A comparative study of Dravidian infinitives

David, Anne Elizabeth Amirthanayagam

     This study proposes to examine in depth the morphology of infinitival verb forms across the Dravidian language family and, by supplying the first thorough compilation of contextual instances, to provide the basis for a comprehensive comparative study of their syntax as well.
     Chapter I gives a brief overview of Dravidian infinitives, including a discussion of the use of the term "infinitive," the treatment of infinitive forms in the Tamil native grammatical tradition, and a sketch of the structure of the Dravidian verbal system. Chapters II-V review the descriptive evidence concerning infinitives in each of the languages of the four sub-groups of the family: how they are formed and how they are used. (For the purposes of this study, I assume Krishnamurti's sub-grouping, which is as follows: (1) Southern: Tamil, Malayal[dotbelow]am, Irul[dotbelow]a, Kodagu, Toda, Kota, Kannad[dotbelow]a, Tulu; (2) South-Central: Telugu, Gond[dotbelow]i, KOn[dotbelow]d[dotbelow]a (Kubi), Kui, Kuvi, Pengo, Mand[dotbelow]a; (3) Central: Kolami, Naiki, Parji, Ollari-Gadaba; and (4) Northern: Kurukh, Malto, Brahui.) In Chapter VI, I investigate the inner morphology of Dravidian verbs and suggest, where possible, morphological reconstructions for the numerous and diverse infinitival suffixes. In several cases, I have shown that suffixes from different sub-groups should be classified together as reflexes of a single proto-suffix. In making my arguments, I have adduced evidence to explain the hitherto enigimatic final nasals occasionally seen in certain Old Telugu forms, previously categorized simply as "hiatus fillers." Finally, although no one infinitival formation is traceable to Proto-Dravidian, Chapter VII will argue for the presence of the category, at least in part, of the infinitive in Proto-Dravidian, based on the ubiquitousness, substantial functional load and certain shared constructions of infinitives in the daughter languages. In doing so, I also briefly compare the functions of these forms for the entire Dravidian family with a view towards laying a framework for a more comprehensive comparative analysis of the syntax of Dravidian infinitives.

Hamp, Eric