Know the Etymology: 292
Place Name of the Day: Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Kudaa-yala, Chinna-munmaari

Kuḍāyala, Ciṉṉamuṉmāri

Kudaa+yala, Chinna+mun+maari

The smaller part of the Yala (lessor harvest) paddy fields.
The smaller part of the paddy fields cultivated with first rains.

Yala One of the Sinhala harvests, the lessor one in September, time; (adverb) again, moreover, further more (Sinhala); Yalahi: (adverb) Again, more over (Sinhala); Yali, Yalith (adverb) Again, further more (Sinhala); 1. Akaala: out of time, wrong time (Sanskrit, Pali, CDIAL 11); Ayaala: Out of time, wrong time (Prakrit, CDIAL 11); 2. Yaa’nar: Fresh arrival (as of seasonal phenomena such as appearance of flowers, flood of the first rains, new water in the river etc), wealth, prosperity (Tamil, Changkam Diction); Yaa’nar-vaippu: Fertile village (Tamil, Changkam Diction, Pu’ranaanoo’ru 2:11); ‘N/ L interchange is sometimes found in South Asian languages; 3. Aala-vaalam: Cultivated field (Tamil, MTL, Choodaama’ni Nika’ndu 5:31); Aalam: Water; Aali: Opening shower of the rainy season (Tamil, DED 384)
Mun-maari The early part or first part of the rainy season (Tamil, the place name usage is particular to Batticaloa Tamil, where cultivation fields are identified by that term); Maari: Rain, shower, cloud, heavy rains of the rainy season (Tamil, DED 4819); Mun: In front, prior, sign of the locative (Tamil, DED 5020)
Chinna (adjective) Small, little, inferior, mean, low, young (Tamil, DED 2594). Cognates found in Malayalam, Kannada, Kodagu, Telugu, Kolami, Naikri, Parji, Gadba, Gondi and Brahui of Pakistan (DED 2594)
Kudaa (adjective) Small, little, diminutive, short (Sinhala); Kuddam, Kuddi: Smallness (Tamil, DED 1670); Kuddai: Shortness (Tamil, DED 1670); Kutu: Small (Malayalam, DED 1670); Kut: Short (Toda, DED 1670); Guddu, Giddu: Smallness, shortness (Kannada, DED 1670); Gidda: Small, short (Tulu, DED 1670); Short, dwarfish (Telugu, DED 1670); Goota: Short, dwarfish (Kui, DED 1670); Guddoo: Small (Brahui, DED 1670)

Yala in Sinhala generally means the lessor harvest that normally takes place around the month of September. The season is also called Yala, while the main harvest and the cultivation season that depends on the Northeast monsoon is called Mahaa.

Short duration paddy crops are usually preferred for the Yala season and sowing begins with the first rains of the year.

Yala thus became the name for paddy field stretches that are fertile enough to cultivate during the lesser season too.

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Perum-poakam and Chi’ru-poakam are the terms commonly used in Eezham Tamil for Mahaa and Yala.

The cultivation that begins with the first rains is also called Puzhuthi-vithaippu in Eezham Tamil, as in such cases the sowing takes place in dry loose earth in anticipation of rains.

Mun-maari in Tamil literally means the early part of the rainy season. Both the two components of the phrase, Mun and Maari are of Dravidian etymology (see table).

Mun-maari is a term particularly used in Batticaloa Tamil to denote paddy fields cultivated with early rains. Paddy fields bearing the name are mostly found in the Koara’laippattu, Paddippazhai and Vellaave’li divisions of Batticaloa district.

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A Comparative Dictionary of Indo-Aryan Languages (CDIAL) traces the etymology of the term Yala to Akaala in Sanskrit/ Pali and Ayaala in Prakrit, meaning out of time or wrong time (CDIAL 11).

However, other words related to Yala in Sinhala are not seen being used to mean out of time or wrong time. Words such as Yalahi, Yali and Yalith in Sinhala are found used in the shades of meaning, again, more over, further more, etc., which are relevant in explaining the Yala cultivation.

