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363. Deciphering Tulu-nadu place names

The readers would observe that many of the Tulu Place names may not convey, on the face of it, any specific meaning or apparent meanings...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

232. Evolution of Word structure

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It appears that the words evolved from very simple to complex during the prolonged course of human evolution. This pattern of evolution of simple to complex sequence of word structure can be recognized in the Dravidian substrata in southern India. Since the primitive sounding simple, short words with simplistic CV (C=consonant, V=vowel) linguistic structure is not found in Dravidian languages at present, we can assign these to older and primitive stages of word evolution. Present status of Dravidian languages display at least two older generations of languages recognizable in their lingual substrata. Of these, vestiges of Munda languages can be recognized as an immediate layer under the Dravidian as evident in the numerous place names of Tulunadu and related Tulu words.
Many of the tribal languages classified as Dravidian at present (for example Toda, Gondi etc) appear to have undergone similar evolution from their original primitive state. The present Dravidian linguistic structure of these languages may actually be an evolutionary feature derived and adapted during the course of passage of historical time.
Munnur = Munda
One example can be given here for illustrating the nature of lingual transition and   pattern of evolution   the languages have undergone in this land by preferentially absorbing some of the words from prior cultures and at the same time preferentially replacing some of the older words by equivalent words available in the new language.
Can you imagine that the place name ‘Munnur’ is a chronologically later replacement of the older place name Munda? There are at least two villages on the southern bank of River Nethravati   known by the name of Munnur. The evolution of the word ‘Munnur’ as a replacement for the older word ‘Munda’ is interesting. [Munnur, here  is not ‘three hundred’ as some may like to misinterpret.] The word ‘Munnur’ means a village on the bank of river. In fact, the older word ‘Munda’ also meant the same.
In the Munda language, Munda= Mun+Da.  Mun= front, face, flank etc. Di=water, river.  Da=area or place beside water. Thus the original meaning of the word Munda is a village. Subsequently the word was applied to village head or leader of the village.
Thus, Munda ‘Da’= Dravidian   ‘ur’.
Therefore, Mun+Da =Mun(n)+ur.
In the word Munnur, the prefix ‘mun’ (from Munda language) is retained but the suffix ‘-Da’ has been replaced by the equivalent Dravidian word ‘-ur’. The suffix ‘ur’ is a common   Dravidian word, considered to have been brought initially by the Mediterranean immigrants into southern India. In fact Ur was the name of a famous city in the ancient Sumerian history. The word ‘ur’ or ‘oor’   denotes   a village or a town.
This kind of word replacement (for example, ‘Da’ to ‘ur’) during the past history can be visualized,  when there was a change in the dominance of ambient language and culture from Munda to Dravidian and accordingly social preference for Dravidian words instead of Munda .
In this case, also note that the prefix ‘mun’ from Munda language is retained (and absorbed by Dravidian) and only suffix ‘ur’ has been replaced for ‘Da’.
This simple transition from ‘Da’ to ‘ur’ possibly represents a major but smoother transition of languages from Munda to Dravidian in Tulunadu and southern India. The transition can be described as smoother because some of the words such as ‘mun’ were retained and absorbed and adopted by the Dravidian.
The Munda word ‘mun’ has been aptly adapted and extensively used in Dravidian languages. ‘Munnade’ (= go forward), ‘munnota’ ( =preview), ‘munde’ (=front), ‘moNe’ (=face), ‘mundalu’ ( =leader), ‘munjane’ (=morning) etc.
[Note: The term "Munda" in general was applied to a group leader of Munda tribes or even to a young male as in Punjabi.]
Mogaru
In fact the word ‘moga’(=face), appears to have been directly related to ‘mu’ and ‘mun’. The word ‘moga’ also means flank of a river or river plain, similar to the word ‘mun’. Thus, the word ‘mogaru’ has come into being ; moga (=river flank or face) + aru (=open area).In that sense, the word ‘mogaru’ is equivalent of the words ‘munda’ and ‘Munnur’. Further, the tribals dwelling in ‘mogaru’ were designated as ‘mogera’.
Mu
While reviewing the word ‘mun’ we can also see that it contains an ancient root word ‘mu’.  We have   described in earlier posts that Tulu language has several such simple, primitive words consisting of a single consonant and a vowel.  There are ample evidences in Tulu place names to confirm that these simple words were not mere roots but were independent words to begin with. At this juncture we are not sure as to which language these words originally belonged to. But we are aware that these primitive words were seamlessly adopted and integrated into their words by the later languages like Dravidian. Munda words in southern India evolved on the platform of a still older language tentatively termed as ‘Indica’:
Behind the evolution of the word   ‘mun’   we can recognize a root of a primitive word ‘mu’
Mu=nose.
Mu= (1) river flank, nose of a river? (2) fertile.(as in ‘mudara’). River plains are a fertile land for agriculture.
The primitive word ‘mu’ has been integrated in several compound words which serve as common words in current Dravidian languages. Note some of the examples here:
Mu+N = mun (=front area, face,).
Mu+Ne=’moNe’(=front area or face). In   Tulu language.
Mu+Da= front area, sun rising area, East.
Etc.
NāDa=Navur
The example cited for the transition of Da.>ur discussed above is also noticeable  in the transition of words ‘NāDa’ to ‘Navur’. There are a few villages known as ‘NaDa’ or ‘NāDa’ in Dakshina Kannada. NāDa (or NāDu) is Nā (=cultivated) +Da (=area).The replacement of -Da by –ur  has resulted in village names like Navur, There are a few villages called ‘Nāvur’ in Dakshina Kannada. The meaning of this village names may be difficult to decipher without proper understanding of the primitive words like Na and Da.
 Note that there are villages called ‘Nāpalli’ or ‘Nāmpalli’ in other parts of southern India. Franklin Southworth, for example, has deciphered ‘Na’ in these names as indicative of ‘Nayi’ (=dog ).
KāDa=Kavur
In the lines of   ‘NāDa’ becomes ‘Nāvur’, the place name   KāDa (or KaDu) has possibly become Kāvur. The ‘kāv’ (grove) recognizable in ‘Kāvur’ and independent village names like ‘Kāvu’ is a derivative of ‘kā’ (=forest, grove of trees).
Primitive words
The   agglutinated early words  such as ‘MunDa’, ‘NāDa’ and ‘KāDa’ described above have evolved over primitive words with CV structure like Mu,  Na , Ka and Da. Fusion of simpler word components into complex words is usually known as ‘agglutinization’. These short words might have been borrowed from Sumerian/ African immigrants possibly during pre-Munda chronological  phase, or might have been evolved in southern India. For the time being we would like to assign these simple words tentatively to the   primitive  language of the terrain  ‘Indica’,  proposed in post, 230.Fossil words.
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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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