What happened when Brahmins became native Tamil speakers? (Re: "kaapya-" ...

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Sun Apr 12 19:48:14 UTC 2009

Dear JLC,
In my opinion, the use of dental n vs. alveolar n2 as in SII v8, no.196 is  
not a significant issue. As you know, there are many case where in the  
same inscription, the same name occurs with both variants. For kAppiyan2 with  
alveolar n2, see SII 19, nos. 62, 63, and 335.
Two of my earlier posts that may be related to this issue are.

In the names of Classical Tamil (CT) poets and the persons they sung about, 
 some seem to have only gotra component while others have gotra as well as 
given  names while others have some or all of the following: names of the 
name of  original region, name of original town/village, (qualified) name of 
gotra,  current town/village, father and given name. 
So we have AmUrk koutaman2 cAtEvan2Ar and kOtaman2Ar as well as cellUrk  
kOcikan2 kaNNan2Ar and maturai iLaGkoucikan2Ar. The need for the use of given  
name might have been based on how well-known the person was in the literary 
 circles. Consider the case of the title kAviti discussed by pErAciriyar. 
We have  CT poets, iLampullUrk kAviti, kiTaGkil kAvitik kIran2 kaNNan2Ar, and 
AvUrk  kAvitikaL cAtEvan2Ar. Thus what tolkAppiyar says is a general rule. 
But  depending on the 'branding' of the individual person, the minimal  
number of referential terms/names/titles one needs to specifically identify a  
person could have varied and the gotra-derivative name can be in the middle 
or  at the end in literary usage. The case of the inscriptional usage might 
be  slightly different since the inscriptions were legal documents and one  
needs to have more formal identification.
This could have been probably similar to the current popular  usage of 
'kalaiJar' which while in general could mean any artist (honorific), it  
specifically refers to the present Chief Minister Karunanidhi. I guess in the  
northern context it is similar to 'Panditji' which referred to Jawaharlal  
In a message dated 4/12/2009 4:57:56 A.M. Central Daylight Time,  
jean-luc.chevillard at UNIV-PARIS-DIDEROT.FR writes:

Dear  SP,

yes I remember of the discussions concerning "kApya" on  Indology,
notably in March and April 1997 (twelve years ago).

I am  aware of the existence of the poets (Kāppiyaṉ Cēntaṉār, Kāppiyāṟṟ
Kāppiyaṉār) and grammarians (Tolkāppiyaṉ, Palkāppiyaṉ) which you  
mentionned, and one could also add to the list the poet Veḷḷūrk  
Kāppiyaṉ, who is mentionned as a member of the Middle Caṅkam in the  
initial section of the commentary to the /Kaḷaviyal eṉṟa Iṟaiyaṉār  

One of the important studies (written in Tamil) where  the origin and 
formation of the name Tolkāppiyaṉ is discussed is the 1904  article 
("Iṭaiccaṅkam") by M. Raghava Aiyangar, which is found on pp.  88-101 
inside the 1938 collection of his articles (/Ārāyccit Tokuti/,  reprint: 
Tanjore Tamil University, 1984) . The most relevant page for the  current 
discussion might be p.97, where he connects Tamil and Sanskrit  sources.

What I was trying to do, while starting the present thread,  was to 
acquire a more precise idea of what may have happened when Brahmins  
became native Tamil speakers, after migrating to Tamil Nadu. And the  
gotra-related vocabulary seemed to be a very important component on  
which to concentrate.

Transparent flexional/morphological  derivations (such as are seen in 
Sanskrit) were becoming "opaque" in the  new linguistic context and those 
brahmins had to make choices regarding  the way they should be publicly 
addressed or referred to in the  Tamil-speaking world (i.e. the /Tamiḻ 
kūṟu nallulakam/).

One of the  parameters for which I would like to have a more clear 
understanding is  the order of the components, inside names which have 
several  components.

For instance, in the Anbil South-Indian Inscription to  which you refer 
in your message (SII 8n no.196)
[found "on a pillar  lying in front of the Vighnesvara Temple ..."], the 
component "kāppiyan"  (spelt with a dental "n" and not an alveolar "ṉ") 
is found 5 times, and  each time it is the first component in a long 
name, all the long names  ending with the coordinating particle "-um" so 
that we have the  sequence:

-- kāppiyan vaṭukaṅ kaṇattān vā[ciri]yum

-- kāppiyan  centan m[ā]ṭamuṭaiyānum

-- kāppiyan centan muciṟi...nmaliyum

--  kāppiyan centan c[o]matevanum

-- kāppiyan vaṭukan tāmotiranum

On  the other hand, in the literary sources mentionned before, the 
"kāppiyaṉ"  component comes last (see Kāppiyāṟṟuk Kāppiyaṉār, Veḷḷūrk 
Kāppiyaṉ), the  exception being Kāppiyaṉ Cēntaṉār.

There are rules in the Tolkāppiyam  concerning the order of components in 
long names (see for instance TC41c,  as per the sūtra numbers inside the 
/Cēṉāvaraiyam/) but I am not sure they  are sufficient for 
understanding/explaining all that we meet with in  literature and in 

This is certainly a vast field for  which a complete answer cannot be 
obtained on a mailing  list.

However, pointers to articles (and books) concerning the "syntax"  of 
long names in India are welcome.

Best wishes to all

--  Jean-Luc Chevillard (Paris)

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