LINGUIST List 21.3174

Wed Aug 04 2010

Diss: Historical Ling: Balakrishnan: 'Phonological Reconstruction ...'

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        1.    Gopinathan Balakrishnan, Phonological Reconstruction of South Dravidian Languages

Message 1: Phonological Reconstruction of South Dravidian Languages
Date: 03-Aug-2010
From: Gopinathan Balakrishnan <>
Subject: Phonological Reconstruction of South Dravidian Languages
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Institution: University of Kerala Program: Department of Linguistics Dissertation Status: Completed Degree Date: 1979

Author: Gopinathan Nair Balakrishnan

Dissertation Title: Phonological Reconstruction of South Dravidian Languages

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
Dissertation Director:
Subramoniam Vadasseri Iyemperumal
Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation deals with the reconstruction of the phonologicalstructure of South Dravidian(SDr) languages by a comparative study of eightlanguages namely Tamil, Malayalam, Kota, Toda, Kannada, Kodagu, Tulu andTelugu. The data is primarily based on 'A Dravidian EtymologicalDictionary' by T. Burrow and M. B. Emeneau (1998). Further materials aretaken from other sources especially Malayalam dialects.

The introduction gives a brief critical review of the post Caldwelldevelopments in comparative Dravidian studies and the significantcontributions made in this field by earlier scholars. It also portrays thetrends in Dravidian comparative studies during the last three decades andsome of the oft  repeated issues on phonological, grammatical, etymologicalstudies besides subgrouping, which have been re-examined and refined bylater scholars. For instance, the problem of the enunciative vowel,alternation of front vowels to mid vowels in SDr, quantitative variation ofroot vowels, convertibility of surds and sonants, palatalization of initialvelar consonant, dropping of initial *c- in SDr, the nasal consonants,metathesis, post nasal voiceless vs voiced stops, number gender system,loss of personal termination in Malayalam, DED and its supplements,problems in subgrouping and the present Dravidian family. It provides abrief account of the methodology of Comparative Method, it's assumptions,principles and procedures of comparative reconstruction with suitableillustrations drawn from cognate words in Dravidian and other languages.

The reconstructed phonemic system of PSDr comprises 5 short vowels, 2diphthongs, 18 consonants an a phoneme of length. In the section onComparative SDr Phonology the phonological developments in SDr languagesare exhaustively listed. The vowel alternations i/e and u/o have been dealtin detail discussing earlier views. The number of phonemes in a language isnot absolute but depends to some extent on the way they are  analyzed andsystematized ( cf. 3.57 ). A detailed account of the historical andcomparative phonology of SDr languages is portrayed from the point of viewof PSDr vowels, consonants and cons on ant clusters (cf. 3,4, 5). 

The phonological structure of radical and suffixal sequences and theretentions, changes and innovations that took place in the descendantlanguages have been exhaustively depicted from the point of view of PSDr(cf.6, 7). A scrutiny of the morphophonemic rules proposed by Krishnamurti,Emeneau, Zvelebil and Subrahmanyam shows that there are numerous exceptionsto the so-called rules and therefore they can be considered as tendenciesrather than strict rules. It needs further pondering to find out thereasons for the irregularities for the existence of so many residual items.The different developments of PSDr phonemes and the distribution of PSDrphonologic isoglosses in the individual languages of SDr are indicated in achart (cf. 9).There is an index of PSDr forms arranged according to thereconstructed phonemes which can occur word initially and an Appendixconsisting of supplementary materials from Malayalam dialects (cf. 10)followed by a select bibliography.

Page Updated: 04-Aug-2010