Oldest Language in India Only 4,500 Years Old
If modern humans left Africa 185,000 years ago or more, why does the oldest language in India date back less than 3% of that time?
How old is the oldest human language? It’s tough to say. Using linguistic analysis and statistics, scientists from the Max Planck Institute have estimated the date of the Dravidian family of languages on the southern parts of India at 4,500 years old. Phys.org reports that Dravidians were present a thousand years before Indo-Aryans arrived in India. 80 derived dialects of the ancient language family are still spoken today by some 220 million people.
“The study of the Dravidian languages is crucial for understanding prehistory in Eurasia, as they played a significant role in influencing other language groups,” explains corresponding author Annemarie Verkerk of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. Neither the geographical origin of the Dravidian language nor its exact dispersal through time is known with certainty. The consensus of the research community is that the Dravidians are natives of the Indian subcontinent and were present prior to the arrival of the Indo-Aryans (Indo-European speakers) in India around 3,500 years ago. It is likely that the Dravidian languages were much more widespread to the west in the past than they are today.
The estimate appears to be on the high side, pushing back the language earlier than previously thought, but not more than 4,500 years in total.
The researchers used advanced statistical methods to infer the age and subgrouping of the Dravidian language family at about 4,000-4,500 years old. This estimate, while in line with suggestions from previous linguistic studies, is a more robust result because it was found consistently in the majority of the different statistical models of evolution tested in this study. This age also matches well with inferences from archaeology, which have previously placed the diversification of Dravidian into North, Central, and South branches at exactly this age, coinciding with the beginnings of cultural developments evident in the archaeological record.
The paper, published in Royal Society Open Science, cannot rule out 6,000-6,500 years, but concludes that the best-supported date is still 4,500 years ago for the root of the Dravidian language tree. This new date is younger than earlier estimates of 6,000 years or even 13,000 years. In any case, the start date for this language family is far, far younger than evolutionary estimates of the time modern humans have existed in Asia.
Coming at this date from another direction, the BBC News had said in January that our species (Homo sapiens) left Africa earlier than thought. Pallab Ghosh wrote,
New dating of fossils from Israel indicates that our species (Homo sapiens) lived outside Africa around 185,000 years ago, some 80,000 years earlier than the previous evidence…
“We have to rewrite the whole story of human evolution, not just for our own species but all the other species that lived outside of Africa at the time,” the researcher, from Tel Aviv University, explained.
Prof Chris Stringer of London’s Natural History Museum, who was not involved in the study, said: “The find breaks the long-established 130,000-year-old limit on modern humans outside of Africa….”
The researchers, in fact, believe that even older fossils of modern humans may yet be found in Asia. The article continues pushing dates for human migration back to 250,000 Darwin Years, and possibly more. Ghosh reminds readers of the modern human fossils found in Morocco dating to 315,000 Darwin Years. Ghosh ends,
This is much earlier than the generally accepted 200,000-year date for the origin of our species, which is based on genetic studies and fossil finds such as the 195,000-year-old Omo remains from Ethiopia. And it’s possible that future discoveries might push the date back even further.
Obviously, one cannot tell from bones what language was spoken by these people. And yet if they were anatomically identical to us, with brains of equal size (sometimes larger on average, as with Neanderthals), it would seem ridiculous to suppose they did not use language, especially when they had the intelligence to migrate across continents.
The dates create extreme tension for the evolutionary web of belief. On the one hand, they wish to think that our equals ‘evolved’ over 300,000 years ago, and soon after that migrated into Europe and Asia. Also, when they got there, they had no trouble interbreeding with the Neanderthals. But then, at the other extreme, one of the oldest language groups dates back no more than 4,500 years ago. What did people like us do for 295,000 years? What did they say to one another? Why didn’t they build permanent cities? Did they really live in caves all that time? Why is the first civilization so late in arriving?
The tension is forced by evolutionary dating requirements. Darwin needs about 6 million years to get from chimp to champ. All the dates in between are up for grabs, and keep getting shuffled around, as we have reported now for 18 years. Every new find produces the predictable worry, “We have to rewrite the whole story of human evolution.” Why not write out the evolution part? Why not write out the long ages? One would think a theory that fails repeatedly for decades should be first to go.
Bible believers are not surprised at the age of the Dravidian language family. It fits very close with estimates of the time of dispersion at the Tower of Babel. Doesn’t it make sense that soon after Babel, those who could understand each other spread out in all directions in tribal groups? Of course it does. That’s what sensible people do. And that’s what the Bible says happened next (Genesis 9-11; the next chapter 12 connects seamlessly with extra-Biblical historical evidence). Clearly, some moved from Babel into the Indian subcontinent, where they found suitable habitat and began multiplying in that region, using their common language. Others moved further east into China, and so for all points on the compass.
Language “evolves” by intelligent design, not by natural selection. Once endowed with a common language, people can decide what they want certain words to mean, and what grammatical rules they want to modify for convenience, or to fit new situations. By habit, separate groups will develop dialects, which will diverge further over time. That’s what happened in American English in just a few centuries. Today’s various Dravidian languages and dialects continue to point back to that original grouping that settled in the area long ago after Babel.
This implies, of course, that the evolutionary dates of 185,000 years, 250,000 years, 315,000 years, and all the rest of the moyboy mumblings are pure fiction. They never existed. Human history dates back just a few thousand years. Our Creator told us what happened. The evidence fits.