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This is a classic work, still in print more than 150 years since it was first published. The author, Robert Caldwell 1814-91, was a Christian missionary in South India for more than fifty years, and in 1877 was consecrated Bishop in Tirunelveli. He came to international recognition as an orientalist of the first quality as a result of his ground-breaking research and this book which resulted. It was first published in 1856 with a much expanded second edition following in 1875.
In it he shows that the South Indian languages of Tamil, Telegu, Kannada, Malayalam etc., are a separate family of languages. He named them ‘Dravidian’, affirming their antiquity, separate literary history, and their independence from Sanskrit and the Indo-Aryan languages.
The implications of this were far-reaching. They were that these Dravidian languages, their societies and culture had existed prior to the arrival of the Brahmans in the south of India, and that the intrinsic differences in physical anthropology, religion, and social structures that existed were part of the separate and distinctive Dravidian development. Caldwell, by this book, can therefore be seen as having laid the foundations in South India for the strongly anti-Brahman cultural and political movements which followed in the 20th century.
Thomas Trautmann writes of this book: "Caldwell showed the full extent of the Dravidian family, and demonstrated the relations among the languages in a richness of detail that has made it a classic work, still in print. The real significance of what Caldwell accomplished was not the first conception of the Dravidian family, but the consolidation of the proof”. This was reinforced by Caldwell’s other monumental work on the history of the region (“A Political & General History of the District of Tinnevelly from earliest times ...”, 1881).
New editions of this book have been published by Asian Educational Services of New Delhi in 1987 & 1998 (reprint of the 1913 edition).
Y. Vincent Kumaradoss: “Robert Caldwell: A Scholar-Missionary in Colonial South India”. ISPCK 2007, pp.147-149.
Robert Eric Frykenberg: “Robert Caldwell, missionary and orientalist”. OUP (Oxford DNB) 2004-07.
Thomas Trautmann: “Inventing the History of South India” in David Ali (ed) “Invoking the Past: The Uses of History in South Asia”. New Delhi OUP 2002, p.41.
other families of languages Resemblance in use more important
USE OF THE COMMON TERM DRAVIDIAN
5 The formation of the inflexion by means of doúbling and hardening
Origin of the term Malabar 2325
the Vedas and the Greek writers Derivation of the name Telugu
mon of all possessive suffixes in Tamil Max Müller Other case
7 Auxiliary Suffixes of the Genitive in Telugu and Tamil 302303
word Origin of word for three Dr Gundert Mr Kittel 332333
meaning of aru No analogy with other languages discoverable 340341
principal forms which nine assumes difference between meaning
languages a proof of intellectual culture and unity one and the same
Comparison of Dialects
there a Dravidian element in the Vernacular Languages of Northern
To what group of Languages are the Dravidian idioms to be affiliated ? 6177
fessor Max Müller Intercomparison of the Scythian languages
style has a tendency to becomė a literary language Mostrations
skrit words contained in Tamil belong to three different periods
POLITICAL AND SOCIAL RELATION OF THE PRIMITIVE DRAVIDIANS
PRÆARYAN CIVILISATION OF THE DRAVIDIANS 113
Note on Transliteration 121
DRAVIDIAN ALPHABETS 123132
DRAVIDIAN SYSTEM OF SOUNDS
THE NOUN 218308
Harmonic Sequence of Vowels 180182
Reduplication of Final Consonant of Root
FORMATION OF CASES 252308
6 The inflecional increment I Origin Euphonic links of connection
The Instrumental or Third Case properly so called 275277
same as accusative Dravidian dative resemblance between
The Genitive or Sixth Case 286302
THE REFLEXIVE PRONOUNSELF 395402
PLURALISATION OF THE PERSONAL AND REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS 402415
future tensesigns throw light on those letters Tamil future originally
THE NEGATIVE VOICE 468477
peculiarity forms like Sanskrit nâsti very rare in IndoEuropean
CONJUGATIONAL SYSTEM PIOE 481553
FORMATION OF THE PRESENT 490495
FORMATION OF PRETERITE BY REDUPLICATION OF FINAL CONSONANT
Origin of the Infinitive Suffix A
COMPARATIVE PARADIGM OF A DRAVIDIAN VERB 554564
ExtraSanskritic or West IndoEuropean Affinities 587605
SEMITIC AFFINITIES 605609