Know the Etymology: 63
Place Name of the Day: Friday, 30 June 2017

Paḻai, Vaṟṟāp-paḻai, Varattup-paḻai, Allip-paḻai, Tellip-paḻai

பழை, வற்றாப்பழை, வரத்துப்பழை, அல்லிப்பழை, தெல்லிப்பழை
Paḻai, Vaṟṟāp-paḻai, Varattup-paḻai, Allip-paḻai, Tellip-paḻai


The pond or tank

The waterhole or spring-pond that doesn't go dry

The lily pond

The pond that gets water from a canal/ flood-outlet/ flood-plain catchment

The pond of the relay stage of palanquin-bearers; or the pond of the flood-management ridge; or the pond of the small paddy field

Paḻai pond, waterhole, spring, tank (Eezham Tamil place names); Paḻaṉam: pond, pond in a paddy field (Tamil, DED 4112, Kuṟuntokai, 8: 1-2); Pāḻi: moat (Tamil inscription, IA, xxii, pp. 57-75); Payam: tank (Tamil, DED 3938, Tivākaram, 5: 61, Ḻ/ Y change); Payampu: depression, hollow, pit, pit to ensnare elephants, tank, pond (Tamil, DED 3938, Akanāṉūṟu, 136: 11; 165: 1; Malaipaṭukaṭām, 199); Paṭu: tank, pond, deep pool (Tamil, DED 3856, Naṟṟiṇai, 188: 1, Ḻ/ Ṭ interchange); Paṭukar: pit, hole, hollow, tank (Tamil, DED 3856); Paṭuvam: slushy field (Tamil, DED 3856); Paṭṭam: tank, pond (Tamil, DED 3856); Paḷḷam: pond, waterhole, lowness, low land, valley, ditch, dimple (Tamil, DED 4016, MTL, Kuṟuntokai, 276: 2; Campantar Tēvāram, 2: 1: 5, Ḻ/ Ḷ/ Ṭ change); Pallala: small lake, pond, tank (Sinhala, Clough); Etymology 1: Pōḻ: (verb) to be cleft split, gape (Tamil, DED 4599); Pūḻ, Puḻai: hole (Tamil, DED 4317); Etymology 2:
Vaṟṟā not drying up, perennial; opposite of Vaṟṟu: (verb) to go dry (Tamil, DED 5320); Vaṟa: (verb) to dry up (Tamil, DED 5320); Vaṟaḷ: to become dry (Tamil, DED 5320); Vattā: colloquial of Vaṟṟā (Tamil). See column 112
Varattu inlet or source of water supply, as to a tank (Tamil, MTL); canal (Tamil, inscription, inscription, 923 CE, SII, xix, 397); coming in, inlet (Tamil, DED 5270); Vā, Vār, Varu: to come (DED 5270); Vār: to flow (Tamil, DED 5356);
Alli water lily (Tamil, DED 256). See column 5
Telli1 from Tel, Tellu: place of changing palanquin-bearers, stage in a journey by palanquin (Tamil, MTL cites Jaffna Dictionary); Telluk-kārar: relay of bearers for a palanquin (Tamil, MTL cites Jaffna diction); seems to have come from platform, roadside resting place etc. that marked the stages of the palanquin-bearers; Teṟṟi: raised veranda (Tamil, DED 3444, Puṟanāṉūṟu, 53: 3, Ṟ/ L change); a hall or public hall built on a raised platform; Māṭam, Teṟṟi-ampalam (Tamil, MTL, Piṅkalam, 4: 211); Teṟṟu: built shelter (Tamil, Tirumūlar, 737); structure of high platform, as in Teṟṟu-māṭam (Tamil, Appar Tēvāram, 5: 67: 6); Teṟṟi, Teṟṟai: elevated ground, mound (Tamil, MTL, inscriptions, 892 CE, SII, vi, 535; 1003 CE, TAS, vi, 103); see Telli 2
Telli2 from Tellu: oblong plots bounded by small ridges in a field, "Neṭum pātti (Tamil, MTL cites Winslow); long pit, "Neṭuṅ-kiṭaṅku" (Tamil, MTL cites Jaffna Dictionary; probably a plot surrounded by a long ridge); Telluk-kaṭṭutal: putting up ridges as in a field (Tamil, MTL cites Jaffna Dictionary); preparing a paddy field before rains by putting up ridges to hold the rainwater; this is usually done by people having prior experience of the landscape of that field (Tamil, Jaffna usage, Mātakal, Srikatirgamanathan); Teṟṟu: (verb) to stumble, to be obstructed, hindered (Tamil, DED 3445, Akanāṉūṟu, 387: 17); (noun) hedge of thorns protecting a passage (Tamil, MTL cites Jaffna Dictionary);
Telli3 a small paddy field (Tamil, MTL); probably from having ridges or being surrounded by a ridge; see Telli 2

