Dravidian, Mande and Elamite


Clyde Winters

In this Web page we learn about the linguistic relationship between the Dravdian, Mande, Elamite and Sumerian languages.




Clyde A. Winters

A genealogical relationship exist between the Black African, Dravidian, Elamite and Sumerian languages. This is not surprising because African languages were used by Rawlinson, to decipher the cuneiform script.

We must consider the historical link between languages assumed to possess a genealogical relationship, although they are separated by thousands of miles. The anthropological factors involved in determining a genealogical relationship is the scientific study of the cognate origin, and the physical, social and cultural development and behavior of related groups. This has already been done in the earlier chapters in regards to the

Black African, Puntite and Dravidian languages. We have already shown that there is a connection between the basic vocabularies and identical constituent structures and grammatical categories.

The Elamites, Dravidians, Sumerians and Manding are all of

Proto-Saharan origin . In the history of mankind they were called the Kushites . Testimony of the great heritage of the Kushites, resulted from their boldness in trade and seafaring expeditions. The authors of ancient Indian literature claimed that the Kushites ruled the world for 7000 years. According to Epiphanies, the age of the Kushites extended from the Flood to the age of Terah, the father of Abraham, the prophet of the Jews and Muslims.

In the ancient inscriptions of Africa and Asia the Kushites were called many names including Kush, and Ethiopian by the Greeks and Romans. In Sumerian inscriptions the Kushites were called Meluha=Kasi < Kush . There is historical evidence that suggest that the name Meluha, was a geographical name for the Africans who lived in the area of Nubia and Northwest Africa.

The people of Nubia are mostly associated with the name Kushite were the C-Group culture group, worshipers of Amon and Neith . The Egyptian term for these people was K-'-sh and K-'-sh-i. The Hebrews called them Kush. In the cuneiform inscriptions the Sudanese were called Kushiya.

Elamite Inscription

The Kushites belonged to the Maa confederation. As a result of this Kushite origin in Asia we find many place names with the term Kush, e.g.,the Kushana of Central Asia, Kashmere and Hindu Kush .

According to the Matsya, an ancient book from India, the world belonged to the Kushites or Saka (as they are sometimes called) for 7000 years. In the Mahabharata, the Sakadvipa is the 'land of the [Kushites] Sakas. The seven mountains of Sakadvipa were named Meru, Malaya, Jaladhara, Raivata, Syama, Durgasaila and Kesara.

The Meru of Indian literature may be none other than the Meroe of the Sudan, or a primeval Meroe that was long ago lost to cataclysm. The four kingdoms of the Saka were Maga (Manga), Masaka, Mansa and Mandaga. The Maga, reminds us of the Magians or the Maka of the Persian inscriptions. The Masakas, in the Mahabharata, are called Kastriyas. The Mandagas or Manda were also probably Mada or the Medes. These Medians may have had a connection with the ancient Mande speakers of Africa, especially

the Manding who often accompanied the Dravidians out of Middle Africa into Asia. This would explain the close relationship between Elamite and the Manding languages.

Place names offer testimony to the ancient inhabitants of an area. Because whereas languages and the people who spoke them may disappear from a region place names of important areas will remain constant.

There are similar place names found in the Sudan and Asia. Prof. Bator Vamos Toth, an expert on the ancient Tamana culture has found 21 suffixes, and hundreds of place names that link the Sudan and Asia . For example , Dr. Vamos Toth has noted that there is a Kar-nak in Egypt and Kar-nak in Central Asia. Other common place names affixes include -bura,-dan, -kara, -tal and -ur.

An Elamite

Dr. Vamos Toth has illustrated how the inhabitants of the Carpathian Valley and other cultures around the world share a similar culture.In all the countries sharing place names Dr. Bator found a common toponym: Tamana. He therefore calls this ancestral culture/civilization Tamana. It is interesting to note that the Proto-Saharans formerly lived in these areas.

The word Tamana means 'great place'. These ancient Tamana sites were probably forts established in areas occupied by hostile non Proto-Saharan speaking peoples.

The Kushites when they migrated from Middle Africa to Asia called themselves Kushites. This is most evident in place names and the names of gods. The Kassites, chief rulers of Iran occupied the central part of the Zagros. The Kassite god was called Kashshu, which was also the name of the people. The K-S-H, name element is also found in India. For example Kishkinthai, was the name applied to an ancient Dravidian kingdom in South India. Also it should be remembered that the Kings of Sumer, were

often referred to as the " Kings of Kush".

