SOME COMMENTS ON DR. K. KULARATNAM'S 1966 ARTICLE ON TAMIL PLACE NAMES IN THE SOUTH OF SRI LANKA
The article by Dr. Kularatnam is available via the link:
The article entitled:
Tamil Place Names in Ceylon outside the Northern and Eastern Provinces
and published in
Proceedings of the First International Conference Seminar of Tamil Studies,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 1966, vol.1, International Association of
Tamil Research , 1968, pp.486-493
was made available on the internet in 2003, together with a short forward by
Sathi Sri Kantha.
Resumé The material in Professor Kularatnam's article can be used to
illustrate the mutual interplay between the two languages, Sinhala and Tamil, and
testifies to the possibility of using both Sinhala and Tamil place names (allonyms) in
a country where both languages are recognized as official languages. In the following
we look at the common linguistic sources of both Sinhala and Tamil place-name words.
We discuss the existing Sinhala forms of the Tamil place names, and make some comments
from the perspective of etymology and toponymics. In effect, Kularatnam's simplistic classification
into Sinhala and Tamil is found to be erreneous.
Sri Kantha states (in 2003) that:
" Kurankupanchan Camp in the Eelam territory has been very much in the news
lately. The name Kurankupanchan (literal meaning in Tamil being, Monkey-Jump
Point; kuranku = monkey; paanchan = Jumping Point)"
[Historical Note: This was one of the 13 camps built by the LTTE around Trinco,
contravening the CFA (Ceace-fire agreement). It was deemed illegal by the
SLMM (Sri Lanka monitoring Mission), but claimed to not exist by the Ranil
WickramaSinghe government. It was ignored by the C. B. Kumaratunga government
who had initially objected to it. It was destroyed by the Rajapaksa government,
together with the other camps, in 2006.]
Dr. Kularatnam's article is helpful in providing a compendium of some Tamilized
place names in the south. While he has noted the Tamil words that occur in them,
we proceed to further examine the linguistic sources and other toponymic details
left out by Kularatnam. That is, we examine the source languages, Pali, Sanskrit
etc., which nourished both languages.
Contrary to the position taken by Sri Kantha, we note that effectively, when ever
there is a Tamil place name, (usually, but not always), there is also a
Sinhala place name. The existence of two place names (allonyms) underlines
the fact that they from a part of our rich tradition which has been
nourished by Sinhala, Tamil, Malayalam etc., besides Pali, Sanskrit, and
possibly Sumerian and other ancient sources. It is these latter sources, and NOT
Sinhala or Tamil which came first! Today, they form a common cultural heritage.
The work by T. Burrow and M. B. Emmeneau, A Dravidian Etymological Dictionary,
Oxford, 1961, The Madras Tamil Lexicon , and the Pali Text Society dictionary
can be consulted to verify most of what we say here, in this article,
in ascertaining the etymological deficiencies in Kularatnam's analysis.
Here we give some brief but more specific comments on the Kularatnam article.
1. If every monkey-jumping point were to give rise to a place name, then
there should be hundreds of such places in SL. In fact, to claim that
'panchan' means 'jumping point' requires some lexicographical stretching.
Also, 'Kurunku' could mean not just monkey, but other beasts, derived from
'Kura-anga', where 'kura'=hoof, in Sinhala, Pali etc. See also P 1010 of the
Madras Tamil Lexicon). The word forms 'Panchan, pankan or Pancan', derived from the
Pali/Sanskrit 'pakkana' (sinhala 'Patuna', see entry under Jaffna in
place.names ), means, in Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam etc.,
a village or quaters occupied by low-caste people. See also, K. Indraratna, The
evolution of an Ethnic Indentity, Chenni, 2006, p 375. In fact, such villages of people
who eat black monkeys are known in Coimbatore, South India. Such people are called
'Kurungkutinni'. So our analysis is that 'Kurankupanchan' was a village of
"low-caste" vedda people who eat monkeys and other animals, and considered
outcastes in the usual Hindu social system.
However, the name of the village in Sinhala is 'Van Ella', perhaps a shortened
form for 'Vana Ella'. This is very close to Kinniya ('Ginidiya'), the hot water
springs near Gokanna (Trinco).
