Essays on the History of Malayalam - Prof.S.V.Shanmugam
Professor S V Shanmugam is a distinguished
comparative Dravidian linguist, sociolinguist anda
leading scholar in Classical and Modern Tamil,
Grammar and Poetics. Dravidian Nouns: A
Comparative Study, (1971) is the classical work on
Dravidian linguistics by Shanmugam. He has been
substantially contributing for five decades to the
comparative study of Dravidian languages. His
sociolinguistic work on ‘Indonesian Studies’ (1971)
published by the Indian Council for Cultural
Relations, ‘Modernization in Tamil’ (1975) which
appeared in Anthropological Linguistics, and ‘Dental and Alveolar Nasals in
Dravidian’ (1972) which appeared in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and
African Studies are his most cited works. In addition to the comparative studies,
he contributes to the advancement of linguistic studies and grammaticography of
Malayalam language. His sociolinguistic studies on Lilatilakam (1995) and
Kéralapaniniyam (2012) have transformed the studies on Malayalam grammatical
tradition. This collection of Essays on the History of Malayalam comprises
his seven articles about Malayalam published during 1977 to 2007. The State
Institute of Language, Kerala has included S. V. Shanmugam in the biographic _
volume of Malayalam Linguists in 2015. The seven essays in this collection deal
with the origin and development of Malayalam language and the grammaticog-
raphy of Malayalam.
"Professor S. V. Shanmugam has over a period of research spanning almost half
a century made a major contribution to the study of Dravidian linguistics, mainly
in the form of articles published in the standard European and Indian journals
devoted to Asian and Indian languages and literatures. [...] The publication ofa
selection of these articles within the covers of one book will make them more
readily accessible to an enthusiastic world-wide readership. Dravidian
University is to be congratulated on the decision to publish these seven essays as
a single volume". (Prof.R.E.Asher, University of Edinburgh) cos!
Professor S. V. Shanmugam has over a period of research
spanning almost half a century made a major contribution to the study
of Dravidian linguistics, mainly in the form of articles published in the
standard European and Indian journals devoted to Asian and Indian
languages and literatures. The publication of a selection of these
articles within the covers of one book will make them more readily
accessible to an enthusiastic world-wide readership.
An important subset of these articles concerns the place of
Malayalam within the Dravidian family, and these are reproduced
here to form a book with a coherent theme. This has been a major
preoccupation within Professor S. V. Shanmugam’s principal field of
research and he has significantly increased our understanding of the
His discussion of the place of Malayalam in Dravidian accepts
that the language belongs to the South Dravidian group along with
Tamil but rules out the argument that it is a direct offshoot of Tamil.
This theme is further developed in the subsequent articles. An
important part of the discussion is that concerning the innovations
common to the two languages and the ones that are part of Malayalam
alone. Of particular interest and importance is the discussion of the
way in which the spoken language of southwest India became the
language of literary composition.
Recognized as one of the major differences between Malayalam
and Tamil is the lack of agreement in the former between the subject
and predicate of a sentence. The loss of the feature of subject-verb
concord is traced in interesting detail. Shanmugam demonstrates the
nature of the gradual change through which this agreement was lost in
Under the thematic heading of "bimodel analogy" there is a
complex discussion of the development of four major Malayalam verb
suffixes, namely optative, conditional verbal participle, infinite verbal
participle and imperative plural.
Shanmugam not only in this way discusses in a sophisticated
fashion some of the important distinguishing features of Malayalam
grammar, he shows an interest in the development of grammatical
discussion in the language through his account of aspects the two of
the major treatises in the history of Malayalam grammatical analysis,
namely Lilatilakam and Kéralapaniniyam.
Altogether Dravidian University is to be congratulated on the
decision to publish these seven essays as a single volume.
That the foundations of Indian culture were deeply embedded in
Dravidian culture is now an incontro-vertible fact. Dravidian culture is
one of the most ancient cultures of the world. Those cultures, slightly
contemporaneous to one another, slowly started fading out. However,
the primordial Dravidian culture continues to thrive without losing its
quintessence despite the apparent changes in systems of dress and
Dravidian University was established in 1997 to mirror the real
and rich picture of Dravidian culture not only in its linguistic, literary,
cultural and philosophical faces but in science and technological angles
At a time when no special attention worth its name was paid by
the Centre with regard to language, the Southern states except Kerala.
had established all by themselves their own Universities - Telugu, Tamil
and Kannada - to research on their languages and cultures.
The Government of Andhra Pradesh took a step ahead and
started Dravidian University, with the cooperation of the sister states,
to research and reflect on the inherent oneness of the cultures of the
four states whose languages number up to twenty seven. Its
endeavour is to promote unity and amity in the family of several
langauges. The main objectives of Dravidian University are to
augment the common weal and social well being of the communities of
marginal languages and to build bridges among the Southern states.
While working on each language separately in varied areas, it aims ata
synthesis and a discovery of the common heritage through
Comparative Studies. Centre for Publications and Extension Services
(Prasaaraanga) is an important wing of the University.
It is a great privilege for Dravidian University to publish the
Essays on the History of Malayalam by Prof. S V Shanmugam. Iam
sure that this will bea landmark in the history of the linguistic studies of
Malayalam. I place on record our sincere gratitude to Prof. S V
Shanmugam for choosing Dravidian University to publish this
significant work. Prof. R. E. Asher of the University of Edinburgh, the
renowned linguist and a scholar of Tamil and Malayalam wrote a
preface for this volume. It is a great recognition for Dravidian
University and the author. It is fervently hoped that the book will be a
land mark in Malayalam.
I express our indebtedness to Prof. R. E. Asher.
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