A bayesian phylogenetic study of the Dravidian language family

Vishnupriya Kolipakam, Fiona M. Jordan, Michael Dunn, Simon J. Greenhill, Remco Bouckaert, Russell D. Gray, Annemarie Verkerk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
273 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The Dravidian language family consists of about 80 varieties (Hammarström H. 2016 Glottolog 2.7) spoken by 220 million people across southern and central India and surrounding countries (Steever SB. 1998 In The Dravidian languages (ed. SB Steever), pp. 1–39: 1). Neither the geographical origin of the Dravidian language homeland nor its exact dispersal through time are known. The history of these languages is crucial for understanding prehistory in Eurasia, because despite their current restricted range, these languages played a significant role in influencing other language groups including Indo-Aryan (Indo-European) and Munda (Austroasiatic) speakers. Here, we report the results of a Bayesian phylogenetic analysis of cognate-coded lexical data, elicited first hand from native speakers, to investigate the subgrouping of the Dravidian language family, and provide dates for the major points of diversification. Our results indicate that the Dravidian language family is approximately 4500 years old, a finding that corresponds well with earlier linguistic and archaeological studies. The main branches of the Dravidian language family (North, Central, South I, South II) are recovered, although the placement of languages within these main branches diverges from previous classifications. We find considerable uncertainty with regard to the relationships between the main branches.

Original languageEnglish
Article number171504
Number of pages17
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Volume5
Issue number3
Early online date21 Mar 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2018

Keywords

  • Bayesian phylogenetic inference
  • BEAST 2
  • Dating
  • Dravidian
  • Language phylogeny

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A bayesian phylogenetic study of the Dravidian language family'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this