Etymology of 'tanU'

S Krishna mahadevasiva at
Fri Jul 11 14:23:08 UTC 1997

S.Palaniappan writes:

 >Though there is no clear Indo-Europeanetymology for this word, it is 
>hard to imagine the Indo-Iranianists acceptingit as a loan from 
>Dravidian. And it would be unreasonable to expect Dravidianists to 
>concede it as a borrowing from Indo-Aryan. The possibility
>of classing it as an accidental resemblence seems to be precluded by 
>thecloseness in form and meaning.    -----------------------------

Speaking for myself, I am not sure if that resemblence in form and 
meaning by itself can be used as an arguement to preclude accidental 
resemblance, more so in the case of the Dravidian languages. 
  My experience has been that there are words from the Dravidian 
languages have counterparts in other languages to which they are not 
related in terms of orgin. Yet, the words have the same meaning and 
same/similar pronounciation. Words in the Dravidian Language group and 
these languages taken as a WHOLE have no relationship with each other.
It seems logical to me to accept these cases of reccurence as being 
purely accidental. As examples, I would like to offer the following 
1. In Kannada and Korean, the word "innu" translates as "today."
2. In Chinese and Tamil, the word"nee" translates as "you".
3. In Telugu and Spanish, the word"nAranja" translates as orange. 
Specifically, in Telugu it does not refer to the orange colored 
"orange", but a similar fruit( with same shape and taste) but which 
looks greenish-yellow.
4. In Hebrew and Tamil, peacock becomes "Tukki" and "Togai" 
These are but a few wxamples of such "accidental recurrence".
I have examples in Malayalam also but cannot remember them off hand. 
Statistically speaking, there seem to be quite a few matches between the 
various languages. The original explanation given for these is that 
these were loan words i.e. There was trade between the ancient Tamil and 
Hebrew Cultures with the result that the word for peacock crept into 
Hebrew from Tamil;likewise the word for orange crept into Spanish from 
Telugu. On closer examination this seems to be far fetched, it must be 
remembered that the excavations at Poompuhar talk about finding Greek 
coins, Roman coins etc but there is ( to the best of my knowledge) no 
mention of Hebrew writing, coins, articles etc. Likewise, given the fact 
that Spain itself is a Mediterrenean country, I find it difficult to 
believe that oranges didn't grow there originally and they had to export 
such fruits from India( All Mediterrenean countries are growers of 
citrus fruits).
 It must also be pointed out that this argument of loan words MAY work 
for trade articles, but certainly cannot account for the duplication of 
pronouns and other daily features i.e. to think that Korean Innu is 
derived from Kannada Innu( or vice-versa) is obviously wishful thinking, 
since "today" is a phenomenon experienced in all parts of the world.
  It must also be noted that there seems to be no such influx of words 
from the Northern part of India. It is difficult to believe that there 
were loan words accepted from one part of India and were rejected from 
another part of India when there was trade with both sides.
  My questions are:
1. Has this phenomenon been investigated i.e. the occurence of words 
with the same meaning and pronounciation in languages that are not 
related to each other?
2.Is it safe to assume that if two different languages have similar 
sounding words for a given article, then one of the languages would have 
neccesarily borrowed it from the other?


Get Private Web-Based Email Free

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list