[INDOLOGY] N. Ganesan's Dravidian etymologies for 'makara', etc.

asko.parpola at helsinki.fi asko.parpola at helsinki.fi
Tue Jan 13 12:14:14 UTC 2015

I told Ganesan that Tamil nakar 'to creep (as a reptile), to crawl (as
an infant), to sneak away' (TL), to which he had drawn my
attention, might be the sole survivor of Proto-Dravidian *nakar
and in that case a better etymology for Sanskrit
nakra etc. and Proto-Dravidian *nekaL than Proto-Dravidian
*neka- (DEDR 3730) that I proposed on p. 19 of my crocodile
paper (2011).

Best regards, "Asokan"

Quoting Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info>:

> It is interesting that Dr. Rajam should have mentioned Prof. Asko  
> Parpola. I have found an interesting post by Dr. Ganesan. In this he  
> says that Dr. Parpola has changed some of his etymologies based on  
> Dr. Ganesan's input.   
> https://groups.google.com/d/msg/mintamil/enXUUa3WiAk/2P1pnvPRgdoJ
> Having read Dr. Parpola's 2011 article recently, I would be very  
> interested to know if Dr. Parpola has changed the etymologies of  
> words for crocodile from what he postulated in his 2011 paper and,  
> if so, what his current etymologies are.
> Thanks in advance.
> Regards,
> Palaniappan
> -----Original Message-----
> From: rajam <rajam at earthlink.net>
> To: palaniappa <palaniappa at aol.com>; indology <indology at list.indology.info>
> Sent: Fri, Jan 9, 2015 11:49 am
> Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] N. Ganesan's Dravidian etymologies for 'makara', etc.
> My good wishes to all for a very happy and productive New Year 2015!
> Note: My own computer has been sent in for repair and I'm using an  
> old, unstable, borrowed machine. So, the following is a quick  
> response. I hope to send in my comments once I have a robust  
> computer. The one I'm using now may crash anytime while I'm typing in.
> Two attachments from the original mail on this topic didn't download  
> properly. They just come out as a blank file.
> ++++++++++++++++
> WOW and Bravo, that's all I can say for now about the original  
> article by Dr. Ganesan and the critique from Dr. Palaniappan.
> I am deeply eager to hear responses from our esteemed colleagues,  
> especially from Professors Asko Parpola, M. Witzel, Madhav  
> Deshpande, George Hart, ..., and a savvy engineer Suresh G. (student  
> of Bh. Krishnamurti), and many other scholars such as Jean Luc  
> Chevillard on this list.
> I'll share my thoughts when I have a robust computer since I need  
> proper diacritics and a non-failing email client all to type.
> Thanks and regards,
> V.S. Rajam
> -----Original Message-----
>> From: palaniappa at aol.com
>> Sent: Jan 8, 2015 10:46 PM
>> To: indology at list.indology.info
>> Subject: [INDOLOGY] N. Ganesan's Dravidian etymologies for 'makara', etc.
>> Dear Indologists,
>> I am sending this from a Windows machine. Hopefully, the diacritics  
>> will come through this time. Please disregard the earlier posts  
>> with a slightly different title.
>> I apologize for the length of this post. I summarize its contents  
>> first. Those who are interested in the details can read further.
>> In multiple Internet posts N. Ganesan has mentioned an article of  
>> his entitled, "A Dravidian Etymology for Makara - Crocodile,"  
>> published by the International School of Dravidian Linguistics in  
>> 2011.  (See Attachment 1 for the article.) In this article, Ganesan  
>> offers new etymologies for words meaning crocodile such as Sanskrit  
>> makara, Sanskrit nakra/nākra, Tamil mutalai, and Tamil  
>> viṭaṅkar/iṭaṅkar. As far as I can see, the article seems to have  
>> serious flaws from the viewpoints of linguistics and philology.  
>> While usually an article of such a nature might not receive any  
>> serious attention from scholars, the fact that it is said to be  
>> published by International School of Dravidian Linguistics suggests  
>> that it undergo scrutiny by scholars.
>> In the discussion below, I point out some of the problems I see in  
>> the article and I would appreciate any comments from the members of  
>> this list.
>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Etymology for Sanskrit makara
>> Dravidian Etymological Dictionary (Revised edition, abbreviated as  
>> DEDR) entry 4952 gives the following words for crocodile.
>> 4952 Ta. mutalai, mutaḷai, mucali crocodile. Ma. mutala. Ko. mocaḷ.  