The major Kushite tribe in Central Asia was called Kushana. The Kushan of China were Ta Yueh-ti or "the Great Lunar Race". Along the Salt Swamp, there was a state called Ku-Shih of Tibet. The city of K-san, was situated in the direction of Kushan, which was located in the Western part of the Gansu Province of China.

In this chapter we will explain how the Elamite, Dravidian, Manding and Sumerian languages diverged from a common Paleo-African language.The ancient Proto-Saharans from their literature and culture appear to have descended from a common ancestor. This sociolinguistic reality of a number of related groups 5000 years ago is proven by a comparison of terms from

Dravidian (D.), Elamite (E.) , Manding (M.), and Sumerians (S.), which show shared features retained during a process of divergence from a common ancestor.

There is no area of linguistic structure which can totally resist change, but that area of language least accessible to foreign influence is the basic vocabulary. The basic vocabulary of a language is that sector of the lexicon, which comprise the basic elements of one's culture the division of the body and biological activities such as eating, sleeping and etc.

But the lexical comparisons are not enough to prove a genealogical relationship, because grammar and morphology holds precedence over phonology and syntax. As a result below I will elucidate the interrelationships between Dravidian (Dr.), Elamite, Manding (M.) and Sumerian and the common retention rate within the members of these Proto-Saharan languages.

The Proto-Saharan languages are agglutinative. In these languages subject (S), verb (V), object (O) is the order of the basic constituents.


There are numerous examples of phonetic, morphological, and lexical parallels between Elamite, Dravidian, Manding and Sumerian. For example,there is a system of five basic vowels and three-fold distinction of lip rounded and rounded.


i u ii uu

e o ee oo

a aa


The Proto-Saharan consonants are:

p t l n

b d k z

f s g kp

w r h gb

m n y

In the Proto-Saharan languages the initial /s/ and /k/ ;and /d/ and /t/ are interchangeable e.g., *ka and *sa 'great', and *ta and *da 'place'. Among the Manding and other African languages there are doubly articulated stops /kp/ and /gb/ . In addition, in all these languages /l/ and /r/ does not occurs initially.

The Proto-Saharan consonants are the following:

g remains unchanged or is replaced by k

k " " " " " " g

l and r are interchangeable

d and t are interchangeable

b remains unchanged or is replaced by p or f

p " " " " " " b

m remains unchanged

n normal remains unchanged

n palatal is replaced by l

d remains unchanged of replaced by t

t " " " " " d

The Proto-Saharan consonantal system is the following:


k- -k- -k

g- -g-

d- -d- -d

t- -t- -tt- -t

p- -p- -p

b- -b-

s- -s-

z- -z-

r- -r- -rr- -r

l- -l- -l

n- -n- -n

m- -m- -m

y- -y- -y

w- -w-





There is a similarity in pronouns:

Language Singular Plural

1st.Per.2nd Per. 3rd Per. 1st Per. 2nd Per. 3rd Per.

Dravidian an,naa l a an an,ani aru

Manding na, n' i a, e alu

Elamite u nu ri un nun r: ir

Sumerian ga, gal za, au ene men zu,ne ene-ne


Language Proximate Distant Finite

Dravidian i a u

Manding i a u

Sumerian bi a

The Proto-Saharan languages share locative constructions. These directional elements can be simple or compound. Common suffixial directional elements include:

Elamite Sumerian English Manding

-ak and ka

kuttu so,also,as ka

-hi this ni

ukku ku on ku, kuna

-ma -na in,at na

itaka da with la, ti

-na of -no

-lina -ta for -ti


Common directional elements include:

ma -a in na

imma, ni out,of ma, no

ikku (ikki) -ra to koro

lina ta for ti

mar from a place ma 'area,land'

itaka da with la, ti

All the Proto-Saharan languages share certain grammatical features. Those grammatical elements shared by Dravidian, Elamite, Sumerian and Black African languages include 1) vowel harmony, 2) absence of initial clusters of consonants, 3) abundance of geminated consonants,4) distinction of inclusive and exclusive pronouns in first person plural, 5) absence of

degrees of comparison for adjectives and adverbs as distinct morphological categories, 6) consonant alteration on nominal increments noticed by different classes,7) distinction of completed action among verbal paradigms as against specific tense distinction and 9) use of reduplication for emphasis (and plural).


In the Dravidian, Egyptian, Elamite, Manding and Dravidian languages words are formed by adding an affix to a radical. In this section we will discuss certain aspects of shared Proto-Saharan morphology.

