Know the Etymology: 3
Place Name of the Day: Friday, 15 June 2007




The sandy village.

Vali Sand (Eezham Tamil place names); Vaal: Whiteness, purity, goodness (Tamil, Dravidian Etymological Dictionary 5364); Vaal-ekkar: White sand of the seashore or riverbank (Tamil, Changkam Diction); Vaalukaa: Sand, gravel (Sanskrit); Vaalukaa, Vaaluaa (Prakrit); Vaalukam: White sand (old Tamil lexicons); Vælla, Væli: Sand, sandy place (Sinhala); Veli: Sand (Dhivehi / Maldivian); Paal: Milk, known for whiteness (Dravidian Etymological Dictionary 4096); Pal: Tooth, known for whiteness (Dravidian Etymological Dictionary 3986)
Kaamam Village, large village, cultivation village (Eezham Tamil place names); Kamam: Cultivation land (Eezham Tamil); Kamak-kaaran: Cultivator, owner of cultivation land (Eezham Tamil); Gam, Gama: Village (Sinhala); Graama: An inhabited place, village, hamlet (Sanskrit); Gaama: A collection of houses, a hamlet, a parish or village having houses and distinct from the surrounding country (Prakrits); Gang and in sentences, Gamung, Gamah, Gamuge: Island, land, village, hamlet, domicile (Dhivehi / Maldivian)

In today's Sinhalese, veli means sand. In old Tamil, vaal is an adjective meaning white and a synonym of paal. In Changkam diction, vaal ekkar is white sand dunes or sandy streches. Vaalukam is another word used for white sand in classical texts such as Chilappathikaaram.

Kaamam in Sri Lankan Tamil is a cognate of graama in Sanskrit. Kiraamam is another Tamil derivate of the word. While gama is the cognate in Sinhala and in some of the Prakrits such as Pali, it has become kaamam in Sri Lankan Tamil. Also note that the word kamam for cultivation land, is yet another derivate.

The usage of the word Valikaamam as an important place name is found in the Chola inscriptions of 12th Century A.D. It could perhaps be a synonym for ma'natti or ma'nal thidar (sandy stretch) by which the Jaffna peninsula was known.

The etymology of Valikaamam is a good example to understand the shared elements in Tamil and Sinhala languages.

Valikaamam which might have origninated as a name of a village, became the name of a region in the Jaffna peninsula. Today, it is devided into five administrative divisions, Valikaamam North, Valikaamam South, Valikaamam East, Valikaamam West and Valikaamam Southwest.

Traditional regions of the Jaffna peninsula
Traditional regions of the Jaffna peninsula

First published: Friday, 15 June 2007, 01:00

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