Strong contextual evidences such as Vaṟṟāp-paḻai, Varattup-paḻai and Allip-paḻai would show that the Eezham Tamil place name component Paḻai means a pond, tank, spring-pond, waterhole etc.

The spelling Paḻai, with the retroflex Ḻ ("Mavvaḻavu") and not with palatal Ḷ ("Kompaḷavu"), could be seen in old historiographical works and other literary writings (Kailāyamālai, 165-170; Taṇṭikaik Kaṉakarāyan Paḷḷu 51).

The closest cognate is the word Paḻaṉam in Caṅkam Tamil and Dravidian diction, meaning a pond (DED 4112). The word also means a paddy field, but see the example cited below for a shade of usage of the word in the meaning of pond, differentiating it from paddy field. Also see the box above for related etymological connections.

The term Paḻaiyaṉ (Paḻai+aṉ, attributive suffix or masculine suffix), seen as the name of some chiefs in Caṅkam literature (Naṟṟiṇai, 10: 8; Maturikkāñci, 508; Akanāṉūṟu, 346: 19), may be a term similar to Vāvika/ Vāvi-hāmika seen in the Brahmi inscriptions of the island, meaning the proprietor of a tank.

* * *

Paḻai as toponymic component written with retroflex Ḻ (Mavvaḻavu):

"செண்பக மாப்பாணனையும் …மாப்பாண பூபனையும் …கனகராயனையும்..தெல்லிப்பழையிற் திகழ வைத்து" (கைலாயமாலை, 165-170)

"Ceṇpaka māppāṇaṉaiyum …Māppāṇa pūpaṉaiyum …Kaṉakarāyaṉaiyum..Tellippaḻaiyiṟ tikaḻa vaittu" (Kailāyamālai, 165-170)

Prestigiously settling Ceṇpaka Māppāṇaṉ, Māppāṇa Pūpaṉ and Kaṉakarāyaṉ at Tellip-paḻai

"வாவி மேவிடு தெல்லிப்பழை" (தண்டிகைக் கனகராயன் பள்ளு, 51)

"Vāvi mēviṭu Tellip-paḻai" (Taṇṭikaik Kaṉakarāyaṉ Paḷḷu, 51)

The place Tellippaḻai found with a pond/ tank

Paḻaṉam meaning pond in Caṅkam diction:

"கழனி மாஅத்து விளைந்து உகு தீம் பழம் பழன வாளை கதூஉம்" (குறுந்தொகை, 8: 1-2)

"Kaḻaṉi māattu viḷaintu uku tīm paḻam paḻaṉa vāḷai katūum" (Kuṟuntokai, 8: 1-2)

The Vāḷai fish of the paddy-field pond would seize the ripe, fallen fruit of the paddy-field mango tree

* * *

Vaṟṟā meaning not drying up/ perennial:

"வற்றாத வாவிகள்" (சம்பந்தர் தேவாரம், 2: 16: 10)

