Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 September 2009
The Dravidian lexicon may be divided into native and borrowed. I have drawn on the native lexicon to reconstruct Proto-Dravidian culture in section 1.2.2, based on DEDR (1984). The vocabulary is classified into semantic and functional categories like material culture, social organization (including kinship terms), flora and fauna, weather and water resources etc. A wide spectrum of native lexicon is thereby covered. Since the contact of Dravidian with Indo-Aryan goes back to c. 1500 BCE, a number of Dravidian words found their way into Indo-Aryan at all stages, Old, Middle and Modern. Southworth (1995: 264) estimates that 88 lexical items were borrowed into Sanskrit from Dravidian from the Proto-Indo-Iranian period down to Classical. Some aspects of this process have been described in chapter 1 (section 1.7). We find that NIA exhibits more of structural borrowing and less of lexical borrowing from Dravidian. This has been explained as a function of the absorption of a Dravidian substratum into Indo-Aryan from the earliest stages of contact, which gradually affected its grammatical structure over three millennia.
Indo-Aryan loanwords in South Dravidian I and II
The four languages of South Dravidian, after their separation from Proto-South Dravidian, developed their own writing systems (see chapter 3) and became vehicles of literature at different periods, Tamil from the early Christian era, Malayāḷam (an off-shoot of Tamil) from the twelfth century, Kannaḍa from the eighth century and Telugu from the eleventh.