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  • Category: Miscellaneous

    Clusivity. A salient feature of Dravidian languages

    As I explained about Brahui language ,in this thread, I felt tempted to learn one more cool thing about Dravidian languages, one of whom my mother tongue Tamil is a part of. Dravidian languages have a feature that is missing in Indo-European language branch. Its called Clusivity. In simplest words it means if the second person or the person listening to you is the part of "we" or "our" or "us" you are referring to. Didn't get it?

    Hindi: Hamare Ghar me current nahi he. (Now doesn't that confuse if the "hamare" here means everyone or just the family of speaker?)
    English: There is no electricity in our house. (Again, same glitch. A lack of information saying if the person listening is included in the "our" or not.)
    Tamil: Enga Veetla current illa. (There is no current in our house (excludes the listener)) .
    Telugu: Maa Intilo current ledu. (There is no current in our house (excludes the listener)).

    Dravidian languages have this subtle feature. I know non Tamil/Telugu speaking members might find it hard to understand but to my Tamil/Telugu understanding people the difference is crystal clear. Its just strange I never found a name for this difference I always knew about and couldn't learn its importance.
  • #696589
    There is no big aberration in such usage. But I agree withthe obsrvation of the thread author.
    We use such ' pseudo- inclusivity' when we mention about office, school etc.
    The reason is that the house or office or school does not belong exclusively to me. I my house I am not the only person. So it becomes 'our' house. The listener will not misunderstand unles he is a beginning learner of that language. Similarly I am not the only person in office or school etc. So when we refer to such entities we also use the 'Our', 'Hamare' etc. These languages do not have separate words shoing inclusion and exclusion of the listener. It solely depnds on the referred matter and understanding.

    I do not know other languages and so not able to comment if the similar usage is in those regards also.
    But in Malayalam there are separate words to show inclusivity and exclusivity of the addresee(listener),

    Including the listener-the word is -Nammal, Nammalude etc

    Excluding the listener- the word is- Jnangal, Jnangalude, Jnagalkku etc.

    That is there are two separate words in Malayalam for the English ronoun 'we' , or Hindi 'hum'.

    On thinking and recollecting my slight knowledge, I see in Marathi and Gujarathi also there are separate words.

  • #696590
    I agree. In Telugu and Tamil languages there is clarity when compared to other languages. The author has given very good examples for explaining the same. Really I like Telugu language and I read as many books as possible in Telugu. Good thread.
    always confident

  • #696604
    In Telugu language by using less words one can give more expression and that too very clear. By hearing each word we can get beautiful explanation of that word. In Telugu movies, the song composers use a limited number of words which give amazing meaning. I think it is the same case with Tamil. I think in Hindi language they use more words to express the things.

  • #696654
    Hamare, our, enga and maa, I think all these pronouns refer to 'our' only. But if I am to say that there is no current in my room or my office in Hindi, I would use the pronoun 'mere' instead of 'hamare'. Venkiteswaran sir has clearly stated why we use the inclusive pronoun in certain cases and so I am not repeating the same. In view of this, I would like the author to elaborate further on this theory of clusivity in Dravidian languages.
    "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars"- Oscar Wilde

  • #696659
    When it comes to conveying the best to the other the Dravidian languages have been more crystal clear and there is no doubt about it. Whenever we want to represent self in discussion we may use the name or I, but when we are referring to the persons or group we may tell our or we. But what I have observed that people are not particular about the Dravidian way of expression or otherwise, they are more interested to be conveyed the best and they should understand what we would like to say. If that is taking place well, then there is no use of probing the clusivity and other details in any language.
    K Mohan @ Moga
    'Idhuvum Kadandhu Pogum "
    Even this challenging situation would ease

  • #696700
    Saji, we are using English and Hindi, Indo European languages, as a lens to view a language. So obviously the clarity is less.
    You can't say "Mere" if you aren't living alone or if you don't own the house. Infact, modern Hindi speakers might say Mere to overcome this clusivity problem, as Hamare often confuses people. One more thing, I'd like to bring to notice is that, clusivity is applied when there are more than 3 or atleast 3 people in the conversation. So I think it is rather cordial to use Hamare.
    Anyways, it's not the example I sited but the point I tried to make about the unique feature in Dravidian languages, I wanted to stress. This feature was well known to many language experts but not to the common populace. So I thought of introducing the term and attracting the attention towards this detail.
    I think as a fellow Dravidian speaker, you understood and appreciated the Clusivity that exists within our languages.

    The stronger a light shines the darker are the shadows around it.

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