Re: [INDOLOGY] Malaipaṭukaṭām102

Tieken, H.J.H. H.J.H.Tieken at
Wed Mar 8 09:01:03 UTC 2017

Dear Palaniappan,

As to my first question, I really want to know if there is an article or any other type of information available on the doubling or absence of doubling in compounds like vitai (verb stem) + puṉam (noun) in Caṅkam poetry (modern written Tamil, which you quote, is another matter).

Have you any idea what itai would mean in itaippuṉam?

As a matter of principle I do not trust traditional dictionaries and commentaries. Calling in these sources is not a very strong argument; see in this connection my article in the word cāru in Sasha Dubianski's Festschrift' (pdf on my website) or my article on the weaver bird in a Kuṟuntokai poem.

The meaning in the traditional sources for (v)itaippuṉam, "a newly cultivated field", seems to me an attempt to translate "a sown field" while avoiding the word "to sow".

As to the reading itaippuṉam in Akanāṉūru 394, I am waiting for a critical edition of this anthology. Not that I expect much of that, as the manuscript tradition of Caṅkam texts seems to be recent and is strikingly uniform.

Kind regards, Herman

Herman Tieken
Stationsweg 58
2515 BP Den Haag
The Netherlands
00 31 (0)70 2208127
Van: Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan [palaniappa at]
Verzonden: woensdag 8 maart 2017 8:11
Aan: Tieken, H.J.H.
CC: Indology List
Onderwerp: Re: [INDOLOGY] Malaipaṭukaṭām102

Dear Dr. Tieken,

I meant to say that if vitai in vitaippuṉam were to be considered an adjectival participle since the commentator has explained vitaippuṉam  as vitaitta kollai, the gemination of ‘p’ does not make sense. While vitaitta kollai has the past adjectival participle, vitaitta, the poem has vitai-p-. If vitai (to sow) were to function as an adjectival participle, then it should be part of a viṉaittokai (kālam karanta peyar eccam) compound. In this compound, the initial plosive of the second member does not double. Since the plosive doubles, the first member is a noun, vitai (seed).

As for the specific meaning of itai, ’sail’ (marakkalap pāy) and ‘newly cultivated land’ (putuppuṉam) are given in the Tivākaram, the earliest Tamil nighaṇṭū, which also separately glosses itaippuṉam as putukkollai, which is shown in the Tamil Lexicon. ‘Chowlee-bean' is found in the later lexicon, the Piṅkalam. In the context discussed here, the meaning ‘sail’ can be easily discarded. As for 'Chowlee-bean’, it can be discarded because we have in Akam 394 common millet  (varaku) being grown in itaippuṉam. So, the meaning of itaippuṉam as a 'newly cultivated field’ is not an ad hoc invention.


On Mar 7, 2017, at 5:07 AM, Tieken, H.J.H. <H.J.H.Tieken at<mailto:H.J.H.Tieken at>> wrote:

Dear dr Palaniappan,
I am just curious: is there a hard and fast rule that vitai in vitai-p-puṉam cannot function as an adjectival participle: "sown" field (I am not sure if this is proper English)? Does the doubling of the initial plosive p of the second member puṉam necessarily point to a case relation between the members of the (Tatpuruṣa) compound?

Apart from this general question, what are we to make of itai? The TL gives chowlee-bean (=kārāmaṇi). In any case the meaning "plot of land newly cultivated" for itaippuṉam is clearly an ad hoc invention.

Herman Tieken
Stationsweg 58
2515 BP Den Haag
The Netherlands
00 31 (0)70 2208127
Van: INDOLOGY [indology-bounces at<mailto:indology-bounces at>] namens Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan via INDOLOGY [indology at<mailto:indology at>]
Verzonden: maandag 6 maart 2017 19:58
Aan: Indology List
Onderwerp: [INDOLOGY] Malaipaṭukaṭām102

Dear Indologists,

Current editions of Malaipaṭukaṭām, a Classical Tamil text, have lines 102-103 as follows:
nīlat taṉṉa vitaippuṉa maruṅkiṉ
makuḷi pāyātu malituḷi taḻāliṉ

These lines have been taken as consisting of the following words:
nīlattu aṉṉa vitaippuṉam maruṅkil
makuḷi pāyātu malituḷi taḻāliṉ

Line 102 is interpreted as (nīlamaṇiyaiyotta niṟattaiyuṭaiyavayeḻumpaṭi avaṟṟai vitaitta kollaiyiṉ pakkattil) ‘by the side of cultivated field in which have been sown the seeds, which grow with leaves like sapphire’ by Nacciṉārkkiṉiyar.

The compound ‘vitaippuṉam’ (vitai + p + puṉam) in line 102 does not make sense.  First of all, if vitaippuṉam were to be considered an adjectival participle (vitaitta kollaiyiṉ) as the commentator has considered, the gemination of ‘p’ does not make sense. Also, it is highly unlikely that a cultivated field is qualified in a convoluted way as a field sown with seeds which grow to be with leaves like sapphire.

The correct rendition of line 102 would have been nīlattu aṉṉa itaippuṉam maruṅkil.  (v in ‘vitaippuṉam' is simply a glide.) According to Tamil Lexicon, itaippuṉam means ‘plot of ground newly cultivated for dry crops such as millet’. itaippuṉa occurs in Akanāṉūṟu 394.3.

Interestingly, when glossing the word vitaippuṉam, Tamil Lexicon says the following.

விதைப்புனம் vitai-p-puṉam

, n. < இதைப் புனம். Plot of land newly cultivated. See இதைப்புனம். (யாழ். அக.)

Although, the lexicon does not cite Malaipaṭukaṭām 102, the editors probably had this vitaippuṉam in mind. Later commentators like Perumaḻaippulavar have simply followed Nacciṉārkkiṉiyar without considering Tamil Lexicon’s insight. Does anybody know if this issue has been discussed by any other scholar?

(The misunderstanding of the role of the glide v has led to Nacciṉārkkiṉiyar (14th century CE) misinterpreting i- as vi- in Malaipaṭukaṭām102. In an earlier post, I had suggested that a similar misinterpretation has led to the word iṭaṅkar being mistaken for viṭaṅkar and used in a 16th century text. ( The case of vitaippuṉam in Malaipaṭukaṭām 102 suggests that viṭaṅkar was not an isolated case.)

Thank you in advance.


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