"Vaṟṟāta vāvikaḷ" (Campantar Tēvāram, 2: 16: 10)

The tanks that would never become dry

"வற்றா நதி" (சம்பந்தர் தேவாரம், 1: 97: 3)

"Vaṟṟā nati" (Campantar Tēvāram, 1: 97: 3)

The river that would never become dry

* * *

Varattu meaning arrival of water from a source:

"வடக்கிற் தூம்பில் குமிழி வரத்தின் தெற்கடையன" (Tamil, inscription, 923 CE, SII, xix, 397)

"Vaṭakkiṟ tūmpil kumiḻi varattiṉ teṟkaṭaiya" (Tamil, inscription, 923 CE, SII, xix, 397)

In the northern sluice (of the tank), by the southern side of the Kumiḻi-mechanism canal [Kumiḻi, Kumuḻi: a sluice mechanism, probably similar to Bisokoṭuva, Tamil inscription, 756 CE, IPS, 16]

* * *

Alli as water lily associated with ponds: (see column 5)

"மாமயிலை மா அல்லிக்-கேணியான்" (திருமழிசை ஆழ்வார், இயற்பா, 35)

"Māmayilai mā allik-kēṇiyāṉ" (Tirumaḻicai Āḻvār, Iyaṟpā, 35)

God Viṣṇu of the great Allik-kēṇi [a place name meaning lily pond, today's Tiruvallikkēṇi] in the great [place] Mayilai

* * *

The term Telli probably has two shades of meanings in Eezham Tamil place names. It may mean a relay stage of palanquin-bearers, usually associated with a resting place such as a sheltered platform with amenities like well, pond etc., or it may mean a paddy field ridged in a particular way.

Both usages survive in spoken Tamil of Jaffna. "Inta telliyil iruntu anta tellikkup pōvatu means" going from one remote point to another. Telluk-kaṭṭutal used by farmers, means to make ridges in a paddy field to collect and preserve rainwater or floodwater.

See boxes above for the old Tamil term Teṟṟi/ Teṟṟu (Ṟ/ L change) fitting both the shades of meanings.

In the past, relay stages usually had settlements of palanquin-bearers.

Vaiyāpāṭal 44 notes that Telli was the identity of a woman who settled at Paḻai (Tellippaḻai) along with the members of a service community called Kōviyar. Note the terms Telliyāṉ and Tellicci in the list of related place names given below. The terms may respectively mean a male and female member of a settlement or community of palanquin-bearers.

For Tellippaḻai, a mid 17th century literature comes out with an alternative name, Tellik-kirāmam, meaning the Telli village (Cantiyōgumaiyar Ammāṉai by Pēturup Pulavar, cited by Balasundaram, p. 244).

Teli-pola is the form found for Tellip-paḻai in the Sinhala literature Nampota (Indrapala, 2006, p. 224). Rendering Paḻai into Pola is a usual pattern of Sinhalicisation, as in another example Nīlap-paḻai/ Nīla-pola. But Pola is a word of different meaning in Sinhala. It means a place, site or spot corresponding to Pulam in Tamil (see column 28).

See related place names for usage examples in which Telli/ Tellu probably means paddy-field ridge or paddy field.

* * *

Paḻai is noticed as a place name in Paccilaippalli division of Kilinochchi district and in Poonakari division of Kilinochchi district.

Varṟāp-paḻai is in Karaithuraippattu division of Mullaiththeevu district. There are natural springs in the locality and in the nearby Taṇṇiyūṟṟu.

Varattup-paḻai is in Tumpaḷai in Vadamaratchi Northeast division of Jaffna district. This is a small pond (Point Pedro OIS)

Allip-paḻai is a place in Pachchilaippalli division of Kilinochchi district.

Tellip-paḻai is in Valikamam North division of Jaffna district. This was a major junction of old communication routes in Jaffna Peninsula.

