"Curry" and its origins?

Geeta Bharathan geeta at LIFE.BIO.SUNYSB.EDU
Thu Feb 5 17:07:22 UTC 1998

On Wed, 4 Feb 1998, Bh. Krishnamurti wrote:

> The original word is Proto-South Dravidian *kaRi 'seasoned vegetables or
> meat'. Tamil, MalayaaLam kaRi, KannaDa kaRi, KoDagu kari, TuLu kajipu (Drav
> Etymological Dictionary (Revised), entry:1391.

Does this then imply that the early Tamil usage of kaRi for black pepper
(Piper) was a later modification, or does it mean that the sense
of black pepper was the prior, and that this sense (described above) was
disseminated later? (knowing next ot nothing about the historical
connections between these languages, I have no sense of which is a more
reasonable hypothesis).

> KannaDa kaDi is not a cognate of these.

This seems to be consistent with what kaDi (ka.di?) represents in the
northern and western regions of India today--the yogurt/buttermilk based
dish described in one of the posters.

> This item was borrowed into many European languages probably
> through Portuguese and English. Its etymology can be found in the Great
> OXford English Dictionary.

By "this item" I suppose you mean kaRi, rather than kaDi ?

(kaDi? ka.di?? Is there somewhere I could look up this notation?)?

As I say in another response, this etymology raises several questions-- It
seems to me that we can say that "curry" in English came from "caril" in
Portugese derived from the Dravidian kaRi; but not that "curry" in English
came from "caril" in Portugese derived from the Tamil word "kaRi", because
of the geographical glitch in the second scenario.  The first scenario
remains too vague to answer the question about the role of Tamil in the
etymology of "curry" in English.


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