Saturday, November 29, 2008

162. Evolution of Tulu language

Languages prevalent in India have been broadly classified into groups like Indo-Aryan, Dravidian and Austro-Asiatic. The classifications somehow make us feel that language groups are water tight compartments.
However, like human beings,their gene structures, behaviour, skin colour and attitudes, languages have also evolved with passage of time. Tulu is one of the ancient world languages that has evolved in several stages in different parts of the globe in tune with the human evolution and migration patterns.

Formation of words
1.In Dravidian languages like Tulu, words appear to have been formed by the agglutination of smaller short words. Some examples have been enlisted here below to
show the features of agglutination. Earlier we have discussed some of these features especially in post No.141. Village Name Suffixes.

2.Some of the smaller words or their basic components have also been absorbed or adopted by Dravida and Sanskrit languages alike during the course of evolution. New independent words were formed from the basic word components. It appears that some of these short- basic-words borrowed by Dravida and Sanskrit languages may be older in origin than both.

3.Some of these small words evolved into prefixes and suffixes in some languages while some languages like Tulu have unknowingly discontinued the usage of prefixes, possibly because of absence of systematic or classified grammar during the course of its evolutionary history.
In other words, Tulu had prefix like short words in the earlier stages. This could be a feature absorbed from one of its precursor languages. However, some of these prefix structures were abandoned during the course of later evolution of Tulu language.

4. Analysis of ancient prefixes that prevailed (now buried in ancient words) in Tulu language is important and these prefixes can be resurrected to create new words to suit the demands of current usages.

Tulu/Dravida prefixes
Consider an ancient word like 'mudara'.
Mudara was a commonly used proper name of Tulu people in ancient days. There is a place called Mudarangadi near Padubidri. The word Mudara means fertile land or soil according to Tulu Nighantu.
Thus the word 'Mudara' can be analysed as mu+dara =fertile land. [mu =fertile, wet; dara=land].
Note that 'mu' has been used as an ancient short word or prefix in the construction of several other similar Tulu/ Dravida words, but its independent identity as short word or prefix has been lost with passage of time. That is to say that now we do not use (or are not aware of ) the usage of 'mu' as a prefix in present Tulu.

Word components
The other component word in Mudara, the 'dara' or 'tara', means land or earth.(Compare the Tulu words like: kanDada dara kaDpuni, dare laaguini, etc). The ancient word 'dara' has been absorbed by several Dravidian as well as Sanskrit during the course of evolution. Dara / tara (land) > 'da-re' (Tulu) earthen wall; 'dhare' (Sanskrit, =Earth). Uttara (Sanskrit, =north) is based on (ut + tara) the elevated land. Ettara ( Dravida word, =elevation) (et + tara ) originally meant elevated land/ place > (later simplified to) 'the elevation'.Note that the words 'ettara' and 'uttara' mean the same origin-wise but now they have different meanings. In the Gangetic plains of north India, the northern region (consisting of Himalaya and Siwalik ranges) were distinctly elevated compared to southern regions. Therefore in those areas where Sanskrit was the preferred language, the word 'uttara' meant north!

Note also some of the words derived from the base of 'tara' or 'dara' like 'taru'(= those grown on land; trees) 'tarakāri' (=grown on land,or plant products), 'darakās' (=own land, private land), 'darkār'(=right or authority over land), 'terige'(=tax on land), 'tiruve'(=tax/cess on land) etc.

Prefix mu
Consider some of the other Tulu words having a prefix of mu: mugal, mudel, etc.
Mugal. mu+gal/kal fertile sky > modified to rainy dark clouds. Kal was a variant of kār or gār. Mungar is a variant of mugal r>l transition and obliteration of m sound (anuswāra). kal/gal became kāl, the time. Ancient people used to study/watch sky ( and position of sun in the sky and resultant shadow) to ascertain time.
Kar and kār /kāl further also meant dark blue or black. Kariya, kargi, karmoda etc Dravida words were evolved. Note that Krishna, the Sanskrit word (k.r+sh+Na=dark skinned person ) was also evolved from 'kar'>k.r, the dark.

Mudel, Mudal mu + tal/dal.: 'mudal' or 'mudel' refers to bottom or initial part of a plant.[mu=good; tal /dal=bottom (tal >tala, bottom,lower part)]
The related word 'mudal' refers to the first or initial aspect . The mudal (=first) is derived from 'mudel' (= initial growing part of a plant).
Mudale(=crocodile).(mu+tale=pronounced head characteristic of crocodile).