Two Tamil cognates also could be considered in explaining the etymology of Yala:

One is the word Yaa’nar of Changkam Tamil diction that means a fresh arrival or fresh appearance. The word was largely used in contexts such as fresh arrival of water in the rivers, fresh seasonal appearance of flowers etc., and the flood of the first rains. The word also meant wealth and prosperity and Yaa’nar-vaippu was a fertile village. Phoneme changes between ‘N and ZH/ ‘L/ L are sometimes noticed in southern South Asian languages. For example, Pazhan-theevu in Tamil for the Maldives islands was Pa’nagn-jeeva in the Maldivian copper plate documents.

The other Tamil/ Dravidian cognate that may be related to Yala is the term Aali, meaning the opening shower of the rainy season. Aala-vaalam in old Tamil is a cultivation field according to Choodaama’ni Nika’ndu (Aalam generally means water in old Tamil/ Dravidian, DED 384).

See earlier columns for etymological discussions on Kudaa and Chinna

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Kudaa-yala is a place in Maduruwala division of Kalutara district. The name differentiates the village from the neighbouring one called Mahaa-yala, meaning the bigger part of the Yala fields

Chinna-munmaari is in Koara’laippattu division of Batticaloa district. This again differentiates the place from the larger part of the fields.

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Some related place names:


Pas-yala: The five plots of Yala fields or the Yala fields at the backside; Mirigama division, Gampaha district

Piris-yala: The Yala field belonging to Piris; Mirigama division, Gampaha district

Kuda-yala: The small Yala field; Maduruwala division, Kalutara district

Maha-yala: The big Yala field; Maduruwala division, Kalutara district

Yala-gala: The rocky hill by the Yala fields; Millaniya division, Kalutara district

Hal-yala: The Yala fields in the locality of Hal trees; Udadumbara division, Kandy district

Hiriyala-gammana: The village of yellow orpiment mineral; Harispattuwa division, Kandy district

Attana-yala: The Yala fields of Attana shrubs; Angunakolapelessa division, Hambantota district

Meda-yala: The Yala fields in the middle; Angunakolapelessa division, Hambantota district

Uda-yala: The Yala fields in the upper part; Angunakolapelessa division, Hambantota district

Viti-yala: The Yala fields of the hill; Kamburupitiya division, Matara district

Midi-yala: The Yala fields seen with Midi creepers, plants or trees; Panduwasnuwara division, Kurunegala district. Midi: a creeper, Vitis vinifera; the sensitive plant, Mimosa pudica; a shrub, Premna serretifolia

Yalawa: The Yala fields; Weerambugedara division, Kurunegala district

Arak-yala: The protected Yala field; Kuliyapitiya East division, Kurunegala district

Sali-yala: The Yala fields to cultivate Saali paddy; Kuliyapitiya East division, Kurunegala district

Yala-gamuwa: The village of the Yala fields; or the village that cultivates Yala crop; Uva-Paranagama division, Badulla distyrict

Mudi-yala: The Yala field having ladders or flight of steps erected to climb and chase birds; Bibile division, Moneragala district. Mude: Such erections found in the rice fields (Sinhala)

Yala-bowa: probably, the Yala field of good yield; Wellawaya division, Moneragala district

Vi-yala-goda: The bank/ hill/ village where paddy is cultivated during Yala; Eheliyagoda district. Ratnapura district. Vee: Paddy (Sinhala)

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Iluppaiyadi-munmaari: The early rains field in the locality of the Iluppai tree; Koara’laippattu division, Batticaloa district

Maavadi-munmaari: The early rains field in the locality of the Mango tree; Paddippazhai division, Batticaloa district; Vellaave’li division, Batticaloa district

Panichchaiyadi-munmaari: The early rains field in the locality of the Panichchai tree; Paddippazhai division, Batticaloa district

Aththiya-munmaari: The early rains field in the locality of the Aththi tree; Vellaave’li division, Batticaloa district

Kavaraiyar-munmaari: The early rains field belonging to a person called Kavaraiyar; Vellaave’li division, Batticaloa district

Murungkaiyadi-munmaari: The early rains field in the locality of the Murungkai tree; Vellaave’li division, Batticaloa district

Puthu-munmaarich-choalai: The grove at the new fields brought under early-rain cultivation; Vellaave’li division, Batticaloa district

First published: Tuesday, 24 September 2013, 23:06

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