>> Ka. mosaḷe, masaḷe. Koḍ. mosale. Tu. mosaḷè, mudalè, mudaḷè,  
>> mūdalè. Te. mosali. Kol. (Kin.) moseli. Pa. mōca. Konḍa (BB) mōdi,  
>> mūdi. Kur. (BB) bōca. Malt. boce. / Cf. Skt. (lex.) mācala-  
>> crocodile; (lex.) musali- house-lizard; alligator; Pkt. muduga- =  
>> grāhaviśesa-.
>> Based on the above entry, Bh. Krishnamurti has given  * mōc- /  
>> *moc-Vḷ as the Proto-Dravidian form for the word for crocodile.   
>> (Dravidian Languages, 2003, p. 13).
>> However, on p.7 of his article, Ganesan states, "The  
>> Proto-Dravidian root for makara is *mokaray- a verbal noun from the  
>> verb, *mok-/*moṅku- 'to eat greedily in large mouthfuls, eat  
>> voraciously, devour, gobble, swallow' (DEDR 5127+4897)."
>> DEDR entries 4897 and 5127 are given below.
>> 4897 Ta. mukku (mukki-) to eat in large mouthfuls; mokku (mokki-),  
>> mokki-ttiṉ- to eat greedily in large mouthfuls. Ka. mukku to eat in  
>> a certain manner, put any dry grain, etc., into the mouth with the  
>> hollowed hand and gobble; mukkuḷ, mukkuḷe mouthful of water for  
>> rinsing the mouth, rinsing the mouth, cleaning the teeth; mukkuḷisu  
>> to rinse the mouth, spit out, abandon, reject. Tu. mukkuni to  
>> gobble, swallow, devour; mukkāvuni to over-feed (tr.); mukkele  
>> voracious man; mukkuli, mukkuḷi mouthful of any liquid;  
>> mukkuliyuni, mukkuḷiyuni to gargle or rinse the mouth. Te. bokku to  
>> eat greedily, stuff the mouth and eat voraciously, gobble. Kui muka  
>> (muki-) to cast food into the mouth with the hand; mukal mouthful;  
>> mukal giva to rinse out the mouth, take a mouthful, gargle. Kuwi  
>> (Isr.) buk- (-it-) to gobble, swallow. Cf. 5127 Ma. mōkuka.
>> 5127 Ma. mōkuka, mōntuka to drink, sip; mōyikka to give to sip;  
>> mōval a gulp. Kur. mōxnā to eat (anything except cooked rice);  
>> pass. or refl. mōxrnā; mōxta'ānā to cause or allow someone to eat.  
>> Malt. móqe to eat (as meat or fruit). ? Ta. moci (-pp-, -tt-) to  
>> eat; māntu (mānti-) to eat, drink, experience, enjoy Cf. 4897 Ta.  
>> mukku.
>> I do not understand how Ganesan could get the Proto-Dravidian  
>> 'root' *moṇku- from these entries.
>> Having postulated *mok-/*moṅku- from DEDR 5127 and 4897, Ganesan states:
>> "The Dravidian verb, mok-/moṅk- transforms to moc-/moñc- in south  
>> Dravidian languages."
>> As far as I know, there has been no basis for such a context-free  
>> transformation mentioned in any work on comparative Dravidian  
>> phonology. (Moreover, as one can see above in DEDR 4592, the words  
>> for 'crocodile' in north Dravidian languages, Kurukh and Malto,  
>> also have -c- and not -k- in DEDR 4952.)
>> Then Ganesan goes on to say:
>> "Hence Kannada and Telugu have mosale or mosali (< *mokaray), and  
>> Tamil and Malayalam derives its mosale> motalai > mutalai from the  
>> same verbal root, mok- with -r- > -l- alternation in the South."
>> Ganesan has not presented any evidence of -oka- transforming to  
>> -oca- or -osa- in south Dravidian languages. So, in my opinion,  
>> Ganesan has not provided an acceptable Dravidian etymology that  
>> supposedly explains Sanskrit 'makara' as well as Tamil mutalai.
>> Etymology for nakra/nākra
>> Ganesan also has given an etymology for Indo-Aryan words for  
>> gharial, the long-snouted crocodile.
