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On how Ajit acted smart, vexed others and got a kick out of it!

December 29, 2008

The age old discussion on whether Tamil or Sanskrit is the older language has long been hotly debated by eminent scholars like Muller, lunatic poets like G. Devaneyan and fire brand politicians like Karunanidhi.
As I found out recently, the very mention of this topic can light the fire even among otherwise drab techies like me!
Last month, as my team consisting of a couple of North Indians and a single Tamilian (excluding me) was taking a well deserved break from work, my friend VB very innocently asked me this question.
“Which is the oldest language in India”
This soon erupted into a highly lively debate on the same and I watched the proceedings dispassionately for a couple of minutes.

When I had “had enough”, I asked them all to stop…….

I first turned my sights on the Sanskrit worshippers and fired a quick salvo before they realized it!!

I asked them if they knew of genetic drift and language drift.
The answer was NO.

I asked them if they knew of ancient Zoroastrian culture and how it very closely matched our Vedic civilization thus providing evidence to the fact that they sprung from the same source.
The answer was NO.

I asked them if they knew of Y-Chromosome Haplogroup R1a1.
The answer was NO.

I asked them if they knew that script of the Indus Valley Civilization has been proven to not be Indo European.
The answer was NO.

I asked them if they knew that Dravidian Languages also exist in North India.
The answer was NO.

I asked them if they knew about the Brahui Language.
The answer was NO.

I asked them if they knew of a new stream of thought to classify Dravidian Languages as Elamo-Dravidian.
The answer was NO.

I asked them if they knew of the concept called Lemuria.
The answer was NO.

Then I turned to the lone Tamilian (who was enjoying all this with a smirk).

I asked him if he knew that the oldest manuscript of Sanskrit has been dated to go back as far 1500 BC as compared to the Tamil one as 300 BC.
The answer was NO.

I asked him if he knew that some people have found evidence that horses and Chariots and the ritualistic Fire (which is a common feature of Vedic Civilization) existed in the Indus Valley Civilization
The answer was NO.

I asked him if he knew that though people know a lot of the roots of Sanskrit and other IE languages, the same for Tamil has not been found.
The answer was NO.

I asked him if he knew that though early IE literature has been well documented, the same for Tamil does not exist that much.
The answer was NO.

I asked him if he knew that there are a multiple of IE words in all Dravidian languages.
The answer was NO.

I asked him if he knew that archaeologists have found remains of cities in TN dating back to 1500 BC and have still not deciphered the script.

The answer was NO.
And the smile pretty soon turned into a frown.

As a final coup de grace, I told all of them that they were all barking up the wrong tree as genetic sampling has proven the fact that mankind first appeared in India around 60,000 years back and the language that they spoke was probably the oldest language in India and that only GOD can answer that question………..

I also told them that they should be debating about which is the oldest living language in India and strutted my way out of the canteen, leaving behind a couple of highly confused souls and a morbid silence!!!

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. Smitha permalink
    December 29, 2008 3:50 pm

    That was wonderful, Ajit! That must have put an end to the ‘superiority’ debate 🙂 It is so interesting isn’t it – languages.. My uncle first introduced me to the origin of languages and it is am amazing to see that there are so many common words in so many seemingly different languages.. For instance, I just learnt from my Spanish neighbour, that the word for ‘table’ in spanish is ‘mesa’ which is pronounced just like ‘mesha’, the Malayalam word for table..Guess, if we all start looking for similarites amongst ourselves – half of our issues/problems could be resolved! Great Post!

  2. Indian Home Maker permalink
    December 29, 2008 4:07 pm

    LOL That was good 🙂

    We read about this scholar who was doing some research on Latin and Sanskrit, his plane crashed and he was the lone survivor in Central Asia and he was able to communicate with them because they had so many words in common, with the local language of where he had landed 🙂

    For most of the questions you asked my answer would have been NO too 😛

  3. Ajit permalink
    December 29, 2008 4:22 pm

    you are right Smitha,
    The word Mesa is a loan word from Portuguese in Malayalam…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loan_words_in_Malayalam

    For the records,
    Malayalam is a pretty unique language which I love because it has a Tamil substratum, it is loaded with Sanskrit and also due to the fact that Kerala was a major trading centre from time immemorial, it has a lot of influence of Arabic, and other European languages….
    and I also love it for its Curse words 😛

    IHM,
    yeah Both Latin and Sanskrit come in the same language family tree and they have a common source…
    I am also hugely interested in anything related to Languages, Genetics and history….

  4. Vinod_Sharma permalink
    December 29, 2008 4:33 pm

    Ajit, you amaze and surprise with every post! It was a delight reading this post on a subject so sensitive…you have annoyed no one but s*****d them all!

