Monday, July 04, 2011

Original Father of Dravidian Speakers - V

Now my daughter calls her maternal grandfather 'appa' as she can't pronounce 'appUppa.. The word  appuppa literally means father's father thus I guess the usage for a mother's father is strange. Another intriguing factor we need to observe is the structure of the terms used for maternal grandparents.

mother's father -> appUppa
mother's mother -> ammUmma
Compare them with paternal grandparents
father's father -> achchachcha
father's mother -> achchamma

If maternal grandparents followed the similar structure as that of paternal grandparents then,
mother's father should have been ammappa
mother's mother -> ammamma

So, it clearly shows that pre-words appa and amma in maternal grandparents didn't mean post-words appa and amma. We probably need to hark back on the Tulu-Malayali shared cultural background to understand this.

In Tulu (as I have discussed elsewhere), the word for mother is 'appe' and father 'amme'. Thus it's very clear that maternally Tuluva-s and Malayali-s were connected before, thus the antique word for mother has been retained in Malayalam as 'appUppa'. What about the second word which obviously meant 'father' as in many Dravidian languages. It's still a mystery why appa is father in other Dravidian languages and mother in Tulu. The difference is in parallel to matrilineal and patrilineal distinctions of Tuluva-Malayalis on the one hand and the rest of the Dravidians on the other.

Whatever be the reasons behind appe-amme dichotomy between partilineal and matrilineal Dravidians, we can confidently say that appUppa is a throwback to Tuluva-Malayali shared history (observed in many cultural aspects even today) of the past. That still leaves me to explain the construction appe+appa.

In my opinion, 'appa' came to Malayali society as a honorific (just like achcha) likely from Tamil region. We need to note that 'ajja', Kannada equivalent of 'achcha', is a term for grandfather in Karnataka. It is possible that both 'appa' and 'achcha' that came as honorifics in Dravidian society replaced the original term for father in Dravidian lands.

I suppose the original maternal grandfather and grandmother
appe+appa -> appEppa -> appUppa
appe+amma -> appEmma -> ammUmma ( a case of over correction in later centuries)

2 comments:

anilkurup said...

umm interesting infos.
Mercifully the suffix Mr and Mrs are not used!

manju said...

Mercifully the suffix Mr and Mrs are not used!

Even if they do, it's not out of character for Malayalis. Check 'thiru/thru' section.