Technology's Impact on So. Asian linguistics

Prasad Velusamy prasad_velusamy at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon May 10 10:48:37 UTC 1999

Hi Mike,

Indology is contributing to South Asian linguistics also. Postings in
Indology have shown how some significant beliefs regarding i/e - u/o
alternation and y/c alternation which have been held as true in
Dravidian linguistics for over 40 years are not true.

Sun, 14 Jun 1998
Subject= Stomach/womb in Dravidian and -y-/-c- alternation

In an earlier posting , I had said that "The placement of DEDR 5259
Ta. vayiRu belly with an implied *-y- seems to be correct even though
Kannada has basiR." Krishnamurti disagreed with this saying, " -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?"

An examination of the following DEDR entries and Tamil texts shows
why -y- should be older.

DEDR 5259 Ta. vayiRu belly, stomach, pauch, womb, centre, heart of a
tree, interior, inner space, mind; vayin2 belly, stomach; vayA foetus,
womb. Ma. vayaRu belly, stomach, inside receptacle of fruit-seeds...
Ko. vi.r (obl. vi.t_-) belly, pregnancy;...To. pi.r (obl. pi.t_-)
belly, pregnancy, womb. Ka. basaR(u), basiR, basuR(u), basRu belly,
abdomen, womb, pregnancy, embryo, the inside, hold of a ship; basaRi,
basURi pregnant woman...KonDa vaski (pl. vasking) small intestines.
Pe. vahing (pl.) intestines...Kui vahi intestine, entrails, bowels....

DEDR 5549 Ta. vai (-pp-, -tt-) to put, place, seat, lay by, store up,
possess, keep, create, set up; vaippu placing, deposit, treasure;
place; earth, land, world, town; vaiyakam, vaiyam, vayam earth, world;
vayin2 place. Ma. vekka to put, lay, place, build, keep, retain,
deposit, put aside; veppu placing, deposit, treasure; vaikkam what is
laid down, deposit, alluvial ground..Ko. vay- (vac-) to keep, place,
beget, bear (child)..To. poy- (poc-) to keep, place; beget bear
(child). Ka. bay, baycu, baccu, oy to deposit, put aside, hide;
bay(a)ke deposit, treasure, hoard;  besana, besal, besale birth,
production, bringing forth; besal Agu to bear, bring forth; (K.2)
vesale pregnant.....Te. vaicu, (K. also) vayicu, (B. K.) vEyu to
place, put. Kol. va.y- (, (SR.) vAy-
to sow; Nk. vay- to sow; vayk- to put, put aside....Kur. uinA (uyyas)
to put down; retain, keep back. Malt. oje to keep; lay eggs, bring
forth young. [Krishnamurti, Language 39.562, suggests separating into
two entries the items meaning ‘put, place, keep’ and bear, beget’

DEDR 5554 Ta. vaiku (vaiki-) to stay, pass the night, dawn;
vaikal staying, daybreak, day that has passed away; vaikaRai,
vaikuRu daybreak. Ma. vaikuka to stay the night, delay, stay, be
late; vaiku-nEram, vai-nEram evening; vaikikka
to detain, delay; vaikkam delay. Ka. bay, bay(i)ge evening, evening
twilight...Te. vEgu, vEvu to dawn; vEgincu to keep awake (intr.);
vEgimpu waking from sleep, keeping awake;...Kol. (SR.) vegeD, (Kin.)
vEger. tomorrow....KoNDa vige tomorrow; (BB) vEg-/vIg- to dawn....Kur.
bijjnA to dawn, begin to grow light; bijjta’AnA to protract till
dawn. Malt. bije to dawn..

According to an earlier posting by Dr. Krishnamurti, " PD *c and *y
fell together in most of the languages but the distinciton is
preserved by some members (particularly Kannada). where Ka also has
an intervocalic -y- (bayal) it goes to PD *y. So Kannada holds the
clue for PD reconstriction (Ta. poy =
Ka. pusi <*posi 'a lie'; PD *poc-)."