Above illustrations suggest that mu was a short word or prefix in Tulu and Dravida languages in earlier days. Apparently the usage of prefix/short word 'mu' has been abandoned in present state of Tulu language.

Other Tulu prefixes
Mu is not the only prefix word in ancient Tulu We can find that there are many such lost prefixes. The expression 'lost' is used solely to suggest our present difficulty to trace the exact original meaning of some of these prefixes. Some of the 'lost' prefixes recognizable in Tulu include: Ku, Ko,Ti, Na, Pa , Ma, Mi etc.

Na
Naravi (na=our? ravi/rayi=stoney area)
Navur (na=our? oor=village)
Nakre (Na=?

Ku
Kuvettu,[ku=fertile? ku+bettu]
Note an ancient Queens of Sri Lanka was named: 'Kuveni'.
Kumara, [ku=young youthful?, Māra=god ; related to 'Marava' cult].
The prefix Ku as in Sanskrit later became suggestive of negative or bad character.

Ko
Koila< Kovil? [ko=divine? illu=house, kovila, koila=shrine]

Ma
Ma=elevated area? As in manja, manji

Mi
Mi= enclosed, inner part?
Examples: Miyar,( mi+ār= enclosed/inner field?); Mijar( mi+jār=interior sloping land?); Midal(<.mi+tal=inner part/organs of head); Miraj etc.

Ti
Ti =wet land?
Examples:Timār(= a wet paddy field, ti+mār), Timare(=an aromatic herb growing in wet fields,'Brāhmi'; herb grown in timār).etc.


Pā=water? Primitive form of ' paani'?
Examples: Pāngala, Pāndi etc.


I have jotted down some of the above thoughts I derived while analysing the Tulu words. Later, these may be refined further. In the meanwhile readers may offer their opinions on these and other primitive Tulu/ Dravida word forms.
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Books for Reference

  • A Comparative Study of Tulu Dialects By Dr. Padmanabha Kekunnaya. Govinda Pai Reserach Centre, UDupi. 1994
  • Koti Chennaya: Janapadiya Adhyayana. By Dr. Vamana Nandavar. Hemanshu Prakashana ,Mangalore.2001.
  • Male kudiyaru. Dr B. A.Viveka Rai and D.Yadupathi Gowda, Mangalore University,1996.
  • Mogaveera Samskriti By Venkataraja Punimchattaya. Karnataka Sahitya Academy.1993.
  • Mugeraru:Jananga Janapada Adhyayana. By Dr Abhaya Kumar Kaukradi.Kannada & Culture Directorate,Bangalore & Karnataka Tulu Academy, Mangalore,1997.
  • Puttubalakeya Pad-danagalu. Ed: Dr B.A.Viveka Rai,Yadupati Gowda and Rajashri, Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheswara Tulu Peeta. Mangalore University.2004
  • Se'erige. Ed:Dr K.Chinnapa Gowda.Madipu Prakashana,Mangalagangotri,2000.
  • Studies in Tuluva History and Culture.by Dr P Gururaja Bhat (1975).Milagres College,Kallinapur,Udupi.
  • Taulava Sanskriti by Dr.B.A.Viveka Rai, Sahyadri Prakashana,Mysore 1977
  • TuLu naaDu-nuDi By Dr.PalthaDi Ramakrishna Achar, Puttur.
  • TuLu NighanTu. (Editor in Chief: Dr U.P.Upadhyaya, Govinda Pai Research Centre,Udupi. Six volumes. 1988 to 1997
  • Tulu Patero-A Philology & Grammar of Tulu Language by Budhananda Shivalli.2004.Mandira Prakashana Mangalore. p.317. (The book is in Tulu Language using Kannada script)
  • TuLunadina ShasanagaLa Sanskritika Adhyayana. By Shaila T. Verma (2002) Jnanodaya Prakashana,Bangalore, p.304.(Kannada)
  • Tuluvala Baliyendre. Compiled by N.A.Sheenappa Hegde,Polali,Sri Devi Prakashana,Parkala,1929/1999

A Coastal estuary

A Coastal estuary
Holegadde near Honavar,Uttara Kannada dist, Karnataka

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