Contemplating language - English/Latin and Dravidian/Sanskrit languages as diglossic relics of ancient invasions

"Understanding how language shapes mind is one of the central occupations of the psychonaut." - Susquehannock

"Although English is no longer in a diglossic relationship with another language, the Norman-era diglossia remains reflected in the way we choose and mix vocabulary. In informal chat, for example, we might go on to ask something, but in formal speech we’d proceed to inquire. There are hundreds of such pairs: match/correspond, mean/intend, see/perceive, speak/converse. Most of us choose one or the other without even thinking about the history behind the split. Germanic words are often described as earthier, simpler, and friendlier. Latinate vocabulary, on the other hand, is lofty and elite. It’s amazing that nine hundred years later, the social and political structure of 12th-century England still affects how we think about and use English."

"English isn’t alone in having this sort of split personality. Halfway across the world, languages spoken in southern India underwent similar changes. Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu, the four major languages spoken there, are Dravidian languages. They are structurally unrelated to the languages of northern India, which are Indo-European. But Sanskrit, an Indo-European language of ancient India and the liturgical language of Hinduism, has held prestige all over the subcontinent for over two thousand years. Kannada, Telugu, and Malayalam—and to a lesser extent Tamil—have absorbed, and continue to absorb, thousands of Sanskrit words. (A relatively recent movement among Tamil-speakers aimed to expunge the Sanskrit borrowings.) Much of southern India, just like Norman England, was diglossic between Sanskrit (used ritually and formally by Hindu elites) and vernacular Dravidian languages. Today, that diglossia is gone, but Sanskrit-derived vocabulary still forms an upper crust, mostly pulled out for formal speech or writing."