New discovery in Tamil Nadu

George Hart glhart at BERKELEY.EDU
Sun Jun 28 01:18:59 UTC 2009

Dear Stefan Baums,

Well, the Tamil would be pronounced vayiram, and that is the modern  
Tamil word and how it has been written from ancient times -- one  
supposes that if this is truly writing, it is an early form of Tamil  
Brahmi.  It could be a purely Tamil development: vajra > vaciram >  
vayiram.  There are several words where -ci- becomes -yi- (e.g.  
Dravidian ucir > uyir; in spoken Tamil, ucir is still used.  Also  
macir > mayir, and macir is still used in a rather obscene meaning).   
There is, of course, no -j- sound in old Tamil, though it is used  
extensively in borrowed words starting with inscriptions (though it is  
never used in literary texts that are in centamiz -- I don't know  
offhand when the earliest inscription with "j" appears).  Thanks for  
the interesting reply -- I realized when I wrote this that my  
knowledge of MIA is deficient.  The word vayiram, apparently meaning  
"diamond," appears 3 times in Sangam Literature.  It's not clear from  
the article why the word "diamond" would appear on the ring stand.   
George Hart

On Jun 27, 2009, at 6:03 PM, Stefan Baums wrote:

> Dear George Hart,
> this is very interesting. The word form vayra is curious though:
> OIA j [ʝ] should not go to MIA y [j] when immediately followed by
> another consonant. What the orthography reminds me of is Pali
> umlaut of [a] to [ɛ] (written ai and ayi) before ry (von Hinüber,
> Älteres Mittelindisch, § 147). Are there alternative Tamil
> etymologies that come to mind, or Tamil orthographic conventions
> that could explain the conjunt yr? Most importantly, though, are
> good images available somewhere so we can verify the reading?
> All best,
> Stefan Baums
> -- 
> Stefan Baums
> Asian Languages and Literature
> University of Washington

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