>> On p. 4 of his paper, Ganesan says, " The god Śiva in Tamil bhakti  
>> texts of the first millennium, is extolled as either nakkar or  
>> viṭaṅkar indicating Śiva’s nudity and his virile lingam in  
>> particular. These epithets for Śiva and his lingam have origin in  
>> the names for gharial crocodile (Section 3.0). When viṭaṅku is  
>> used, it indicates the naked bhikṣāṭana youth going rounds in the  
>> streets and attracting women: maṉaikaḷ tōṟum talai kai ēnti  
>> viṭaṅkarākit tirivatu eṉṉē? (Tevaram 7.6.1)."
>> The interpretation of Tamil viṭaṅkar as indicating a naked Śiva is  
>> simply not valid according to Tamil philology.  Indeed the text  
>> quoted by Ganesan is translated by V. M. Subramanya Iyer in the  
>> Digital Tēvāram edition (from EFEO, Pondicherry) as "what is the  
>> reason for wandering from house to house, assuming a beauteous form  
>> and asking alms, " where he translates viṭaṅkar as 'beauteous form”  
>> (http://tinyurl.com/p7vg2wl). ; That viṭaṅkar is not naked is shown  
>> by Tēvāram 7.36.3, another verse by Cuntarar, the same person who  
>> authored the verse quoted by Ganesan too. In this verse translated  
>> by V. M. Subramanya Iyer, Viṭaṅkar is explicitly described as  
>> wearing a loin-cloth as given below (http://tinyurl.com/nbns4gt).
>> You are pure in your eyes, mouth and body, you wear a sewn  
>> loin-cloth, give up dancing along with pēy in the cremation-ground,  
>> are you a mad person? Our master! Civaṉ, who is known by the name  
>> of Āraṇiya viṭaṅkar in Paiññīli surrounded by a verdant garden  
>> which has mast wood trees, cool and green delight of the woods, and  
>> lotus flowers growing in the moats into which water flows.
>> So there is no connection between nudity and viṭaṅkar as claimed by Ganesan.
>> On pp. 7-8 of his paper, Ganesan says, "In East India (Nepali,  
>> Bihari, Bengali) (3) nakar is the name of gharial [13], directly  
>> derivable from the Tamil verb, nakar- ‘to creep, to crawl slowly’.  
>> Compared to muggers (< makara), gharials have much smaller, weak  
>> legs and cannot do ‘high walk’ as muggers can (Figures 7, 8). When  
>> gharials come to the shore for sun bathing or for laying eggs, they  
>> creep on the banks awkwardly pushing their huge bodies forward.  
>> From this Dravidian nakar, Sanskrit gets nakra-/nākra- and Middle  
>> Indo-Aryan nakka-. In Tamil Tevaram texts, Śiva is called  
>> nakkar/nakkaṉ due to his nudity traceable to the phallus shape of  
>> the gharial snout and its ancient name."
>> While Ganesan easily moves from Tamil nakar to Dravidian nakar,  
>> DEDR does not include an entry that includes Tamil nakar 'to creep,  
>> to crawl slowly'. There seem to be no cognates of nakar in any  
>> other Dravidian language including Telugu and Kannada. (nakar is  
>> not included in Emeneau and Burrow's  "Dravidian Borrowings from  
>> Indo-Aryan" either.) So Tamil nakar 'to creep slowly, crawl slowly'  
>> being the source of Indo-Aryan nakra/nākra is not very convincing  
>> to me.  As a result, tracing nakkar/nakkaṉ (referring to Śiva) "to  
>> the phallus shape of the gharial snout and its ancient name" also  
>> seems to be impossible.
>> However, there is another possibility, as Burrow and Emeneau seem to think.
>> DEDR 3732 entry is given below.
>> 3732 Ka. negar̤, negar̤e alligator. Tu. negaḷů id.; negarů a  
>> sea-animal, the vehicle of Varuṇa. Te. (B.) negaḍu a polypus or  
>> marine animal supposed to entangle swimmers. / Cf. Skt. nakra-  
>> crocodile; nākra- a kind of aquatic animal; Turner, CDIAL, no. 7038.
>> Based on DEDR 3732 Krishnamurti has given a reconstructed form  
>> *nek-Vḷ¸· (Dravidian Languages, 2003, p. 13). This word at least  
>> could be transmitted to Indo-Aryan since Kannada is adjacent to  
>> Indo-Aryan linguistic areas.
>> Etymology of Tamil        iṭaṅkar
>> As best as I could figure out Ganesan's chain of reasoning, this is  
>> how Ganesan seems to arrive at how Tamil words viṭaṅkar/iṭaṅkar are  
>> interpreted as referring to gharial.
