Saturday, January 21, 2017

376. Bay Soppu to Bay leaves

The other day a word caught my imagination.  The word is ‘Bay leaves’, which is printed on the wrapper of an established manufacturer and exporter of Indian snacks., as one of the ingredients of the snack.  I took it as ‘bay-soppu’ (ಬೇ/ಬೇಯ್ ಸೊಪ್ಪು),which has been in use both in Tulu and Kannada. Hence my surprise for the English usage of  'bay’.

English-English-Kannada dictionary gives the meaning of ‘bay’ as a kind of tree, besides other meanings.  Bay leaves, therefore, means leaves of that tree. There are variety of trees under ‘bay’ category. It leads to confusion.
There is an Entry in Webster’s Dictionary for ‘bay leaf’.  It means ‘an aromatic leaf of the laurel tree, dried and used as a spice in cooking.’   There is also a word ‘bay-berry’, commonly used (1) for any of several shrubs, as the wax myrtle, with wax coated berries or (2) for a tropical tree, yielding an oil used in ‘bay rum’.

Bay Soppu
‘Bay/Bey’ (ಬೇ/ಬೇಯ್) means ‘to boil, fry or cook’ in both Tulu and Kannada.  Soppu (ಸೊಪ್ಪು) means leaves. The bay - soppu is same as ‘kari- bevu’ (ಕರಿ ಬೇವು), i.e. leaves used in cooking for flavor. It is commonly  known as ‘curry leaves’ in English.

Spice Trade
Trading in spices was the profitable marine trade, engaged  firstly by Arabs and afterwards by Europeans, in Indian coasts, especially with merchant-producers and middlemen in West Coast of South India.The word ‘bay soppu’ voyaged to Arabia and thence spread to Europe.

So, we deduce that loaning of word must have happened during medieval marine trade. Hence the English version of ‘Bay leaves’ or ‘Curry leaves’.  Our averment should not be taken as ‘it is all a joke’. The bay soppu speaks for itself.

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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