By Thomas R. Trautmann
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Extra info for Languages and Nations: The Dravidian Proof in Colonial Madras
Study of foreign languages will be useful for the study of things, “since their properties are often reﬂected in their names (as can be seen from the names of plants among different nations)” and for the knowledge of the mind and the variety of its operations, but above all it will also be useful for searching out the origins of peoples, through etymologies, which can best be ascertained through language comparison (Leibniz 1981:336–37). By the end of the eighteenth century, as Leibniz predicted, a veritable explosion in the grammar factory had occurred in Europe, by which I mean an impulse to blanket the world in grammars and dictionaries.
In his view, “is involved in a cloud of fables” (Jones 1788d:421). To make good this defect, then, four means could be introduced from outside the national memory, namely, the study of languages and letters, the study of philosophy and religion, study of the remains of old sculpture and architecture, and study of the written texts of the sciences and arts. ” If the method was useful in India, with its long and ancient literary tradition, how much more useful it must be as a way of ﬁnding history in places were there was no writing in which memory could be made fast.
The facility of research is in their hands and in their[s] alone, as it is only by the individuals of this nation that the literature and languages of India whether of primary or secondary importance, can be properly investigated. The peculiar advantages therefore which the English enjoy, render them responsible to the general commonwealth of letters and pledged to all posterity as long as civilized men shall exist in the earth. The fame of some great conquering nations and in particular of the Romans is deeply sullied by their inattention to the literature of the nations they conquered.
Languages and Nations: The Dravidian Proof in Colonial Madras by Thomas R. Trautmann