In these languages suffixes are usually used to create words. These suffixes can be a single consonant (C) or vowel (V), or a monosyllabic form (CV). The most common suffix in Dravidian, Egyptian, Elamite, Manding and Sumerian are the postfixes -ki, -ka and -ta , which are used to denote clans, nationality, lands and countries .


In the Proto-Saharan languages the plural is formed by adding -u,-w,-ba, -pa and -lu.In Egyptian, the -w suffix is used to form the plural. In the Dravidian (Dr.) . languages the plural if formed by -lu, especially in Telugu. In the Manding (M) group, and other African languages we find -lu or -u (-w), e.g., M. mogo 'husband,(pl.) mogo-lu 'husbands'; Telugu magaadu 'husband , man', (pl.) magaalu 'husbands'.

In many Black African languages ba means 'abundance, many'. In Elamite pa or fa is used to make plural numbers, e.g., ko-fa inna 'of the Kings', Bapitu fa-pa "to the Babylonians". The use of -pa, by the Elamites corresponds to the Manding use of the -ba suffix , which is joined to nouns to denote the idea of greatness, physical or moral e.g., na-folo 'good,rich'

, no-folo-ba 'great fortune'; and so-kalo 'piece', so-kala-ba 'considerable quarter of a village'.


In Black African languages including Egyptian the -n, is used to show negation. In Egyptian we often find -nn, e.g., nn wn 'there is nothing'. In Elamite the negative is formed by an uninflected nominal derivative in -n (active participle), e.g., ink 'I not", inr 'he not' and ani 'not'. This suffix is analogous to the M. negative suffix -na, employed as a suffix to -ka, e.g., ka na ku na tara so "I did not say I was going to the house" .

In Tamil the negative verbal participle is formed by suffixing a-mal or a-mei, e.g., sey (y)-a-mal 'without stopping'. The Tamil suffix -mei is also used as a termination for abstract nouns.

The negative suffix in Manding is -na, which is proceeded by ka and nt'i, e.g., kalu mba-nt'i. In Sumerian the negation of the verb is expressed by the prefixes nu- or la-, e.g., nu-zu "not to know", la-gin "not to fix" and nu-dug "not good. The optative mood are negatived by the element na,na-ma-pad "she may not".


In Elamite personal nouns are formed by adding -ra, e.g., Kellira 'commander', kutira 'bearer'. This relates to the Manding suffix of the past and present participle -ra, this particle is used to make verbs passive or active, e.g., kyi 'send', kyi-ra 'messenger', gyi (ji) 'dry up', gyi-ra 'arid'.

In Sumerian the dative is expressed by the suffix -ra, which may appear in the form of -ar, -ir , and -ur, e.g., ma-ra 'to me', lugal-e-a-ra ' to the owner of the house'. This parallels the Manding locative suffix -ra, and -la , which can represent 'to,or, for, in ', e.g., tu-ra 'in the forest'.

The Elamite indefinite article is -ra, e.g., Parsar-ra 'a Persian', Afartu-ra 'an Elamite'. This corresponds to the Manding locative suffix -ra, e.g., Ton-ra 'land of Ton'.

The Proto-Saharan languages share the present participle -tu/-to. In Telugu (Tel.),the suffix -tu , is used as the present participle while in the Manding languages -to has the same function e.g., Tel. chestu 'made', M.tege 'to cut', tege-to 'cutting'.

The active participle in Elamite is -n, e.g., talu-n 'writing', or hali-n 'toiling'. This corresponds to the Manding -ni and -li elements e.g., sa 'buy', sanni 'buying', or du-mu 'eat', dumu-ni 'eating'. This -n, active participle is found in many other Black African languages including Egyptian.

The use of the -ka element is frequently found in the formation of Dravidian, Elamite, Egyptian, Manding and Sumerian languages. In Egyptian as outlined by Cheikh Anta Diop, in Nouvelles Recherches Sur l' Egyptien Ancien et Langues Negro-Africaines Modernes (pp.55-57), he outlines the use of /k/ and /t/ , to form agent nouns. In Parente genetique de l'Egyptien Pharonique et des langues Negro-Africaines (p.18), Diop explains the evolution of the -ky, and -kt particles.

In Elamite the passive participle is formed by -ka, e.g., hulta-ka 'done', turu-ka 'said'. This corresponds to the Manding -ka 'make, do',e.g., nyine 'see', nyini-ka 'interogate'.

