Pradesh) to the South Central; Kolami (mainly in Maharashtra) to the
Central; Kurukh (in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Nepal) and Brahui
(Baluchistan) to the Northern. There are also many minor languages attached
to these different groups. A comparison of the vocabularies and grammars of
these languages enables us to reconstruct a hypothetical Proto-Dravidian
language that must have been spoken before the speakers of the Dravidian
languages broke up from each other. The use of certain retroflex sounds (such
as the hard l, n, r and rh) that require the tongue to curl back just under the
hard palate in order to pronounce them is one of the most common traits in
the Dravidian languages. But such retroflexion is absent in both Austro-
Asiatic and Indo-European languages spoken outside the Indian subcontinent.
Hence, it is postulated that it is from the Proto-Dravidian or its early
successors that the Austro-Asiatic and Indo-Aryan languages derive their
retroflex consonants. This assumption has many consequences.
Interaction with Indo-Aryan Languages The Rigveda has both
retroflexion and more than two dozen words of possible Dravidian origin.
But retroflexion is totally absent in the Avesta, the earliest Iranian text, which
is very close otherwise to the Rigveda in vocabulary and grammar. Hence, it
is suggested that the Rigvedic reciters might have introduced retroflexion in
the pronunciation of even the most impeccable Indo-Iranian words, under the
influence of the pronunciation of speakers of the earlier local languages.
Since the Rigvedic hymns were composed in the area between the Hindukush
and the Ganga, the likelihood of some of the ‘substrate’ languages of the
Punjab or upper Indus basin at the time, being members of the Dravidian
family is bright. The possibility is increased further by the geographical
proximity of the Brahui language, whose speakers today are to be found in
northeastern Baluchistan, not far from the Punjab. Brahui’s own case for
antiquity has been augmented by the recent discovery of links between it and
Elamite (the language of Elam in Persia), though the exact extent of the links
may be disputed. Similarly, connections have been seen between Proto-
Dravidian and the Uralic languages of Eastern Europe and Siberia; and this
would also suggest that there were once Dravidian speakers in latitudes much
farther to the north than today.
Official Indus Language According to some scholars, there are strong