Wednesday, September 12, 2012


    As the readers of the "Siddhanta Deepika" are aware, Ayal is one of those Tamil words on the derivation of which I differ with Pandit Savariroyan. He is of the opinion that ayal and the English alien are cognate words and that the European stem alia, to which the latter is ultimately traced back by Professor Skeat, is but a metathetical modification of the Tamil ayal (ayal). Moreover, he says that the terminal al means "not," and that the idea of 'not being close or kin' is conveyed by aiyal. The Precedent which the learned Pundit quotes for the novel explanation of al, is found in the Tamil Kadal, which he analyses into kada=pass over and al=not, and which he thereby makes a conveyance for the signification of "the impassable."

    Before considering whether the connotation of ayal or neighborhood necessarily excludes 'closeness or kinship,' or whether it is almost the same as relations dwelling in the vicinity, let me show that the analysis of Kadal and the meaning assigned to its parts, are not quite satisfactory. Granting that the stem Kada = to pass over or cross, is its radical element, it is very probable that the ancient Tamilians meant by Kadal 'that which should be crossed over' as distinguished from land upon which men and animals do walk; compare the expressions 'கடல் கடக்கிறது' and 'to cross the sea.' If such be the primary sense of this Tamil name for sea, one is bound to accept that the union of Kada with the verbal suffix al brought forth Kadal by a process of coalescence similar to the Sanskrit Dirgha Sandhi, and that the resultant long a was subsequently shortened.

    Instead of accounting in this circuitous manner of the form of this appellative, it is possible to bring it under the list of derivatives from the root Kad = to connect, to bind to tie, to gird, to build, &c. Even the stem Kada is traceable to this root, as it necessarily implies passing over a barrier or difficulty. Kadappu (கடப்பு) – a stile or way through a hedge serves well to ward off cattle from the enclosure, while it gives entrance to mankind. In this connection it strikes my mind forcibly that the Tamilian doorway was originally a Kadappy, Kadavam (கடவம்) or Kadavu (கடவு), and that the two latter forms ceased to exist at some remote period in the past when phonetic corruption gave rise to கதவம் or கதவு (a door or custody). Kadavu (கடவு) however occurs in provincial usage to denote a path or way (Vide Dr. Winslow's Tamil-English Dictionary). Numerous as are the offshoots of the prolific Kad. I reserve their consideration for a future occasion in order to avoid here a long digression from the point in view.

    The Derivation of Kadal from Kad makes one to understand that the service of the sea as a barrier, or protection for the land or the facts of its begirting the land was clearly visible to the person who first gave utterance to this name. If this be the true account, there is no doubt that the al here is merely a verbal suffix (தொழிற் பெயர்விகுதி) denoting 'being or existence' and identical with the al in * [* Cf. மல்கு from Mal-to be abundant or full, occurring in மலி to be plentiful or to be cheap, மலை a large quantity or heap of stone or
sand.] '
அலகு-to remain or to stay, from which comes அல்கல்- the night, or the time when persons remain at home. Further examination brings this al into the closest proximity to the al implying negation. Though this statement is apparently absurd, yet it is really true. It is a paradox in Tamil philology, and the apparent absurdity will be entirely removed when † [ † Compare this word with பொல்லா – wicked, of which பொல் – the radix means 'graceful' as in பொலிவு and பொலம் – beauty, and is negative particle.] அல்லா- a synonym of al – not, is taken to parts. It is made up of al and the negative suffix a (). If the first part also implies negation, then the whole should convey an affirmative meaning, but it is not so. Therefore the root al affirms something which is denied by a; hence its identity with the former root is a necessity. The negative al is nothing but a dwindled form of அல்லா. It is however the parent of அல்லி or அல் that which is not day 'or the time when the sun is absent,' of
- to dwindle into nothing, to diminish, &c., from which is derived அல்கல்- deficiency or want, and of
– pain or sorrow.

    It is interesting to note here that not only அல்லா, but also இல்லா which is traceable to the root of இல் – residence, has dropped off the negative suffix, and that al (அல்) il (இல்) ul (உள்) and ir (in iru) are modifications of a common root-denoting 'being or existence.'    

    Turning to the subject of this article, I hope that I have endeavored my best to prove that al in ayal is only a verbal suffix as in Kadal. Moreover ayal denotes nearness or vicinity and ayalar are neighbors, or persons who dwell near one another. In primitive times when towns and cities had not come into existence and when people lived in hamlets each clan by itself, none but relations would be meant by ayalar or neighbors. Hence it amounts to an absurdity to say that aiyal is an antonym of kin. In conclusion, I wish to point out that in word-collocation the post fixing of al (not) is quite unknown to the Tamil language, and that whenever it enters into the composition of names, it is invariably prefixed. Compare அன்மொழி – அல்தணை அஃறினை and அலங்கோலம் (அல்– not, அம் - beautiful
and கோலம் – shape).


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