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Languages and Nations

Languages and Nations: The Dravidian Proof in Colonial Madras

Thomas R. Trautmann
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: 1
Pages: 321
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  • Book Info
    Languages and Nations
    Book Description:

    British rule of India brought together two very different traditions of scholarship about language, whose conjuncture led to several intellectual breakthroughs of lasting value. Two of these were especially important: the conceptualization of the Indo-European language family by Sir William Jones at Calcutta in 1786-proposing that Sanskrit is related to Persian and languages of Europe-and the conceptualization of the Dravidian language family of South India by F.W. Ellis at Madras in 1816-the "Dravidian proof," showing that the languages of South India are related to one another but are not derived from Sanskrit. These concepts are valid still today, centuries later. This book continues the examination Thomas R. Trautmann began inAryans and British India(1997). While the previous book focused on Calcutta and Jones, the current volume examines these developments from the vantage of Madras, focusing on Ellis, Collector of Madras, and the Indian scholars with whom he worked at the College of Fort St. George, making use of the rich colonial record. Trautmann concludes by showing how elements of the Indian analysis of language have been folded into historical linguistics and continue in the present as unseen but nevertheless living elements of the modern.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93190-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. CHAPTER 1 Explosion in the Grammar Factory
    (pp. 1-41)

    In the European thought of the eighteenth century, languages and nations were understood to be parallel, in that the histories of both were viewed as governed by genealogical relations and linked; therefore, the genealogical relations among languages could serve to extend the reach of historical memory concerning the relations among nations and to repair it where it was defective. Language history in this sense became a new tool for ethnology on a universal scale, producing original and unexpected groupings of kindred languages that have in many cases endured to the present. To supply this new ethnological project with the raw...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Pāṇini and Tolkāppiyar
    (pp. 42-72)

    Could it have been a coincidence that the European languages-and-nations project, which was carried to every corner of the globe by the worldwide spread of European power, was especially fruitful in British India? I believe that it was not a coincidence, but rather that India’s own tradition of language analysis, highly developed from ancient times, played an important role, indeed, that the new knowledge being produced in British India came about precisely because of the conjuncture of these two traditions of language analysis, European and Indian. It is the purpose of this book to show that this was the case....

  7. CHAPTER 3 Ellis and His Circle
    (pp. 73-115)

    Having examined the structure of the European and Indian inputs into the British-Indian conjuncture, we turn now to the Dravidian proof. In this chapter I introduce the leading personnel associated with the emergence of the Dravidian conception; in the next, I will analyze the College of Fort St. George, which was the institutional context of its publication.

    This chapter is a collective biography of the persons involved. The key figure is Francis Whyte Ellis (1777–1819), Collector of Madras and senior member of the College of Fort St. George, which was his brainchild and which brought together the scholars and...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The College
    (pp. 116-150)

    Having met the leading personnel involved in producing the new knowledge about South India, we must now examine the College of Fort St.

    George, which was the main locus for this process . This chapter is not a history of the College as such (though such a history is very much to be desired). It is, rather, an inquiry into the relation of the College to the Dravidian proof. As such, our examination is limited to the period from the College’s founding in 1812 till the death of Ellis in 1819.

    The College of Fort St. George was the brainchild...

  9. CHAPTER 5 The Dravidian Proof
    (pp. 151-185)

    We come now to the Dravidian proof itself, its argument, and the related argument of A. D. Campbell in the introduction to his Telugu grammar. But before doing so we need to contextualize the Dravidian proof’s appearance by considering the public course that was designed as the centerpiece of the junior civil servants’ education at the College, and the dissertations on the South Indian languages that Ellis intended to write and print up for the students’ use as part of the course. This is necessary because the Dravidian proof is in fact the dissertation on Telugu. We need also to...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Legacies
    (pp. 186-211)

    Ellis was involved in generating a whole array of new understandings of South Indian history and culture concerning such matters as law, land, literature, religion, and caste. Some of these were highly consequential, especially his work on land tenure, which included writing, with Sankaraiah, theTreatise of mirasi right,and introducing the ryotwari system (over which Ellis clashed with Thomas Munro), which brought a new mode of government to bear on the South Indian countryside. This is not the occasion to go into these dimensions of Ellis’s work. I have chosen to concentrate in this book on the Dravidian proof,...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Conclusions
    (pp. 212-230)

    Having completed our analysis of the Dravidian proof, the conditions of its emergence, and its effects in India, we return to the larger phenomenon of the languages-and-nations project in relation to India and the Indian tradition of language analysis. I begin by reprising the analysis of the languages-and-nations project as it now appears, in the light of the Dravidian proof as an illuminating instance of British-Indian Orientalism, showing the specific authority claim upon which the new Orientalism of British India based itself and the rhetoric of proof that followed from it. Then I take up two concluding topics: One is...

  12. APPENDIX A The Legend of the Cow-Pox
    (pp. 231-242)
    F. W. Ellis Esq.
  13. APPENDIX B The Dravidian Proof
    (pp. 243-276)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 277-298)
  15. Index
    (pp. 299-304)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 305-305)