations of Tamil emerged in the final centuries before BC as "Older Old Tamil" or "Ancient Tamil" or "Tamil in Neanderthal time period" or "Tamil in Africa".

3. The logic that Tamil extremists generally apply to passionately argue that the historically later attested languages like Telugu are just that, not old, younger than Tamil, and all that, should apply to Tamil language itself. And if we go by that logic, Telugu is the language that "started" with those Renati Choda inscriptions and Tamil is the language that "started" with the first attestations in final centuries BC. That's it. Case closed. No ancient genetic connections to IVC, Greece, Phoenicia, etc. can be posited. This way, temporal origins of the Tamil language are far from unclear at around 4th century BC, from available evidence.

4. Since the above mindset is too narrow, we can try a sociologically-based definition for Tamil. As, tamiz is the name consciously given to a language by the speakers of the language themselves or by some contemporary internal or external linguist who found the language in question to be not mutually intelligible with the other languages of the surrounding area. Now, by this sociological definition, dramila, damiDa, etc. as equivalent terms for the Tamil language and its speakers again comes from Prakrit and Sanskrit textual sources not too much before the historical attestation of Tamil. (I'm not exactly aware of the dates but definitely not before 7th century BC). Again, it is clear that the ethnolinguistic genesis of a people who began to call themselves Tamils can be put at the earliest to these points somewhere in the (first half of the ?) first millennium BC. And temporal origins for the Tamil language get clear this way, from available evidence of some kind.

5. Trying to obtain some sort of linguistics based definition for Tamil. That is, what is that that makes Old Tamil Old Tamil, distinguishing it from all the surrounding South Dravidian-I languages like Irula, Kota, Toda, Tulu, Kannada, etc.? One remarkable feature is the palatalisation of velar stop k before front vowels i and e, like in PD *key --> Old Tamil cey, 'to do', that is not observed in the above mentioned languages and only comes to be seen in the distant and by-this-time already separated Telugu much later (definitely after the Tamil extremist's magic figure of 6th century AD), with the earliest Telugu inscriptions showing unpalatalised forms like kEsiri, 'they did'.

But again, we can't arrive at any answers about antiquity from purely linguistic criteria like these, but they do help us have a sense of the character of the Tamil language, i.e. they tell us what makes Old Tamil unique in comparison to Proto-Dravidian, Pre-Telugu, Pre-Kannada, Pre-Tulu, Pre-Irula, Pre-Toda, etc.

So, if I go by the definition from point number 4 above, the temporal origins of a budding Tamil-like social identity and shortly thereafter, a distinct Proto-Tamil and Old Tamil language may be put around 7th-6th centuries BC.

And spatial origins for Proto-Tamil speaking people? Probably Nilgiri Hills, where Old Tamil's closest sister Irula is now spoken.

Last edited by historumsi; August 8th, 2017 at 12:43 PM.
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Old August 14th, 2017, 02:02 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vinothindie View Post
1) Vivekananda said, Tamil the oldest Indian language
This is completely incorrect since Tamil is the youngest of all Southern Dravidian languages while Tulu is the oldest of all Southern Dravidian languages. This is because Tulu separated from Proto-Dravidian the earliest while having the least amount of ancestor languages. On the other hand, Tamil has had countless ancestor languages between the timeframe of <Proto-Dravidian> to <Proto-Tamil-Malayalam>.

Last edited by Senyokbalgul; August 14th, 2017 at 02:22 AM.
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Old August 15th, 2017, 04:27 PM   #10

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Nice posts historumsi.
Quote:
Originally Posted by historumsi View Post
So, if I go by the definition from point number 4 above, the temporal origins of a budding Tamil-like social identity and shortly thereafter, a distinct Proto-Tamil and Old Tamil language may be put around 7th-6th centuries BC.

And spatial origins for Proto-Tamil speaking people? Probably Nilgiri Hills, where Old Tamil's closest sister Irula is now spoken.
These are points given by Krishnamurti on the chronology of South Dravidian Languages. We see most of these events are pre-historic and can be placed in South Indian Megalithic culture that spreads from Vidarbha to Pandya Nadu.

~11th cen BC - The split of South Dravidian I (with Pre-Tamil as the dominant language) and of South Dravidian II (with Pre-Telugu as the dominant language)

~6th cen BC - The split of Pre-Tamil from the rest (presumably Tulu–Koraga, Kannada)

6th - 3rd cen BC - successive splits of Pre-Tamil had occurred, first Toda–Kota, Kodagu (perhaps Kurumba), then Irula, all prehistoric.

9th - 13th cen AD - the split of Malayalam from Tamil.
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