1.60 Pope believed that Dravidian languages were part of Aryan group of languages while Dr Caldwell considered that Dravidian languages were part of the Scythian Group. Max Mueller considered that Dravidian –Scythian languages were agglutinative in nature.
However, the Dravidian languages have independent grammar and they are one of the important language groups of India.
1.61 As emphasised by Dr Caldwell in Dravidian languages " all nouns denoting inanimate and irrational being are of neuter gender”. Similarly Keshiraja (ca. 10th Century CE) Kannada grammarian describes the nature of genders in Sanskrit.
Purushare pullingam Striyare tam sree
Linga mulidudallam nappa
gire salgum kannadadol
parivartisavulida lingamolavagirdum .
Thus there are three genders in Dravidian namely masculine, feminine and neuter depending upon the actual nature of the objects like male, female and subhuman or inanimate.
This is in contrast to Sanskrit and other Indo-European languages wherein confusion in allocation of gender tags appear to prevail. For example, in Sanskrit ‘tarpa’(=raft) is considered grammatically masculine, whereas ‘veda’ (=boat) is feminine, in spite of both being objects floating on water. Similarly in German ‘regen’(rain) is masculine, while ‘regenen’ (shower) is feminine.
1.62. In Dravidian languages Verbs change in form in Dravidian languages depending on the associated genders. Consider the following Tulu usages:
Masculine: Aye batte- e suffix
Feminine: Aal Battal - al suffix
Neuter : Avu batt’nD. - U suffix
In the words of Caldwell ” this rule presents a marked contrast to the rules respecting gender which we find in the vivid and highly imaginative Sanskrit and other Indo-European languages.”
This Dravidian feature is unlike in English where the verbs do not change with respect to different genders.
1.63. Prepositions as well as Cases are meaningful morphemes in Dravidian languages. Following quartet is a freely translated Tulu version of Kesirajas original Kannada note on the cases:
Maravitt’nDa maronu kaDipu
MaroDdu mAlpanen marokpaD neern
maratavu parnd marotire tiggondipulaa marane.
In mara+u+k k forms the fourth case . It is generally considered that there is no first case in the case of Dravidian languages like Tulu. However, in fact the first case exists and it is a mild u form. For example: mara+u .
On this issue Dr G S Gai says that: “The stem itself or the stem with gender suffix forms the nominative singular. In modern scientific linguistics the nominative case here will be said to possess morpheme zero.” ( GS Gai: “Historical grammar of Kannada”).
1.64 In Dravidian languages suffix are not attached to adjectives in the sentences, but verbs do get suffixes. For example:
“Sundare adittina Rāme”. Or “ Sundara Rāme” – e suffix on nouns
“Rāme shoore”, Rāme dheere, - e suffix on verbs
Porluda āL, etc.
And the adjectives mostly precede nouns in the sentences. For example:
“Shoora Rame duShta Ravanan keriye”
This feature is unlike that in Sanskrit, wherein suffixes attach to adjectives also and change according to gender. For example:
Pavanah anilah (masculine)
Aho, Pavani , Bhagavathi, Bhagirathi (feminine). Etc
And in Dravidian while adjectives precede nouns, sentences tend to end with verbs.
“Rame sundare aditte”
“Rame shoore aditte.”
With regard to this Caldwell says: "Preposition of adjectives and adverbs change place with noun and becomes a post-position in virtue of its governing a case and finally the sentence is concluded by one-all governing finite verb.”
1.65 Vocalic harmony is another feature of Dravidian languages. In Tulu for example:
If we notice carefully in the word batte is not a simple e suffix; it is a mild nasal ending suffix ‘en’. In reality ‘I came’ in Tulu should have been -and probably it was so in the past as- ” Yaan batten” . However the end ‘en’ has been now reduced to mild nasal e⁰ wherein ⁰ symbol can be introduced to represent the mild but recognisible relic of former nasal suffix en which has become mild now.
1.66 In the present Dravidian languages especially those with script, the words are mostly vowel ending. However, this feature is not found in Tulu language . Tulu words are mostly consonant ending and some of the words also contain consonants in the middle of the words. For example In the Tulu word “ malt’d’ “ (after doing) at the end d is an consonant without vowel at the end. Similarly t is another common vowel-less consonant in the middle of the word in Tulu language. This is not the case in other Dravidian languages like Kannada where the equivalent word for malt’d’ is maaDi which has an vowel at the end.
Consonant ending words are quite common in English language. For example lack, labour, land, languish, lantern, lap, last etc. And further in English several vowel ending words that are pronounced as if there are no vowels at the end of the word! For example lake, lame, lane, language, league etc.
Presence of different vowels or absence of it affects the meaning of the word. Note the following examples:
kaDpu= to cut
1.67. In Dravidian languages there are two vachanas (numbers), namely singular and plural. Comparatively, in Sanskrit there are three vachanas: singular, double, and plural.
1.68 Passive voice is not common in Dravidian languages. Passive voice is common in Sanskrit and English. However in modern Kannada and other languages passive voice apparently was incorporated as a result of influence of English usage patterns.
1.69 There are some more minor features that are characteristic of the Dravidian languages.
1. Neuter nouns normally remain singular. Petto meypunDu.
2. There are two types of plurals on first person: Exclusive and inclusive. ‘Enkulu’ in Tulu refers to we ( all of us) in general whereas ‘nama’ stands for we.(all including me).
3. Specific verbs do exist in the Dravidian language to express negative meanings. For example: Ijji, ijjantina, avandina, etc.
4. There are separate words to refer to seniors and juniors among relatives in Dravidian languages. For example elder brother is known as ‘palaye’ or ‘anne’ and younger brother is known as ‘meggye’. There are specific words assigned for elder sister and younger sister ‘Paldi’ and ‘Megdi ‘(or ‘tangadi’), ‘maama-maami’, ‘dodda(mma)-chikka(mma)’ etc.
5. Dravidian languages are characterized by ample usage of consonants such as Ta (t as in tiger) and Da (d as in day), In Tulu Da is used instead of Ta in sister Dravidian languages. For example unTu(=available, or exists; Kannada) is unDu in Tulu.
AaT (=goat; Tamil)=AeD(Tulu) = AaDu(Kannada)
KuruTa (=blind,Tamil)=kuruDa (Kannada)=kuruDe (Tulu). Etc
6. The accent falls on the initial phoneme in some words in Dravidian languages like Tulu. For example in Tulu word ‘barsa’(=rains), the accent falls on the initial ba (as if it is ‘bbarsa’) whereas in Hindi ‘baras’ there is no initial accent.
7. The suffix la appends to certain verb roots and forms additional verbs in Tulu. For example: bar +la > balla (=come). po+la> pola (=go).
In Kannada the la form is missing in similar verb roots. bar > baa or baara (=come). Po> pogu (=go).
These examples cited above are some of the features common to Dravidian languages which distinguish them from the Indo-Aryan languages.