Indo-Aryan languages

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The Indo-Aryan or Indic languages, are a major language family of South Asia (or the Indian subcontinent). They constitute a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family. In the early 21st century, Indo-Aryan languages were spoken by more than 800 million people, primarily in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.[2] Moreover, there are large immigrant and expatriate Indo-Aryan speaking communities in Northwestern Europe, Western Asia, North America and Australia. There are about 219 known Indo-Aryan languages.


  • [the Dravidian derivations ... on Sanskrit words [are not ] “self-evident” [but] “a matter of probability and to a certain extent of faith”.
    • Bloch, J. (1929), Quoted from Talageri, S. (2000). The Rigveda: A historical analysis. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • There has been a certain amount of controversy concerning the question of non-Aryan loan-words in Sanskrit, and some scholars (P. Thieme, H.W. Bailey) have adopted a sceptical position in this respect. Alternate Indo-European etymologies have been offered for words for which a Dravidian or Munda etymology had previously been proposed, in some cases successfully (…)but more dubious in other cases.
  • “All these linguists are operating on the assumption, based on other criteria, that the Aryans ‘must have’ invaded India where there could not have been a ‘linguistic vacuum’”... “they are not internally consistent, since the opinions of the principal linguists in this area have differed quite considerably. This problematizes the value of this method as a significant determinant in the Indo-Aryan debate…”.... “the theory of Aryan migrations must be established without doubt on other grounds for research into pre-Aryan linguistic substrata to become meaningful. However, the ‘evidence’ of a linguistic substratum in Indo-Aryan, in and of itself, due to its inconclusive nature, cannot be presented in isolation as decisive proof in support of the theory of Aryan invasions or migrations into the Indian subcontinent.”
    • Edwin F. Bryant, Linguistic Substrata and the Indigenous Aryan Debate. Quoted from Talageri, S. (2000). The Rigveda: A historical analysis. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • “not a single case in which a communis opinio has been found confirming the foreign origin of a Rgvedic (and probably Vedic in general) word”.... [there is] “not a single bit of uncontroversial evidence on the actual spread of Dravidian and Austro-Asiatic in prehistoric times, so that any statement on Dravidian and Austric in Rgvedic times is nothing but speculation”. ...“Many of the arguments for (or against) such foreign origin are often not the results of impartial and thorough research, but rather of (often wistful) statements of faith.”
    • Rahul Peter Das, 1994. Quoted from Talageri, S. (2000). The Rigveda: A historical analysis. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • There was a branch of Indo-Aryan which, like the parent Indo-European, had retained the distinction between r and l, [and that this branch entered India] before the migrations of the standard Indo-Aryan branch... Where did they come from? Did they reach India via Iran? If so, did they leave any trace of themselves in Iran? Were the speakers of the r-and-l dialect of pre-Vedic Indo-Aryan a totally different branch from the Indo- Iranian? These are difficult questions. [...] Anyway, one would still have to assume the entry of r-and-l dialects of Indo-Aryan into India before the arrival of the Ṛgvedic Aryans to account for the fact that r-and-l dialects in India were more easterly in relation to the Ṛgvedic dialect.
    • (DESHPANDE 1995:71-72). Vedic Aryans, non-Vedic Aryans, and non-Aryans: Judging the Linguistic Evidence of the Veda; Deshpande, Madhav. pp. 67-84 in ―The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia‖, ed. George Erdosy. Walter de Gruyter. Berlin, 1995. Quoted in Talageri, S. G. (2008). The Rigveda and the Avesta. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • [it is] “always possible, eg. to counter a suggestion of borrowing from one of the indigenous language families by suggesting that there has been borrowing in the other direction”. .... [these derivations are] “in fact all merely ‘suggestions’. Unfortunately, all areal etymologies are in the last analysis unprovable, are ‘acts of faith’.” ... [the external (to India) origin of the Indoaryans (and Indo-Europeans) is] “our linguistic doctrine which has been held now for more than a century and a half”.
    • Emeneau, M. (1980) Quoted from Talageri, S. (2000). The Rigveda: A historical analysis. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • Another point is that there may be a covert petitio principii at work here. Many assertions on what can or cannot be done in Indo-Aryan are based on the assumption that Vedic Sanskrit is more or less the mother of the whole IA group, it being the language of the entry point whence the Aryan tribes populated a large part of India. Thus, Witzel is sure that Kosala must be a loan (from Tibeto-Burman) because the sequence -os- is “not allowed in Sanskrit”.
    • Elst, Koenraad (2007). Asterisk in bharopiyasthan: Minor writings on the Aryan invasion debate.
  • “All the Dravidian languages known to us fairly bristle with loans from Sanskrit and the Aryan vernaculars. Dravidian literature in South India came into existence under the impulse and influence of Sanskrit literature and speech. Wherever there is a correspondence in the vocabularies of Sanskrit and Dravidian, there is a presumption, to be removed only by specific argument, that Sanskrit has been the lender, Dravidian the borrower.” ....“If a word can be explained easily from material extant in Sanskrit itself, there is little chance for such a hypothesis”.
    • Paul Thieme commenting about the “zeal for hunting up Dravidian loans in Sanskrit” and rejecting the tendency to force Dravidian or Austric etymologies onto Indoaryan words. Quoted from Talageri, S. (2000). The Rigveda: A historical analysis. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.

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