On the lnterplay Between Indian Languages: The Case of Manipravalam in South lndia

25.01.2019 15:15 - 17:00

Giovanni Ciotti | Kultur und Geschichte Indiens und Tibets, Universität Hamburg

Manipravalam, literally “gems (or pearls) and coral”, is a label attested from at least the 11th c. that was used in certain Indic sources to indicate a language that blends Sanskrit and one of the various Indic, in particular South Indian, regional languages. In such a language, words are built by combining Sanskrit nominal and verbal roots with the morphological endings of the respective regional language. Alternatively, fully inflected words in both Sanskrit and the respective regional language are freely mixed in a sentence.

In the areas corresponding to today's Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the term manipravalam has been used to label the language of poems, such as those described in the Keralite grammar called Līlātilakam (14th c.), and in commentaries, such as those composed by the Śrīvaiṣṇava ācāryas (12th to 15th c.), whose sacred canon, called Ubhayavedānta, programmatically includes both Sanskrit and Tamil works.

In the Tamil-speaking context, the last vestiges of an active literary production in Manipravalam, for instance the 18th and 19th-century vacaṉams (“prose renditions”) of Sanskrit epics and Purāṇas, show the massive influx of Tamil colloquialisms and overlaps with the Tamil register spoken by Brahmin families, usually referred to as ‘Brahmin Tamil’ by Western scholars.

Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde
Seminarraum 1 des ISTB, Universitätscampus, Spitalgasse 2, Hof 2.7, 1090 Wien