River Krishna

C.R. (Selva) Selvakumar selvakum at VALLUVAR.UWATERLOO.CA
Fri Mar 19 23:42:31 UTC 1999

Michael Witzel wrote:

> This is what I wonder about. Again not the prevalence of plam trees,
> but
> the most common river names are 'white' ,"milky' (= quick, in the
> mountains), and 'black (=slow, in the plains), or red (if full of mud
> as in
> monsoon, or iron), etc.  Then, of course, 'crooked" etc., etc.
> Of course, you can name a river after peculiar local landmarks or
> natural
> phenomena as well (Wind / Snake/ Beaver river, in Wyoming, Colorado
> etc.,
> Double Mountain Fork in Texas, Red Deer in Alberta, Canada), and I
> guess
> there must be a Fir River or Lake somewhere in Canada...
> But such names are not so typical as the others... That is why I would
> like
> to hear from the linguists what the Drav. roots and their meaning  of
> peNN-Ar/ai, Porunai etc. would be ....
> >Are the TN rivers taNporunai (sanskritized as tAmraparNI)
> --- again a strange name in Skt. as in all adaptations: red/copper
> (colored) - leaved River?
> >and Aan2porunai ( later Amaravati, Amravati) also related to Nahali
> 'parayn'??
> I really wonder: why all these PennAru (A.P., sic, on my map) ,
> PeNN-ar/-ai
> rivers in the South if there is no(?) good etymological
> explanation...?
> MW

          Professor Witzel,

          The following may not be substantiated etymological
explanation you are
          seeking, but merely sharing a few thoughts I've heard or
          The word 'aaRu' is the most popular
          word for 'river'. It means, primarily, a 'way, course'.
          The root sense (etymological)  comes from 'aRu' = to cut (
hence to
          make a way). The word porunai also could mean 'that which

          The word peNNai is supposed to refer to a 'female palm' which
          supposed to be hardy at the outside but soft inside. It is
supposed to be
          a generic name (with such a property). In the case of it being
          as a river name, I would *guess* that it may refer to the
strong embankment.
          It may also mean that it (the river) is 'sweet' (in the sense
of being desirable,
          from the sense of peL > peT > peTpu = desire; this was already
pointed out
          by Dr. Palaniappan  in this list).  Another name for river
          is vENi and it is also considered to come from vEL > vET
>vETpu = desire.
          Other words for river are OTam ( meaning 'that which runs',
OTu = to run)
          and punal (meaning water 'flowing').

          C.R. Selvakumar

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