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The Dravidian languages (sometimes called Dravidic) are a family of languages spoken by 250 million people, mainly in southern India, north-east Sri Lanka, and south-west Pakistan. Dravidian is first attested in the 2nd century BCE, as inscriptions in Tamil-Brahmi script on cave walls in the Madurai and Tirunelveli districts of Tamil Nadu.
|South India, north-east Sri Lanka and south-west Pakistan|
|250 million (2020)|
|Linguistic classification||One of the world's primary language families|
|ISO 639-2 / 5||dra|
Distribution of the Dravidian languages
|Part of a series on|
|Dravidian culture and history|
The Dravidian languages with the most speakers are (in descending order of number of speakers) Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam, all of which have long literary traditions. Smaller literary languages are Tulu and Kodava. Together with several smaller languages such as Gondi, these languages cover the southern part of India and the northeast of Sri Lanka, and account for the overwhelming majority of Dravidian speakers. Malto and Kurukh are spoken in isolated pockets in eastern India. Kurukh is also spoken in parts of Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Brahui is mostly spoken in the Balochistan region of Pakistan, Irani Balochistan, Afghanistan and around the Marw oasis in Turkmenistan. During the colonial period, Dravidian speakers emigrated to Southeast Asia, Mauritius, South Africa, Fiji and the Caribbean. There are more-recent Dravidian-speaking diaspora communities in the Middle East, Europe, North America and Oceania.
Dravidian place names along the Arabian Sea coast and Dravidian grammatical influence such as clusivity in the Indo-Aryan languages, namely, Marathi, Gujarati, Marwari, and Sindhi, suggest that Dravidian languages were spoken more widely across the Indian subcontinent before the spread of the Indo-Aryan languages. Though some scholars have argued that the Dravidian languages may have been brought to India by migrations from the Iranian plateau in the fourth or third millennium BCE or even earlier, reconstructed proto-Dravidian vocabulary suggests that the family is indigenous to India. Despite many attempts, the family has not been shown to be related to any other.
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