2. Kularatna suggests a Tamil origin for the following place names. They also
usually have Sinhala allonyms. Thus, for example :
Chettychena (Puttalam dt.)
Sinhala name: Hettihena
"Chetty, Hetti", and "Sitana" found in the buddhist texts cannot be claimed to
be exclusive to Tamil. E.g., In Pali texts "Anathapindika" is mentioned as a rich
merchant and benefactor of the Buddha, identified as a "citana" ('situvara' in sinhala).
Kalingar: Kalinga ela (Polonnaruva dt.)
The Kalingas are from Orissa, and has little to do with Tamil, but they used
Tamil and Kerala mercenaries in their military expeditions (. M. de Silva, History of Sri
Lanka, Penguin Edition, 1995).
Demala duva (Colombo dt.)
This is a good sinhala name, and refers to an islet inhabited by Tamilophones.
Galapatty [Kalapatty](Mahara dt.)
Whether words like 'Gal=stones", "Galkula' etc. existed in early sinhala,
and in Prakrit or whether they were borrowed from Tamil or not, is a moot point.
The words 'Pashana'→Petra in Latin, clearly cannot lead to 'Gal'.
At present, the origin of the word "Gal" → 'Stone' is unresolved. The Sumerians
had several words relating to 'stone', one of which is Sagkal, the others being
Abnu, abanayyaru . The word Sagkal is applied to a sturdy, frontal('sa')
stone. It is possible that Sagkal → gkal gave rise to Gal in
Sinhala, and Kal in Tamil. Given that 'Mahathitha'(mannar) was a very important
ancient port with Babylonian contacts, it is possible that the Sinhala 'Gal' is of
sumerian/babylonian origin. Sumarian was the lingua franca from ~40 centuries BC
to about ~10 century BC. The Sumarian links in Sinhala (and in austronesian languages)
have not been investigated to the same extent as in Tamil, where many Late Sumarian/Etrscan
(10 centuries BC) commnalities have been identified in proto-dravidian language forms.
Another possible source is Sanskrit. Thus, "Saila→Sal → Kal in Tamil ,
and Gal in Sinhala.
Rekewa [night-watcher] (Kandy dt)
This cannot be uniquely assigned to a Tamil origin.
Sinhala 'Raekewa', 'Raekma' etc., originate from the Sanskrit 'Rakshana'.
The Tamil word also orignated from the same source.
Kularatnam claims ithat "Mulai, mulla" (corner) to be the original Tamil source word.
In sinhala, names like "Vedamulla" could also mean "principle location"
(mulla = Moolai, Moolya in Sanskrit) of physicians. The word occurs in Pali
(e.g., Pali text society dictyionary, p580) where meanings similar to
that in Tamil and Sinhala are found. However, the "moolya"
meaning is most applicable when it is the leading stub of the word, as in
"Mulmuraekiya". Words which arrived from source languages to
Elu/prakrit sources , date to pre-christian times, and
they are now justifiably a part of the sinhala lexicon.
Hence Kularatnam's conclusion that:
Achamulai, Kanamulai (Puttalam dt.), Panayadimulai, Ammanamulla,
Mahaarachimulla (Kurunegala dt.), Kulamulla, Parapamulla (Chilaw dt.),
Athiadimulla (Badulla dt.), Karadiyamulla, Kumbal mulla (Ratnapura dt.),
Kurunayaka mulla (Matara dt.), Karanayaka mulla, Ohiva mulla, Parakada mulla,
Sayakkaramulla, Singaramulla, Welikada mulla, Sarikkamulla, Suvandachi mulla
are of Tamil origin may be valid in some cases, given a certain point of view.
Kularatnam ascribes "Aru" to Tamil. The word 'ara' is very much a sinhala
word as well.
Adampan aru (Anuradhapura dt.)
The sinhala name "Aettampaenna ara" could have equal claims.
Names with "Kuda" are also given a Tamil origin by Kularatnam. Thus,
Kuda (bay, etc.): Alankuda, Kalkuda, Kandakuda, Mandalakuda,
Kuda is the Tamil form of the sinhala "thudaava". Thus
Kalkuda, → Galthudaava
etc., are Sinhala allonyms which have equivalent claims.