  5. Ajit permalink
    December 29, 2008 4:36 pm

    hahaha….
    thanks Vinod Sir, and yes, 90 % of what I said, went above their heads…… 😛

  6. Kislay permalink
    December 29, 2008 4:44 pm

    Mind-blowingly Awesome man ! Man , if only I was there . The name of your blog is absolute misnomer man . These were not the words of an “ordinary” guy . I salute you . 🙂

  7. Smitha permalink
    December 29, 2008 4:44 pm

    Ajit, Just got back from reading all the links you’ve posted on my blog – really informative. Have to say – you have a lot of information!

  8. Ajit permalink
    December 29, 2008 4:49 pm

    Thanks Kislay…..
    (though I would not say the same)
    and yes Smitha, I love History abd anything related to it….
    My secret desire is that once I reach a comfortable stage in life, I would throw everything away and pursue my lifelong interest in archaeology…….

  9. J P Joshi permalink
    December 29, 2008 6:41 pm

    This was just awesome!!!! Blew the top of my head off. Good work.

  10. Bones permalink
    December 30, 2008 3:45 am

    A very interesting post Ajit…When I lived in Australia, a lot of Tamilian friends said that there were similarities in Tamil and the Australian aboriginal languages…There is a theory that the aboriginal people of Australia migrated from Africa via South India…

  11. Bones permalink
    December 30, 2008 3:48 am

    P.S. So, Tamil could be the oldest language!!!

  12. Renu permalink
    December 30, 2008 4:27 am

    wow:), so informative post:)
    Similarity in langauges is one thing I have noticed many times.. like in tamil they say….shubham, kashtam, santosham..all sanskrit,

    then bazaar( market) is in french also.

    So now we must look for the oldest person in India and whichever language he speaks is the oldest language? LOL:)

  13. Quirky Indian permalink
    December 30, 2008 5:42 am

    Nice one….but I suppose it would be too much to ask of Indians not to be so passionate about language?

    It is Santa season, so I’m allowed to make stupid wishes!

    Cheers,

    Quirky Indian

  14. Kislay permalink
    December 30, 2008 6:53 am

    Ajit, why don’t you do a post on a subject like this ? Evolution of languages and similarities between them . Your take on them . It would be interesting .

  15. Gopinath's "Artickles" permalink
    December 30, 2008 7:23 am

    Hi, Ajit. My first time here from your kind comment on my blog! Amazing information about ancient languages in this post here, that I never knew. Nice to know that you follow my blog. Did you notice the announcement about Anu Garg’s talk on “English – A long separated cousin of the Indian languages” on Friday 2nd January 09 at 7 pm at Crosswords Bookstore Kemps Corner Mumbai? This may interest you – so you may like to attend?

  16. Ajit permalink
    December 30, 2008 8:33 am

    @JP Joshi,
    Thanks!!!

    @Bones,
    The first comment is absolutely true…. Genetic research has proven that the “Adi-Dravidians” are the long lost cousins of the aboriginies…
    This is actually an interesting scenario, Around 40,000 years back, much of the waters of the world now was covered by land thus providing a lot of land routes for people to travel…
    Your second comments which says that Tamil might be the oldest living language may not be true… proof which is the fodder for any theory does not exist…
    but yes, may be true..

  17. Ajit permalink
    December 30, 2008 8:36 am

    @Renu,
    yeah, maybe this is a simple way to find out the answer 😛

    @QI,
    try saying that to the Tamils….
    😛
    they have (in the past) given their life for the language 😛

    @Kislay,
    Point taken, will work on it.

    @Gopinath,
    Thanks for letting me know….
    will try to attend it if I am in town….
    and yes, the topic is so true…
    Both come from Indo-European language stream of which Sanskrit is the oldest…

  18. Reflections permalink
    January 11, 2009 5:18 am

    Wah, wah, kya baat hai!!!!!
    Totally floored:-P.

  19. Ajit permalink
    January 11, 2009 6:38 am

    Thanks Reflections….

  20. September 25, 2009 7:27 am

    CRAFTY = 😯

    Did crafty have any clue about Historian EOG?
    No!

    did crafty know even one of these facts that EOG threw at his friends?
    NO!

    did crafty fall off her chair?
    yes!

    is the floor dented?
    slightly!

    will crafty wanna discuss … erm… learn more about this from EOG?
    yes!

    EOG!!!!!!!! this is soooperu i say!!! i can imagine ur friends and thier plight!!!! sheeshu!!!! u really knocked them out! so much info????

    u have shocked me yet again!!!! can we talk of this when we meet up?? i wud love to!!!!!!!! gosh!!!!! all this is supremely interesting!

    i tell u, i got interested in history only after my school was completed! 😛 😛 😛

    will see the links!!!!

    meanwhile….. hugsssssssssss!!!!!!!!!

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