History of Indian Languages
South Asia is one of the most language-dense regions in the world, with over 700 languages and an exponential number of dialects. It home to six of the world’s language families — Indo-European, Austroasiatic, Sino-Tibetan, Kra-Dai, Dravidian and Andamanese (nearly extinct), of which the latter two are endemic to the subcontinent. It is also home to three intriguing language isolates (Burushaski in Gilgit, Nihali in MP & Maharashtra and the now moribund Kusunda in Nepal). With so much density, not only are Indians naturally multilingual, often in three languages or more, but have also borrowed vocabulary and grammar from each other, making South Asia a unique linguistic area. This diversity had made the subcontinent fertile ground for linguistic studies, from Panini’s Mahabhashya in the 6th c. BCE to Bhadriraju Krishnamurti’s masterly study of Dravidian languages in the 20th c. CE.
The history of languages is difficult to trace before the advent of writing, yet the antiquity of South Asian speech goes back many centuries before the advent of writing. Three broad phases can be distinguished. The arrival of the protolanguage of each family in South Asia can be dated to well before the period before the 3rd c BCE, by which time they had already diversified into several languages. The middle phase of the languages is seen through the early historic period, a time when Sanskrit and Pali rapidly became the prestige languages of the subcontinent, donating their vocabulary to other languages. Third, we will look at the emergence of the modern languages in the medieval period, both literate and oral-only languages, and their evolution with the influence of the Persian and Arabic languages. Finally we will examine the role of the printing press, and the influence of Portuguese and English. This course will also take a brief look at the literatures of various languages, preserved both orally and in manuscripts.
1. Introduction To Indian Linguistics
2. Dravidian Languages and Literature
3. Early and Middle Indo-Aryan Languages and Literature (Proto-Sanskrit, Sanskrit, Gandhari, Pali, Ardhamagadhi)
4. Medieval and Modern Indo-Aryan Languages and Literature (Hindi, Sindhi, Punjabi, Kashmiri and Nepali)
5. Medieval and Modern Indo-Aryan Languages and Literature (Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Odia and Asomiya)
About the Speaker:
Raamesh Gowri Raghavan has 7 years of experience in scientific research, especially with PCR and biochemistry skills, followed by 11 years of experience in digital marketing, adept at conceptualisation, strategizing, copywriting and execution of marketing campaigns, working well solo or in a team. He has helped bring several brands to market in memorable and award-winning ways. He is also a teacher-researcher in the field of archaeology, linguistics and epigraphy with 4 years of experience.