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Dravidian peoples - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dravidian peoples
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dravidian peoples natively speak languages belonging to

the Dravidian family. There are around 220 million
Dravidian speakers worldwide, with most inhabiting
Southern India. Others also reside in parts of Central
India, Eastern India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the
Maldives and Nepal. The most populous Dravidians are
the Tamils, Telugus, Kannadigas, and the Malayalis.
Smaller Dravidian communities with 15 million speakers
are the Tuluvas, Gonds and Brahui.


Areas in South India where Dravidian languages are

1 Classification

currently spoken

2 Etymology

Total population

3 Origins
4 Genetic anthropology

approx. 217 million speakers

Regions with significant populations

5 Language

Dravidian languages

6 List of Dravidian people


7 See also
8 References
9 External links

Hinduism, Islam, traditional religion, Buddhism,

Jainism, Christianity, Judaism
Related ethnic groups
Brahuis Cholanaikkan Gondis Irulas


Kannadigas Khonds Kodavas Malayalis

Paniyas Soliga Telugus Tamils Tuluvas

There are two definitions for Dravidian ethnicity which

are generally divided between proposing that Dravidian people are an ethnic group in their own right, or
Dravidian people are a collective group of ethnolinguistic ethnicity. The World Book Encyclopaedia, Volume
10 says: "Most southern Indians belong to the Dravidian ethnic group;" referring to them as one ethnic
group,[1] while the The New Encyclopaedia Britannica: Volume 8; Volume 21 refers to 'Dravidian ethnic
groups', suggesting the latter definition.[2]

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 drvia in the work Tantravrttika by Kumrila Bhaa.[3]
For the origin of the Sanskrit word drvia, various theories have been proposed. These theories concern the
direction of derivation between tami and drvia; such linguists as Zvelebil assert that the direction is from
tami to drvia.[4]

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Although in modern times speakers of the various Dravidian languages have mainly occupied the southern
portion of India, nothing definite is known about the ancient domain of the Dravidian parent speech. It is,
however, a well-established and well-supported hypothesis that Dravidian speakers must have been
widespread throughout India, including the northwest region.[5] Origins of Dravidian people are informed by
various theories proposed by linguists, anthropologists, geneticist and historians. According to geneticist
Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza in the book The History and Geography of Human Genes, the Dravidians were
preceded in the subcontinent by Austroasiatic speakers, and were followed by Indo-European-speaking
migrants sometime later.
Some linguists hypothesized that Dravidian-speaking people were spread throughout the Indian subcontinent
before a series of Indo-Aryan migrations. In this view, the early Indus Valley civilisation (Harappa and
Mohenjo Daro) is often identified as having been Dravidian.[6] Cultural and linguistic similarities have been
cited by researchers such as Finnish Indologist Asko Parpola as being strong evidence for a proto-Dravidian
origin of the ancient Indus Valley civilisation.
Some scholars like J. Bloch and M. Witzel believe that the Indo-Aryan moved into an already Dravidian
speaking area after the oldest parts of the Rig Veda were already composed.[7] The Brahui population of
Balochistan has been taken by some as the linguistic equivalent of a relict population, perhaps indicating that
Dravidian languages were formerly much more widespread and were supplanted by the incoming
Indo-Aryan languages.[8]
Thomason and Kaufman state that there is strong evidence that Dravidian influenced Indo-Aryan through
"shift", that is, native Dravidian speakers learning and adopting Indo-Aryan languages.[9] Erdosy states that
the most plausible explanation for the presence of Dravidian structural features in Old Indo-Aryan is that the
majority of early Old Indo-Aryan speakers had a Dravidian mother tongue which they gradually
abandoned.[10] Even though the innovative traits in Indo-Aryan languages could be explained by multiple
internal explanations, early Dravidian influence is the only explanation that can account for all of the
innovations at once it becomes a question of explanatory parsimony; moreover, early Dravidian influence
accounts for several of the innovative traits in Indo-Aryan languages better than any internal explanation
that has been proposed.[11] Zvelebil remarks that "Several scholars have demonstrated that pre-Indo-Aryan
and pre-Dravidian bilingualism in India provided conditions for the far-reaching influence of Dravidian on
the Indo-Aryan tongues in the spheres of phonology, syntax and vocabulary".[12]

Genetic anthropology
Genetic views on race differ in their classification of Dravidians. Classical anthropologists, such as Carleton
S. Coon in his 1939 work The Races of Europe, argued that Ethiopia in Northeast Africa and India in South
Asia represented the outermost peripheries of the Caucasoid race. In the 1960s, genetic anthropologist
Stanley Marion Garn considered the entirety of the Indian subcontinent to be a "race" genetically distinct
from other populations.[13][14] The geneticist L.L. Cavalli-Sforza of Stanford, based on work done in the
1980s, classified Indians as being genetically Caucasian. Cavalli-Sforza theorised that Indians are about three
times closer to West Europeans than to East Asians.[13] More recently, other geneticists, such as Lynn B.
Jorde and Stephen P. Wooding, demonstrated that South Indians are genetic intermediaries between
Europeans and East Asians.[15][16][17]
While a number of earlier anthropologists held the view that the Dravidian people together were a distinct
race, a small number of genetic studies based on uniparental markers have challenged this view. Some
researchers have indicated that both Dravidian and Indo-Aryan speakers are indigenous to the Indian
subcontinent; however, this point of view is rejected by many researchers in favour of Indo-Aryan migration,
with racial stratification among Indian populations being distributed along caste lines.[18][19][20][21]