If one were to accept the validity of Krishnamurti’s statement, for
DEDR 5549 (in the sense of ‘to put, place, deposit) and DEDR 5554 (to
stay, etc) the PDr. reconstruction would be *vay-. (Krishnamurti does
reconstruct *-y- for both of these in Telugu Verbal Bases, p.
496-497) In fact, it is obvious that 5554 and 5549 are related by the
simple relationship that when one puts/deposits an object in a place,
it stays there. In "A Reference Grammar of
Classical Tamil Poetry", (p.502), V. S. Rajam translates the following

".....kaN akan2 cilampil
paTuttu vaittan2n2a pARai marunkil
eTuttu niRuttan2n2a iTTarum ciRu neRi"   (malaipaTukatAm 14-16)

as, "very small narrow path (iTTarum ciRu neRi) that looks as if it
was raised from the ground and made to stand up (eTuttu niRuttan2n2a)
near (maruGkil) the rock which looks as if it was caused to fall down
and made to stay there (paTuttu vaittan2n2a) on the spacious mountain
(kaN akan2 cilampil)." Note the use of "vai" in a context meaning "to
stay". Thus the relationship between putting/depositing and staying
is very clear.

In fact, it is this concept which forms the basis for the Dravidian
words for stomach/womb.

Ta. vayiRu stomach/womb is a place where something is deposited/
something stays. Ta. vayin2 which occurs in both DEDR 5259 and 5549
provides a critical link between the two. It means "stomach" as well
as "place". This will become clear when we consider the following.

kaiyaik kaiyin2 nerikkum; tan2 kAtalan2,
vaikum Al ilai an2n2a vayiRRin2aip
pey vaLait taLirAl picaiyum...........                     (kamparAmAyaNam

A rough translation of the relevant words is  "she would crush one
hand with another,  and would knead the stomach/womb (vayiRRin2ai)
where her son/foetus stays (vaikum)." Note the use of the word
"vaikum" to describe the stay of the
foetus inside the stomach/womb.

vaikuRum narakaiyum nakum vayiRRin2An2.    (kamparAmAyaNam

In this poem, a demon is said to have a stomach (vayiRRin2An2) which
was worse/bigger than the hell where bad people stay (vaikuRum).

That the stomach is a place where things are put (vai-) is shown by
the following lines.

"vayiRRin2uL ulaku Ezin2OTu Ezaiyum vaikkum
ayirppu il ARRal en2 an2ucan2ai En2am on2Ru Aki
eyiRRin2Al eRintu in2 uyir uNTavan2 nAmam
payiRRavO nin2aip payantatu nAn2?" en2ap pakarntAn2.     (kamparAmAyaNam

A rough translation is "Did I give birth to you for you to recite the
name of the one who became a pig and killed my brother who had the
power to put (vaikkum) seven plus seven worlds in his stomach

Thus the relationship between vai (to put/deposit), vaiku (to stay),
and vayiRu (stomach/womb) is clear from these examples. vayiRu is a
derivative of vai. In fact, the examples shown here provide the
connection between the words meaning "to put, place, keep’ and words
meaning ‘bear, beget’ discussed in DEDR 5549. The Tamil form "vayin2"
which was originally included in DED 4299
Ta. vayiRu  but not in DED 4565 Ta. vai finds its rightful place in
both DEDR 5259 Ta. vayiRu and DEDR 5549 Ta. vai and it seals the
relationship beyond doubt.

Given this relationship, if we reconstruct *vay- for DEDR 5549 Ta. vai
(Ka. bay), and DEDR 5554 Ta. vaiku (Ka. bay, bay(i)ge), we have to
reconstruct *vay- for Ta. vayiRu (Ka. basiR) also. This means that
-s- in Kannada forms basiR, etc. are not originals.

Burrow and Emeneau were right in their placement of DEDR 5549 with
an implied *-y-.


S. Palaniappan

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