Stomach/womb in Dravidian and -y-/-c- alternation

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Wed Jun 17 04:24:21 UTC 1998

In a message dated 98-06-15 04:52:27 EDT, jlc at CCR.JUSSIEU.FR writes:

<<I fail to see how a verse from a medieval poet
 (what is your date for kampan2?
  9th century? 10th century? 12th century?)
 can be taken as a proof (or an argument inside a proof)
 that two words are related? [vayiRu and vai]

 IMHO, what we see here in these lines
 is not an etymological explaination
 but an example of moon2ai,
 i.e. a kind of alliteration between the first syllable of the line
 and the first syllable of some other foot in the same line. >>

There is a very basic relationship between "mOn2ai" and etymology.

The first point is that both have a phonological basis. According to V. S.
Rajam�s "A Reference Grammar of Classical Tamil Poetry" (p. 191-193), "Four
basic types of toTai are recognized: mOn2ai, etukai, iyaipu, and muraN. Among
these, the first three are phonological ...A subsequent type of these sub-
categorical alliterations is an an2u alliteration which treats the vowels or
consonants which have the same or closest points of articulation as a class.
For this purpose, a, A, ai, and au form a class, as do i, I, e, and E; u, U,
o, and O; c and t; J and n; and m and v." The Tamil grammarians� groupings
show possible results of phonological changes one would find in etymologically
related words. Of course, they were just describing what the poets had used
before them. Of course, etymology is based on phonology also.

Secondly, mOn2ai deals with the left-most part of a word - precisely where the
etymological roots of Dravidian words are. So it is not a coincidence that we
are dealing with mOn2ai when we are exploring the etymological relationships.

However the type of mOn2ai that will suggest probable etymological
relationship is one with the same (C1) v/VC2 occurring in two feet. (In some
cases where a long vowel is present, C2 may not be necessary like some cases
we had discussed earlier in the list.) For the purposes of alliteration, a
vowel ai can be taken as equivalent to ay-. (Anyway it is reconstructed as
PDr. *ay). See the example below

kaiyatu kELA aLavai oyyen2a             (porunarARRuppaTai 152)

The same feature can be found in a post-Kampan work shown below.

aiya in2n2um ik kuRaL paci aTaGkiTA vERu
veyya pAriTa vIrarai viTuttiyEl eTuttu
vaiyam yAvaiyum vayiRRiTai vaipparE atan2Al
ceyya kAla ruttirap peyar tERRam Am un2akkE (tiruviLaiyATal purANam 7.19.1-4)

But for real etymological relationship, mere mOn2ai relationship may not be
always sufficient. One can have mOn2ais as shown below

kallA iLaijnar kavaLam kaippa
kal tOyttu uTutta paTiva pArppAn2               (mullaippATTu 36-37)

Here the mOn2ai on kal offers no semantic connection between the two feet on
successive lines. What is needed for an etymological relationship is one
metrical foot of the mOn2ai relationship (with the same (C1)v/VC2)
representing a noun being modified/described by the other metrical foot as an
adjective or verb. This is as close as one can get to a real etymological
explanation of the involved words.  Some examples of such cases are shown

The following lines show the same cognate words being used in mOn2ai by both
CT and Kampan2.

veLLi an2n2a viLagkum cutai uRIi     (neTunalvATai 110)

veLLi mAlvarai en2n2a viLagkuvAn2  (kamparAmAyaNam

The common meaning is something "shines like silver"

DEDR 5496
veLLi - silver
viLaGku - to shine

Another example is given below.

polam tEr micai polivu tOn2Ri                                  (puRanAn2URu

polam koL mAmaNi veLLi am kun2Ru en2ap poliya (kamparAmAyaNam

DED 3717
poli - to bloom (as countenance), shine
polam - gold
polivu - brightness of countenance,beauty, splendour, gold

In the above pair, the cognates are more closely linked in the second.

Finally consider this. Here the shining bangles are described using the words
el and ilaGku.

cuTarntu ilagku el vaLai nekiznta nam vayin2            (akanAn2URu 68.12)

The same pair of words are also used by Kampan.

el iTap pacumpon2 vaittu ilagku pal maNik kulam  (kamparAmAyaNam

DED 707
el - lustre
ilaGku - shine

Thus it does not matter which century Kampan belongs to. What is important is
the unique way in which the nature of mOn2ai, the nature of Dravidian root,
and the linked manner in which the words have been used in poetry can be used
to derive the etymology. Please note that in the examples I had shown in my
earlier posting, the verbs vai, vaiku, and vaikuRu indeed describe the nature
of vayiRu. In the tiruviLaiyATal purANam example cited above, one can see the
vayiRu as a place to keep (vai) the earth (vaiyam), where vaiyam  and vai are
cognates (DEDR 5549).

Even beyond this, the cognates of Ta. vayiRu , i.e, Ma. vayaRu receptacle of
fruit-seeds, Ka. hold of a ship make it very clear that vayiRu is some place
where things are kept. Moreover the receptacle of fruit-seeds clearly gives a
symbolic parallel to the womb. Thus the etymology explains how the meanings
"put, place, keep" and "bear, beget" are related. (Ta. vayiRu also means "hold
of a ship")


S. Palaniappan

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