indications in the Indus script towards    linking the ‘official’ Indus language to
of other languages. That Dravidian languages were also being spoken in
South India at the time is not very certain. It has been suggested that the
extension of copper-use and the increase in crop inventory that we can trace
after 2000 BC, through the Malwa and Jorwe cultures, into Southern India,
marks a migration of Dravidian speakers from the north. Upon arrival there, a
small number of Dravidian languages could have supplanted the numerous
separate languages of the earlier nomadic pastoralists, as agriculture, crafts
and commerce spread over larger areas. This hypothesis, however, is yet to
be proved.
Austro-Asiatic Family
Major Constituents Khasi, spoken in eastern Meghalaya, belongs to the
Mon-Khmer branch, being noticeably isolated from its sister languages in
Southeast Asia. The Munda branch includes Mundari and Santhali in
Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa. Savara in south Orissa and Korki on the
Maharashtra–Madhya Pradesh border, much further to the west, form two
distinct small pockets. While the Munda branch is confined to India, the
Mon-Khmer branch includes such languages outside India as Vietnamese,
Khmer (in Cambodia) and Mon (in Myanmar and Thailand).
Migrations and Intermixing On the basis of the distribution of the Austro-
Asiatic families, it has been suggested that the original ancestral language
was spoken in Southeast Asia, and that as rice cultivation spread from there,
after 5000 BC, peasant communities speaking languages derived from it
spread out. Incorporating or bypassing local Palaeolithic or Mesolithic
hunting communities, they reached Eastern and Central India well before
3000 BC. Such linguistic spread would concur with the hypothesis that the
spread of agriculture facilitated replacement of the earlier numerous tongues,
by single dominant languages. But, it is not necessary that such spread of
language brought an influx of a biologically different strain (‘race’), since
those who spoke the Austro-Asiatic dialects must have intermixed with local
populations at each stage of their migration.
Sino-Tibetan Family
Northeast Indian Languages