Kularatnam lists some place names with villu:
Alam villu, Kali villu, Karadan villu, Nagavillu, Panichavillu, Talaivillu,
Vannativillu (Puttalam dt.), Meenvillu (Anuradhapura dt.)
Villu could also ba a Tamilization of the sinhala "Vila".
The Tamil lexicon does not show 'Vila" or "Villu" with the required contextual
meaning. In fact, the Tamil linguist S. Gnanaprakasar has ascribed 'vil'
to an old-sinhala origin.
regarding: Vannattivillu (Puttalam dt.)
Kularatnam seems to suggest that Vannatti refers to the Dhobi caste.
However, while villages or hamlets are named that way, a whole tank is never
named for a caste. We suggest that 'Vannatti' is simply
"Barbus Ticto" the fish known as "Thittaya" in Sinhala, and 'Vannatti' in
old Tamil. Thus we suggest that the Sinhala name might have been
"Thittavila", simply translated to 'Vannativillu' in Tamilization.
In this context, note the Tamil forms: "vannaan-rurai" and "vannaan-avuri".
Kularatnam argues that the place names with :
Manal (sihala "vaeli"=sand) are derived from Tamil:
However, Manal tivu (Puttalama), → Vaelidoova,
etc., and Manampitiya (Polonnaruva dt.), → Manampitiya,
(which has nothing to do with manal) are valid allonyms.
Kularatnam assumes that forms containing Kuli are all of Tamil
origin. The form "Kuli" itself is not even listed in the Tamil lexicon,
yet in Tamil usage it could refer to a "dip" or place of lower elevation.
The old sinhala word "kuliya" could also relate to a hamlet, habitation etc.
(c.f., kulissa, kutiya etc.), and also "Golla <→ Galla", "Gaetiya." or edge
Thus here again, the stub "kuli" could have an equal sinhala linguistic origin.
Thus we have the list
Kularatnam considers that " Veli" is specifically Tamil.
and ignores the existence of the word "vaella" in sinhala from early times. Thus:
The ending "tive" is claimed by Kularatnam to be exclusively Tamil,
quite ignoring the "Thitha → Dive, Deepa" in Pali, early sinhala an
Sanskrit forms. We append some Sinhala allonyms to Kularatnam's "tive" list:
Kularatnam gives a list of place names and suggests that "Pallam" occurring
in them is of Tamil origin. The sinhala word "pallam" ( "aalam" in T., and Maly.)
is also well established and has a more valid contextual meaning.
"Pallama" in our view, is a proper Sinhala form with no Tamilization.
Kularatnam considers that any ending in Ur must necessarily imply
a Tamil origin. Both 'ur" and "(p)ur', "pura" are closely related words.
We constantly come across names like "puttur' which might be interpretted
as "new-town" in a purely Tamil interpretation, or "Buthpura", when we note
the ancient buddhist history fo this town. The same goes for most
places with the ending"ur". We append the sinhala names to Kularatnam's list
of "ur" place names. However, "ur" endings may arise by Tamilization of other
sinhala forms as well.
Pudur (Polonnaruwa dt.), Buthpura
Kollure (Kurunegala dt.), Chulapura
In south India, 'Kollur' is a famous shrine (Mookambika) mentioned in the
"Skanada Purana", and the place name comes from "Kola-pur → Kollur"
It is not at all clear that the 'Kolloor" of Kurunaegala has a connection
with the Indian Kollur. Names like "chulapura" and "Kaalapura" existed in
ancient Sri Lanka (c.f, Pali proper names), and Kol(p)ur(a) could have
originated from any such name. We need further examination of many such place names.
Further, "kollu" is horsegram (
Dolichos biflorus ) in Sinhala and Tamil usage,
and is the basis of the place-name "Kollupitiya", a suburb of Colombo.
Prof. Kularatnam has not backed any of his claims even with the aid of an
etymological dictionaty. However, the reader can easily confirm that the words
claimed exclusively to be Tamil by Kularatnam are found in Sanskrit and Pali
dictionaries, i.e., found in languages older than the Tamil of the Chankam
period (See references cited in the early part of this discussion).
We thank from J. B. Dissanayake, Professor of Sinhala and Linguistics,
University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, for private communications regarding the words,
aru - ara, kal - gal, kuliya, male - malai, and mulla .
by Chandre Dharmawardana, 2005, for [removed]