Sunday, July 06, 2008

Kannada form of 'Chennai'

Once Dravidians became stagnant in present day regions the new words coined by one of them have entered as foreign words into other Dravidian languages. They no longer associate with the sound changes of their common vocabulary. Good thing is that we can still deduce native forms of other Dravidian language words.

Today, I would like to discuss about Kannada form of the capital of Tamil Nadu, Chennai.

Kannada words with initial ki start with ce in Tamil.
eg. kivi(Kannada) -> cevi(Tamil) (=ear)

Kannada words that end with e end with ai in Tamil.
eg. kOTe(Kannada) -> kOTTai(Tamil) (=fort)

Hence, the Kannada form of cennai is kinne.

Similarly, Tulu form -> kenne
Malayalam form -> cenna


S. Mallinath said...

Surely you must be joking, Mr. Manjusri! It is easy to show that Chennai in Tamil cannot be kenni in Kannada:

1. While it is well established that, in Tamil and Telugu, *k changed to c before front vowels (due to a process known as palatalization), this doesn't automatically mean that all palatal stops in Tamil and Telugu were once velars. The phonology of Proto-dravidian also had palatal *c as an independent phoneme, as far as we can tell.

2. There are no good reasons to confuse the name of this town with the word: ceṉṉai(=cheek), which has a cognate in kannaḍa as "kenne".

3. It is well accepted that Chennai is an shortened form of cennapaṭṭaṇaṁ which was most likely an eponym, named after Damarla Chennappa Nayaka.

4. Cenna- which most likely meant "good", "beautiful" was never attested in the form of kenna- in any of the Dravidian languages. Kannada word for is was always: canna[u]/cenna[u] [See DEDR 2423].


Manjunat said...

Thank you very much for your inputs, Mallinath.

Indeed, I was joking.

By the way, is that palatal *c or alveolar fricative *s? Or to be on the safer side, is it 'cha' or 'sa' that the Tamils have?

S. Mallinath said...

There were no fricatives in the core inventory of Proto-Dravidian. Phonetically, *c could have been a palatal affricate, alveo-palatal affricate or denti-alveo affricate, but phonemically it is a palatal stop.

There is a good discussion on the development of PDr *c in "Dravidian Studies: Selected Papers By Murray Barnson Emeneau, Bhadriraju Krishnamurti (pp 339-85). In this paper, Emeneau concludes that PDr *c was perhaps allophonic to palatal affricate [tś]. Krishnamurti argues that it was perhaps a alveolo-palatal affricate to explain its later phonetic shift in several languages into an alveolar fricative (also see BhK 2003 - p 92).

Manjunat said...

Thanks again, Mallinath.

Srikanth said...

I remember S. Muthiah (historian) saying that "Chennai" is from "Chennapattanam", named after Chennappa Nayaka (Kannadiga?).

Also, most "-ai" place-names are abbreviated versions of a longer name. "puduvai" (from "puduccEri" aka Pondicherry), "kOvai" (from "kOyamputtUr" aka Coimbatore), "taJjai" (from "taJjAvUr" aka Tanjore), etc.

Manjunat said...

Chennappa Nayaka (Kannadiga?).
He could have been a Telugised Kannadiga too.

Also, most "-ai" place-names are abbreviated versions of a longer name.

Thanks for the information.

In kOyamputtUr what does kOyam mean? 'puttUr', I suppose means 'new Uru"(putt + Ur).