It gives me great pleasure to introduce Prof. P. S. Subrahmanyam's work entitled Dravidian Comparative Grammar-I. This book is being released as one of the first publications under the aegis of Centre of Excellence for Classical Tamil under Central Institute of Indian Languages. The first chapter of it is devoted to the question of classifying about twenty- five Dravidian languages into subgroups and on tracing the disintegration of Proto-Dravidian gradually into the present-day languages. The second chapter, which forms the bulk of the work, deals with matters concerning comparative phonology like the sound system of Proto-Dravidian which is reconstructed. It also focuses on the development in the daughter languages in different stages, formulation of rules for the splits and mergers in respect of Dravidian, and other related matters. It is at once a research work and a textbook, since apart from summarizing and making a lucid presentation of the advances in the subject until the present period with a detailed discussion and examples, it also adds some new findings by way of reviewing what are considered to be established facts and explaining certain developments for the first time. A valuable feature of this book is the collection of various phonological changes that affected a particular language in one place. Prof. Subrahmanyam's long experience of teaching the subject for more than thirty years at Annamalai University is reflected on each page of this work.
The study of Dravidian comparative grammar started with the identification of the family by Francis Whyte Ellis in 1816 (just thirty years after Sir William Jones had discovered the idea of a linguistic family) and with the monumental work by Caldwell published in 1856. Prof. Subrahmanyam has outlined the development of the subject (in particular, subgrouping and phonology) during a period of about two centuries that have passed. I congratulate Prof. Subrahmanyam for having successfully completed such an important work and I am happy to place it before students of Dravidian studies and Linguistics interested in the principles of historical and comparative aspects of Dravidian languages and linguistics.
This book is designed as a textbook for students and is written with full coverage of each of the topics along with enough examples and with as much clarity as possible. In Chapter 1, the issues involved in the matter of subgrouping are discussed in detail and evidence, some old and some new, is presented for the classification. Chapter 2 is a revised version of my 1983 book. All recent developments are incorporated in it. It has also been shown in a few places that some rethinking and modification are necessary on topics that appeared so far to be well established and beyond questioning. A useful deviation from earlier works in the planning of the chapter on comparative phonology is the collection of changes in each individual language in one place. This new arrangement will be of immense help to a reader who wants to know the changes that have affected a particular language. When a change goes back to a proto stage of two or more languages, it is discussed fully under one of the languages (the first language according to the order adopted) and a reference to it is given under the other language(s). In each case, cognates are given only from one or two sister languages the selection of which depends on the absence of the change under discussion; one should consult Burrow and Emeneau 1984 for the full list. In a group of cognates, the meaning given for the first or the previous word holds good for the subsequent words not accompanied by any meaning. From 2.3, where the bare rules are given taking each proto sound as the starting point, one can find out not only the languages in which the particular sound has undergone a change but also the nature of the change involved in each language.
Grateful acknowledgements are due to Annamalai University, Annamalainagar, where I taught this and other related subjects for thirty- seven years and developed my ideas through that experience. I owe gratitude to that University also for publishing most of my earlier books. I must express my gratitude to the University Grants Commission and P. S. Telugu University, Hyderabad, for awarding me Emeritus Fellowship for the years 2001-2003 during which period I started work on this book. I wholeheartedly thank my colleagues, friends and old students who readily supplied me with photocopies of books and articles that are not otherwise accessible to me. But for their unstinted cooperation, I could not have written this book. I am grateful to Professor D. N. Shankara Bhat, Professor S. V. Shanmugam and to Professor K. Murugaiyan for going through parts of the manuscript and offering useful suggestions. I express my gratitude to Professor Udaya Narayana Singh, Director, Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, for including this book in the publication programme under the Centre of Excellence for Studies in Classical Tamil - Scheme for Classical Tamil. My special thanks are also due to Dr. K. Ramasamy, Professor-cum-Deputy Director (Head, Scheme for Classical Tamil), Central Institute of Indian Languages. Mysore, for taking keen interest in the book and for taking all necessary steps for its publication. Last but not least, I wish to thank my wife, Satyavati, for all encouragement in my academic pursuits ensuring at the same time that I take adequate care of my health.
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