The Linguistic Background

R.S. Sharma

in India’s Ancient Past

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780195687859
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080366 | DOI:
The Linguistic Background

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  • Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)


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India is a land of numerous languages. Indian languages belong to Austro-Asiatic, Tibeto-Burman, Dravidian, and Indo-Aryan groups. The Austric language family is divided into Austric-Asiatic and Austronesian languages. The two branches of Austric-Asiatic subfamily are Munda and Mon-Khmer. The second group of languages, that is Tibeto-Burman, is a branch of the Sino-Tibetan family. The third family of languages spoken in India is Dravidian. This form of speech covers almost the whole of south India, and is also prevalent in north-eastern Sri Lanka. The fourth language group, Indo-Aryan belongs to the Indo-European family. In the Indian subcontinent, each of the four language families is attributed to each one of the four ethnic groups into which the people of India are divided. These four groups are Negrito, Australoid, Mongoloid, and Caucasoid. It is difficult to demarcate one racial group from another, for their physical features keep changing due to climatic conditions.

Keywords: Indian languages; Austro-Asiatic language; Tibeto-Burman; Dravidian; Indo-Aryan; Negrito; Australoid; Mongoloid; Caucasoid

Chapter.  1697 words. 

Subjects: Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)

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