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)

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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 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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