* * *

Some related place names:


Periya-paḻai: Pachchilaippalli, Kilinochchi. This was the original village called Paḻai in Pachchilaippalli. When the highway-side location of the place became popular with the name, the original village became Periya-paḻai. Another possibility is that the original place name meaning the big pond, was shortened in the roadside toponym.

Paḻaiyil-kuḷam: Nallūr, Poonakari, Kilinochchi (Poonakari OIS). This is the name of the pond or tank of the place Paḻai in Pūnakai-Nallūr. Paḻai itself has got the name from the pond and Kuḷam was probably added later

Paḻai-Vīmaṉkāmam: Valikamam North, Jaffna. Two villages, Paḻai and Vīmaṉkāmam and combined for administrative purposes. The Paḻai coming here may be the Paḻai of Tellippaḻai

Pulōp-paḻai: Pachchilaippalli, Kilinochchi. Pulō: cultivation field

Viṭattal-paḻai: Thenmaradchi, Jaffna. Viṭattal: a shrub

Vīḻu-paḻai: Eḻutumaṭṭuvāḷ, Thenmaradchi, Jaffna. Vīḻi: a creeping plant

Vallip-paḻai: Manthai East, Mannar. Valli: seems to be a kind of creeper; a creeper with bulbous roots, a medicinal plant, Indian birthwort (Tamil, MTL); Valli: any creeper (Sanskrit, CDIAL 11429, etymology traced to Tamil/ Dravidian); Vaḷḷi: climber, creeper (Tamil, DED 5316). Note another place name, Valli-puṉam

Marukkāram-paḻai: Kaṉṉāṭṭi, Paṟaiyaṉālaṅkuḷam (Murunkan, OIS); the place has a tank; a village noted in British records (1819-1939) in Naṭucceṭṭikuḷam division of Vavuniya district (Aruna Selladurai). Maruk-kārai: a species of Kārai shrub; see column 96

Paṭṭip-paḻai: Manmunai Southwest, Batticaloa. Paṭṭi: cattle-pen, place to keep cattle for grazing

Nīlap-paḻai: Kaṅkuvēli, Moothoor, Trincomalee. Nīli, Nīlam: indigo plant; marked as Nilappalai in OIS; later became Neelapola in official records

* * *

Telli: (as highway stage)

Telliyaṭi: Talaivillu, Kaṟpiṭṭi, Puttalam (Kalpitti OIS). Aṭi: locality, neighbourhood. The place having a public well is located on a highway.

Telliyāṉ-kuṭiyiruppu: Erukkalampiṭṭi, Mannar (Talaimannar OIS). Kuṭiyiruppu: settlement

Tellicci-vāykkāl: near a colonial bungalow on the former palanquin route, Taṭṭuvāṉkoṭṭi, Pulōppaḻai (Poonakari OIS). Tellicci: probably a woman of the settlement/community of palanquin-bearers; Vāykkāl: canal

Telliyāy-kuḷam: between Pullāveḷi and Nittiyaveṭṭai, Paccilaippalli (Elephat Pass OIS). Āy: expanse; Kuḷam: tank, pond. The place is located on a former palanquin route

* * *

Telli: (related to paddy-field ridge or paddy field)

Telluḻuvai: Valveṭṭi, Vadamaradchi Southwest, Jaffna, (Balasundaram, p. 191). Tel+uḻuvai; Uḻuvai: land to till, cultivable land; Uḻuvai-nilam, Uḻu-nilam; Uḻu: (verb) to plough (Tamil, DED 688)

Tellik-karai: Poonakari, Kilinochchi. Karai: side; note the place names such as Kurakkaṉ-karai, Maṭattuk-karai etc.

* * *


Vaṟuttalai-viḷāṉ: Varattu+talai+viḷāṉ

* * *

Vaṟṟā/ Vattā: see column 112

* * *

Alli: see column 5

* * *

Revised: Friday, 30 June 2017, 18:30

First published: Friday, 31 August 2007, 01:00

Previous columns:


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