Saturday, September 10, 2016

364. ‘Kināra’ origin of ‘Canara’

The coastal districts of Karnataka were popularly known as “Canara districts” during Portuguese and British administrations in the region. The original Canara district was bifurcated into North Canara and South Canara. During the British regime, the North Canara was part of the Bombay Province and South Canara of Madras Province. The term Canara has been quite favourite with many locals as you can still come across name plate like Canara Motor Service, Canara Transport, Canara College, Canara Coffee or Canara Book shop etc.

Some of the people did not appreciate the term, “Canara” beginning with a foreign sounding C. They introduced the term “Kanara” that made “South Kanara” and “North Kanara” which were often abbreviated to “SK” and “DK” respectively. In the due course of time, nativity lovers, preferred to translate the terms “North Kanara” and “South Kanara” into chaste Kannada words such as “Uttara Kannada” and “Dakshina Kannada”respectively. With passage of time some administrators felt that Dakshina Kannada district is too large to handle and they carved out a separate Udupi district out of the former Dakshina Kannada district.
This is all are part of our history and heritage which most of are aware.
Now how the term Canara came into being?

Kināra districts
Many of us tend to believe that the term “Canara” means “Kanara” or “Kannada” because of the transformation of words along the passage of time. The general opinion is that Portuguese and the British because of their faulty pronunciation of Indian words and eventually corrupted the native words by introducing terms like Canara. While this opinion is partly true it has been found that the origin of Canara was not Kannada but less known Kināra.

Perooru Jāru
Tulu language activist and writer,    Perooru Jāru in his   booklet,    “Tulunaadu, notes that while Mysore Tiger Tippu Sultan annexed   the coastal districts to his kingdom, (during later part of 18th Century CE) he referred   to the coastal region as the Kināra. The term Kināra in Hindi and Urdu means the coast.
However, the Portuguese contenders who were vying for capturing the coastal region were not comfortable with the pronunciation of the word Kinara which unfortunately was corrupted to stylish,   “ Canara”! 

The Kannada language was printed in the form of a news paper and also as a dictionary for the first time by Basel Mission Press in the 'Canara' region at Mangaluru and accordingly it seems that the Britishers preferred the name of 'Canarese' for the Kannada language !

On the whole, this case should serve as an recent example of how place names and regional names change their original form, content and meaning as a result of cultural transitions as well as unintentional mistakes during the course of time.

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Kināra: a word analysis

The word ‘kināra’ is composed of two ancient root word units or morphemes. The prefix ki is an ancient   spatial indicative affix, denoting an area. Nāra is another ancient word which means water. Therefore, kināra is sea beach or river bank; in other words, an area by the side of a water body. The ancient word exists in many of the languages.


Friday, September 9, 2016

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 in the current language of the area.  This situation is true to all nations of the World.  Original meanings may either undergo changes or are lost completely. However, there are efforts worldwide to compile data on place names and arrange them in the form of dictionary. “Onomasticon” (fashioned after the word ‘Lexicon’) means a Dictionary of Place names.
Odd sounding names
A visitor to country-side may be fascinated perforce by the odd sounding place names but he may not be aroused to know the exact meanings or the origin of the name, unless the interpreted meanings are readily available.  Only a genuine interest to explore the mystery of such place names could go a long way in deciphering the meanings.  Survey Maps show names of all these geographical regions.  But surveyors or Government revenue officials are least interested in knowing the origin of these place names.  Borders and lines change and also with names, befitting the exigency.  Apparently, their interest is limited to allotting Cadastral Survey Numbers.
Toponymical Processes
Gradual changes taking place in place names are called toponymical processes, which affect the meanings.  The processes, by which place names change, include abbreviation, conflation, i.e. fusing together two things, convergence, development in the parent language (but static in place names) and replacement of the parent language.   The latter can, in particular, result in dramatic shifts in place names since the original meaning (and often sounds) are not conveyed in the new language.  The place name thus shifts to a new form, considered convenient for pronunciation in the new language (Testimony:  Changes in place names effected by colonial rulers of India. One can observe some names, corrupted by Portuguese rulers, are still current in Goa). 
Interpretation Problem
Problems in deciphering meanings of place names are many.  Wikipedia lists following seven problems:
(1) Language (e.g. Periodic change over from old to new and political influence of other languages). (2) Element Order in compound word (i.e. reversing of word elements.)
(3) Translation (e.g. In case of Tulu, rendering words into Kannada – eg: Posodi to Hosabettu, Karyodi to Karkala - or Sanskrit - eg. Odipu to Udupi).
(4) False analogy (e.g. Anglicization of Tulu names for easy pronunciation.  This is very well seen in British and Portuguese colonies).
(5) Lost Region (eg. Kudar  to Malpe, when original locations are lost to sea). 
(6) Confusion between elements (e.g. Pairs of original elements can produce the elements in modern names – Mangala+uru > Mangalore > Mangaluru.
 (7) Multiple meanings (Some word stems or elements may have many meanings – e.g. ‘Kar’ in Tulu).
Identity Marker
Life of settlers of an area is a history - whether recorded or not.  This can be analysed by studying the socio-political situation, conditioned by geography.  Changes - affected by languages, borders, political forces, social order resulting from faith and assimilation - are the handiwork of events and geography.  Genealogy becomes an admixture in the conundrum of social, political and natural upheavals.  Occupations change with human movements and/or climatic conditions.  Religion of one region may thrive in another area, conditioning it to the geography and environment of that area.  Toponym assumes the role of an identity marker, thereby enriching occupational vocabulary of language of that area.


-Hosabettu Vishwanath (Pune)

Blog Archive

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 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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