KANNADA AND TAMIL
Tamil is a language, closely associated with Kannada right from the beginning. Linguists have classified both these languages in the group of South Dravidian languages. Kannada has a greater kinship with Tamil than either Telugu or Malayalam. Karnataka and Tamilnadu have always shared common borders and many regions in these states were ruled alternatively by Tamilian or Kannada dynasties. These monarchs have patronized both the languages during their regime. Harihara, a medieival Kannada poet was greatly influenced by ‘Periyapurana’ while composing his ragales. No doubt, that the all pervading influence of Sanskrit on prosody and poetics has masked these Tamil links for quite sometime. The inclusive policy adopted by the culture of Karnataka with respect to the Aryan culture in general and Sanskrit in particular has resulted in an erosion of the Dravidian base to some extent. On the contrary, the exclusive policy adopted by the Tamilians towards the Aryans/Sanskrit has resulted in a relative degree of retention of the Dravidian elements.
A comparative analysis of the grammar of Tamil and Kannada goes a long way in proving the exclusivist policies of Tamil. The Tamil alphabet does not contain aspirated sounds and as a consequence of this, words borrowed from Sanskrit undergo a phonological change. The pronunciation of the voiced and non-voiced consonants in Tamil is decided by the phonological context of the sounds and it does not have separate symbols to signify them. On the contrary, Kannada has separate graphic symbols for these sounds and the native speakers of the languages use these letters in all contexts. Fricative consonants such as ‘sh’ and ‘S’ are conspicuous by their absence in Tamil, whereas Kannada has separate symbols for them. This is true with respect to lateral and trilled consonants also. The proto Dravidian retroflex frictionless continuant sound ‘*zŒ’ is present in Tamil dialects, whereas it made an exit from Kannada long ago.
This situation is true with respect to phonological and morphological rules also. By and large, Tamil has retained the original situation and Kannada has succumbed to changes. Tamil vocabulary has always made suitable changes in its borrowed to suit its structural patterns. Consequently it has always shunned ‘tatsama’ (Using Sanskrit words in their original forms or with minimal changes.) forms. It has encouraged ‘tadbhava’ forms because they are always altered to suit local patterns. Kannada uses both these strategies and it has both the original and altered forms. Many a time a Sanskrit word will have pushed the native Dravidian word in to oblivion. For instance, the Sanskrit word ‘lOka’ becomes ‘ulagam’ in Tamil and continues to be ‘lOka’ in Kannada.
late important linguists such as D.N. Shankara Bhat, S. Settar and K.V.Narayana
have thrown light on many aspects of the relations that prevailed between
Kannada and Tamil in ancient times. ‘Kannada Bhasheya Kalpita Charitre’ by
Shankara Bhat, ‘shangam tamilagam mattu Kannada Nadu Nudi’ by
The relations between these two languages in the context of literature have been uneven. There is no denying the fact that Kannada and Tamil must have been close to one another in terms of prosody, poetics, vocabulary and poetic styles in ancient period. The similarity between the styles of old Kannada inscriptions and Tamil is quite conclusive in this regard. Native meters found in Kannada folk poetry and delineated in ancient texts on prosody are essentially Dravidian in nature. Forms such as ‘ELe’, ‘akkara’ and ‘madanavati’ were Dravidian in their original forms even though they have undergone modifications to suit ‘mAtrAgaNa Candassu’. Nagavarma describes ‘amshagana tripadi’ and ‘amshagana shatpadi’ in his ‘Chandombudhi’. These forms are common to Tamil, Telugu and Kannada’.
Kannada literature was already under the way of Sanskrit when poets like
Further readings and links:
1. ‘Kannaḍa bhāṣeya kalpita caritre’, Published by Prasārāṅga, Kannaḍa Viśvavidyālaya, 1995
2. ಶಂಗಂ ತಮಿಳಗಂ ಮತ್ತು ಕನ್ನಡ ನಾಡು-ನುಡಿ, ಷ. ಶೆಟ್ಟರ್, 2007, ಅಭಿನವ, ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು.
3. ‘Kannada-Ardha Shatamana’, 2007, Kannada Vishvavidyalaya, Hampi. (In Kannada)
4. ‘Kavirajamarga mattu Kannada Jagattu’ by K.V.Subbanna, 2000, Akshara Prakashana, Heggodu.