Dravidian languages

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The Dravidian family of languages includes approximately 85 languages,[1] spoken by around 200 million people. They are mainly spoken in southern India and parts of eastern and central India as well as in northeastern Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iran, and overseas in other countries such as Malaysia and Singapore. Among them Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam are the members with the most speakers. There are also small groups of Dravidian-speaking scheduled tribes, who live beyond the mainstream communities. It is often speculated that Dravidian languages are native to India. Epigraphically the Dravidian languages have been attested since the 6th century BCE. Only one Dravidian Language, the Brahui language, is exclusively spoken outside India.


Origins of the word Dravidian

The English word Dravidian was first employed by Robert Caldwell in his book of comparative Dravidian grammar based on the usage of the Sanskrit word drāviḍa in the work Tantravārttika by Kumārila Bhaṭṭa (Zvelebil 1990:xx). As for the origin of the Sanskrit word drāviḍa itself there have been various theories proposed. Basically the theories are about the direction of derivation between tamiẓ and drāviḍa.

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