'Dravidian language family 4,500 years old'
Berlin: The Dravidian language family, consisting of 80 varieties spoken by nearly 220 million people across southern and central India, originated about 4,500 years ago, a study has found. This estimate is based on new linguistic analyses by an international team, including researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, and the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun.
The researchers used data collected first-hand from native speakers representing all previously reported Dravidian subgroups.
These findings, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, match well with earlier linguistic and archaeological studies. South Asia, reaching from Afghanistan in the west and Bangladesh in the east, is home to at least six hundred languages belonging to six large language families, including Dravidian, Indo-European, and Sino-Tibetan.
The Dravidian language family, consisting of about 80 language varieties (both languages and dialects) is today spoken by about 220 million people, mostly in southern and central India, and surrounding countries.
Its four largest languages, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu have literary traditions spanning centuries, of which Tamil reaches back the furthest, researchers said.