In the Dravidian and Manding languages -ka, is used to represent the verb 'to be', as well as the subjunctive. For example in Manding languages ka, is a particle of different values, which corresponds to -kaa, the infinitive element in Telugu of the verb ag-uta 'to become'. In Tamil this

element appears as aaga. For example, in Manding we have a ka-nye 'it's good'; and in Telugu kaa valenu 'it is necessary'. The same radical -ka represents the optative form in Telugu, e.g., aapani mundara kani 'how is labor given first place?'

In the Dravidian languages the suffixes -ke, -ge and -ka are used as the primitive verb 'to be' or 'to do'. They are usually used with abstract nouns e.g., ol 'to reign', ol-ka 'domination'. This corresponds to the Manding verb 'to do' ke , which is often joined to -la to form derived nouns e.g., sene 'cultivate', sene-li ke-la 'cultivator'.

These languages also share many cognate terms.


chief kal,kala kele-tigi gasa(n)

field gan ga kalan

eye(l) igi akki

eye(2) ini,en nya kan

arrow kak kala kakam

granary kur k'ur-k'ur kutir

road sila sila caalai

father pap pa appan

lord manus mansa mannan

male mu moko maakkal

to recite sid siti

to buy sa sa cel

grain se se

seed gen ge 'to sprout'



English Dravidian Manding

top, summit kona kun

one ondu do

two pattu ta

four naal nani

person uki moko

fish(filet) bale bake

skin uri wuru,guru

house lon lu

head kuku ku

tongue na ne

blacksmith inumu numu

foot karal koro

liver karal kura

mud burada boro, buru

give idu di

stone kaly kulu

cloud kaar ka, kaba

fire ti ta

mountain kunru kuru

elder,grandfather maama maa-maa



-ak and ka

turna know, awaken kuna, fori

sahri death sa

murta to erect kura

-mar from a place ma

li give di

tela to go tara

Nap God Nala

tus habitation du

husu ill-omened dyugu

kuta lance keru

lan,lani silver dala

ki one killi

ta place ta

kik sky,heaven ka

sari sculpter se

ufat steel tuufa

tela to go ta

khali great ka

dau help deema

ko king,lord ka

na say na

para to watch fere-ke


The lexical evidence above supports the hypothesis that a genetic relationship exist between Black African languages, Dravidian, Elamite and Sumerian. This linguistic data illustrates that a common cultural macrostructure is shared by these speakers which subsequently evolved along separate lines. Given this genetic unity of these languages we should call this group of Paleo-African languages situated in Africa and Asia B(lack) Af(rican), S(umerian, Draa(vidian), (E)lam: or Bafsudraalam subset of the Proto-Saharan Superset of languages.(Winters 1989)

The theory of borrowing in ancient time can not account for these morphological, lexicological and phonetic correspondences between Dravidian , Elamite, Egyptian, Manding and Sumerian, because of geographical discontinuity. This cognition illustrates a genetic relationship between the Bafsudraalam subset of the Proto-Saharan family of languages.

Winters (l989) in a comparison of 100 lexical items from Manding and Dravidian indicated a cognate rate of 70 to 75 percent . The retention rate corresponds to a minimum separation of 1.18 millennia.

Using the standard rates of retention for glottochronology, the rate for corresponding Manding, Sumerian and Tamil terms together is 50 percent retention rate, and suggest a minimum length of separation of 2.29 millennia for the group as a whole.(Winters 1989) But when we compare Manding-Sumerian

the retention rate is 70 percent or a minimum length of separation of 1.18 millennia. A comparison of Sumerian-Tamil corresponds to a 57 percent retention rate or a minimum separation of 1.50 millennia.

The length of separations for these languages are far too recent. We know for example that Sumerian had been absorbed by the Akkadian language much earlier then 2.29 millennia ago. This inaccuracy of glottochronology is one reason why Anta Diop is opposed to this linguistic method.

The conservative nature of these languages can be explained by socio-cultural factors. You see all languages do not change as rapidly as others. Dr. Diop, in The African Origins of Civilization, observes that "understandably stable societies man's language has changed less with the passage of time".

The linguistic evidence explains the appearance of similar artifacts recovered from Iran (Elam) , the Indus Valley and Egyptian archaeological excavations. The cultural features and works of art are analogous because these people came from a common origin in the ancient Saharan region of Africa.





P> <3H>Books on this topic

There are several books that discuss the ancient Afrocentric world, including W.E.B.DuBois': Negro and The World and Africa; John G. Jackson, Introduction to African Civilizations; and Chiekh Anta Diop's : The African Origin of Civilization, and Civilization of Barbarism. All of these books can be obtained by ordering directly from:


If you have comments or suggestions, email me at cwinter@orion.it.luc.edu

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