Inscriptions and Dravidian sound changes "y" > "c" and "y" >

Bh.Krishnamurti bhk at HD1.VSNL.NET.IN
Mon May 25 07:51:31 UTC 1998

At 17:58 24/05/98 EDT, you wrote:
 > Please check the chronology of -c- ~ -y- forms in Tamil. Are the-c- forms
> older or -y- forms in terms of literary attestation? You  have to examine a
> sound change from a number of angles before making generalizations about
> others' scholarship. Bh.K. >>
>Fortunately, we can check for the crack-pot theory or hyper-correction in the
>case of "matacAn2ai". The word occurs in two inscriptions SII, vol. 5, no. 300
>as well as no. 431 which I had mentioned earlier. No. 431 has far fewer
>sections missing than no. 300. No. 431 is found in Tirunelveli and no. 300 is
>found in Tenkarai near cOzavantAn2, north of Madurai. A comparison of the two
>inscriptions makes it obvious that the eulogy portion was composed by a single
>person while the actual inscribing was done by different persons at the two
>locations.  The inscriptions belong to the period of the famous
>cuntarapANTiyan of the 13th century.

That is exactly the time, medieval period, for hyperstandard forms to arise.
The old change of s>*h>y (in other positions) >0 (initially) was known to
writers through loanwords like a:yiram, e:Ni, avai,etc. An underlying y
forms were written with s. There are many examples from Tamil also to show
that R > r led later to some r's being represented as R. Hypercorrect forms
are generally less systematic and give the impression of a reversal of sound

>The eulogy portion of 431 in which the word "matacAn2ai" occurs, also has the
>words "An2ai" and "yAn2ai" used in other places. Inscription 300 has the
>corresponding occurrences of "matacAn2ai" and "yAnai". But the middle section
>with the "An2ai" form is missing. The occurrences of the words "An2ai" and
>"yAn2ai" are given below.
mataca:nai is clearly a hyperstandard writing. If it was a sound change it
should continue into later times.

>ucar < uyar (DEDR 646)
>vacakkal < vayakkal (DEDR 5258)
>vAcal < vAyil (DEDR 5352) -
>vicalUr < viyalUr = viyal (DEDR 5404) +Ur
>uyar - to rise                  puRanAn2URu 334.8
>vayakku - to tame           akanAn2URu 344.10
>vAyil - entrance              puRanAn2URu 350.6
>viyalUr - a place             akanAn2URu 97.13
>vayal - cultivated field     puRanAn2URu 354.4  (Kannada has both vayal and
The above with -c- are hypercorrect forms. If y became c why not vasal and

>The forms with -c- are found in inscriptions at least 600 years later than the
>literary attestations of -y-. None of the -c- forms discussed above are found
>in Classical Tamil. Some of the -y- forms are used even today in formal speech
>while some of the -c- forms are considered very substandard. For instance,
>literate persons will not use ucar- in colloquial speech. The preferred form
>is -y-. -c- and -y- are clearly distinguished. On the other hand, vAcal is
>acceptable and vAyil is found in very formal speech. Inscriptions show not
>only vacakku, but also, mayakku, and macakku reflecting all the variant
>dialectal forms. Todau tiruvicalUr is the name of the town.
What you say proves my point.

>The placement of DEDR 5259 Ta. vayiRu belly with an implied *-y- seems to be

>correct even though Kannada has basiR. Colloquial Tamil has forms like vakuRu,
>vavuRu, but no vacuRu.

No. -c- is older as I said earlier. Konda and other SCD languages preserve
the s form, Konda vasking(velar nasal)'entrails'. You seem to think that the
oldest forms are only foound in Tamil in every respect. What is your basis
for taking -y- in vayiRu as older? what am I doing again; take a lsesson on
comparative Drav phonology? Who cares? Linguistics is not a layman's hobby.

>Finally, I was not generalizing about others' scholarship. My comment was made
>in the same spirit as P. S. Subrahmanyam was making with respect to L. V.
>Ramaswamy Aiyar and it was specific to the discussion at hand. Moreover, what
>I said was not an inference as P. S. Subrahmanyam did, but was a fact. The
>Reference list in Subrahmanyams book does not include Velu Pillais book
>which appeared full 7 years before Subrahmanyams book. The book has an
>introductory note by scholars representing all major Dravidian Languages R. C.
>Hiremath (Dharwar) for Kannada , K. Mahadeva Sastry (Sri Venkateswara
>University) for Telugu, and V.I. Subramoniam (Kerala) for Tamil and Malayalam.
>Further A. Velu Pillai who had earned a Ph.D. under T. Burrow had produced
>this book at the invitation of the Dravidian Linguistics Association. So I
>felt that the quality of the work had been recognized by other scholars and  I
>was surprised it was not consulted in the preparation of "Dravidian
>Comparative Phonology".
>For the benefit of those interested, in its 1132 pages, "Study of the Dialects
>of Inscriptional Tamil" mainly deals with phonology and morphology. It is
>based on about 1750 inscriptions grouped into 5 periods: (1) 6th to 8th
>centuries, (2) 9th century, (3) 10th century, (4) 11th century and (5) 12th
>century. As the introduction of the book notes, it covers only a small portion
>of about 30,000 Tamil inscriptions that had been collected by the
>Archaelogical Survey of India at that time. However, it is a significant work
>bringing together the results of many earlier  unpublished research efforts
>including that of Pillai.
>S. Palaniappan
H.No. 12-13-1233, "Bhaarati"
Street 9, Tarnaka
Hyderabad 500017

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