Hubballi: Research conducted recently at the sites of the Indus Valley Civilisation in Pakistan has reaffirmed the linguistic affinity Kannada shares with the tongues spoken by the people in that ancient period. The book ‘Brahui Language: Past, Present and Future’ published by the Brahui Academy in Pakistan has identified Kannada words such as ‘kallu (khal in Brahui)’ that remain in currency in far-off Balochistan. A research paper has shed light on many words in Dravidian languages that were used during the heyday of the Indus Valley Civilisation.
Sikander Brohi, who edited the book in 2018, pointed out that Brahui was the language spoken by the majority of the populace of the peoples of Balochistan even in 1911, but was declared ‘threatened’ by Unesco in 2014. “Brahui Academy in Pakistan conducted an international conference in 2014, and many scholars from across the globe, including from India, presented papers at the event. Indian scholars travelled to Pakistan despite struggling to get funds to travel, and the hurdles that lay in the way of getting a visa to the country given the tensions prevailing between the two nations. We have compiled all those papers, and published a book on Brahui language, which reinforces the linguistic ties between Brahui and South Indian languages, including Kannada,” Brohi told TOI.
In his paper published in the book, Brohi writes, “Brahui belongs to the Northwestern group of Dravidian languages, and apparently closely related to languages categorised under the Northeastern group. The latter includes Malto, Kurukh among others. Brahui is more distantly related to the Gondwana group of languages, which includes Kui, Krvi, Monda, Penga, Konda and Gondi, and even more distantly related to the central group of languages, among which are counted Pargi, Gadaba, Kolami and Naiki. Languages spoken in the Southwestern region of India – Telugu, for instance – and those classified under the Southern group, which includes Kuruba, Kannada, Kodava, Kota, Tamil and Malayalam, are all distantly related to Brahui.”
Brohi has cited extensively from Ferdinand Bork’s German-Brahui dictionary, which contains the meaning of Brahui words in, besides German, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. This book highlights the similarity between words for the eye (‘kannu’ in Kannada is ‘khan’ in Brahui), leg (‘kaalu’ in Kannada; kaal in Brahui) and mouth (‘baayi’ in Kannada, for which the Brahui equivalent is ‘baa’).
In another paper titled ‘Ancestral Dravidian Languages in Indus Civilisation: Ultra Conserved Dravidian Tooth-Word Reveals Deep Linguistic Ancestry and Supports Genetics’ by Bahata Ansumali Mukhopadhyay, an independent researcher and published in the Nature Group journal under the ‘Humanities and Social Communication’ category. In this paper, it has been posited that Dravidian languages, including Kannada, although spoken predominantly in South India, these had scattered representation in Northwestern, Northeastern and Central parts of the Indian Sub-Continent.
Delhi-based Kannada scholar Purushottama Bilimale said that both the papers supported the hypothesis that speakers of the Dravidian languages were once spread across Northwest India. “Thus, a form of Proto-Dravidian or Proto-North Dravidian would have been spoken extensively in North India, before the advent of the Aryans. Apart from Dravidian languages surviving in some islands, they made way for the Aryan tongues before the Christian Era, after a period of bilingualism, which must have lasted many centuries,” Bilimale said.