>> Śiva is naked as Bhikṣāṭana.
>> Gharial's snout has the shape of a phallus.
>> Gharial is called nakka in Middle Indo-Aryan
>> So Śiva is called nakkar because he is naked.
>> Tamil viṭaṅku means 'to be erect (as lingam)' (Ganesan's own interpretation)
>> Śiva is called viṭaṅkar.
>> So viṭaṅkar stands for the male organ.
>> Gharial's snout has the shape of a phallus.
>> So viṭaṅkar in Tamil means gharial.
>> According to Ganesan, viṭaṅkar lost the initial v- and became iṭaṅkar.
>> The word viṭaṅkar referring to a crocodile occurs for the first  
>> time in the Varatarāca Aiyaṅkār Pākavatam, a 16th century text.  
>> Earlier literary texts or lexicons do not mention that word. But  
>> earlier texts going back to 2nd century CE mention iṭaṅkar in the  
>> sense of 'crocodile'.  In several instances in the Kamparāmāyaṇam  
>> (ca. 9th or 12th century), iṭaṅkar is the word used to describe the  
>> crocodile that attacked the elephant in the Gajendra Mokṣa episode.  
>> (For example, see Kamparāṃāyaṇam
>> (In fact, contrary to Ganesan’s suggestion of viṭaṅkar being the  
>> original form, which lost v- to result in iṭaṅkar, I would argue  
>> that the original form was indeed iṭaṅkar and the form viṭaṅkar  
>> probably resulted from a reanalysis of a manuscript line such as  
>> tuyiṉṟaṉaviṭaṅkarmāttaṭaṅkaṭōṟumē in Kamparāmāyaṇam Kitkintā Kāṇṭam  
>> Kārkālappaṭalam published in 1862 as shown in Attachment 2, where  
>> –v- is a glide resulting from the morphophonemics of joining  
>> tuyiṉṟaṉa ending in -a and iṭaṅkar beginning in i-. When the words  
>> in the quoted line are separated, the word in question is taken as  
>> iṭankar as can be seen in http://tinyurl.com/kd756qp .)
>> Even if one accepts the form viṭaṅkar to be earlier, in the 16th  
>> century text, the word 'viṭaṅkar' is used in connection with  
>> crocodile-elephant encounter. Since gharials are not known to  
>> attack even human beings, it is doubtful if they are biologically  
>> equipped to attack big elephants. Even in the Maṇimēkalai (6th  
>> century CE), the moat around Kāñci was described as having  
>> crocodiles indicated by the term iṭaṅkar, which means that iṭaṅkar  
>> cannot be identified as gharial.  (As gharials do not attack human  
>> beings, they would not have been used in moats, which were designed  
>> to ward off attacks by hostile warriors.) So the case of  
>> viṭaṅkar/iṭaṅkar representing gharial is not defensible.
>> Conclusions
>> In my opinion, Ganesan's etymologies for Sanskrit makara and  
>> nakra/nākra are not supported by comparative Dravidian linguistic  
>> evidence or Tamil philology. Also, his etymological interpretation  
>> of Tamil viṭaṅkar/iṭaṅkar is not supported by Tamil philology.
>> In January 2012 Ganesan stated that the article had been published  
>> in "Prof. V. I. Subramonium commemoration volume, ISDL,  
>> Tiruvananthapuram, Kerala, 2011". Later, in February 2013 he stated  
>> that the article had been published in "Prof. V. I. Subramonian  
>> Memorial Volume, International School of Dravidian Linguistics,  
>> 2011, (Tiruvananthapuram, Kerala)". International Journal of  
>> Dravidian Linguistics, Volume 39, Issue 2 published in June 2010  
>> seen in Attachment 3. Ganesan's article was not included in that  
>> volume. Nor was it published in the IJDL issues of 2011. There was  
>> no commemoration volume published by ISDL in 2011.
>> However, there is going to be a separate Professor V. I.  
>> Subramoniam Commemoration Volume that will be published in June  
>> 2015 during the 43rd annual conference of Dravidian Linguistics  
>> Association to be held in Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu.  
>> Ganesan’s article may be included in Professor V. I. Subramoniam  
>> Commemoration Volume.
>> I would appreciate any comments from the list members.
>> Thank you in advance.
>> Regards,
>> S. Palaniappan
> I amI am

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