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Dravidian peoples - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Because of admixture between Australoid, Caucasoid, and Mongoloid racial groups, one cannot speak of a
biologically separate "Dravidian race" distinct from non-Dravidians on the Indian subcontinent. In a 2009
study of 132 individuals, 560,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in 25 different Indian groups were
analysed, providing strong evidence in support of the notion that modern Indians (both Indo-Aryan and
Dravidian groups) are a hybrid population descending from two post-Neolithic, genetically divergent
populations referred to as the 'Ancestral North Indians' and the 'Ancestral South Indians'. According to the
study, Andamanese are an ASI-related group without ANI ancestry, showing that the peopling of the islands
must have occurred before ANI-ASI gene flow on the mainland.[22]

The best-known Dravidian languages are Tamil ( ), Telugu ( ), Malayalam (), and
Kannada ( ). There are three subgroups within the Dravidian language family: North Dravidian, Central
Dravidian, and South Dravidian, matching for the most part the corresponding regions in the Indian
Dravidian languages are spoken by more than 200 million people. They appear to be unrelated to languages
of other known families like Indo-European.
Dravidian grammatical impact on the structure and syntax of Indo-Aryan languages is considered far greater
than the Indo-Aryan grammatical impact on Dravidian. Some linguists explain this anomaly by arguing that
Middle Indo-Aryan and New Indo-Aryan were built on a Dravidian substratum.[23] There are also hundreds
of Dravidian loanwords in Indo-Aryan languages, and vice versa.

List of Dravidian people









Pakistan 2,528,000

Brahuis are an ethnic group of about 2.5 million people

with the majority found in Sindh and Baluchistan,



The Cholanaikkan primarily inhabit the southern Kerala

State, especially Silent Valley National Park, and are one
of the last remaining hunter-gatherer tribes of the region.
They speak the Dravidian Cholanaikkan language.

The Giraavarus or Tivaru people are the indigenous

people of Giraavaru Island, part of the Maldives.


A prominent group of Dravidian-speaking tribal people

inhabiting the central region of India.


Irulas inhabit various parts of the southern half of the

country, but mainly reside in the Thiruvallur district of
Tamil Nadu. They speak Irula, a Dravidian language most
closely related to Tamil, Yerukala, Sholaga and other
Tamil languages.

(2001 only

Kannadigas: People belonging to the south-Dravidian

subgroup. Mostly found in Karnataka and parts of
northern Kerala and parts of southern Maharashtra,
northwest region of Tamil Nadu, India. A minority group is
found in Arab states of the Persian Gulf, United States,




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United Kingdom, Canada.



They inhabit Odisha and the Srikakulam and

Visakhapatnam districts of Andhra Pradesh. Their main
divisions are the Kutia, or hill Khonds and plain-dwelling
Khonds; the landowners among them are known as Raj
Khonds. The Khonds speak Kui, a Dravidian language
most closely related to Gondi, Konda and Kuvi.




People belonging to the south-Dravidian subgroup, found

in Karnataka and parts of northern Kerala who speak the
Kodava language.

People belonging to the north-Dravidian subgroup. Found

in India and Bangladesh. It is the only Dravidian language
indigenous in Bangladesh.


These people belong to south-Dravidian linguistic

subgroup. Mostly found in Kerala, Lakshadweep,
Puducherry, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and
Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India. A minority group
is found in Arab states of the Persian Gulf, United States,
United Kingdom, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore and

Malto/Malar mostly live in the northern end of the

subcontinent, such as in West Bengal, Bangladesh, Bihar
and Jharkhand.

94,000 (2003)

They primarily inhabit Kerala, and the Wayanad,

Kozhikode, Kannur and Malappuram districts. They
Paniya speak the Paniya language, which belongs to the
Malayalam group of Dravidian languages.


They primarily inhabit the Biligirirangan Hills and

associated ranges in southern Karnataka, mostly in the
Chamarajanagar and Erode districts of Tamil Nadu. Many
are also concentrated in and around the BR Hills in
Yelandur and Kollegal Taluks of Chamarajanagar District,
Karnataka. The Soliga speak Sholaga, a Dravidian
language most closely to Kannada.


These people belong to south-Dravidian linguistic

subgroup. Mostly found in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, parts
of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, southern Karnataka,
Maharashtra and Delhi.There is also a significant presence
in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Andaman and Nicobar,
Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, Philippines, Bali, and
Sumatra. A minority group is found in Arab states of the
Persian Gulf, United States, United Kingdom, Canada,
Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.


These people belong to south-Dravidian subgroup

(formerly classified with the Central Dravidian but now
more specifically in the South Dravidian or South Central
Dravidian inner branch of the South Dravidian). Mostly
found in Andhra Pradesh also in Orissa, Tamil Nadu, and














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Karnataka and also in Andaman and Nicobar Islands,
Singapore, Malaysia, Arab states of the Persian Gulf,
United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New
Zealand and South Africa.


| Brahuis ||



People belonging to the south Dravidian subgroup, found

in coastal Karnataka and northern Kerala, alternatively
named Tulu Nadu.

Trinidad and Tobago || 5000 ||

See also
Dravidian languages
Historical definitions of races in India
Dravidian University (dedicated to research and learning of Dravidian languages)
South India

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doi:10.1086/368061 (


/10.1086%2F368061). PMC 1180234



PMC 2755252 (

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Dravidian peoples - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Krishnamurti, Bhadriraju (2003). The Dravidian Languages. Cambridge Language Surveys.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-77111-5.
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External links
Dolmens, Hero Stones and the Dravidian People ( Glimpses of South Asia before 1947 (
andlanguages.html People and Languages in pre-Islamic Indus valley (
Dravidians Organization International (NPO & NGO) Since 2004 (
Retrieved from ""
Categories: Dravidian peoples Historical definitions of race Pre-Indo-Europeans

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