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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 <nairbgngmail.com>
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 phonological
structure of South Dravidian(SDr) languages by a comparative study of eight
languages namely Tamil, Malayalam, Kota, Toda, Kannada, Kodagu, Tulu and
Telugu. The data is primarily based on 'A Dravidian Etymological
Dictionary' by T. Burrow and M. B. Emeneau (1998). Further materials are
taken from other sources especially Malayalam dialects.

The introduction gives a brief critical review of the post Caldwell
developments in comparative Dravidian studies and the significant
contributions made in this field by earlier scholars. It also portrays the
trends in Dravidian comparative studies during the last three decades and
some of the oft  repeated issues on phonological, grammatical, etymological
studies besides subgrouping, which have been re-examined and refined by
later scholars. For instance, the problem of the enunciative vowel,
alternation of front vowels to mid vowels in SDr, quantitative variation of
root vowels, convertibility of surds and sonants, palatalization of initial
velar 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 a
brief account of the methodology of Comparative Method, it's assumptions,
principles and procedures of comparative reconstruction with suitable
illustrations drawn from cognate words in Dravidian and other languages.

The reconstructed phonemic system of PSDr comprises 5 short vowels, 2
diphthongs, 18 consonants an a phoneme of length. In the section on
Comparative SDr Phonology the phonological developments in SDr languages
are exhaustively listed. The vowel alternations i/e and u/o have been dealt
in detail discussing earlier views. The number of phonemes in a language is
not absolute but depends to some extent on the way they are  analyzed and
systematized ( cf. 3.57 ). A detailed account of the historical and
comparative phonology of SDr languages is portrayed from the point of view
of PSDr vowels, consonants and cons on ant clusters (cf. 3,4, 5). 

The phonological structure of radical and suffixal sequences and the
retentions, changes and innovations that took place in the descendant
languages 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 exceptions
to the so-called rules and therefore they can be considered as tendencies
rather than strict rules. It needs further pondering to find out the
reasons for the irregularities for the existence of so many residual items.
The different developments of PSDr phonemes and the distribution of PSDr
phonologic isoglosses in the individual languages of SDr are indicated in a
chart (cf. 9).There is an index of PSDr forms arranged according to the
reconstructed phonemes which can occur word initially and an Appendix
consisting of supplementary materials from Malayalam dialects (cf. 10)
followed by a select bibliography.

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