Commonness of Indian syntax

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 8 13:13:03 EST 2001

Lakshmi Srinivas wrote:
>plse look up my post in Indology in which I had sent the url of an
>interview with D Shulman. Plse review his comments on
>the obsession with etymologies in the South Indian
>context. I fully subscribe to his views.

David Shulman works mostly on 17-18th century texts nowadays.
He never worked on Classical Tamil texts, and his interests
is premodern South India. He did/does *not* work in
anything concerning ancient India at all. (I too admire his
writings, and on many occasions Shulman has asked me some
info on old tamil books, he has promised to write a book on
Kamban someday. )

Because Shulman does not study ancient texts in detail,
he etymologizes wrongly using late purANic material.
aalavaay, nelvaay, etc., are common village names in TN and Kerala.

See Dr. Palaniappan's post:
Alavay is a compound made up of Alam and vAy where Ta. Alam means
banyan tree and Ta. vAy  should be interpreted as "place". Thus AlavAy
means "the banyan tree place" in much the same way "alaivAy"
(aka.266.20) refers to "place of waves". Originally it seems to have
meant only a location inside Madurai and not the whole of Madurai.
What is the significance of the banyan tree place? That is where
dakSiNAmUrti is located along with his disciples. The importance of
dakSiNAmUrti cult in the mythology/history of Madurai, Potiyil,
Agastya, and Tamil grammatical, literary, and aesthetic traditions has
not been fully recognized by scholars till now.

[In another mail]

 > The AlavAy myth
 >  as the snake encircling Madurai, a fine analysis in
 >  D. Shulman, Tamil temple myths, 1980;

On the contrary, David Shulman and following him William Harman have
simply missed the mark in understanding the true history of the name

William Harman (Sacred Marriage of a Wedding Goddess, p. 39) says,
"Shulman (1980, 125) theorizes that this etymology may accurately
reflect the ancient origins of the association of Madurai with a
serpent, and that ziva's role came later. Specifically, he presents
the possibility that before ziva's explicit association with the snake
of Madurai, there may have been a temple dedicated to a snake in that
city. The four early temples associated with Madurai were those to the
virgin (kan2n2i), viSNu (kariyamAl), kALi, and the Serpent (AlavAy).
Given ziva's frequent association with serpentine symbolism, it would
have been a simple matter to identify a temple dedicated to a serpent
with ziva, the hypothetical latecomer of the group of four."
[...] S. Palaniappan

These are the words of Shulman on Indian syntax referred by LS:
In addition, however, there is a certain common basis for all of the
Indian languages. The division that we use, as Indo-Aryan or
Indo-European and Dravidian languages, may have some historical and
typological relevance but it is not close to the reality of the actual
Indian linguistic experience. For example, if you typologise not on
the basis of etymology but on the basis of syntax then in all Indian
languages you find a common syntactical field. If you read medieval
Sanskrit with the awareness of at least one Indian mother language,
you will find the similarity. We have been blinded by one sort of
typological difference and so we have become insensitive to the
underlying common nature of the Indian linguistic zone. It depends on
where you are rooted . I feel I belong to this area, specifically,
to Mylapore.

Many linguists have written about the large Dravidian substratum in
Sanskrit, due to Aryan ingressions people switched language to IA.
One of the main arguments is the IA Syntax influenced by Dravidian.
Prof. Bh. Krishnamurti in June 98 << [...] I am not a
Sanskritist or a IE-ist. Such a transformation of Skt phonological
system is possible only under a contact situtaion. And retroflexion
is one  of the so many other features of Middle Indic both in
phonology, morphology and syntax that look to a Dravidian source.
A phonlogical rule shared by both IA and Drav is the emergence of
the favourite syllable type (C)V:C or (C)VCC to the elimination of

H.Hock's argument that both IA and Drav developed retroflexes on
parallel lines is not defensible, because Dravidian had both *_t
and *.t basically in a large no of morphmes. >>
Also, see that Telugu did not borrow syntax from Sanskrit:

>Yes, I do sometimes react to posts on etymologies.
>Especially when I find something far more obvious ...
>as in the case of a suggested etymology yamuna <
>tozunai etc

The above Linguists' statements on Syntax etc. make seeking the roots
of North Indian words from Dravidian legitimate. Also, the Indus
culture has been shown to be non-Aryan conclusively, and Indian and
foreign scholars have published books/articles that the high IVC
language was Dravidian.

If Drav. cOLam/jOLa > Hindi jvAr > yavanala,
I suggest to_luna > *yavuna > yamuna.

t-/c- example: tOkai=cOkai=peacock feather.
yuavuna/yamuna like draviDa/dramiDa.
-m- in yamuna was chosen because of the twin river history
where yamuna got most waters which flowed in the now dried up Sarasvati.

N. Ganesan

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