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

C.R. Selvakumar selvakum at VALLUVAR.UWATERLOO.CA
Mon May 25 22:11:47 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

         I've heard that 'aayiram' (meaning thousand in tamil) is a
         borrowing, presumably from skt.(sahasra). Can someone point to
         the arguments for this ? The Tamil word for hundred is
         nURu and, as I understand it, it comes from the verb 'nURuthal'
         (imperative/infinitive verb 'nURu')
         meaning 'to split into many parts'. A  related word is 'noRungu'
         Semantically it is 'split > small > many'.
         Similarly the word 'aayiram', as I understand it, comes from the
         verbal root' 'aaythal' ( imperative/infinitive verb 'aay').
         Even today it is used in the sense of 'minutely split/separate'
         by those who work in the kitchen when they are preparing
         'keerai' (indian spinach or greens). The standard expression is
         'keerai aaythal'. Or when they are separating tiny stones from the
         rice etc. The standard expression is 'aayntu kodu'. The word
         'aayiram' is semantically almost identical to
         the word 'nURu' for hundred. 'Minutely split/separate > many'.

         Similarly I don't know how the word ENi = ladder is shown
         to be a loan word.  I wonder what the arguments are ?

@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.

    How ?

@>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.

     Palaniappan, I've come across both forms 'vasuru paciccaa thaana varuvaan'
     and 'vavuru paciccaa thaanE varuvaan' ( literally 'if stomach feels
     hunger, he will come'). The 'u' in 'vasuru' is short
     and it is difficult to say whether it is 'i' or 'u', as heard.
     The word 'vaasal' (entrance) is a modification of 'vaayil'. Strict
     transformation would lead to 'vaasil', but it is not uncommon.
     For example (1) payiRu becomes pasaRu (= a lentil),
     (2) mayiRu becomes 'masuru' (hair).
     The transformation is y > s - as is well known in
     Tamil. What is the best source for the arguments of
     K's theory of 'hypercorrection' ?
@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.

    Palaniappan and Gansesan have been making excellent and detailed comments,
    and I'm really suprised at Prof. Krishnamurti's unwarranted remarks to
    their postings in this listserv.

    What is the basis for taking the Konda example as older ('preserve') ?


    C.R.(Selva) Selvakumar

    P.S. (1) I'm very glad to see that Palaniappan and Ganesan are recording
         their thoughts here and I'm sure they will be useful to many
         sincere researchers.

         (2) I wonder whether anyone else can comment on Palaniappan's
         observation about omission of Velu Pillai's work.

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