Day is night in Dravidian?

Periannan Chandrasekaran perichandra at YAHOO.COM
Sun Apr 18 03:30:37 UTC 1999

--- Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan <Palaniappa at AOL.COM> wrote:
> DEDR 3656 has Ta. nAL day, early dawn, forenoon..etc. What DEDR does
> not list
> is the word naTunAL, a compound of naTu + nAL  meaning midnight
> instead of
> midday. In fact, the following CT usage clearly contrasts naTunAL and
> pakal
> (daytime).
> "naTUnAL yAmattum pakalum tuJcAn2" (puRanAn2URu 189.3)
There are quite a few other instances of such CT usage also:

"kai amai viLakkam nantu toRum mATTa
neTu nA OL maNi nikazttiya naTunAL" (mullaipppATTu:49-50)

meaning (n.in2iyar) "... lighting [the torches] held in their hands
whenever the lamps [fed by oil] die out during the mid might
signalled by the ringing of the bell with the long tongue..".
The commentator naccin2Arkkin2iniyar translates naTunAL
as "naTu yAmam" whre naTu = middle and yAmam = night.

> If we also consider that DEDR 3621 has Ta. naL meaning 'night', we
> can see
> that at first the word "nAL" (derived from the root *naL- meaning 'to
> be
> dark') must have meant 'night'. Then, how did it come to mean 'day'?
> Another
> meaning of "nAL" not listed by DEDR but preserved in Tamil and
> Malayalam is
> 'daily lunar asterism' more explicitly referred to as "nALmIn2", a
> compound
> of "nAL" and 'mIn2", where "mIn2" is from *min2- to flash, glitter,
> etc. (See
> DEDR 4876). It looks like the astronomical knowledge of lunar
> asterism seems
> to have formed the basis for naming the whole interval between the
> corresponding times of successive nights as "nAL".  DEDR 3621 and
> 3656 have
> cognates in south, central and north Dravidian subgroups. That means
> the
> astronomical observations by Dravidian speakers must have a very
> ancient
> history. Comments are welcome.
> Are there other languages where the word for day is based on the word
> for
> night?
> Regards
> S. Palaniappan

Actually the word "nAL" itself stands for daily lunar asterism without
the assistance of teh word "mIn2":
"nALoTu peyariya vizu marattu" (neTunalvATai 82)
where the commentator n.in2iyar translates "nAL" as
"the asterism uttaram" as in "uttaram e2nn2um nALin2 peyar peRRa".

Another classical text uses the words "nAL mIn2" and "kOL mIn2"
to distinguish between lunar asterisms and planets showing that "nAL"
means asterism and "kOL" planet:
"nIl niRa vicumpin2 valan2 Erpu tiritaru
nAL mIn2 virAya kOL mIn2 pOla" (paTTin2appAlai: 67-68)

meaning " the planets, dispersed amidst the lunar asterisms,
traversing clockwise in the blue sky..".

"villin2 kaTai makaram mEvap pAmpu ollai
mathiyam maRaiya varum nAL" (paripATal: 11:9-10)
commentator parimElazakar says
 "...on the [aviTTam] asterism when [saturn] aligns with makaram
 which is next to sagittarius and [rAhu] hides the full moon".
here nAL = asterism specifically aviTTam.

tolkAppiyam lays down sandhi rules involving words for asterisms:

"nAL mun2 tOnRum tozil nilaik kiLavikku ..." (tolk #247:ezut:uyir may.)

"nAl peyar kiLavi mEl kiLantan2n2a ..." (tolk #331:ezut:puLLi may.)

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