This book "asserts that the origin and spread of languages must be examined primarily through the time-tested techniques of linguistic analysis, rather than those of evolutionary biology" and "defends traditional practices in historical linguistics while remaining open to new techniques, including computational methods" and "will appeal to readers interested in world history and world geography."
The book is composed of papers dealing with controversial problems in the history and comparative grammar of the Dravidian languages. A historical overview of Dravidian studies in the 19th and 20th centuries is followed by a detailed discussion of various systems of language classification worked out by leading comparativ-ists in the past two centuries. The major principles of the comparative-historical method are discussed in connection with unceasing attempts to establish genetic relationship between Dravidian and non-Dravidian languages. The origin and historical evolution ot finite forms of the Dravidian verb are dealt with in several papers, and those of the adjective in Tamil and personal pronouns in Brahui are traced in the other two. A peculiar case of grammar hybridization in Old Malayalam mixed with Sanskrit and cases of structural borrowing in modern Dravidian languages are described and analysed in three papers. Finally, the etymologies of the word 'Dravidian' and a dozen of other ethnonyms are explained. A bibliography of over 300 items indicates the relevant literature, both classical and modern.