We have seen many a minimum meaningful linguistic units (morphemes) in Tulu place names. As has been explained elsewhere earlier, a place name is a compound word in majority of cases. It contains specific and generic stems or elements, used either as a suffix or prefix. Readers might have read such stems analysed in our previous Posts. We give below some of them for ready reference:
Ad, Ade, Adka, Adya, Agal, Al/ala, Ar/are, Ang/angal(a),/Angali/angana/angar, Anje/Anji/inje/unje, Bar/bari, Ban+ja/Ban+je, ba/va/ve, Er, Ja/je/Jar, Ga/gaum/gi, Goli, Had/hadi/pad/padi, Har, Ka/ki, Kanja, Kunja, Kodi/ Kodu/ Godi, Kar, Kuda, Kura, Kula/ Kola/ Kolambe, Kheta/ Kheda, Kal, Kona/Kone, Manja, Mal/Mala, Mad, Mi, Na/Ne, Nanja, Od/odi/oli, Ur/oor, Pally/halli/valli, Pad+pu, Pada+vu, Pu/pur, Sar/se, Ya and so on.
We have noted such place name cognates all over India and so also, abroad. Apparently, this feature is not a coincidence. (q.v. Post-209/12.10.2009: Dravidian place name cognates).
Besides the strange names pointed out in our Post-123 (2nd July 2008), we have come across mysterious place names with morphemes such as ne, ji, nu, yi and ila. These are found in place names such as: Nooyi, Nuji, Nej/Nejar, Laila and Koila. Pending a deep study, we may tentatively explore these names briefly.
Nu/Noo denotes a place around, above or near water body. ‘Yi” stands for a ‘place/area’ as is ‘ya’. Nooyi is a hamlet/locality of Gurpura Panchayat in Dakshina Kannada District. One may recall the name of world famous career woman Indra K. Nooyi, born in Madras (now Chennai). She is married to Krishnamurthy Nooyi of Karnataka. We think that the surname ‘Nooyi’ is the birth place of Krishnamurthy. Both are naturalized citizens of the USA now.
Meaning of Nu/Noo is same as given above. “Ji/ja/je’ stands for ‘place/area’. It is a hamlet under Korgi Panchayat in Kundapur Taluka of Udupi District. There is also a village ‘Nujibalthila in Puttur Taluk.
Morpheme ‘Ne’means high or above and ‘jar’, a hanging or sloping place on hill side. Nejar is a hamlet, coming under Tonse East Panchayat of Kalianpur of Udupi Dist. We have come across similar village names in some other places of Karnataka and other States:
Karnataka: Nej (Belgaum), Nejjur (Uttara Kannada) and Nejanthi (Tumkur).
Maharashtra: Nej (Kolhapur)
Gujarat: Neja (Anand)
Rajasthan: Nejpur (Dungarpur)
Uttar Pradesh: Nejabhari (Lucknow), Nejabhar (Bahraich)
West Bengal: Nejani (Birbhum)
'Neji' in Tulu means 'paddy seedlings'. 'Neji kanda' (=field earmarked for raising nursery plants of paddy) is essentially at a corner of field, where water is available for irrigation. These nursery plants are used for transplantation in tilled farm land at appropriate time.
We can split the word as La+ila. ‘La’ is universally known as ‘water’ (q.v. our Post on ‘Al/Ala’). ‘Ila’ = House or Settlement. Laila is a village in Belthangadi (See our Post-220 on Vasudeva Laila).
Koila: Koi+la=Agricultural settlement around water bodies. It may also mean a settlement of ‘Koi’ people. However, it may be noted that Kovil in Tamil means a temple.
The influence of language and culture of earlier ancient tribes, who made their home in the land, now known as ‘Tulu Nadu’, some time in the past – pre-diluvial or post-diluvial era- is running under-current. Though their civilization is lost and assimilated, the vestige of their existence is preserved in place names, which are hard to crack now. In this direction we here make an attempt to decipher and understand these odd place names.
Hosabettu Vishwanath (Pune)