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

palaniappa at aol.com palaniappa at aol.com
Wed Jan 14 05:33:01 UTC 2015

Dear Dr. Parpola,

Thank you for your clarification. 

You may remember in 2002, during the Harvard Roundtable on Ethnogenesis of South and Central Asia, when Bh. Krishnamurti presented "The Culture of Proto-Dravidian Speakers as Reconstructed from the  Dravidian Etymological Dictionary (DEDR)," Frank Southworth questioned the Proto-Dravidian nature of many of BhK's reconstructions, which were based on words found only in South Dravidian or South and Central Dravidian. BhK did acknowledge that Frank had a point. In your own paper you were right to point out that the cognates of *nek-Vḷ are attested rather narrowly. In the case of 'nakar', considering it a sole survivor from Proto-Dravidian is too speculative. The danger of assuming 'nakar' to be Proto-Dravidian is made clear by Tamil philology. 

Please see the Tamil Lexicon's entries given below.

நகர்¹-தல் nakar-, 4 v. intr. 1. To creep, as a reptile; ஊர்தல். 2. To crawl or move along in a lying or sitting posture, as an infant; தவழ்தல். 3. To steal away, skulk; மறைவாய்ப் போதல்.
நகர்² nakar, n. < nagara. 1. Town, city; நகரம். நெடுநகர் வினைபுனை நல்லில் (புறநா. 23). 2. [T. nagaru.] House, abode, mansion; மாளிகை. பாழியன்ன கடியுடை வியனகர் (அகநா. 15). 3. Temple, sacred shrine; கோயில். முக்கட்செல்வர் நகர் (புறநா. 6). 4. Palace; அரண்மனை. நிதிதுஞ்சு வியனகர் (சிலப். 27, 200). 5. Dais for performing ceremonies; சடங்கு செய்யும் இடம். தூநக ரிழைத்து (சீவக. 2633). 6. A furnished hall or place, decorated for ceremonial functions; விசேடங் கள் நிகழும் மண்டபம். அணிநகர் முன்னினானே (சீவக. 701). 7. Wife; மனைவி. வருவிருந்தோம்பித் தன்னகர் விழையக் கூடி (கலித். 8).

The noun nakar is attested from Classical Tamil times. The verb form nakar- is not shown with any old literary attestations. Indeed nakar- in the sense of  '1. To creep, as a reptile; ஊர்தல். 2. To crawl or move along in a lying or sitting posture, as an infant; தவழ்தல்' does not occur in Classical Tamil texts or epics or the eighteen minor works, the Periyapuranam, etc. The only remotely possible occurrence is in Tēvāram 2:19:11.3. Even that is doubtful considering the textual variants given in the Digital Tēvāram. (See http://www.ifpindia.org/digitaldb/site/digital_tevaram/INDEX.HTM)

So it is very doubtful if 'nakar-' has an ancient pedigree, let alone from Proto-Dravidian.

One is led to wonder if the verb nakar- was coined from the noun nakar analogically based on the pair of noun ūr and verb ūr-, which are ancient. See the following from Tamil Lexicon.

ஊர்¹-தல் ūr-, 4 v. [M. ūr.] intr. 1. To move slowly; to creep, as an infant; to crawl, as a snake; நகர்தல். நந்தூரும் புனனாட்டின் (பாரத. கிருட்டிண. 11). 2. To spread, circulate, as blood; to extend over a surface, as spots on the skin; பரவுதல். இவக்காணென் மேனி பசப்பூர் வது (குறள், 1185). 3. To flow, as juice from the sugar-cane; வடிதல். கரும்பூர்ந்த சாறுபோல் (நாலடி, 34). 4. To come to close quarters; அடர்தல். வெஞ்சம மூர்ந்தம ருழக்கி (சிலப். 27, 27, அரும்.). 5. To be unloosed, relaxed; கழலுதல். அவிர்தொடி யிறையூர (கலித். 100). 6. To itch; தினவுறுதல். உடம்பெல் லாம் ஊருகின்றது.--tr. 1. To mount; ஏறுதல். பாசடும்பு பரியவூர் பிழிபு . . . வந்தன்று . . . தேர் (ஐங்குறு. 101). 2. To ride, as a horse; to drive, as a vehicle; ஏறிநடத்துதல். சிவிகை பொறுத்தானோ டூர்ந்தானிடை (குறள், 37). 

ஊர்³ ūr, n. < ஊர்¹-. 1. Going, riding; ஊர்கை. ஊருடைத்திண்புரவியுலைத்தனள் (சேதுபு. தேவி. 43). 2. [T. Tu. ūru, K. M. ūr.] Village, town, city; வசிக்கும் ஊர். (தொல். பொ. 37.) 3. Place; இடம். ஒரூ ரிரண்டஃக மாயிற்றென்று (சீவக. 2087). 4. Resident population; ஊரிலுள்ளார். ஊரு மயலுஞ் சேரியோரும் (இலக். வி. 563). 5. Halo round the sun or moon; சந்திரசூரியரைச் சூழும் பரிவேடம். செங்கதிர் தங்குவதோ ரூருற்றது (கம்பரா. சரபங். 9)

Indeed Akanāṉūṟu 306. 6 has a tortoise moving slowly up a sugarcane. If you compare the verbs nakar- and ūr-, one can see the semantic equivalence. The verb ūr-, noun ūr, and noun nakar have a long history of literary attestations. (Th verb ūr- (DEDR 749) is also attested in Tamil, Malayalam, and Konda.) The verb nakar- seems be of a much later coinage. 

In other words, not only is nakar- not attested in languages other than Tamil, but even in Tamil, it is very late. So, in my opinion, Ganesan's proposal of *nakar as a Proto-Dravidian word for crocodile is not an acceptable etymology for Sanskrit nakra, etc.


-----Original Message-----
From: asko.parpola <asko.parpola at helsinki.fi>
To: palaniappa <palaniappa at aol.com>; Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info>
Sent: Tue, Jan 13, 2015 6:14 am
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] N. Ganesan's Dravidian etymologies for 'makara', etc.

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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