Etymology; semantics and phonetics: ancient sememe for "mineral"

Dr. S. Kalyanaraman MDSAAA48 at GIASMD01.VSNL.NET.IN
Wed Jul 3 09:31:29 UTC 1996

At 02:37 PM 7/1/96 BST, George Thompson wrote:
>I agree with Lars Martin Fosse that what is involved here is a "grey zone"
>within which historical etymology and folk etymology overlap, but I would
>hesitate to say that what distinguishes them is the observation of
>definable sound laws. ...
>Finally, if I understand S. Kalyanaraman correctly, there is another factor
>that puts us in the "grey zone."  Whereas Burrow's associations are, in
>this case at least, in the direction of Latin [Greek, European languages,
>etc.], his own are in the direction of modern Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, and
>Munda. Dr. Kalyanaraman's suggestion that associations in this direction
>can be fruitful seems to me to be well-taken. [Burrow of course was active
>in Dravidian studies, to his credit...].
>To summarize, I would claim, again, that the roots of historical etymology
>itself are firmly planted in the soil of folk etymology and puns.
I will cite a few lexemes to elucidate the problems  'scientific etymology'
encounters (and has to overcome) if based only on ''sound laws':

kAvi = a red earth or ochre (Ka.Ta.Te.Tu.); kAva (M.)
kempu redness (Te.); kem- redness (Tu.); kEsu redness (Ka.); xEnso red
(Kurukh) with which link: cEdu, cEntu, cEppu, cEttu, cevappu red colour (Ta.)

with which link again:
cEdu red color (Ta.), jAdu, jAju id. (Ka.); cAyilya, cAliya = vermilion (Ma.)

with which link:
jAju, gAju = glass, gairika, dhAtu (Ka.); dhatu =mineral, metal (Santali)
kadA = silicious earth used in making glass, beads etc. (Si.); kAc, kAnc
glass, quartz (Nepali); dhAtu = substance (Rigveda); metal, mineral ore esp.
of red color (Manu); dhAu = metal, red chalk (Pkt.); ore esp. copper (Nepali)

It would appear that the semantic laws supersede sound laws and even 'vision
laws' which yielded early scripts; the dominant visible'element' is redness
which is linked to the sememe: kAca
This also yields kancu = bronze.

We will find that this sememe finds expression in the Harappan seal
pictorial motifs, e.g. the so-called 'water-carrier' sign: kAjahAraka. I
will explain in a separate presentation the interpretation of many seals as
representing the professional artisans: the lapidaries, copper-workers,

Regards, Kalyanaraman.

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