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Research sheds new light on prehistory of Dravidian languages and their speakers

22 March 2018

Using new linguistic analyses, a study, co-authored by the University of Bristol, has shown that the Dravidian languages – spoken by 220 million people across South Asia, date back to about 4,500 years ago.

The findings, published today in the journal Royal Society Open Science, shed new light on the prehistory of these languages, of which there are around 80 varieties, and their speakers.


Professor Fiona Jordan from the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Bristol, was a co-author of the study. She said: "The work opens up a new region of South Asia for understanding broad processes of cultural and linguistic change. 

"Cultural evolution studies using computational methods have mostly focused on "spreading" or "migrating" language families, but Dravidian languages are spoken by people with rich in-situ histories in the subcontinent.

"My lab focuses on explaining cultural diversity and change, and this is an exciting advance to include Dravidian groups in our research."

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